The weather here in Turkey is refusing to change. It’s the 20th November and by 8.30 it is 25C outside. Time for another walk on the wild side of Turkey – well at least off the highways.
Today’s Tuesday walk, over familiar territory, has a distinctly seaside flavour. We will start at the village of Gelemiṣ, otherwise known as Patara Village, and head up the road to the top of the sand dunes. Then it will be down over the dunes to the sea, along the beach then back inland for a wander through the magnificent and extensive ruins of the ancient city of Patara. A very satisfying walk, with only gentle up-hills and down-hills, excellent views out to sea and no dreaded Kermes Oaks to rip us to pieces.
This is mostly a flat walk but the first kilometre is on a local road and all up hill. Being the “season of mellow fruitfulness” the roadside trees are laden with produce. Apart from the ubiquitous olives there are oranges, lemons, pomegranates, quinces and prickly pears. All ready for picking.
A short way up the hill we pass a large hotel and a small holiday village. Until last year these were very run-down. With the ruins at Patara now largely restored to their former glory, the area is attracting many visitors from around Turkey and across the world. The hotel has been transformed into a luxury establishment whilst the holiday village has had a serious coat of paint applied and lots of grooming of the grounds. All in all much more attractive propositions.
We take our first break where the road ends at the edge of the pine forest and high above the rolling sand dunes. The view over the Mediterranean is stunning. Its then time to run – well walk smartly – down the dunes and onto the beach. Boots are quickly removed and it’s time for a paddle. It may be the middle of November but the water is warm, although a bit choppy, and our shorts get a bit wet but no problem, the warm breezes soon dry them.
Looking out to sea there is a nasty looking rain cloud. But we are lucky, it stays just off-shore scudding along from East to West and heading for Rhodes. Not that we can see Rhodes today, it is already covered in clouds. So we head off in the sun for a 2km stroll along the beach, some of us still paddling along in the shallows.
The beach café is completely closed for the winter so we have to content ourselves with a short break at the beach information kiosk – also unmanned but open. Inside the kiosk is a large poster explaining all about the Loggerhead turtles that nest at Patara. The eggs are buried deep in the sand around April time and hatch about two months later. The babies are only a few centimetres long and have to dig their way to the surface then make a mad dash across the beach to the sea. Only a small percentage survive this ordeal. If the turtle is a male, this is the last time it will be on land for the rest of it’s life. If female, it will only return to land to lay eggs. A curious existence.
From here the route goes inland so it’s back on with the boots. The first couple of hundred metres is on duck board that has been laid between the car park and the beach. There used to be a camel here offering rides but it hasn’t been seen for a few years. At the car park our route follows a narrow path leading through a small-holding and onwards to the Patara Museum shop – also closed.
We head for the amphitheatre the traditional stopping place for our snack lunch. There are plenty of seats to choose between. Soon everyone is happily chomping away at choice of picnic food. The view looks over the magnificently restored Bouleuterion, the home of the Lycian Parliament. For a more detailed description of the Patara ruins see my blog A Visit to the Ancient City of Patara.
We ramble through the ruins as far as the lighthouse. This is beginning to take shape, only six years into a two year project but no sign of an end in sight!!
The last part of the walk now follows a tractor track passing the substantial remains of the granary stores in the ancient harbour. The path winds through scrub-land which is home to a wide variety of creatures, including today, a large tortoise. It should be hibernating by now but it has been so warm that “the big sleep” has been delayed. It did look a bit tired,as were we.
And so we came to the end of our walk for today back in the car park at Gelemiṣ.
I am writing this blog two days later in a lounge in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. It’s the end of our autumn stay in Turkey and that was our last Tuesday walk for this year. We will miss them a lot. So much so, that when we plan our shorter winter visit to Turkey in February, we’ll make sure to fit in the maximum number of Tuesdays. Between now and then there will be plenty of other walks to blog about; walking about London, Richmond Park, the River Thames and, in January, walking in Northern Scotland – possibly in the snow. I doubt if there’ll be any further mention of paddling at the seaside. Till the next time, thanks for following my blog.