This September in Kalkan on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, has been very, very hot. Temperatures have been in the mid to high 30’s C. We hear that it has been exceptionally dry all summer. But the stalwarts of the walking fraternity have been champing at the bit, waiting for a small drop in the temperature and a chance to get out into the countryside for a ramble or two. We could wait no longer. A date was set. What better than the 1st October – at least we could kid ourselves that winter and it’s cooler weather was getting closer.
The usual organiser of our Tuesday outings has had to return to the UK for a long-awaited operation on his shoulder, the number two organiser is packing for a trip to Eastern Turkey (which we will all want to hear about) so it fell to me to get things going. Through the wonders of email an invite was sent out and immediately replies started to come in, mostly from people saying they would like to come. A few of the old lags sent in grovelling apologies for absence but their numbers were easily outweighed by the committed. So at 9.30 in the morning a party of 15 assembled in the car park of the Kalkan Otogar (bus station), we distributed ourselves into the cars kindly provided by some of the group and off we went towards Yeṣilkӧy.
The walk we were taking is described in my blog of this time last year – A Walk in the Woods. On that occasion we had had to contest with rain and mud underfoot but today it was a hot and slightly cloudy day. Rain was threatened for later but in the meantime all was very well weather-wise.
The first sight that greeted us as we pulled into the car park of the village picnic park, was the brand new toilet block. And the second was that the usual burbling stream that runs through the picnic area had dried up. It’s been a very dry summer. Anyway, no time to linger, we set off at a reasonable pace up the tractor track.
Being the first walk of the new season we all had plenty to talk about. What had we been doing over the summer? What building and repair projects were eating into our savings? What brushes had we had with officialdom since we last met in May? With so much to distract us, why was it that the path seemed steeper than we remembered it? Surely it had nothing to do with us all being a year older and, in some cases, our general unfitness? And so, with a couple of rest breaks to recover breath, we climbed steadily higher through the woods enjoying this first ramble of the autumn. About an hour later we found ourselves at the highest point of the walk and it was time for a sit-down and a snack.
At this point I started to worry that something was missing from the last time on this walk. Then it dawned. On that walk we had our resident natural historian and our part-time resident tree specialist in the party. What we learned then is all described in A Walk in the Woods. (Come back Roy and Chris – we need you!!)
As a general rule it is not good practice for walking parties to split up and go in different directions. It’s all too easy for one person to get totally separated and for both groups to think that anyone not with them must be with the other party. The consequences can be disastrous. However with very good reason one group of five wanted to walk back to Kalkan as the driver who had brought them out to the start of the walk had gone back to home and it would have need a phone call to get him out again. So off they set down to the Akbel road which would take them back, albeit on tarmac all the way. The rest of us packed up our day-packs and started to retrace our steps, downhill, back to the picnic area.
Whilst we snacked at the highest point of the walk, a plan had been hatching. If we went straight back to the cars we would be at “The Walkers Tavern” (Evimiz cafe) too early and Gürcel & Eser, the husband and wife team who run the place, would still be busy meeting the lunchtime needs of schoolchildren and bank workers who flock there on a daily basis. So it was decided that we would extend the walk from the car park around the back streets of Yeṣilkӧy which were pretty well unknown to us all.
And quite a revelation it was. The main road through the town is lined with small rather scruffy looking businesses which give no hint as to what lies behind. What we found was a veritable maze of massive greenhouses, all in very good condition. Each had a small, relatively basic house attached. This would be the home of the owner and his family, all of whom would work on the crops. The greenhouses can be as big as 100 metres long and 20 metres wide – very impressive. There was a lack of crops growing at the moment. From previous visits to other greenhouses in nearby villages, the main crops will be tomatoes followed by courgettes, peppers, chillies and onions. However, by the roadside there were some lovely pomegranate trees laden with ripening fruit in beautiful glowing autumn colours.
Our route took us round the outer reaches and back to the main road right in the middle of the village. We walked back along the main road towards the turning for the picnic park. It was at this point that we felt the first drops of rain. It didn’t come to much just then but by evening a full blown electrical storm was in progress and a lot of much-needed rain fell on the countryside.
A quick drive over the hill through Akbel village took us back into Kalkan and Evimiz café, with its warm welcome, a well-deserved Efes beer and some hand cut potatoes chips dipped in tomato ketchup. Our first walk of the season was over and we could start planning for next week.