Walking in the Steps of the Lycians

Our plan for the day was to take the ancient Lycian trail – dating back to 3,000 BC – from the valley of Kayakӧy, where we were staying for a long weekend, over the mountains and down to the seaside resort town of Ӧlüdeniz. From there we would catch a dolmuṣ and return to Kayakӧy.  The walking part of the route should have been about 6km but it didn’t quite work out that way.

To get to the start of the walk was a short car ride.  The distance would have been quite walkable but it would have added more than half an hour to the journey and all on the road.   Once we got to the centre of the village there was a chance to buy some water and a cake – just what you need for a walk on a sunny November day – and to pay 5TL to get into the historical site which leads to the start of the trail.

Here is a bit of background to Kayakӧy.

Kayakӧy is a village 8 km south of Fethiye in southwestern Turkey where Anatolian Greek speaking Christians lived until approximately 1923. The ghost town, now preserved as a museum village, consists of hundreds of rundown but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches which cover a small mountainside.  (Thanks to Wikipedia for this description).

Setting off up through the ruins of the abandoned village, we passed a couple of reassuring Lycian Way markers, but then they petered out.  There was a good path leading upwards with various markers including red arrows marking the route, but no sign of the expected red-yellow barred waymarks identifying the Lycian Way.  Following the red arrows, we left the village behind, went over the crest of the hill and started downhill towards the distant sea.  A lovely walk, but something told us all was not well.  We’d walked about a kilometre and there were still no reassuring signs.  Discretion, as they say, being the better part of valour, an executive decision was made to return to base and try to work out where we had gone wrong.

Our caution was rewarded.  Having got back down through the site to the very impressive central church, we came to a trail signpost that we had seen on the way up and indicating that the official route to Ӧlüdeniz was back up the path we had just come down.  So we turned round and started climbing again but this time keeping a sharp eye open for specifically Lycian Way route markers.  And very quickly we found where we had gone wrong on the first attempt.  High up to the left was a homemade sign with an arrow pointing to our intended destination.  And, most importantly, every 20 to 30 metres there were the longed for red-yellow barred waymarks.

[I have since found out that we are far from alone in making this mistake.  It would only take one extra sign on the path to highlight the left turn and all would be well.]

As we ascended the proper trail, further confirmation came from strips of red and white plastic tape attached to branches.  At first we thought they were just there by accident but very quickly realised that, not only were they marking the trail, they were also visible from a distance which really helped with the route finding.  Talking to the owner of our hotel later, she told us that the route was managed by the combined forces of the Rotary Clubs in Fethiye and Ӧlüdeniz.  I hope they read this blog and make the one and only improvement that this trail needs.

The route climbed quite steeply on a rocky path till we reached a col that was nicely shaded with pine trees.  As we passed over the col and started the descent the view opened out and we could see the ever-turquoise Mediterranean some distance away and a long way below.  Although we couldn’t see Ӧlüdeniz yet, we knew that one way or another we would be climbing down to sea level.

The next kilometre or so was very tricky.  The trail was still clearly marked but the path was steep and went over rocks, stones and gravel threatening to take our feet from under us.  Slow progress was made.  But eventually we arrived at a small plateau with a few ruined buildings and we guessed, quite rightly, that the worst was over.

The next two kilometres were straightforward mostly on a level or gently sloping path with few hazards.  Only the last two hundred or so metres proved awkward due to lots of loose gravel on a steeper bit of path.  We both had slips here and, on recounting the story to a friend two days later, found that he had slipped at the exact same place.

And there at the bottom was a sign indicating we had come 4km from Kayakӧy which meant that adding our false start we had now walked about 6km.  The path now became a dirt road which quickly turned into a cobbled road along the side of the world-famous Ӧlüdeniz lagoon.

The shores of the lagoon were lined with a series of beach clubs.  Some had packed up for the winter but a surprising number were still open and, as we discovered, had a small number of holidaymakers.   We were tempted into Billy’s Club by the thought of a cold beer and a decent snack.  And our prayers were almost answered with excellent cheese toasties and some fruit juice.  The beer proved a little more problematical.  Billy’s must be the only bar in Turkey that has run out of the ubiquitous Efes Pilsen.  They had two bottles of Efes Dark, one of which came my way and the other went to another customer.  And yet another customer got the last bottle of Miller.  I can only assume that this was their last day in business for this year.

After the break we rejoined the cobbled road and headed on the last two kilometres to reach the town centre in search of a dolmuṣ going to Kayakӧy.  It turned out that we would have to take the Fethiye dolmuṣ to Hisaronu and then change to another dolmus going to Kayakӧy.  As luck would have it, one was leaving soon so we got on.  In the next few minutes before departure more people arrived and by the time we left there were about ten passengers on board.  Usually on a dolmuṣ you pay the driver when you get off but, in this case, not one but two “conductors” got on and as we moved away started to collect money.  It’s very hard to work out the economics of this service where three staff serve ten customers and the maximum fare is 6.50 TL.

Our enforced half hour stay in Hisaronu – not exactly a place for discerning travellers – was spent in the Piano Bar.  We were the only customers and got excellent service from the bar manager.  After he brought our drinks he joined another man, who turned out to be his brother, and together they began to dissect and eat a large pile of green oranges.  They told us the fruit was very bitter but it seemed to go down a treat.

The Kayakӧy dolmuṣ arrived and on we got – the only passengers.  The journey took about 15 minutes and took us to within a few metres of the car.  Then it was back to our hotel and time for a warm shower.

Apart from the route finding issue, this was another fine day out in the tradition of walking in Lycia.  The views were stunning, there was a fine, and moving, historical theme and, with the help of the dolmuṣ, a circular walk.  What more could you ask for?

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About Clashgour

With my wife Margaret I am spending a happy retirement based in Richmond, London. When travelling we use public transport where possible, resorting to a car when it is the only viable option. This blog is an occasional diary of our travels in North America, Europe and Turkey plus other places as yet unknown.
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