One for the bucket list – the Lycian Way
The Lycian Way is Turkey’s first Long Distance footpath and you should allow at least three weeks to a month to complete the whole 540-kilometre (335-miles) long trail. At several points it reaches an altitude of more than 1500-metres. The more common approach is to tackle short sections.
I travelled with Exclusive Escapes (www.exclusive-escapes.co.uk ) who organised the guide and flights between London Stansted (private terminal) and Dalaman and my stay at the Deniz Feneri lighthouse, Kas and Beyaz Yunus, Olu Deniz.
Easyjet fly from Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, Gatwick and Stansted – from £18 one-way www.easyjet.com . Monarch fly to Anatyla and Dalaman from Gatwick, Luton, East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester – from around £55 one way www.monarch.co.uk
Further info: The Lycian Way by Kate Clow (ISBN 9780953921867; £15.99); www.cultureroutesinturkey.com )
The Lycian Way is Turkey’s first long distance footpath. It follows the coast between Ovacik near the popular resort of Olu Deniz and Anatalya. It is 540-kiolmetres along and would take around one month to complete. I undertook four short sections with Exclusive Escapes.
Who were the Lycians? The Lycian Way takes its name from an enigmatic and ancient people who lived along this section of the eastern Mediterranean coast now known as the Tekke peninsula between 1500 and 3000 years ago. They went to a great deal of trouble when burying their dead. The columns hewn from the rock is evidence of a “House” tomb overlooking the bay at Liman Agzi near Kas.
The first day from Olu Deniz involves a long climb. The shallow blue lagoons of Olu Deniz are however always in sight. The only downside was that I longed for a swim in the sea below. The route climbs around Baba Dag (1989-metres)
Many people living in the mountains serve food and drink to walkers and for them the Lycian Way is a boon. Generally the food is a simple pancake filled with wild herbs and a Feta-like cheese with the option of adding pomegranate juice. Mountain people tend to be more traditional so make a point of being very respectful.
Ayran – yoghurt whipped with water and chilled is very refreshing.
Concentrating the pomegranate and grape juice – no alcohol!
I wasn’t roughing it. This was my first hotel base, the Beyaz Yunus overlooking Olu Deniz. I had my own private pool and terrace.
The pool room terrace at Beyaz Yunus. Perfect for relaxing with a gin and tonic and watching the sun go down over the eastern Mediterranean.
There are signposts but mostly the route is marked using the French convention of red and white bars and arrows. Care did have to be taken when route finding as the maps are not great and markings can be easily missed.
Water is the number one concern en route. It is very hot in the summer and it is easy to become dangerously dehydrated. There are wells. Never drink from one where the roof is missing and you will need to carry an cup or bottle that can be lowered on a rope. Many farmhouses will sell you bottled water.
This little guy was almost trampled under our feet. Keep your wits about you and check for snakes behind logs and rocks before sitting down. If you take your boots off give them a shake before you put them back on – there could be a scorpion lurking.
Casual encounters with ancient history. My guide Turgut is relaxing on the steps of a temple in the ancient Lycian city of Aperlae. It is slowing sinking into the sea and we walked out on the mosaic floor into the sea for a swim. Aperlae was famous for the production of purple die which was extracted from mollusc shells. it was a highly sought after commodity. Aperlae was raided regularly and suffered many earthquakes. Much of the ancient city walls are however still standing. It can only be reached by boat or on foot.
On every bend of a path that snaked down to Aperlae I encountered a large stone sarcophagus.
The 2000 maybe 3000 year old tombs are set on a plinth and were made up of a box hewn from a single piece of stone topped by weighty looking roof carved to resemble an upturned hull.
Long since robbed the tomb was empty. Turgut explained that the Lycians believed in a second life and the cavity would have been filled with money and other useful items. A bottle containing the mourners’ tears was also placed inside to give refreshment in the next life.
Yoruk’s Fisherman’s Inn near Aperlae. A business that has grown out of yachting and the needs of walkers on the Lycian Way.
Lunch at Yoruk’s. Sea bass caught from the pier, fresh tomato salad and lots of chips. All of which was cooked over an open fire.
Hotel base number two. The Deniz Feneri Lighthouse near Kas. A stay here includes a Turkish bath.
Much of the walking is on the coast. The soft limestone is readily eroded by the sea and sure-footedness is required when negotiating rock eroded by the sea into sharp fins.
The Lycian Way is drawing an international set. The Sunday Times rate it as one of the best walks in the world.
The aqueduct at Kalkan which fed the Lycian capital of Patara – no ropes, no guide, no information boards – the antiquity is just as you find it.
High Street, Patara. Turkey has so much antiquity is doesn’t quite know what to do with it all.
What did the Lycians ever do for us? The amphitheatre at Patara. Again there were no barriers to close inspection and I was free to the climb the steps to the top of the amphitheatre. Turgut assured me that the civilised Lycians performed only plays but soon after the Romans arrived in AD43 it was converted for gladiatorial combat.
The Lycian legacy was democracy and in Patara, in the second century BC the Lycians established the Lycian league. Each city in Lycia sent one or two elected representatives to sit in the assembly hall in Patara, a building that still stands and claims to be world’s first democratic parliament. It was also an important port and Saint Paul stopped off regularly on his Mediterranean peregrinations.
A day off from walking. A kayak visit to the island of Kekova from the town of Ucagiz. Byzantine ruins and a sunken city that was once a Roman port and shipyard.
A Turkish Gulet floats in the bay at Liman Agzi. Great place to stop for a swim and lunch.
Got to do it.
Lycian Way – Turkey
One for the bucket list - the Lycian Way The Lycian Way is Turkey’s first Long Distance footpath and you should allow at least three weeks to a month to complete the whole 540-kilometre (335-miles) long trail.