Our Turkey trip was to include two self-guided walking holidays: Cappadocia and the Lycian Way. Cappadocia had offered spectacular scenery and mostly good walking, although there were some difficult parts. We expected the Lycian Way to offer great coastal scenery and easier walking, since it follows a long-established footpath. How wrong we were!
Tuesday 31 May
We were collected from our Antalya hotel and driven about 50 miles to the start of our first day’s walk. This was meant to be only 5 kilometres, no distance at all. However, it proved to be a very difficult walk. In fact, there was very little walking involved – it was mainly scrambling over rocks, uphill and then (even more difficult) down the other side. We are not good at rock climbing, so did not enjoy it much! Moreover, the walk was mainly through forests, with no sight of the coast. So we were very relieved when we reached the Flames of Chimera, and the ruined church, which meant we were almost at the end of our walk. The final stretch was easier, and we found the car waiting to take us to our hotel.
That night we seriously debated whether to abandon the whole walk, but were reluctant to do so (apart from having paid in advance, we didn’t want to admit defeat!). So we decided to at least try the next day’s path, and see how we got on.
Wednesday 1 June
We were driven to the beach, from which we could easily reach the entrance to the ruins of the city of Olympos. Yet another ruined city! Like Termessos, this has not been restored, but is differently situated on the banks of a small river. After exploring, we needed to find the Lycian Way footpath to start our walk. This proved to be quite a challenge, but eventually we decided that a particular footpath (not very well signed) had to be the right one, simply because there was no alternative.
Again, this involved clambering over rocks – not easy, but doable, until we were confronted by a solid rock wall, about 2 metres high. Climbing over it would have been difficult, to say the least. But Ian managed to look over it, and could see no clear path ahead. At this point we decided to give up!
We phoned the travel agency to report, and arranged an alternative plan. There is a cable car up Mt Olympos, but no time for it in the official walk itinerary. A driver came and collected us, and took us to the cable car. We went to the top, and enjoyed the fantastic views, although it was rather hazy that day. Then we were driven to the next hotel, at a little seaside village called Adrasan.
Thursday 2 June
Today’s walk, per the official itinerary, was round a peninsula, passing the Gelidonya Lighthouse at the tip. It was the longest and most strenuous walk of our tour. We did not like the sound of it, and the guide who plans the walks felt it would be too challenging for us. However, we found a happy compromise.
The official walk went out on the east side of the peninsula, and back on the west, which seemed a much easier path. So we arranged to be dropped at the end point, and did a return trip along the west side, to the lighthouse and back. To begin with, we followed a dirt road, which later became suitable only for 4WD vehicles – not that there were many around – but was easy walking. After 6 km we took a footpath up towards the lighthouse, which was easy to begin with, later steep and stony, but always walkable – no need for scrambling over rocks! The lighthouse itself was not the most attractive we’ve seen, but there were good coastal views along the way, although blocked by trees for much of the time.
Friday 3 June
We were driven first to the city of Demre, site of ancient Myra, which we were given the opportunity to visit. It was quite a long drive – well over an hour – so we were able to see the countryside, which varied from flat and boring to mountainous, with the road following narrow ledges along the sides. But what we saw most was greenhouses – many, many huge greenhouses packed with tomatoes. What do they do with them all? Some of them, we know, are given to tourists, since we had tomatoes every day (no kidding) for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Myra is famous because its fourth century bishop later became St Nicholas = Santa Claus = Father Christmas. His church is in the centre of Demre, but we did not get a chance to visit. The Myra remains are however impressive – yet another theatre, well preserved, and some amazing tombs cut into the rocky hillside.
A few miles beyond Demre we were dropped to begin our walk. The first part was interesting – passing the ruins of yet another city (Istlada) – but not terribly easy, as the path was extremely rocky. We descended to a small bay where we had our picnic lunch; soon after we came to a bar with comfortable seats and a tempting list of drinks – perfect for thirsty walkers – but there was nobody to serve us. Later we detoured up another rocky path to see the medieval fortress of Simena, and here we were fortunately able to get drinks.
Three kilometres further we reached the village of Ucagiz, our base for the night, and theoretically the night after as well. But although we’d coped with the day’s walking, we hadn’t really enjoyed it much, so there was little point in doing another (reportedly similar) walk the next day. So we decided to bid farewell to the Lycian Way, and move on.