Summer 2012

 


Contents
Lycian Way
Icon: Mt Blanc from the Aiguilles Rouges
Walkopedia favourite: Upper Humla Valley
Photo Essay: Q’adisha Valley
Best camp tucker
New on Walkopedia
 

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The Lycian Way


From Gelidonia peninsula

The Lycian Way, in the protected Tekke Peninsula in Turkey’s south-west, has only relatively recently been created, mapped and marked; it was opened in 1999 as the first long-distance way-marked trail in Turkey, comprising some 509km of ancient roads, mule trails, and forest paths between Fethiye and Antalya. The Way was the brainchild of the remarkable Kate Clow, who researched, planned and way-marked it. Most of us will only be able to walk sections.

The huge variety of the trail is a particular delight: the high, lonely peaks of the Taurus Mountains’ southern flanks, to tough, rocky plateaus, to olive groves to meadows (revel in the wildflowers in spring), to wheatfields, to the coastal cliffs and long, glorious beaches of the “Turquoise Coast”. You will pass Greek and Roman remains – temples, theatres and amphis, houses, whole cities, even – this was a highly prosperous backwater for centuries – Byzantine churches and towns, Genoese and Ottoman forts, medieval-feeling hamlets.


Cliftop ruin, Phaselis

Highlights are endless, and include: the “alternative” climb of 2,366m Mount Olympos; Patara (for the amphitheatre, aqueduct and other ruins of what was once a 20,000 strong Roman city, and for its 12km beach); Ucagiz (for a harbour, sunken ruins, and a castle); and Goynuk (for a swim in the canyon). The ruins of ancient Olympos and Phaselis on the east coast, and the wild, beautiful Gelidonia Peninsula, with its lighthouse looking over islands and a graveyard of ancient ships; the remote, rugged inland Baba Dagi massif; Kas to Sura or Uchaz (Kate Clow's favourite coastal stretch); Mira to Finike, through cedar forest with fine views. Lovely, remote Butterfly Valley near Faralya is a particular favourite, and a day expedition if you want. Walk in down the spectacular cliffs from Faralya – not for those with vertigo. Great walking, and a fine beach – but you won't be alone when you get there.

The area's history intrudes throughout, as you follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great through a parade of Mediterranean civilizations. The Lycian coastline came into historical focus in the Bronze Age, on the shipping routes between Greece and Egypt. The area was conquered by the Persians, then Alexander the Great, then, after a couple of hundred years of independence, the Romans; it flourished for centuries, then went into decline while part of the Byzantine Empire, as central weakness and Arab raids turned the area into an impoverished backwater.


Forest walking

Although the Lycians absorbed many aspects of Greek and then Roman culture, they had an individual style (synthesized over time, with Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Turkish influences) which permeates their art and architecture; this fascinating trail leads its followers past many of their remote archaeological sites, as Lycian graves and ruins are scattered all over the peninsula.

Captivating history and culture aside, the Lycian Way has much to offer: the natural beauty of Turkey without tourist crowds, as the track winds through forest, along beaches, up mountains and past small bays, usually with glorious views of the Mediterranean and the surrounding landscape. The folded, eroded limestone peninsula contains excitingly changeable landscape, from peaks and ridges, to pockets of high pasture, to gorges, to lovely varied forest and farmland in the lower reaches. Animal life is not its strongest point as a result of fairly unregulated hunting, but is interesting nonetheless, with a variety of birds. The spring wildflowers are gorgeous.


From Phaselis

The trail also gives a fascinating insight into contemporary rural Turkey, and introduces hikers to the friendliness of the local villagers, in whose houses it is often possible to stay. Accommodation is more likely to be small, characterful hotels, which are almost all run, in our experience, by charming and helpful people.

It is difficult to find problems with this walk, although you need to be reasonably fit. There are some dull (dreary, even) sections of polytunnels and towns, but they can be skipped over using local buses or taxis. Having a firm to anticipate and leapfrog you across those to the next “good bit” has real advantages.


The lighthouse

It will take you up to four weeks to walk the entire route, although most people walk shorter sections, usually (but by no means always) supported by a company that moves their luggage between stops, or even guides them along. A lot of this trail can be walked as day walks.

On the western parts of the trail, accommodation is easy to come by, ranging from small hotels to rooms in houses, often in atmospheric settings. Further east, it is less plentiful in some places and you will need to camp some of the time.

Marvellous as it is, the Lycian Way is overhyped on the basis of a Sunday Times article including it in the world’s top 10 walks. They haven’t travelled.


Phaselis site


Starting down Gelidonia peninsula

Walkopedia rating: 87
More information on this walk
William Mackesy’s full account of this walk

Our expedition was organised by the excellent On Foot Holidays, who were efficient, helpful and flexible to deal with and, we thought, good value.


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Icon: Mont Blanc from the Aiguilles Rouges


Mt Blanc in early light

Walkopedia rating: 88.5
More information on this walk


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Walkopedia favourite: Crossing the Himalayas on the Upper Humla Valley


High above the valley


Cubist ladders


The Humla Valley winds, seemingly forever, from its source in Tibet, through the impacted Himalayas of Western Nepal down to join the Ganges on the hot plains of India. An ancient route between Tibet and Nepal follows its milky-blue, glacier fed upper reaches, making for an unforgettable trek.

The valley has for centuries seen traders and pilgrims on their way to the fabled Mount Kailash in western Tibet, the axis of the ancient Buddhist and Hindu cosmos. Few pilgrims come this way now, but trade is thriving. While salt mined in Tibet used to be hauled down to India, it is now Chinese salt, rice and sugar that are lugged across the mountains on pack animals; the roadhead in Tibet is closer to the high hills than any road from the Nepali heartland.


Wayside children


Pack goat jam

As well as magnificent and varied scenery – snowy peaks, cliffs, crags, gorges and waterfalls – you will meet caravans of yak, mules, and pack goats, and pass through remote hill villages amid their terraced fields, where life’s essence has changed little over the centuries. You will travel from the Hindu world of the foothills to the monasteries, chortens, mani walls and prayer flags of the Tibetan world.

The vegetation changes from productive little fields and forests to the thin grasses and scrub of Tibet, as the trail climbs steadily towards the high pass across the Himalayas.

The area was closed until the mid 2000s and much of it was effectively controlled by Maoist insurgents. While this means you may not meet any Westerners at all, it also means that you need to plan carefully before you travel.


Tibetan village


Last gorge of new Himalayas

Walkopedia rating: 89
More information on this walk
William Mackesy’s full account of this walk


Yak crossing the Humla


Pack mules


Last village


Last evening before high pass


GOT SOME PICS OR A STORY THAT ARE SO GOOD THEY MUST BE SHARED?

Let us know – email us at info@walkopedia.net. They may get published!


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Photo essay: Stephen Barber’s Q’adisha valley

Walkopedia friend Stephen Barber, patron of the arts, traveller and much else, walked and captured the glory of the manificent Q’adisha Valley in Lebanon, home for monks and hermits for centuries.

Entrance to Q'adisha Valley


Hermits' caves


Cliff-face hermitage


Path from above


You feel dizzy just looking...


The cliffs


In under the cliffs


This could be China


Cedar forest

Walkopedia rating: 95
See full walk page

All photos © Stephen Barber


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The world’s best camp tucker

Best-selling novelist, foodie and soft walker Serena Mackesy on how to eat well in the bush – continued…

CORN ON THE COB

  • Corn cobs with the husks still on
  • Butter/oil

The best way of all to cook corn. Soak the corn for a minimum of a hour in clean water. Put the damp cobs directly on the embers and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Peel off the charred husks and eat with the butter. Delicious.

FISHCAKES

Protein, carbohydrate, fried: few things nicer.

  • Tin tuna/salmon/crab
  • Instant mash, made up quite thickly
  • A tbsp flour
  • An egg
  • Small pot containing pinches of ground coriander seed, dried coriander leaf, parsley, ground cumin
  • Oil for cooking
  • Lemon juice

Drain the tinned fish thoroughly. In small mess tin, smoosh it all up with the mash, flour, egg and herbs/spices, salt, pepper. Put a bit of flour, salt and pepper on plate. Take spoonfuls of mix and roll into balls in your hands, then squash flat into ½” thick patties and dip either side in the flour. Heat oil – you don’t need much - until really hot (if you drop a crumb of mix into it, it fizzes and browns) then put the cakes in. Cook for 5-10 mins on either side until golden brown. Eat with lemon and whatever edible leaves you can find.

STEW:

Make a stew and freeze it, taking it out and putting it into your pack just before you set off. It’ll be nicely thawed and ready to heat by the time you’re ready to cook, and act as a cooler for everything else in the meantime.

ORANGE-PEEL EGGS:

A classic boy-scout recipe. Cut an orange in half and eat it with a spoon, keeping the peel intact. Break an egg into one half of the orange, and put the other half on top as a lid. Wrap in foil and leave in embers for 5-10 mins.

A FILLING SAUSAGE STEW

Great, sustaining peasant food:

  • Sausages: any kind
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Lentils (the orange ones – half a cup a head)
  • Onion, garlic
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Stock cube

Fry onions, garlic, sausages for 10 mins in large mess tin. Add lentils, herbs, and fry for a minute. Add tomatoes and stock cube and a couple of cups of hot water for every cup of lentils. Make a lid from tinfoil and leave in the embers for a minimum of 20 mins – but the longer it goes the better it is. Make sure to scrape the caramelised crust off the bottom of the tin and eat it – it’s the best bit of all. Cheese is also good on this.

EASY FISH

If you catch one, or have one:

  • One fish, or fish fillet (but make sure it’s fresh and safe to eat!)
  • Oil or butter
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt, pepper
  • If you’ve got any, a couple of tbsp booze – cider or white wine is best
  • Any herbs you happen across – sage, basil, thyme, sorrel are particularly good
  • Some foil

If you don’t have a grill rack, put a large flattish stone in the fire some time before you want to cook so it gets nice and hot. Take a large piece of foil, four or five inches longer than the fish. Fold it in half, then fold the ends over and over to form a liquid-proof baggie. Put in the fish, the oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, herbs, booze, then fold over the top several times to seal. Put the bag on the stone and leave for 20 minutes or so. It will be steamed and succulent.

SPUDS IN MUD

This is so cool for children it almost validates carrying the potatoes.

  • A baking potato
  • Some clean mud

Wash and dry your spuds. Pack the mud thickly round them so they’re totally sealed. Put the lumps of mud in the embers and leave for an hour. The spuds should be ready when the mud is dry and hard. Let it cool for a few minutes before you break it open.


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