Yes, dear readers, after two practise runs we headed east for Antalya on Wednesday 10th October with loaded rucksacks to start a section of the St Paul Trail.

Yes, dear readers, after two practise runs: one to test camping skills when we wondered around Mugla province by car; second to test walking and camping when we marched up Yaniklar valley (you can find accounts of both on the site) we finally headed east for Antalya on Wednesday 10th October – loaded rucksacks in the luggage compartment.

The bus ride to Antalya was followed by another short ride to Serik, where we found the dolmuş for Beşkonak and eventually left in an aged minibus with 25 people inside (including 5 on front bench seat) and a stove, milking machine plus churn, sundry sacks and our four huge rucksacks all tied on the roof.  As soon as we turned off the motorway outside of Antalya the bus stopped so everyone could buy their bread – and young men squashed inside could sit on the roof rack instead.  When we arrived at Beşkonak a quick negotiation got us a ride in a truck up the hairpin road to Selge. 

Selge is an amazing place in that it is an ancient settlement with remains of Roman amphitheatre, stadium and sundry temples clearly visible.  It has never been excavated and a Turkish village has grown up amongst the remains which has a population of around 1000 although young people are leaving and, unless Selge can offer prospects for the future, it is a dying village.  However, it has a mosque and a primary school, good water supplies which, since two years ago have been piped into individual houses, and increasingly tourists visit paying the 2YTL entry fee to wander around the ruins and the picturesque stone houses of the resident Turks.  At least five of the houses boast ‘Market’ signs and every other resident wants to sell bead necklaces and hand-whittled wooden spoons. 

{mosimage}We got out at the first ‘Market’ and quickly established that the owner was happy for us to camp in the field at the back and to use a table in her ‘caf鐠as our catering site.  We drank her tea for starters, whilst a thunderstorm raged outside and took out the electricity supply.  Then as iftar time approached tents were pitched, and the camping stove set up in the caf矴o reheat the ‘first night stew’.  When camping Fethiye Times always takes a good beef stew, frozen, for eating on the first night.  If we go by car the weight of the stew isn’t a problem, but even when walking and camping there isn’t much walking on the first day as we use public transport to reach our starting point, so the stew thaws slowly in a rucksack during the day and guarantees a good meal before we start our trek diet of pasta and packet sauces.  Indeed, the aroma of warming stew drew favourable comments from our hostess and family once they emerged from the back room where they had broken their fast.

After dinner, by the light of candles, we drank tea and coffee and chatted with a one-eyed guide called Davut who remembered Kate Clow visiting to do research for the St Paul’s Trail – on which we would start walking the next morning.  By 10pm we were snug in the tents ready for an early start.