Our local reporter visits the site where the body of a person believed to be John Kirkham, the missing British walker, was found last Friday
On Friday 11th September the sad news of the death of John Joseph Kirkham was released, when his body was found in a dry riverbed on the outskirts of the village of Kirme – not Kozağaç as reported in some press releases.
This mountain hamlet, overlooking the sea above Oludeniz, became the last resting place of the 67-year-old walking enthusiast, who disappeared on 10th August some 33 days earlier.
His body has been taken to Izmir where formal identification will take place and doctors will undertake an autopsy to determine his cause of death.
Until that time, only the most basic information has been released by the local Jandarma (local law enforcement agency) in nearby Olüdeniz.
It is understood that Kirkham’s body was found by villager Kamil Özkan, who was in the remote area collecting bay leaves. The village itself is isolated and the place where the body was found was some one-kilometre distant from the Lycian Way. Extremely isolated and inaccessible except by foot, it will probably remain a mystery as to why such a detour was taken by a walker on his way to the village of Faralya, along the Lycian Way.
Ozkan allegedly noticed the red backpack that Kirkham was carrying and on further investigation found what is believed to be Kirkham’s body at the foot of a 15-metre cliff (pictured right).
The Oludeniz Jandarma said that all his equipment and personal effects were still with him, including the camera, which earlier reports said he had been looking for when he was last seen passing through the village.
The Lycian Way runs through the village of Kirme. The path is clearly signposted, wide and relatively flat, which makes it harder to understand how Kirkham came to be so far off the track.
Experienced professional guide Ali Ishan Emre, who regularly takes walkers along this particular part of the trail, explained that, “this isn’t a difficult walk for people who are fit and active but then it isn’t a Sunday afternoon stroll either. I wrote to the Governor’s representative in Fethiye just a couple of months ago asking that some kind of regulation could be implemented by the authorities to make walkers aware of the dangers.”
He added. “Much of the Lycian Way is very remote and sadly, as this event shows, people can sometimes go missing and despite everyone’s best endeavours finding them is extremely difficult and occasionally impossible until it’s too late. I would always recommend using a guide and keeping a mobile telephone on at all times. It certainly it isn’t really a good idea to walk these tracks alone.”
This is the first death to have occurred on this path in recent years. The last was a few years ago when a Dutch man was found dead after walking alone. In comparison there were 20 deaths on Scottish mountains in 2007 as well as 491 rescues.
While the emotional cost to John Kirkham’s family must be enormous, our thoughts are with them at this distressing time and for the dedicated teams who searched for him, we must also acknowledge their sadness at not having been able to locate him earlier, despite their best efforts.