This article was written for Fethiye Times by Sian Midgley.
During our recent partial lockdown where sitting in bars discussing the price of Efes, or in my case coke (the fizzy kind, not the snorty kind), was no longer allowed, I rediscovered my love of walking. By choosing to walk locally I’ve found, with the help of some knowledgeable friends, some beautiful places, beautiful views and one or two hidden gems. So, if you are in the UK waiting for red to turn to green, or in Turkey contemplating your belly button for the hundredth time during full lockdown, grab a cuppa, make yourself comfy and let me tell you about some of my favourite strolls…
Peninsula or Yarımada (Half Island)
Many of you will have no doubt been part way round the peninsula in a car to visit one of the many lovely beaches but if you should choose to walk all the way round you are in for a treat. You could start your walk by taking a stroll through the boatyard – a bustling hive of activity where your lungs can take in the fume filled air (cough) whilst you gaze upon anything from old wrecks getting a lick of paint to shiny brand new yachts that most of us can only dream of setting foot on.
The peninsula itself is a leisurely three or so hour walk, all on tarmac. There are ups and there are downs to get the heart pumping and spectacular views at every turn. If you fancy a sit down there are a pile of conveniently abandoned telegraph poles to rest upon which give you a chance to look out over Çalış, Fethiye and Şövalye Island. Of course, you could also make a day of it by flinging on your bikini or mankini and taking a dip at either one of the beach clubs or in one of the small secluded bays that you stumble across.
The Hidden Secrets of Deliktaş / Ahat
Despite having lived here for over eight years, I only recently discovered this little gem. Tucked away behind the apartment blocks that fill your vision is a whole other world. A few steps will take you away from busy roads in to lush green fields and forests. After an hour or so of walking you can look back and see the whole of Fethiye spread before you. The chance of meeting another human is low but goats, tortoises and little creatures that scuttle away when you approach are everywhere. You can either do a short two hour loop or take on the bigger challenge of walking to one of my favourite destinations, Kayaköy, where you will, one day, be able to reward yourself with a cool beer and something that probably comes with rice and chips
The Delights of Afkule
Whilst I’m on the subject of Kayaköy I have to give a mention to Afkule Monastery, one of my absolute favourite places to visit. A Monastery believed to have been constructed in the 11th Century by a monk called Ayios Eleftherios.
It lies about 3km out of Kayaköy as you head towards Gemiler Beach. Once you get off the main road and follow the signs the hike can become a little challenging in places. It definitely isn’t a walk you should do in flip-flops or if you haven’t got a head for heights. But the scramble is worth it as you reach your destination and scratch your head in amazement whilst wondering how on earth someone managed to construct a building on, and in, the side of a cliff. If you do go, make sure you take a left along the rear side of the purpose-built stone building and you’ll find the old water filtration system which still has clear fresh water in it to this day.
I’ve visited a number of times now and it takes my breath away every time. I feel I’ve stumbled on a secret that no one else knows about (until some idiot writes about it in Fethiye Times anyway).
A Hidden Gem
Afkule Monastery isn’t the only delight hidden, and overshadowed, by the abandoned village at Kayaköy. Did you know there is also a beautiful little waterfall? No, me neither. Even dog walking friends of mine who have walked the well trodden path that is about 50 metres from the waterfall didn’t realise it was there. Even though the walk to it from Kayaköy is breathtaking, it is also just a couple of kilometres from the back of Hisarönü if you only fancy a little stroll with a tuna sandwich. But can I give you directions? Well, no. I’ve only been there twice and got lost the second time.
But let me have a few more attempts and I’ll let you know.
Only A Little Further…
Those are the words I wished for when I did this particular walk. In fact ‘walk’ is an understatement; a lung busting, knee trembling vertical climb is more of an accurate description.
But if someone says ‘do you fancy a hike to the top of Babadağ’ it seems churlish to say no. That’s right – Babadağ – that bloody great mountain over there to the left that people jump off.
Now don’t get me wrong it is a fantastic hike. The views are more than stunning and the sense of achievement when you reach the top is out of this world. We started in brilliant sunshine and ended in sleet and snow and us ladies were thankful that the loos at the summit were open. However next time I do it I’m going to make sure the cable car is running so I don’t have to walk back down again. Although I must confess that we lost the will to live halfway down and called a cab.
My Final Offering
I’m going to finish on one of my favourite spots, right at the top of the list alongside Afkule. Cadianda. My pooch is also a big fan so if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.
Cadianda is on the outskirts of the village of Üzümlü. If you are feeling lazy you can drive to the ruins but if you want to stretch your legs you can hike up from the village. Either way, when you reach your destination you’ll stumble upon remains of a stadium, baths and what every ancient town needs – an amphitheatre. Built, erm, a very long time ago, the ruins, like Afkule, feel decidedly undiscovered. Very few people seem to visit yet it is kept clean and tidy by a friendly little chap who sits in a wooden cabin at the entrance who will happily offer you a glass of çay at the end of your tour.
More to Discover
There’s still so much more on our doorstep to explore so put your trainers on and let your feet do the talking. Meet the locals, stop at a roadside cafe for a gözleme (pancake), have a chat with a goat, but most of all take a deep breath of air (not recommended whilst you are still near the goat), gaze around and feel good about life.
But For Now…
Well, as we sit through the last few days of full lockdown (hopefully) I’m going to plan my next walk whilst deciding if going to the local shop for a chocolate bar can really be classed as essential shopping…
A big thank you to my friends at Let’s Dance Sailing for providing most of the photos.