Turkey Tours

Istanbul hiking trails I

hike report – 5.5.18

İmrahor (Arnavutköy) to Yayla via the İmrahor Reservoir, the Blue Ponds and Pirinççi
Arnavutköy’s Northern green corridor – part 2
(Istanbul region, Thracian side, Turkey)
hike #123
late spring, rolling hills, open landscapes, mixed woodland and heath, lots of flowers and birds

who: Nick, 8 fellow-hikers (& 1 day-dog from Pirinççi to Yayla only)

The plan (from the facebook event): The hike: This is a rewalk of a hike we’ve only walked once before. And we walked part 1 2 weeks ago so time to try part 2 again. It’s a little bit on the longer side and also isn’t easy though fairly flat. Lots of variation and there will be flowers and birds aplenty. As it’s a longish hike, we’ll need to try to keep up a brisker pace.

Walking stats: 24kms in 7h 40m. An average pace of 2.6km/h which is moderately slow but not bad for a group including breaks. 544m of cumulative ascent and 438m of cumulative descent so moderately hilly.

Navigation: Pretty hard. We follow a SE line but quite roughly and with many a deviation to avoid an obstacle (like uncrossable stretches of highway) or to include an interesting place.

Access: Good. Dolmuş from Mescid-i Selam to İmrahor. Dolmuş or bus from Yayla back to Mescid-i Selam.

Legs, variations, bailing-points & extensions: The whole hike is never far from Arnavutköy but we don’t pass through any villages until Pirinççi (near the end of the hike and anyway with very poor public transport connections). The Blue Ponds around the halfway point are right on the NE edge of Arnavutköy.

Weather & seasons: Overcast all day. Humid but no rain. It felt a bit cool – around 18 degrees I think. This hike just about would work all year round but parts of it would be boggy (around the various ponds) or muddy (on the forestry and farm tracks) in winter. Something over half the hike is exposed to the sun.

Dangers: None of note today.

Difficulties: Some beelines or rather overgrown paths where secateurs were very useful even though there was no impenetrable jungle today. Maintaining stamina through to the end, especially for the final climb up Yayla hill.

Natural history & agriculture: A running rabbit (I think). A zillion frogs. Storks. A buzzard (I think). Lots of birds a-singing. A carthorse. Cows, sheep & poultry (near and in the villages). Feral dogs in and around the villages as well as some owned dogs. Grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders and butterflies. Several types of forest and woodland. Meadows. Late spring flowers, especially growing on the many acres of landfill and also on the meadows (clover notably). Wild fruit-tree blossom. Wild strawberries! Landfill in various stages of colonisation. Water plants. Puffball mushrooms (I think).

Settlements, artefacts & history: İmrahor is a marginal place on the northern edge of Arnavutköy. It’s scruffy and not sure whether it’s town, village or nowhere in particular. It has a relatively high proportion of Roma. I find all such places fascinating as there you see the process of transformation (mostly not a very positive one) of countryside into town or city. Pirinççi is one of my favourite regional villages, a friendly place with a certain rough charm. Now under threat because of the likely expansion of the Alibey Reservoir as a consequence of megaprojects (notably Kanal İstanbul). Pity they dumped their old mosque in favour of a far less charming new one. Yayla is a small, strung-out, mining town. I rather like it. Religion is an important feature of life there.

People: Outside the villages today we met more people that we usually do on our hikes – cowherds and shepherds; construction workers and truck drivers, and walkers in the recreation area around the Blue Ponds.

Photography: Flowers. Rolling landscapes. A vast mine cum hell-pit. Sewer construction. A small profusion of ponds & lakes.

The hike: This was only the second time we’ve walked this route. It went pretty well the first time, but this time everything fell together perfectly and now there’s really nothing about this route that I wish to change next time, though I’d be happy to walk it again before long. It’s rich in variation and gently extraordinary places and landscapes. And the nature is remarkable – especially the process of colonisation of extremely poor ground – landfill. If we ever need to adjust this route, it will be because some part of it becomes impassable because of construction. Entirely possible, unfortunately.

Path-making & clearing: Best to take secateurs and a pair of light gloves for this hike but generally no path clearance needed.

Grading: A regular B. Best walked if experienced with some of our easier hikes first.

Conclusion: In the book.

Fantasies: Arnavutköy’s Northern green corridor really is a corridor. Mostly between 1 and 3 kms wide. It is a sliver of green between urban spread and motorway, and also the new airport is just to the north, so much of the connecting infrastructure runs through this corridor. So my fantasy is the blindly obvious one – conserve and better extend this corridor. It is a precious recreational resource and once it’s destroyed, it won’t come back.


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