Stuff, Wanderings

Absolutely Fabulous!

hobbit menu‘Hobbits!’ I thought as J and I tucked into our second breakfast of the morning – Hobbits, you see, have second everything and breakfast at our hotel was now being followed a couple of hours later by a veritable feast. We were being hosted by a couple of ranking bureaucrats (no names to protect the guilty) who were taking the opportunity to bunk off on the pretext of a public relations junket with ‘important’ visitors from Okçular.

The object of the exercise had been for J and I to spend the day exploring and wandering about in parts of the fabulous Yenice National Park up here in Karabük. I say ‘had been’ because, as sometimes happens here, ‘mission creep’ blunders on to the scene and takes over. As it happens this creeping mission turned into the most wonderful of experiences.


Orman 1 leads off

Our pair of hookey-playing bureaucrats had brought with them a couple of Orman (Forest Ministry) 4x4s and the renowned chief forester of this world-class chunk of mountainous forest who would be our guide! J and I were each presented with a copy of the excellent official guide book and maps, which we reciprocated with the Okçular book, and then off we set.

Yenice Book and Map

Yenice is a vast, mixed forest set in a land of towering mountains and precipitous canyons. There are rivers and plateaux, scattered villages and upland meadows, ponds and meres. Access roads to the lower villages are reasonable but once above these you are in the land of the 4×4, ‘Shanks’ Pony’, real ponies or even buffalo!

Rhododendrons drip down the mountainsides at this time of year adding bright splashes of colour to the forty-shades-of-green of the trees.

Ahmet Elbir – Chief Forester and passionate defender of Yenice

Ahmet Elbir, our passionate forester and guide, stopped at various places along the road and led us through trackless forest to places that looked out over stunning views and dizzying drops. It didn’t take me long to find my first orchid of the trip.

unknown orchid 1

as yet unknown orchid

We stopped for a coffee at a newly refurbished traditional wooden house that is being converted to a lodge for walkers and cyclists. Albergo Butik Otel will be open for guests in about a month and I can tell you that J and I will be back sometime soon – they don’t have a website up yet but you can get info at Yenice kaymakam’s site.

guest house bathroom

always a good idea to check the bathroom!

Back on the track the 4x4s were soon demonstrating why they are essential tools for the guardians of this forest. There is so much water flowing that many parts of the route are a mud bath – in fact, such is the terrain that much of the logging that is done relies on teams of buffalo to get the timber out.

buffalo logging2

We slithered, bounced and ground our way upwards until, around a bend in the track, a great, area of upland meadow opened up to us. Cows and sheep grazed and kangal dogs kept watch against bears (which some of the party had spotted lower down), lynx, wolves and human intruders. We debussed and wandered a short distance to the temporary homestead of a herding family who, forewarned, were to be our hosts.

shepherds house

Greeted like long-lost cousins we were soon tucking into warm, fresh-baked bread, home-made cheese, salad, ayran, chilled spring water and lashings of tea.

 our hosts

J with our generous hosts


lashings of ginger beer!

A great platter of fresh woodland fungi was produced with the promise that this would be cooked up and served with more fresh bread after we returned from our hiking/wandering.

fungi feast

WOW man! – then say it backwards WOW!

Hiking up the gentle slope I was soon distracted and side-tracked by swathes of orchids and violets, a species of arum and a number of other plants that will have to wait until I get home to my reference books for identification. Such is the geography of this vast forest that  micro-climates and various eco-systems abound – the diversity is mind-boggling!


unknown Arum

unknown orchid 2

another unknown orchid (as yet)



strange flower

the seed pods of the hellibore


Muscari – and there was so much more

Back at our host’s encampment we were soon tucking into a mound of succulent fungi, fresh bread and tea. We were joined by the matriarch of the family and a splendid time was  spent with much chat, laughter and hugging that is such an endearing quality of Turkish country folk.

our sponsors

truants, forester, shepherd hosts and a tourist (serious faces aside we had a great time)

Later, as we slid and bounced our way back down to the less civilised civilised world, J and I were left with the warm glow of gentle kindness, our cameras full of reminders of sights and things.

wild ride

it was a wild ride back down – this was the view through my eyes as well!

It has been one of the most absolutely fabulous days ever and we have our two truant bureaucrats, our celebrated chief forester, their drivers and a generous family of mountain shepherds to thank for the experience – Oh! and Toprakana – Mother Earth, of course!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps to those who had trouble with the photos I can only say that Windows is the most useless OS I’ve ever had to deal with – roll on getting back to Ubuntu!

42 thoughts on “Absolutely Fabulous!

  1. Alan, wow, the narrative sounds wonderful. So frustrated… none of my devices: iPad, iMac, Windows desktop, or MacBook Pro, none of my browsers: Safari, Firefox, or IE allow me to see the photos other than the first one of the red 4×4… grrrr!

    Your visit there sounds delightful!


    1. sorry Ed, I’m having to use Windows which I find to be the crappiest OS ever – had to put all my pics through Photoshop and then reload them – can’t wait to get back to Ubuntu

  2. Alan, I don’t know if you did something to correct the problem, but we saw the photos perfectly. What a load of fun. Really, you make it sound every bit as much delightful and we’re sure it was. BTW, we noticed that there were two unserious faces in the last pic – belonging to the ladies, of course.

  3. Good Morning SDs! Spent ages sorting out the photo problem last night, Windows!! Ugh! Nuff said! Have to say it again, it was the most fabulous experience – the faces? We were all seriously contented and happy 🙂

  4. Is your strange unknown flower perhaps a hellebore past its prime with swelling seed pods? Can’t wait to visit.

    1. . . thank you Sally, that sounds about right. As I’m getting a bit creaky in the joints I decided to leave all the reference stuff at home and check things later. Trouble is that I know all this ‘stuff’ is in the head somewhere, just that recall is a bit erratic! 🙂 You are right about the seed pods, I found some lower down that were ‘popping’.

  5. Want to hear more about the fungi dish. Was it as delicious as it seems? Are you still headed to the Black sea next month as well?

    1. Hi Natalie, the fungi were truly delicious, cooked with wild onions and tomatoes. I’ll be looking up the species when I get home. (separate email re: Black Sea)

    1. Hello Annie, Karabük Province, south of Zonguldak, north of Ankara, Black Sea region – if you find Safranbolu that is the province. Yenice is directly north of Karabük town and lies both sides of a monumental gorge that runs towards the coast.

  6. Those are beautiful photos of flowers! Bonding with nature is really one of the best ways to de-stress. Those mushrooms look really delicious… Yum!

  7. Alan,

    Marvelous. This part of Turkey must be a botanist’s and a biologist’s paradise. Your new friends look marvelous. Sincere sweet people.

    Thank you for your technical assistance; all is well now. Love the photos.

    It strikes me that the various hues of green must have been a wonder just in themselves. Were there birds and other critters to describe and photograph?

    Thanks for the posting… looking forward to more if opportunity and time permit. 🙂


    1. . . so pleased you got them Ed. Birds abound along with much else but time and patience are required to capture shots – on my upcoming visit to UK I will pick up my new Canon 7D which is built for the job of capturing anything that moves. The most dangerous animals up there are the huge ‘Kangal’ dogs which protect the herds/flocks from anything including bears, lynx, wolves, humans, etc. If you have the chance to spend some time here you should do it.

    1. . . indeed I do! Natural orchids not the hothouse tropical hybrid man-made things. In Okcular I seem to remember that I am up up to 31/32 species recorded so far – with that on your doorstep wouldn’t you be? J asks ‘What sort of farmer is this Kim Çiftci you are talking to?’

  8. Oh Wow! We passed through that area on a bus a few years back. Now I’m beginning to wonder if the bike could cope with those trails…

    No longer a bureaucrat (and when I was, I had access to places like…. Paddington, Wormwood Scrubs, Magravaine Cemetery – not quite the same….)

    1. Ha! There is no doubt J and I are privileged to know our man – he gives us access to things and places that we might not otherwise cover. That said, the bike will get you to a lot of the areas here, the rest requires legs as we did today to walk to the top of a mountain. You have a bike we get the Orman 4×4 – the lodge would make a great base as they also have mountain bikes.

  9. Hello there,

    Good shots of all photos, look great. The orchids was so pretty. I love so much orchids. Well, thanks for posting this pretty blog.

  10. Alan; I am having a great dose of home (from Surrey!), thanks to you. The landscape, nature, fungi looks incredible; though I think above all the kindness, hospitality of the locals, so lovely. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hello Özlem – glad it warmed your homesick heart – and you are right, the kindness and generosity of local people is the topping of this wonderful cake!

  11. It’s been awhile since I checked in (internet is difficult and expensive in Africa so far) but this was a great post to reunite with Archers. Can’t see many of the photos but I’m sure it’s my terrible internet connection, not a problem on your end. Thanks for sharing!

    1. . . welcome back Bobbi – in total empathy with the duff internet thing, we rely on a very slow mobile connection to keep us in contact with the outside world. A couple of posts ago it took five and a half hours to get the thing up on WordPress. Off to see what you’ve been doing.

  12. It’s so good to be able to share some of your life experiences and I know how much fun and enjoyment you have both gained from it all and what lovely people you have meet. Brilliant.

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