P100-3 St Paul Trail by Kate Clow
J and I, together with field biologist friend Paul Hope and wife Pat had been spending a few days exploring the rivers, lakes and pools in the area about 30kms South of Lake Eğidir. We were based in the small, out-of-the-way town of Sütçüler; a sleepy place slowly fading back into the brown landscape from which it had emerged as the Pisidian redoubt of Adada some 2100 ago.
Having satisfied Paul’s craving for dragonflies we decided to opt for a bit of adventurous exploring. I had read about Beydili in Kate Clow’s wonderful walking guide ‘St Paul’s Trail’ and having pushed our trusty Dobló up and down a few tracks that goats view with trepidation, I had few qualms about ‘doing’ Kate’s walk with the old girl. (all cars, with the exception of the AC Cobra, are in true nautical tradition, feminine)
Anyway, we set out from Sütçüler in a generally easterly direction, driving until the asphalt road ended at a goat track that appeared to be heading upwards towards the top of Sarp Dağ that towered above us.
Here, at the end of the road, there were a couple of houses and standing outside were a couple of blokes. We asked them about the road to Beydili – was it drivable? The guy indicated his car, a wreck of a Renault, and said he might try it in his or with a tractor – buuut . . . ‘Nuff said, and off we set; first gear was going to get some serious testing!
What an amazing track; it is so obviously very old, parts are cobbled and it is narrow enough to know that you don’t want to meet anyone coming the other way or break down as the only way back is being dragged out by a tractor. Onwards and upwards! The drive was crazy and exhilarating, some might say it was stupid especially as the passengers had to get out fairly frequently so I’d have enough ground clearance to get over the boulders! Crazy? Yes! Reckless? No! In satisfying my curiosity for what might be around the next bend I’ve never got stuck but once and on that occasion we were dug out by a couple of passing yörüks – ‘Allah Korusun!’ Looking back, this was an act of supreme lunacy! Due to the roughness of the track all of my concentration was on getting to the next bend in the path – there are no photos!
We actually caught up with a tractor and trailer which gave us enough room to pass (a sign of my reckless driving?) – 10 minutes later the tractor was looking to pass us! Eventually we reached the top of the pass and began the winding descent; after a couple of kilometres we rounded a bend and there below us was our destination – the village of Beydili.
Beydili is an amazing place; essentially it remains as it has been for hundreds of years with the exception that electricity has been brought in. There are no roads to the village because the mountain is too steep, so there is no concrete, no cars, no quad bikes and no tourists, no ‘progress’. Buildings are made of stone and wood, water cascades along stone channels and dogs, by tradition, are banned. Despite appearances, people live and thrive here by herding and hunting just as they have done for hundreds of years.
Beydili is an amazing ‘time warp’, if you are of the intrepid variety I recommend it to you – the experience of getting there is only matched by the village itself and the local people. They have a guest house that you can stay in and share in the life of this remote and isolated community; I doubt that you will experience such closeness to the greatness of the mountains and Toprakana (Mother Earth) anywhere else – ‘Over the hills and far away’.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü