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.

orman1
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.

Yenice-Forest2
Ahmet Elbir – Chief Forester and passionate defender of Yenice

Ahmet Elbir, our passionate chief 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
plenty
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!

Arum
unknown Arum – not vulgaris
unknown-orchid-21
another unknown orchid (as yet)
violet
pale blue violets
strange-flower
the seed pods of the hellibore
muscari
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 in Okçular

ps since this post from Archers of Okcular was posted May 2013 this amazingly beautiful place has been under threat of a hydro-electric dam project. I guess over the retired body of Chief Forester Ahmet Albir!

8 thoughts on “Absolutely Fabulous!

  1. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful! I signed your cookery book and it’s on the way! Also will be in Fethiye on 3rd May, will host a Turkish dinner and book signing, would sooo love to see you and Janet if you can – Happy Easter! xx Sevgilerimle, Ozlem

    Liked by 1 person

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