Charities and Associations

Walking and Exploring in North Cyprus

A Nice Day Out, Walking and Exploring

 although I had not done any serious walking for some years I did not find it too taxing

By Margaret Sheard

At the end of March this year I had a really nice day out, away from the chores and out in the fresh air, what could be nicer.

The day started at Gecitkoy Reservoir where I joined the ATA group for a walk around the reservoir. We were to start off at around 10am and when everyone was assembled we were introduced to Stuart Northage who was to be our guide.    For the walk he was there in an advisory capacity and said he would be pleased to answer questions and he told us we would see crystals in the rocks, gypsum, many wild flowers and there were still some black tulips growing along the path.  Although the area was decimated by fire some years ago, there is now an abundance of trees.

We started on the walk which was a gentle incline and although I had not done any serious walking for some years I did not find it too taxing.  Stuart told us that the reservoir was built in the 1970’s and was constructed from the gypsum which was quarried there and that the geology in this area is very different from other parts of the country. The site was chosen because of the need for water in an area which was a major crop growing part of the country. The reservoir does have some fish, mainly carp and pike. On our ascent we saw many wild flowers and interesting foliage and at one point there were cocoons in the trees which hold moths which then become caterpillars, Stuart told us that if you touch them they make you extremely itchy.  As we progressed further up the view of the reservoir and surrounding area was beautiful.   It was a lovely sunny day and not too hot so ideal weather for the walk.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of confusion regarding the short route around the reservoir so by a majority decision it was decided to retrace our steps and return by the same route, this time all downhill. Stuart said the walk was about 5km so for those like me who do not do a lot of walking nowadays, I think we did remarkably well.

 At our meeting point at the reservoir we had noticed a great deal of activity and an area with a covered dais and seating and we were told that the following day there was to be a ceremony attended by dignitaries from Turkey for the inauguration of the new water pipeline which is to come from Turkey.  Apparently all of the work has been completed in Turkey and the next step is bringing the pipeline under the sea to North Cyprus where it will eventually come to Gecitkoy.  The reservoir is to be made deeper by increasing the size of the dam by a few meters and this will then double the capacity of water.

So we arrived back where we had parked and made our way to a restaurant in the village where we had an excellent lunch. Stuart told us a little about himself – he has been in North Cyprus for 5 years and came here because his mother and stepfather were here at the time and he had also done a field trip to North Cyprus when he was at University.   He previously lived in Brighton and worked as a Project Manager and Consultant Geologist for the Department of Education and prior to that as Project Manager for the Employment Service.   Due to major reorganisation within his last post he took early retirement and decided to make his home in North Cyprus.

Stuart now keeps himself busy working with schools and doing walks for the children, mainly the British Academy.  The children join the walks as part of a geography course but they also study the flora and fauna.They had done the walk we did today and also Karşiyaka Beach and the 9-mile Beach.  On one occasion one of the children found a bone from a dwarf elephant so that was quite an event.

Following lunch we all said our goodbyes and Chris and I decided to make a day of it and drove to Çamlibel, wandered around a bit and then found a nice quiet spot near a wooded area so we could have a snooze after our lunch.   I spotted a donkey in the woods so ambled up the path and found there were two donkeys who looked at me with interest and then carried on grazing.

We then drove to the lovely Maronite village of Koruçam and I went into the small Church on the outskirts of the village which has been beautifully restored.  It is so tiny and you have to duck through the doorway because it is so low.  There were a couple of people in the Church and I didn’t want to disturb them so I quietly left and looked at the surrounding area which is very well kept with a lovely statue and flowers and bushes, there is also an outside seating area in an amphitheatre style, I assume for outside services.   It really is a lovely little church and well worth seeing. We then drove back into the village and had a coffee at the local Belediyesi. We spoke to a lady there and although she didn’t speak a lot of English we managed to communicate and when we were leaving she asked if we would like to go into the large church of St George which dominates the centre of the village and was built in the 1940’s. Having been to Koruçam many times before and not able to see the inside of the church  I was really pleased at this offer.  So she got the key and took us in.  It really is a beautiful place with many saint’s pictures around and a curtained off area which is opened up at Christmas for the Nativity, I could just about see through to this section and I am sure when it is opened up and probably lit up it must look lovely. We thanked the lady for her kindness and went on our way.

We decided to take the scenic route back along the coast and when we arrived at Sadrazamkoy I recalled many visits but had never been able to find the lighthouse.  So off we went down a very bumpy road which was never ending to Cape Koruçamand finally arrived at the “lighthouse”. This was a bit disappointing as I expected to see a traditional lighthouse but in fact it was merely a very tall pylon with a light at the top. Never mind, at least now I have been there.

We were both feeling quite tired and achy by then so we headed home along the coast road and stopped off at Horseshoe Bay for a coffee and then continued our journey, arriving back at about 7.30pm so it was a very long and tiring day but an extremely nice one.

The reservoir project has now started and is progressing and this could be seen when recently driving by.   It will be interesting to make another visit to the reservoir and see all of the changes which are taking place.