Day 50. Sunday, September 17. Corum river camp to field camp. 140.7km, with 1,805m of climbing.
This was going to be the big riding day in our set of five between rest days – long with a lot of climbing. That turned out to be true but the scenery and people along the way gave us a lot of pleasure. Below is just one example of the start of a descent…and the view back over another ascent.
Heather was the big surprise for me. Cresting one climb, I spotted its purple flowers. From time to time through Georgia and Turkey I’ve thought the landscape looks like Scotland but the vegetation doesn’t. Then hey presto, here was heather!
Then it was gone, never to be seen again – yet. Since I saw it only close by the righthand side of the road, I suggested to Søren that some Scottish tourists might have scattered seeds out of their car windows as they drove by.
“I’m sure not,” the Dane replied. “The Scots never give anything away.” He has a bone to pick with them, I’d discovered some days before. He’d told me Orkney was Danish/Norwegian held from 875 and settled by Norse people.
Then in 1472 the Parliament of Scotland absorbed the Earldom of Orkney into the Kingdom of Scotland, following failure to pay a dowry promised to James III of Scotland by the family of his bride, Margaret of Denmark.
The Danes subsequently offered to settle the debt. But the Scots wanted the land not the money. As it happens, there are once again moves in Orkney and Shetland to leave the UK and rejoin Norway and/or Denmark.
A far happier encounter between people came for us at our mid-morning drinks stop in the village of Arslandede. Initially we were disappointed because its lone shop was closed. Then its proprietor came running over from the mosque on the other side of the street and opened up for us.
Then a bit of a party formed as some other villagers came over to chat. One lived in France and was home for a visit…and decided French was the best common language for us to chat in. Then came Zehra with her Dad. She too was back home for a holiday from her university film studies in Istanbul.
While I had a fascinating conversation with her (in English) about the village – its name is Turkish for lion; it was once Armenian-held so its mosque was once a church – and about her studies, her Dad nipped home for a melon to refresh us.
In due course, knowing we still had many more kilometres to ride and more hills to climb, we thanked them for their hospitality and pedalled off down the road. Our reward at the end of the day was a very pleasant camping spot in a field by a river. The photo below is of us breakfasting there the next morning.