Hiking Gallipoli – Turkey

It is possible to walk a circuit of the Gallipoli battlefields in a half day starting at the Kapatepe museum. The walk takes you around to Anzac cove, up a track to the Australian memorial at Lone Pine, along the loop road to the New Zealand memorial at Chunuck Bair and then back down to Kabatepe museum.

Situation and history

The Gallipoli peninsula gain notoriety due to the failed invasion by the allied forces in World War 1. About 130,000 people of various nationalities died during the campaign. Now the battlefields are covered by scrub and low pines. The landing beaches have beautifully clear water and locals picnic on the seashore. Unfortunately the Turkish government recently built a road through ANZAC cove, destroying the natural contour.

Trail Notes

The loop can be broken into four sections: the waterfront walk to ANZAC cove, the track up to lone pine, the road to Chunick Bair and the walk back to the museum.

Kabatepe museum to ANZAC cove: Start at the Kabatepe where, from the upstairs terrace of the museum building, there are commanding views of the battlefield area and its peak at Chunuk Bair. From the front gate of the museum turn right and walk down the curving road to the waterfront. At the waterfront the road splits: one veering inland towards the memorials and the other continuing on the waterfront. Take time to study the large map next to the small store cum information centre and then proceed along the waterfront road to ANZAC cove. At the entrance to the cove there is a cemetery on the waterfront from which there is a partial view of the cove and a hazardous scramble to the beach. An alternative is to continue along the road to the cove.

ANZAC cove to Lone Pine Cemetery (Australian memorial): Walk back along the road and turn up a track marked by wooden sign ‘Lone Pine Cem. Rough Track 1.5km’. The track climbs steadily and is in fair condition. Turn right at the top of the track to visit the adjacent Lone Pine Cemetery, site of a battle by predominantly Australian forces.

Lone Pine Cemetery to Chunuk Bair (New Zealand memorial): Turn left from Lone Pine and walk uphill along the road. On this section you will pass a number of memorials and cemeteries; the most busy one being the Turkish memorial, with a large carpark and well watered grass. The road essentially demarks no-mans-land as it was for most of the war. To the left are glimpses of ANZAC cove and a steep gulley to the right. Depressions of the old trenches and fortifications can be glimpsed in the bushes on the roadside, some of which have been restored. There are views of both coasts from Chunik Bair. The New Zealand memorial sits on the apex of the hill.

Chunuk Bair to Kabatepe: There are two options to return: either continue on the loop road or retrace your steps. The loop road is relatively direct and slopes gently downhill on a second ridgeline. There was no fighting along this ridge so relatively few memorials, cemeteries or points of interest.

Alternatives: In good weather, and with a full day, it would be possible to complete the circuit and spend time detouring to many of the lesser visited cemeteries that pepper the area.
It is possible to taxi from Ecabat to Chunick Bair and then walking the route downhill. This would be a shorter and easier walk but would skip the anticipation of walking up from ANZAC cove to the highest point reached during the campaign.

Planning your trip

The circuit takes about 4hrs and can be undertaken as a brisk half-day walk. Walking in the peak of day can be uncomfortably hot in summer so consider an early start if visiting in July or August. In good weather, and with a full day, it would be possible to complete the circuit and spend time detouring to many of the lesser visited cemeteries that pepper the area.

Starting elevation: Sea level
Summit elevation: 266m
Total ascent: 266m
Trail distance: 16km
Average gradient: Gentle

Trail Grading

Mostly well maintained asphalt road. Gravel section up to Lone Pine and on many of the optional detours.

Gear

Sneakers would suffice, the only difficult stretch being the slippery gravel up to Lone Pine. Take sunscreen, sunglasses, a good hat and water –the sun is very strong and there is very little shade on the trail.

Access to and from the hike

Dolmuş public minibuses travel from the ferry terminal at Eceabat to Kabatepe township half past the hour, every hour. The bus has a small sign in the front window specifying the destination and whilst it may be empty there are usually a number of passengers waiting in the surrounding cafes. Ask the driver to alight at the Kabatepe museum, which is a large shiny building about 10min along the road. The fare is about 3 lira.

It is also possible to catch a taxi from Eceabat.

Getting back from the Kabatepe museum is more difficult. There is no taxi rank and you are unlikely to see a taxi anywhere along the walk. To catch a Dolmuş back to Eceabat wait on the verge across the road from the museum and flag one down.

Navigation & Facilities

There is a well maintained one-way loop road and a plethora of small tracks crisscrossing the battlefields. Most visitors drive and therefore the old walking tracks languish somewhat.

Cold drinks and limited snacks are usually available from stall holders at the Turkish memorial uphill from Lone Pine and at Chunuck Bair.

There is a large map on a sign at the waterfront near the start of the circuit. Metal plaque maps are located most historic sites. These in-situ maps are adequate to navigate the route.

Safety

Snakes, heat and cars are the main risks. There is no footpath on the one-way loop road and cars travel in the same direction as the walk. The road is wide and has ample verges but you need to constantly check for vehicles over your shoulder.

Flora and fauna

The hillsides are bedecked with scrub and pine trees. Forest fires have destroyed much of the pine in recent years. You are unlikely to encounter animals however snakes do inhabit the area so be vigilant.

Our experience

We had a late night at the Crowded House and arose equally late. We decided to find our own way through the battlefields and hopped on a local bus. After much confusion we alighted at the museum, which was too preoccupied by its own architecture. We surveyed the contour from the terrace and picked out the various monuments identified by flags. Our first impression was the region was surprisingly flat – we had expected precipitous terrain but were instead confronted by rolling hillside covered in pines.

We walked down to the far more modest beachfront information centre which was closed. While we considered a well-placed topographical map an enthusiastic and friendly Turk joined us and did his best to help explain the history of the area. This was very entertaining with lots of gestures and mime although much of it was lost in translation and left us with ambiguous interpretations such as the French were either snoozing during the invasion OR are now sleeping in their graves further south. Stories over, we thanked the Turkish man and continued our walk.

The coastal road was newly sealed but we only saw a handful of cars on our way to Anzac cove. The cove itself had been ruined by the new road, with retaining wall stretching down to the beach and roadworks cutting into the hill above.

We continued up to Lone Pine where about 2,000 aussies and turks died fighting across an area the size of a football pitch. Mind boggling. The only other person at the memorial was a turk with a large water truck maintaining the lawn around the Australian graves.

Continuing up the ridge to Chunuk Bair we passed a number of memorials, including the well visited a very well maintained Turkish memorial. We bought bottles of cold water and cans of cherry drink at the carpark.
Along the ridge we sighted a tap concealed in the bushes, wet our hats to get some relief from the scorching heat and continued.

Remnants of trenches were visible on either side of the road for most of its length. The precarious nature of the allied position was apparent – on the left side of the road were good views down to Anzac cove where suppliers were landed and on the right side of the road were the Turkish trenches.

At Chunuck Bair we were greeted by a cluster of stalls selling water and tourist tat. The New Zealand memorial was located on the highest point. A slightly taller Turkish flag has been erected adjacent to the New Zealand memorial – fair enough, it’s their country. From the top there were good views of the coast. What struck us was the sacrifice and adversary suffered by the soldiers to reach this point during the war; for us it was a straightforward morning walk.

The heat was oppressive at midday. Between two people we had demolished our initial 2L of water and then another 3L of drinks at stalls en-route. About half-way down the loop road a Turkish family pulled over and offered us a lift. They spoke very little English but we learned they were on vacation from Istanbul. They had seen us wilting in the heat at several memorials and took pity on us. We thanked them profusely for the ride and farewelled them at the museum, from whence we returned to Eceabat.

Overall we enjoyed the walk around the battlefields. We felt that walking the terrain by ourselves, getting lost, worrying about encountering snakes and where we could get water gave us a better sense of the area than traveling the area in a vehicle. We were also impressed the Turkish people were so amicable given the allies had invaded their country

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One response to “Hiking Gallipoli – Turkey

  1. The Allies may have invaded Turkey but of course, we were on the same side in WW2, and relationships have only improved since. Besides which, WW1 ANZAC and Turkish soldiers generally held much respect for each other’s tenacity and bravery. So it is not all that surprising that the Turks hold no obvious grudges. As for snakes, while I think it is wise to be aware of the possibility of encountering one, I find it strange that a tourist travelling around the loop would be that worried. I saw one briefly in the recreated trenches at Chunuk Bair, but I think using good bush-wacking practice of wearing covered shoes and a stick to prod the ground ahead of you and making noise will be enough to frighten them away if you plan to jump into any of the shallow depressions which used to be trenches along the hill road.

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