Pilgrim's progress: Turkey's new trekking route

In 1671, the great Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi, left Istanbul to undertake the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. So circuitous was his route that he took twice as long as the typical pilgrim to reach his destination!

For 40 years he criss-crossed the empire and beyond, from Vienna to Tabriz, from the Sea of Azov to Sudan, officially on state business, but mostly out of curiosity.

And since horses can go just about anywhere, for 40 days you get to traverse spectacular landscapes and see remnants of past cultures. You follow Roman roads and goat tracks, Ottoman roads and forest paths, along the newly developed Evliya Çelebi Way, an equestrian and walking route.

Following in Evliya's tracks from theSea of Marmara to the town of Simav, northeast of Izmir. Here you leave his itinerary to loop back east to his ancestral home, the historic city of Kütahya, covering some 1,000 kilometres in six weeks that snakes through the ancient provinces of Bithyniaand Phrygia, and also the region where the Ottoman empire was born. The Way will be the first long-distance route for riders in Turkey.

And don’t worry, for saddle soreness, there’s the 16th-century Balikli hammam, where Evliya would have seen the ancestors of the carp that inhabit the courtyard pool today.

A place on The Great Anatolian Ride (29 August-14 September or 14-30 September) can be booked through Far And Ride from £2,572pp; FarandRide, or Equitours from US$3,900; Equitours.

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