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A wintrísz tale on the coast of the Black Sea
2002 / November

The silent sound of snow fills the air. Winter has come with its white quilt, concealing the autumn colours in the forests of the western Black Sea forests. The leaves that a few weeks ago rustled underfoot in the forests and splashed the mountains with their bright autumn colours are sleeping now. Feather light flakes of snow spin down from the sky, bringing tranquillity to the landscape. Beeches, hornbeams, pines, firs and aspens glisten in their snowy white garb.
Turkey’s western Black Sea region is famous for its autumn colours, but is equally beautiful in a different way in all seasons, thanks in particular to the diversity of tree species. These natural forests with their mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees rise from sea level high into the mountains, changing in character as the altitude increases. When winter comes, the region with its swathes of forest under a blanket of snow, frozen lakes and stone roofed houses is transformed into a world of fairytale. Trees of every kind become like sculptures.

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A wintrísz tale on the coast of the Black Sea
2002 / November

If snow falls early in the season, you may be lucky enough to see a landscape of special loveliness, snow contrasting with as yet glowing autumn colours.
In the Köroglu and Ilgaz mountains thick forests of fir and Austrian pine cover the high slopes up to the tree line at around 2000 metres, above which the bare snowy peaks are perfect for skiing. From the beginning of winter the ski resort of Kartalkaya in the Köroglu Mountains and the resorts in the Ilgaz Mountains become magnets for winter sports enthusiasts. It is possible to ski throughout the winter here, while many others come just to enjoy the scenery of coniferous forests, streams, waterfalls and lakes.
As the temperature drops, the covering of snow advances down the mountains, gradually reaching the deciduous forests. Now the lakes and streams begin to freeze, and if you visit Lake Abant at 1328 metres around this time, you will see the crystals of newly forming ice in its dark blue waters.

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A wintrísz tale on the coast of the Black Sea
2002 / November
This lake has a number of comfortable hotels on its shores, and has long been a popular winter holiday place. A road and trail encircling the six kilometre perimeter of the lake mean that even under the harshest winter conditions visitors young and old can enjoy the lake and its wooded shores.
Yedigöller (Seven Lakes) National Park in the same region is another beauty spot, but only to be recommended for the more adventurous in snowy weather. Here the deciduous woods predominantly comprising oriental beech surround the seven lakes that lie between eight and nine hundred metres. The blue-grey frozen lakes and the backdrop of trees with ice-bound branches are a magical sight, each lake having its own distinctive character. With permission from the Ministry of Forestry it is possible to stay in timber cabins at the lake edge, a marvellous experience for those who enjoy alternative holidays.
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A wintrísz tale on the coast of the Black Sea
2002 / November

Or you can make your base in the town of Bolu and take day trips to these and the many other beauty spots in this area. One and a half hours away, in the direction of Kartalkaya, is Sarialan, where twelve high pastures dotted with wooden houses, woods and streams make wonderful winter walking. Gölcük, an hou’sn drive away, takes its name from a small lake amidst fir forest. Here there is a trail for walkers and places to eat, and many people make day excursions here during the winter.

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A wintrísz tale on the coast of the Black Sea
2002 / November
Another good centre for winter days out is the city of Kastamonu south of the Küre Mountains. Many of those who come to ski on Mount Ilgaz stay here, and there are numerous attractive places easy of access in winter in the mountains near the city, such as Azdavay, Pinarbasi, Senpazar, Cide, Ulus, Çatalzeytin, Abana, Gökçeagaç and Inebolu. To enjoy memorable winter landscapes, the western Black Sea coast is the perfect destination over the next few months.

* Ali Ihsan GŲkÁen is a photographer and freelance writer
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