Lake Yeniçağa: Red skies and birdsong
by Recep Peker Tanıtkan
Just minutes from the autobahn lies a beauty spot disturbed only by the whir of wings and the quacking of ducks. The discerning visitor is up and about before the sun rises and does not leave before it sets.
If you listen carefully as you approach the Bolu junction on the Istanbul-Ankara road, your ear may catch the gentle rhythm of the ripples of Lake Yeniçağa inviting you to drop by. At close hand, the lake is equally enchanting and most of all at daybreak, when the first rays of light struggle to pierce the mists which rise above the water, and to pick out the silent anglers dotted round the shore. Fınally the sun appears, a full-formed ball of fire, awakening green fields which flood with poppies and daisies every Spring
Together with its ideal bungalows and picnic spots, the lake occupies a shallow basin some 40 kilometres from the city, at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. The anglers are rarely disappointed. Twelve metres deep in places, the waters harbour a range of aquatic life forms from crayfish to mirror carp. Specimens of up to 20 kilograms have reputedly been caught.
Dozens of species of birds find shelter and sustenance in the surrounding brooks and deltas. In one breathtaking moment a whole flock will take wing from the water and begin to circle the lake in impeccable formation. It is a precious sight - a feast for the eyes of angler and passer-by alike. Among the reeds, the ducks and ducklings call to one another - a symphony by dawn; a lullaby at dusk.
Sunset is no less spectacular, and there can be few simpler or less ambiguous pleasures than to watch the surface of the lake blaze orange and flush crimson as the sun sinks slowly over the mountain-tops while partaking of a hearty meal at the modest lakeside restaurant.
In addition to angling and water sports, the lake and its environs are an ideal walking zone, known as Route 19 to activity holiday planners. Situated just off the international D-100 highway and the TEM motorway, the area is easily accessible at all times and from all directions. Ömer Sayın, mayor of the district centre of Yenicaga, has already enhanced the lakeside with recreation sites, and now plans to attract more visitors by increasing the available accommodation.
Clash of bards
In July, Yenicaga commemorates its local bard, Poet Dertli, with celebrations which include a contest among latter-day minstrels. In the village of Eskiçağa, the oldest settlement of the district, stand a mosque, a hamam and a shrine thought to have been built during the reign of the fourth Ottoman sultan, Yıldırım Beyazıt.