FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Varda Viaduct

Posted in Hacikiri, Turkey by folkestonejack on September 8, 2015

After a spot of lunch at Pozanti we had expected to head north to photograph the remaning spots on the line towards Gümüş, but a change of plans saw us head back towards Belemedik. After the less successful trip there in the morning this filled me with some trepidation, but we had a fairly smooth run through here (passing through at 2.33pm) and then on to Hacıkırı (arriving at 3.08pm).

TCDD 56 548 at Belemedik

TCDD 56 548 at Belemedik

In that half hour we seemed to pass through an incredible number of tunnels, including some of considerable length, which struck me as quite a feat of engineering. Indeed, over the full extent of the line from Yenice to Ulukişla there are a total of 37 tunnels which have a cumulative length of 14,4km. I am full of admiration for the enginners and construction workers who delivered this remarkable stretch of line. I should think the engineers of today will have quite a headache trying to electrify this section of the line and the cost of this enterprise cannot be cheap!

The route had taken us into the heart of the Taurus mountains and through the Cilician Gates, the famous pass used by many a soldier and traveller since antiquity. However, an even more impressive sight awaited us at the canyon of Çakıt Deresi – the Varda Viaduct.

The arched masonry viaduct here was constructed between 1907 and 1912 to bridge the deep canyon of Çakıt Deresi, with a height of 99 metres at its centremost point and a length of 172 metres. The line opened in October 1918 and has remained in use to the present day. Today, it is quite a popular tourist attraction its own right after its appearance in the opening sequence of the James Bond film ‘Skyfall’ and a small encampment of charmingly ramshackle tourist shacks lines the approach.

A short walk beyond today’s viaduct takes you to the surviving bridge piers from an earlier viaduct which was built for the 600mm narrow gauge line used to bring construction materials to the either side of the canyon. The narrow gauge line was also used to supply the Mesopotamian front during the latter years of the First World War. It’s a great spot to view passing trains.

The Varda Viaduct with the piers of the narrow gauge line in the foreground

The Varda Viaduct with the piers of the narrow gauge line in the foreground

We must have spent an hour at the viaduct photographing our train with around eight runpasts (I lost count/the plot) before we had to clear the line to allow other freight/passenger trains through. By that point we were all saying, please no more viaduct! It’s a shame that we didn’t have blue skies – instead, we had a somewhat frustrating dusty heat haze. Nevertheless, it was great to be here and to have the opportunity to photograph a steam loco running over such an iconic structure.

Back at Hacıkırı we waited out the passing traffic before we could head home. In the meantime an enterprising fellow had turned up at the station and was selling cold beer out of the back of his car for 8TL a can, quite an impressive mark up. When one chap grumbled about the cost it was pointed out that this could hardly be unexpected as this wasm after all, a beer shop in the desert!

Our two hour long wait for service trains to clear the line ended just before 7pm when the southbound passenger express emerged from the tunnel into the yard at Hacıkırı. We set off soon after and made it back to Pozanti at 8pm and transferred to our bus here for the short journey back to our hotel. It had been a very mixed day, but I think we got lucky in the end. I don’t think the shots are anywhere near my best, but I hope they do the location some justice.