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The Persian Steps: Following in the footsteps of Armies

Just west of Qārūt Ash Shamāliyah on the Muscat - Izki road

The Persian Steps

Today, my calves are aching and I'm planning on having a relaxing day. Yesterday however, I was raring to go on a walk up a little known route that a friend had pointed out to me in “Adventure Trekking in Oman”. I suppose the “Adventure Trekking” part of the book title should have rang bells in my head… but it didn't!

The Persian Steps is a route up the side of a wadi from Izki to Jebel Akhdar, climbing about 1,600m in total for the whole route, but to reach the first viewpoint I needed to get my game on and climb 800m. Much more manageable! Although still 3,450 steps to reach the viewpoint and abandoned mosque!

I found my way into the wadi and drove the car as far as the road allowed me to a small set of buildings and goat pens. From this point, there was no road and a quick look up the wadi showed that a fair bit of scrambling was needed to traverse the wadi bed!

The start: a rocky wadi bed made for an interesting start!

The Persian Steps: first of many

The start of the steps was relatively hidden amongst rocks, trees, scree and telling which ridge the path was beyond was difficult. So when the book described it as “you pass a ridge on your left, then a flat slope, then another ridge, then an overhang and a cliff, and then a final cliff, before a slope running up to your left”, I was a bit confused to where the actual steps would be! For anyone else doing this walk, I can make it simpler, “Walk down the wadi until it turns into a deep wadi / gorge. At this point, look up the slope to your left, the steps are here somewhere! Walk towards the ridge face on your left leading up the hill. The path follows this ridge for a few hundred meters, so you will pick it up quite easily”. Done, much clearer! I built a couple more cairns along the first few hundred meters of the steps, so hopefully they will stand out a bit more.

View back down the steps and across the Samail Gap

Once on the route, it was easy in terms of following the steps, although every now and again I'd find I had veered off the steps and was on a goat trail. I learnt to look up quite frequently at where the path was going, but I still kept doing it as I became more fatigued! The walk up was primarily in the sun, so I needed frequent stops in the shade to sit on a nice cool rock.

After 2 hours of climbing, I'd finally made it to the viewpoint, marked by an abandoned shell of a mosque and superb views over the next valley and back over where I had walked. If the book hadn't mentioned that the building was previously a small mosque, you really wouldn't know. It looked more like a shelter for a goat herder. Nearby were scraps of metal shrapnel – really thick chunks. The book suggests that these are probably from the Jebel wars back in the 1950s and also that these steps were built to move armies from one wadi to the next.

The ruined mosque at 1,400m and the top of this route!

View down The Persian Steps and the view that I had all the way back

I started back down again with my legs already really tired! Turns out, going down here was so much easier, and I made the return route in 1 hour 15 minutes. The sun had moved round enough that the route was in the shade all the way thankfully. A stunning route with great views from the top, but make sure your energised first!

A drive enough from Muscat: location of the Persian Steps

 

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