Udo Island hiking, Sunday 27th January 2013.

0 - Udo island olle trail

Whenever Jen and I take a trip to Jeju we usually end up walking a section or two of the Olle Trail. It seems to get bigger every time we go though as each part of the island does it’s best to attract the hikers and their cash.

This time we thought we’d visit Udo Island and hike Section 1-1.  I’d looked Udo up on the internet and it’s over to the north-east of Jeju, a couple of miles out to sea. Apparently it’s two and a bit square miles in size and less than two thousand people live there. I also learned that it’s known as Cow Island due to it being the same shape as a cow. I’m not sure how correct the information on the size and population was but the only way that it could be said to resemble a cow would be if the animal had undergone some sort of steam-roller related mishap.

You get there via a ferry from Seongsan Port which is fifty minutes and a thirty-five thousand won taxi ride from Jeju City. We got lucky and arrived just a few moments before the ferry sailed.

That's the ferry with Udo Island in the background.

That’s the ferry. It might be Udo Island in the background.

I’ve no idea if the schedule changes at different times of the year but even on a Sunday in January there were plenty of crossings scheduled. It takes around fifteen minutes to cover the couple of miles between the two islands.

Seongsan to Udo timetable.

Seongsan to Udo timetable.

When we got off at the other side, everyone else got into their car or on to a tour bus despite the island hardly seeming big enough for anyone to feel the need to be driven around. There’s a tourist information office near the jetty but there wasn’t much in the way of information. I got talking to a young copper who was able to point us in the direction of the Olle Trail. Thinking about it afterwards, it occurred to me that he might be the only copper. Maybe the youngest Chief of Police in Korea.

We had a look at the map and the Olle Trail pretty much just follows the coast with the odd minor excursion inland. By frequently doubling back on itself the distance had somehow been stretched to fourteen and a half kilometres. It’s possible that the route is still under development though as I’ve seen it described as over sixteen kilometres in other places.

See, nothing like a cow.

See, nothing like a cow.

We walked the trail in a clockwise direction, starting off on narrow roads next to the sea and occasionally being directed through fields or along lanes leading to farms and houses. Some of the routing seemed unnecessarily complicated and there were times where after ten minutes of meandering through fields we would rejoin the coastal road no more than fifty yards from where we’d left it.

Just in case you were wondering what a field looks like.

Just in case you were wondering what a field looks like.

We didn’t see many other people in the early part of the walk, despite passing by plenty of houses. Although I suppose it was a Sunday morning. There wasn’t much wildlife either, apart from the odd dog.

He was friendly enough.

He was friendly enough.

As on the main Jeju Island the Olle Trail looks to have provided the Udo locals with opportunities to take their share of the tourist spending. We passed pensions, restaurants, cafes and scooter hire shops. None of them were particularly busy but I imagine that they would be in the summer.

Formerly a bus, now a cafe.

Formerly a bus, now a cafe.

Halfway around we stopped for a fish stew lunch. I’m not sure what type of fish it was but we watched it being netted from the tank outside. A few slices turned up fried as part of the side dishes with the remainder being cooked at our table on one of those little gas canister stoves.

Better than taking a packed lunch.

Better than taking a packed lunch.

We got lost when we started walking again. I’m not sure how, as the trail is well signposted with ribbons and arrows spray painted on walls and the road. It wasn’t such a bad thing though as we stumbled across a football ground. It looked as if it belonged to an adjacent school, but with a couple of small stands down one side it wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Challengers League.

Just in case you were missing the lower league football reports.

For those of you who are missing the lower league football reports.

It wasn’t too difficult to find the trail again as you just really need to look for the coast, but the long lunch and the detour meant that we had to pick up the pace a bit if we were to catch the three o’clock ferry. As we neared the port the route took us up Udo’s big hill. Big in Udo terms anyway at 113m. The Olle Trail doesn’t actually go to the summit but took us to within about ten metres of the top. That was good enough for me though and we got decent views of the surrounding area.

Some graves near Udo's big hill.

Some graves near Udo’s big hill.

We made the boat. Just. It would have been another hour if we’d had to wait for the next one and once you’ve circled the island I think you’ve just about seen it all. I spent most of the crossing back to Seongsan throwing pieces of doughnut to the seagulls. I’m sure Cantona had a theory about that sort of thing.

I didn't have any sardines.

I didn’t have any sardines.

Winter probably isn’t the best time to visit Udo. On one hand we had the benefit of having the Olle Trail to ourselves but later in the year there would be a lot more places open and the seafront walking would be better without the icy winds and hailstorms. Still, it was an enjoyable day and it’s one more place that we’ve seen.

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