Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kala Nera-Pinakates

Pinakates
Distance: 5,3 km
Time: 2.10' (walking time 1.50')
Altitude: from 0 m. (Kala Nera) to 590 m. (Pinakates)
Total ascent: 629 m.  Total descent: 28 m.
Signed with red paint marks and various signs
Drinking water on walk: near Pinakates
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           This is the main route connecting Pinakates to the sea and to the train rails. Ιn the past, virtually all transport of people and goods used to pass by this. Most of the original cobblestone (kalderimi) still survives, only small sections are now covered by concrete or asphalt.  The neighbouring villages Vizitsa and Milies also have similar kalderimis to Kala Nera over the train rails. With that in mind, one can create several circular walks, with duration between two and five hours. Pinakates is also connected by a signed path to Vizitsa in less than an hour, and Vizitsa is connected to the train station of Milies.
          Starting from the seaside at Kala Nera, at the corner of ''Roumeli'' hotel-restaurant, we walk on the asphalt away from the sea, reaching the main asphalt road in a few minutes and follow it to the right for fifty meters. Just after the gas station, we find the continuity of the route on the left side of the road, along with a couple of signs. Initially, it looks like a narrow earth road, but soon the kalderimi appears.
        On our way up, we cross an earth road near a bend, and then reach the church of Panayia (Virgin Mary), at the settlement called Oglas. Most people of Pinakates preferred to stay here in winter, to  be nearer to their olive groves and to avoid heavy winter snow, which is not unusual in Pelion. This was common practice in most Pelion villages. Nowadays, it seems winters are milder than they used to be, old people say.
Church of Panayia at Oglas
       After the church, the kalderimi gets covered with concrete for a short section, until we cross a road. Then it reappears but a little higher up gets covered again. Soon it opens on a bend of a road, next to a concrete building of the water system. We take the left branch and soon find the kalderimi again on the right, climbing with zigzags. A little higher up, we come to cross the train rails over an arched stone bridge. A branch of the kalderimi to the left goes down to the rails and to the old train stop that used to serve Pinakates.
The bridge over the train rails
         The kalderimi continues to climb and we have nice views over Kala Nera and the sea. Reaching a cottage, it becomes cement road, which then takes a left turn. We walk past another cottage with a characteristic stone roof and then join a wider road. After a left turn of the road, we easily notice the kalderimi on the right side and follow it, crossing the road three times. Further up, the kalderimi is covered by concrete and in a few meters joins the asphalt road. At this junction there is a walker sign on a post. We go past a cottage and the kalderimi continues parallel to the asphalt, a few meters to the right. Here it is overgrown, but still remains passable. It joins the asphalt again and then branches off to the right, crosses the asphalt one more time and continues on a straight line.
View to Kala Nera
         We come to a junction with a road from the right, which goes to the church of Agia Kiriaki, and then come to cross the asphalt for the last time. We can now see the  houses of Pinakates. On the right is a large shrine and a drinking water fountain. Opposite on the left is an old threshing floor (''aloni''). Straight ahead the kalderimi continues, wide and clear, along with some old telephone posts, to cross an overgrown streambed over a concrete bridge.
Concrete bridge at the stream near Pinakates
        After the bridge, the kalderimi climbs sharply. We come to a junction, where we go right and at the following one go left uphill, following the red dots. Finally, climbing some steps, we arrive to the picturesque square of Pinacates, dominated by the huge old plane tree at the middle. The notable neo-classical style marble drinking water fountain was  built in 1894 with donations of wealthy expats from Alexandria, Egypt. There is a cafe-restaurant at the square, open all year round.
The square of Pinakates

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hania-Waterfalls-Makrirachi (Path of the Waterfalls)

Crossing the stream at Plakotoura

Distance: 9,8 km
Time: 4,5-5 hours with stops
Altitude: from 1200 m. (start) to 320 m. (Makrirachi square)
Total ascent: 121 m.  Total descent: 956 m.
Signed with: red paint
Drinking water on walk: from the streams
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         This extraordinary walk follows the course of the Megalo Rema stream, which runs between the villages Makrirachi and Anilio. The path remained unknown until 29/5/2016, when we walked it for the first time. It was researched, cleaned and signed by volunteers from the Association of Makrirachi and Volos Alpine Club. On our way, we cross the stream at several places where its plentiful running water creates impressive waterfalls and ponds. So, it was only natural to call it ''Path of the Waterfalls''.
The waterfall at Kavouria
              A practical way to do the walk, is to leave our car at the first parking lot on the road to the ski center and return to Hania with the afternoon bus, which passes daily from Makrirachi at 17.15' (www.ktelvolou.gr). At Makrirachi square we will find a cafe-restaurant open all seasons for food and drink. Another option is to continue on the asphalt to the beaches of Agii Saranda or Horefto (about one hour of walking downhill).
              So, starting off from the first parking lot on the road to the ski center, we initially walk on the asphalt uphill. After 50 m., watching out on the left for the red paint mark and the walker sign on a beech tree, we find the path and start going slightly downhill in beech forest.
         We cross a small stream and then walk on a ridge in a northeasterly direction between low beech trees. To the right we can see Agriolefkes peak (1470 m.) and the ski slopes.
Agriolefkes peak (1470 m.) and ski slopes
              At a certain spot, we cross the ruins of an old stone building. The path becomes steep but is well signed and there is no chance to get lost. Eventually, we reach an earth road junction. The uphill road leads in fifty meters to a bivouac shelter built by hunters of Makrirachi, a good spot to have a stop.
The bivouac shelter at Nisaki
        Returning to the junction, we take the road heading east, noticing the signpost. It crosses a stream and then, at the point where it takes a sharp right bend, we leave it walking on a straight line downhill in the beech forest. A path section is unclear, but the red marks help us find the way.
Beech tree tied in knot
        We cross a stream and reach an earth road.  Here we definitely must take a short detour to the left to visit the waterfall at Plakotoura. The road ends in 100 m. as it comes to a stream. The water, after forming a small pond,  runs into a canal in the rock.
The canal on the rock at Plakotoura
          Following this, we come shortly in front of a magnificent 20 m. high waterfall falling from the rock and joining the water that runs underneath. An irrigation canal was dug by the villagers of Makrirachi at this spot centuries ago during the Ottoman era, to water groves further down. It is a good thing to sit for a short while on the rock to enjoy the powerful feeling.
The waterfall at Plakotoura
            Returning back, we follow the earth road in a straight line, ignoring two junctions to the right. Coming to a spot where a big tree is fallen in the road, we go down left following the red marks and then to the right, on a path traversing the slope. We walk by two ruined old huts and then cross a concrete irrigation ditch. If we follow this to the left, we will shortly reach another beautiful spot at the streambed where the ditch begins. Only problem is, it is unsuitable for people with fear of heights.
Irrigation ditch and pond
           After crossing the irrigation ditch, the path descends down to the streambed. This location is called ''Kavouria'' (''crabs''), due to the crabs that used to live here in the past (however, on our way we noticed some frogs, but no crabs at all). Water runs fast under the plane trees on the rock and forms a large pond underneath, suitable for swimming if one can withstand the cold water.
The pond at Kavouria
       We cross the stream and the path at the opposite bank opens to an apple grove, through which we walk and join a road, paved with cement. Uphill to the left, this leads to the location ''Karavoma'', where it meets the main route Hania-Makrirachi, which can be used to return to Hania on foot in about 2,5 hours.
       We walk on the road downhill to the right. Further down it takes an 'S' bend and, twenty meters after that bend (attention!) we leave it to the right going into a grove, following the red marks. We enter the beech forest and soon reach the streambed again.
The waterfall at Kavouria
         Here, plenty of streamwater falls on the rock and creates another impressive waterfall and a pond underneath. Erosion by water creates elaborate patterns on the rocks. Another stop here is mandatory.
          We cross the stram again and walk now on earth road in chestnut forest. We go past a junction with a road to the right leading ultimately to Anilio and Kissos. We continue following the course of the large ravine, viewing the wild overgrown opposite bank.
Walking in chestnut forest
        Walking on the road, we reach the small chapel of Panayitsa (Virgin Mary). Next to it, drinkable water runs from a tube. We go past another junction with a road to the right and keep following the course of the stream. Eventually we come to join the main asphalt road at the location ''Felouka''. Next to the bridge is a greenhouse (Makrirachi and Anilio have a large production of plants). We cross the stream over the bridge heading north and after 900 meters on the asphalt we finally reach the square of Makrirachi.
Makrirachi square



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Milies-Boufa

Distance: 5,6 km
Time: 2 hours (walking time 1.50')
Altitude: from 380 m. (Milies square) to 0 m. (beach of Boufa)
Total ascent: 93 m.  Total descent: 448 m.
Signed with metal signs and red paint dots
Drinking water on walk: yes (Agii Anargiri chapel)
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         An excellent 2-hour walk, mostly on kalderimi (cobblestone path) through olive groves. The fertile valley of Boufa, where the stream of Platanorema opens out to the sea, was a major destination for the people of Milies, along with Kala Nera. The official name Koropi, introduced some 50 years ago, was given due to the οracle of Koropaius Apollo that existed in the area in ancient times.
           Starting off from the square, we initially walk down on the main kalderimi towards the train station and Kala Nera. After 50 m. there is a signed junction where we go left. A sign (in Greek) on the house at the corner informs us that this belonged to Daniel Filippides, one of the teachers of the higher school that operated in Milies during the 19th century.
Μilies, descending on the kalderimi to Agios Konstantinos
          Descending on the kalderimi in a straight line, we reach the church of Agios Konstantinos. Just below is the asphalt leading to the train station.
Agios Konstantinos church at Milies
           Leaving the church yard, we cross the asphalt and continue on the kalderimi, which is paved here with flat stones. This passes next to the last house of the village, turning gently to the right. Another kalderimi joins in from the left, coming from the bus stop on the main asphalt a few meters above.  A little further down we cross a road leading to the graveyard and continue on the kalderimi, wide and clear, passing through a virtual tunnel of vegetation. To the left is a complex of newly built mansions. On the opposite slope we can see the course of the main kalderimi to Kala Nera.
          We come to a junction (attention!) where one branch turns right, passes by the chapel of Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist) and comes to an end down at the asphalt. We take the other (left) branch, which continues on a straight line. This section used to be completely blocked by vegetation in the past, but now is cleared.
            After crossing the main asphalt twice, further down we come to another signed junction. One branch continues descending straight ahead, crosses the stream and then follows its course to the sea, ultimately leading to Kala Nera. We take the other branch to the left, and soon reach the stone bridge ''Tsipokalamos''. Constructed at time unknown, it still remains in good condition and is now easily accessible for all to enjoy, after the recent cleaning of the kalderimi.
''Tsipokalamos'' arched stone bridge
           After the bridge, the kalderimi climbs on the other bank, then gets covered by soil and opens to the main asphalt. We continue climbing on the other side and come to an earth road. Here we elect not to walk on the road, but noticing the red marks on the left, we climb to an old threshing floor and continue in the same direction through an olive grove. We soon join an earth road, which in turn joins an asphalt road and we reach the chapel of Agii Anargiri. This is a good place to have a stop. At the chapel`s yard there is a drinking water fountain to quench our thirst.
View to Milies from Agii Anargiri chapel
            Continuing on the asphalt in the same southerly direction, in 50 m. just after the tree (attention!) we leave the road at an angle to the left and climb on the slope. The path is hard to notice initially (there is a sign and red marks), but later widens and becomes kalderimi again. This joins the asphalt road a little higher up, on which we walk to the right, entering the settlement called ''Stavrodromi'' (''Crossroads'').
         After walking past a derelict old olive press, we exit the settlement and the road becomes unpaved. After about 500 m. (attention!) we come to a V-junction and take the left branch downhill. The road incorporates a fair stretch of kalderimi. This area is called ''Palatia''. We reach another junction, where we don`t go straight ahead, but to the right, noticing the arrow.
View to the sea at ''Belegrinos'' (between Boufa and Kala Nera)
             At the next junction, we continue straight ahead. The narrow earth road descends in a southerly direction and we have nice views to the sea from certain spots. We go past a couple of cottages, then the road ends crossing an irrigation ditch and continues as an earth path, soon becoming a kalderimi as we walk through an olive grove.
           The kalderimi ends for good as we join an earth road, which then takes a right turn heading west downhill. Keeping on that road (the last section is paved with cement), we descend down to the main asphalt, next to the church of Agios Ioannis Theologos (St. John the Theologian) and to a cafe-restaurant (open all seasons). Here is also a small parking lot and the bus stop. Crossing the asphalt, the road passes by hotel Saily and a complex of summer cottages, and finally opens down to the sandy beach of Boufa, where two cafe-restaurants operate during the summer season.
Beach of Boufa late in August
The beach of Boufa (off-season)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pinakates-Vizitsa

Pinakates

Distance: 1,74 km
Time: 50 min.
Altitude: from 590 m. (Pinakates) to 510 m. (minimum) to 520 m. (Vizitsa)
Total ascent: 77 m.  Total descent: 128 m.
Signed with red paint and round yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track: from Wikiloc

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         This route was cleaned and signed by volunteers in March 2016. It was in normal use until 1985, when construction of the asphalt road was completed. Pupils from Pinakates attending to Milies high school for example, had to walk on this route twice daily, regardless of weather conditions. It can also be used in conjunction to the routes Kala Nera to Pinakates and Kala Nera to Vizitsa, to create a circular walk, either extending to Kala Nera (longer) or to the train rails (shorter).

           Starting off rom the parking lot in Pinakates, just above the village`s square, we walk on the asphalt road towards Vizitsa. Exiting the village, the asphalt takes a right bend going downhill. We will find the path entrance 100 meters after that bend, looking for it on our left (we have to walk over the safety barrier at the side of the road).

          The path zigzags down to cross the stream of Vasilikis, which has water running in the spring. On the other bank an earth road runs parallel to the stream, on which we walk for 100 meters to the right (downhill). Seeing the signpost, we find the continuity of the path, climbing on the slope heading east. Reaching a signed junction, we head left uphill for a few meters and then the path turns gently to the right, starting to descend. Dry stone walls support the sides of the path as we walk along the upper border of a grove. We can see Vizitsa at the opposite slope and also the sea at the distance.
Seeing Vizitsa at the opposite slope

             After the grove, a short section of the path suffers from landslides but remains passable and descends to cross the stream of Galani. Climbing on the other bank, there is a short section of cobblestone (kalderimi), then again earth path. After crossing a third, smaller stream, we walk on kalderimi again entering Vizitsa. A concrete road comes to end at that spot. A little further on, we pass next to an old drinking water fountain (Sakellari fountain, 17th century), sadly without running water.
Sakellari fountain at Vizitsa

         At a kalderimi junction we head to the left, walk over a concrete bridge and finally reach the nice and quiet square of Vizitsa, surrounded by renovated old mansions showing the characteristic Pelion architectural style.
 Vizitsa square

Renovated mansion at Vizitsa


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Drakia-Agios Lavrentios

View to Drakia

Distance: 3,5 km
Time: 1 hour
Altitude: from 480 m. (Drakia lower square) to 560 m. (Agios Lavrentios)
Total ascent: 125 m.  Total descent: 57 m.
Signed with red paint dots and metal signs
Drinking water on walk: no
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           Τhis is a pleasant 1-hour walk, mostly on earth road in chestnut forest. For information, Agios Lavrentios is also connected by walking routes to Agria, Agios Vlasios, Agios Georgios, Hania and Kissos. On the other hand, Drakia`s walking connections include Portaria, Hania and by Anemoutsa to Volos or Agria.

         Starting off from the lower (main) square of Drakia, we take the wide kalderimi that ascends next to the drinking water fountain. As we reach the asphalt, the kalderimi turns right and continues to ascend next to the old community building. Climbing constantly, it eventually opens to a concrete paved road, just under the village`s upper square and Agios Athanasios church, which we can visit climbing the stairs. 
Exiting Drakia

        Now we walk on the road to the right (east) and exit the village. Reaching the chapel of Agia Triada and a football pitch, we turn left on an uphill earth road, which opens to the main asphalt Drakia-Hania. We walk on the asphalt downhill, it takes a sharp bend to the right and 100 meters after that bend, we leave it to the left and walk on earth road, which has replaced the old path.
View to Drakia

        The road crosses a stream and continues through chestnut forest. From certain points, we have excellent wiew to Drakia on the opposite slope. A large and overgrown gully lies inbetween, opening to the sea at the distance.  
         After a while, we reach a V-junction and take the uphill road to the left. We cross an irrigation ditch and notice a stretch of cobblestone into the road. Then we come to another junction and take the middle road going uphill straight ahead. This soon becomes a kalderimi. On our left is Chatzini square, a balcony with excellent view over the gully.
Chatzini square
         We continue thereafter on kalderimi, entering Agios Lavrentios. Keeping on the main kalderimi, ignoring branches left and right, this leads us to the main square of the village. 
Agios Lavrentios main square


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Xinovrisi-Potistika

Potistika beach

Distance: 4,2 km
Time: 1,5 hour (walking time 1.15')
Altitude: from 231 m. (Xinovrisi) to 0 m. (Potistika beach)
Total ascent: 63 m.  Total descent: 283 m.
Signed with small round signs and red paint dots
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track:  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc

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          This route was opened and signed in 2016 by volunteers from the Friends of the Kalderimi Association and Volos Alpine club. Most of the walk takes place on cobbled stone path (kalderimi), with the final section on earth or paved road. Other walking routes in the area include Xinovrisi to Siki and Argalasti.

         Starting from the big plane tree at the square of Xinovrisi, we walk down the stone paved kalderimi, which soon opens to a concrete paved road at the lower edge of the village, and we take it to the left. After twenty meters we find the kalderimi on the right, hidden by grass and soil, descending just below the last house of the village. A little further down, it joins an earth road for a short distance, but soon emerges again, descending towards a large stream. 
Near the stream bed

              Crossing the (normally dry) stream bed, we continue for some distance at the opposite bank. Then we start to climb on the slope, the kalderimi eventually becomes an earth road and opens to the asphalt, on the outside of a bend. If we look back, we can see Xinovrisi. To the north, Siki and Neochori are visible too. 
Looking back to Xinovrisi

             We walk on the asphalt for fifty meters and then leave it to the right, descending to find the kalderimi again. We go past a small fountain on the right and a cottage on the left, then cross a field overgrown with canes and then come to an earth road junction.

           We continue on the road straight ahead in a northeasterly direction and we do the same at the next junction with an uphill road to the right. After a little while, our road heads uphill and takes a right bend, where we notice a short section of kalderimi. Here we leave the road to the left, following the fence on our left side and descend on a path, which shows some traces of kalderimi here and there. Eventually it joins an earth road, which we follow downhill and turn left at the junction. We keep walking on the road, passing by olive groves and summer cottages. On our way, we can see the beaches of Potistika to the left and Melani to the right.
Μelani beach

         Further on, the road becomes concrete paved and then joins the asphalt. We can avoid the last piece of asphalt down to the beach, if we take the earth track from the chapel we meet on the left.
Potistika beach

        At the beach of Potistika we will find restaurants and rooms to rent in the summer season, as well as in Xinovrisi.