Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Αfissos-Niaou (Afetes)

Niaou (Afetes)

Distance: 5,1 km
Duration: 2 hours (incl. return), walking time 1.35'
Altitude: from 0 m. (Afissos) to 252 m.(Niaou square)
Marking: red marks, round yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: Niaou square


Download GPS track:    from Wikiloc     from Everytrail

      In this route, we climb from the seaside resort of Afissos to the picturesque village of Niaou (original village name of slavic origin, meaning pen, still in use by locals-officially called Afetes) following a dry riverbed, an exciting and beautiful walk, (which, for obvious reasons, is best avoided if the weather is rainy). Then we return to Afissos on  the course of the main kalderimi (stone paved path), most of which is now sadly covered by asphalt, passing by an old stone bridge and the village`s cemetery, enjoying  spectacular views of Afissos and the sea on our way down.

      Starting at Abovos beach just south of Afissos, from the corner of Marabou restaurant, we walk on the concrete road away from the sea, initially heading east. After 700 m. the road takes a sharp right bend becoming asphalt and continues towards Niaou. At this point, we walk straight ahead in a northerly direction on an earth road and at a fork we go left. The road goes by the side of Chalorema stream and soon, following the red marks and the signs, we find ourselves walking into the riverbed, surrounded by the rocky banks under the cool shade of high trees, birds singing and all. It is an exciting experience and not too demanding, although we must exercise caution not to slip on the rocks, especially if they happen to be wet. There are some sections of path on the sides of the stream left or right, and another stream (Kalarites) eventually joins from the right (we go left there).
Chalorema ravine

      After about 1,5 km of walking in these slightly adventurous conditions, we reach a rock where a tall plane tree grows. Here, the Cultural association of Afetes built in April 2013 a wooden pedestrian bridge to facilitate access to the village.
The new wooden pedestrial bridge, a volunteer community work
      We climb over the bridge to the rock, to find a kalderimi climbing steeply to the right. If we are on the opposite course (that is, from Niaou to Afissos),  we should apply high caution here not to slip on the way down if the stones are wet.
Kalderimi climbing to Niaou square

     Further up, we pass by an old fountain named Karkanteli, then cross a concrete road and continue climbing on kalderimi that leads us to the village square and the main church of St. John the Baptist.
Niaou (Afetes) village square
        A stop at the taverna for a refreshment or something to eat is welcome, and then we continue next to the church on flat stone paved road. As we reach the parking lot, we turn immediately left, to find a narrow downhill kalderimi that leads to the stone arched bridge of Fragakis, over the homonymous stream.
Fragakis stone bridge at Niaou

      On the other side, we continue uphill on road-kalderimi in a southwesterly direction and exit the village.
Leaving Niaou, on the way to the cemetery
      Passing by the cemetery on the right, the kalderimi then opens to an asphalt road, on which we walk downhill, between olive groves. Further down, as the asphalt takes a sharp left bend, there is a small stretch of kalderimi marked with red spots and a sign (attention left), conveniently cutting the corner.
      After another 500 m. on the asphalt, we reach a newly built tourist accomodation (Karavia Lux Inn).
       Here, instead of continuing onto the asphalt all the way down, we suggest to follow an alternate, more pleasant route. So, at the upper corner of Karavia we turn right on a narrow downhill earth road next to the fence. Soon another earth road joins from the left and we continue straight ahead, having another fence on the left, then a low stone wall. We turn left following the stone wall and then right on the downhill path that opens to an asphalt road at the outskirts of Afissos.
Looking down to Afissos
       After 100 m. on the asphalt, we turn left to a concrete road that further down is paved with flat stones. At the end we turn right and immediately left at the corner of ''The Garden of Eden'' guesthouse, into a wider stone paved road that opens to Afissos square, facing the sea.
Afissos square
       Walking now on the coastal road to the left, we will get back to Abovos beach in five minutes.
Abovos beach

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Horto-Lefokastro



Distance: 10 km
Duration: 3,5 hours (incl. stops)
Altitude: 64 m. (maximum)
Marking: small round signs, red spots
Drinking water on walk: no


       Download GPS track:  from Wikiloc    from Everytrail 
       
      A tour on the idyllic beaches of South Pelion from Horto up to Lefokastro. Someone called it "the ring of Heaven"! The best time to walk it is in the winter or early spring (the photographs were taken in February), perhaps because it is easier then to resist the temptation of removing our clothes and jumping into the sea of ​​Pagasitikos, which calls us like a siren in her arms. If we have enough strength, we can ascend from Lefokastro to Argalasti and then descend back to Horto, thus completing the circle with another 3 hours of walking (about 6,5 hours total). We can still go to Argalasti earlier, from Kalamos or Paou, saving 1 or 2 hours respectively (see the respective routes). There are places to eat and drink at Lefokastro, Argalasti and Horto.
      Starting from the west entrance of Horto, we walk for two hundred meters on the uphill asphalt road that leads to Argalasti and then, observing the round yellow signs of the Friends of the Kalderimi, we go left to a concrete road that descends between cottages and tourist accommodation. The road becomes a paved footpath that runs close to the beach Pagania. After the paved section, we walk on earth path through low bushes and olive trees.
      After a while we descend to Megali Paou beach and walk along the seaside. At the other end, at the back of the last house,  there is a path that climbs on the slope next to a fence and opens to a concrete road ending at the entrance of private property. Originally, the path would continue through the property towards Mikri Paou, but at present time it is lost, blocked by fences, so we continue uphill on the concrete road that opens to the narrow asphalt road coming from Paou monastery. Walking on the asphalt downhill, we reach Mikri Paou beach. 
Megali Paou beach

     Halfway through the beach, on the right side of a small stream, we notice the path climbing to Paou monastery and Argalasti. At the end of the beach a narrow earth road continues parallel to the coastline. There is a water pipe underground, bringing water from Panagiotiko dam as far as Trikeri. Unfortunately, digging the earth for the pipe with heavy tools led to the obliteration of the existing path. One wonders, wasn`t it possible to preserve the path by choosing another course for the pipe? Why the authorities did not consider any alternatives?
Mikri Paou beach

        Walking along the coastline, a few meters above the sea, we reach an olive grove and cross it to find  the wide path again and then, walking aside to a property boundary, we arrive at the concrete path that leads left to the beach of Belian, a few meters below. On the right there is a cottage. We walk to the beach and on the other side we climb a trail that leads us on a rural road next to a newly built cottage. We follow the road  and come on the asphalt which goes downhill and leads us to the seaside settlement of Kalamos.
Kalamos
       Following the beach, we leave the junction with the kalderimi to Argalasti on the right, and then walk on the road that runs between the houses. We cross the stream of Rodia over a pedestrian bridge and  reach the beach north of the stream. At the other end of the beach a path continues and soon becomes earth road heading to the north among olive groves in the area called Kalogria. Another road joins at an angle from the right and after a while we approach the sea again and come to the beautiful small beach of Agios Sostis, next to the bulletin board of the local club.
Agios Sostis

      At the other end of the beach, we find the path with the red signs that goes uphill and follow it. The trail brings us to a bar that blocks the entrance to a property. We walk for a few meters down on a narrow rural road and turn right. Here we meet again the water pipe running underground over the course of the trail, having altered it permanently. We pass next to a newly built villa and soon arrive at another beach which is just south of Lefokastro. 
Βeach at Lefokastro
       We descend to the beach on a path and at the other end find a kalderimi that goes uphill, passing by an old fountain dating from 1777 and reach the asphalt. On the other side  a kalderimi continues uphill to Argalasti (one hour and half to go). If we walk on the asphalt downhill, after three hundred meters we will find ourselves at the seaside settlement of Lefokastro.
On the way to Lefokastro
 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Argalasti-Kalamos


Distance: 3.7 km
Duration: 1.15΄
Signing: red marks, round yellow signs
Maximum altitude: 255 m (Argalasti square)
Drinking water on walk: yes (Agia Triada church)
Download GPS track:   from Wikiloc    from Everytrail

      This route goes downhill from Argalasti towards Kalamos beach and for most of its length we walk along a beautiful cobbled path (kalderimi). It is an easy walk, ideal for the winter and early spring months. From Kalamos we can continue along the coast if we wish, either to our right (north) towards Lefokastro or left (south) towards the beach and monastery of Paou, and from there return to Argalasti (see the appropriate walk descriptions).

        Beginning at the square in Argalasti, from the corner with the pharmacy, we follow the narrow concrete road that goes west, passing in front of the post office. At the end of this road we reach the restored stone building of the former girl’s school on the left hand corner. To the right is the kalderimi that leads to Lefokastro. We continue straight ahead in a westerly direction on a short downhill section of cobbled path that then alternates with sections of earth road.
Amoursas stone bridge, now destroyed

      After a short distance walking downhill, a path joins at an angle from the left. This comes from the church of Agia Paraskevi. The kalderimi continues to descend and a left turn takes us down to a small stream. Lower down we cross a second stream over a small stone bridge, named Amoursas (update 11/2015: the bridge was sadly destroyed by careless human action) and further down still, the path comes out at an angle into an earth road. We cross the road, and continue on the kalderimi.
View to the sea by Agia Triada church

       At the end of this stretch of kalderimi we reach a second earth road. If we turn left, after 100 m. we will reach the picturesque small church of Aghia Triada next to a fountain with refreshing water. But to go to Kalamos we turn right here, continuing downhill until we reach the asphalt road just above a left bend. We don’t need to walk on the road but continue on a path on the outside of the bend and turn immediately left. In a few metres we meet a house in front of which the path becomes a kalderimi. However, this immediately comes out onto the asphalt road, which we follow for two hundred metres.
      Watching out for it on the left hand side, we find the kalderimi again and continue to descend. Further down, the kalderimi crosses the asphalt road, continuing for a few metres as a concrete road towards a house on our right. As we continue on down, the kalderimi becomes a path then a kalderimi again, finally emerging at Kalamos beach, at a point marked with a walker sign on an electricity pole.
Kalamos

Milina-Lafkos



Distance: 7,1 km (with return)
Duration: 2 hours (with return)
Altitude: from 0 m. (Milina beach) to 300 m. (Lafkos square)
Signed with: small round yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Panagia Mesosporitissa chapel)

Download GPS track:  from Wikiloc    from Everytrail      

      This circular walk is one of Pelion mountain`s finest, considering that we walk mostly on kalderimi in a landscape of intense natural beauty. As there are two main kalderimis between Lafkos and Milina, north and south, we propose climbing from the seaside to Lafkos using the latter and returning by the former. This is a walk suited to all people, even those who are not accustomed to hiking, who will be pleased to follow the downhill route at least.
      Starting from the church of Milina on the seaside, we walk on the asphalt road that goes to Lafkos. After 600 m. we see the kalderimi on our left side and follow it. Soon it crosses the asphalt and continues between stone walls (pezoules). There are some stretches of newly built stone path. Reaching the asphalt again, we walk on it for about 300 m. and, after a right turn, we find again the kalderimi on the left side. As we continue uphill, lush vegetation often forms a shady tunnel into which we walk.
     Approaching Lafkos, the kalderimi opens to a concrete road. We turn left and after 100 m., as the road starts going dowhill, we continue uphill to the right on kalderimi (the first few meters of which are concrete), that opens to a flat stone paved street. We follow it to the left and soon find ourselves at Lafkos square. Next to the church is the museum of paintings by the important Lafkos-born painter Dimitris Fambas.
      Now comes the time to return to Milina. There are a few steps at the main street of Lafkos square. At that point we head downhill, noticing the round yellow signs at the corner. Reaching a concrete road, we turn right. The road soon becomes a wide kalderimi and then we have Paliovrisi fountain on the right, next to a huge plane tree. We cross a stream over a small stone bridge overgrown by vegetation, and then ascend on kalderimi for a little while. After a crossing with an ascending kalderimi to the right, which comes from the church of Agia Paraskevi, we now walk downhill on road-kalderimi. Soon the earth road turns right, but we continue straight ahead on the kalderimi, seeing lovely views of Pagasitikos gulf on the horizon.
Panagia Mesosporitissa
      Further down, we reach Panagia Mesosporitissa church, also called Monastiraki by locals. Next to the church is a fountain and a few cypresses. This is a good spot for a short break. The kalderimi continues to descend and finally opens to a concrete road, which we follow, having just entered Milina. We cross a stream and then follow its course on its left bank for a while. The road gets covered by asphalt. At a crossing we head right on Ethnikis Antistaseos street, that soon opens to the seafront at the location of a dock. Here we turn left, to get back to our starting point at the church.
Descending to Milina