Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tsagarada-Fakistra-Damouchari

Fakistra beach
 Distance: 7,9 km
Duration: 3.15' (walking time 2.30')
Altitude: from 500 m. (start) to sea level (Fakistra, Damouchari)
Signing: red marks, a few round signs
Drinking water on walk: fountain after Agios Georgios chapel, Agios Nikolaos chapel

 Download GPS track:    from Everytrail     from Wikiloc

       On this route, we descend from Agia Paraskevi church, Tsagarada to the beach of Fakistra and then follow the coastline until we reach Damouchari. From here, if we wish, we can return to Tsagarada on the kalderimi (see the route Tsagarada – Damouchari – Ai Giannis) or we can continue to the nearby coastal settlement of Ai Giannis (Agios Ioannis). Fakistra is an isolated beach, but at Damouchari and Ai Giannis we can find tavernas and hotels.
Update September 2017: two path sections below Agios Georgios church are blocked by vegetation, and we have to walk on the asphalt.
        From the main road through Tsagarada, at the junction towards Agia Paraskevi, there is a café-bar. We set off from here and follow the kalderimi that descends and brings us out onto the asphalt road at a bend. We turn to the right here and after a short distance come out into Agia Paraskevi square with its famous old huge plane tree next to the church.
Agia Paraskevi square with the big plane tree
      The kalderimi descends from the square and we pass a spring water drinking fountain at its lower edge. We immediately enter a beautiful chestnut forest and pass next to a small bridge on the right on our way down (don`t walk over the bridge).
Walking in chestnut forest
       Lower down, the kalderimi comes out on a road and we go down and then immediately left at a junction, to reach the church of Agios Georgios. We continue on the asphalt road  downhill for 300 metres. Looking out for red dots and a small round yellow sign on our right, we find a kalderimi which goes straight down through thick vegetation and leads us past a spring water drinking fountain. We come out onto the asphalt road again and walk to the left for twenty metres, before we find the continuation of the kalderimi on our right. Walking down this, we cross the road twice more before the path comes out on the road again. 
Approaching Fakistra beach at the Aegean
        At this point the path should continue straight downwards on the other side of the road. However, at present it is impassable, so we have to walk down the road with hairpin bends towards the sea. Lower down is the church of Agios Nikolaos, after which the asphalt ends. There is a wooden kiosk here, next to which a kalderimi descends and in five minutes leads us to the beach at Fakistra.
Fakistra beach
          Returning to the kiosk, we take the narrow earth road to the right in a northerly direction. Within a few metres there is a kalderimi to the right, which leads us down to the chapel-retreat of Krifo Scholio (Hidden School) in a cave close to the waves. A visit to this evocative place, which is ideal for quiet reflection, is thoroughly recommended.
Krifo Scholio
       We continue on the road which runs parallel to the coast and soon see a rocky spit of land, Makrolitharo, jutting out into the sea. Here there is a path/kalderimi coming from the left that used to lead to Agia Kyriaki in Tsagarada. We continue on the road, which further on ends and becomes a path. After passing by the locked chapel of Agios Antonios, the path comes out on an earth road and we walk uphill to reach a kiosk. 
Damouchari
         Here we meet the main kalderimi that comes from Agia Paraskevi in Tsanarada and we follow this downhill. Ahead we see Damouchari. After some zig-zags the kalderimi brings us to a wooden bridge across the Chalorema. Justifying of its name (Chalorema=destroying stream), the stream has partially destroyed the cement path which we walk across to its other bank.
The bridge over Chalorema stream at Damouchari
          Here we find ourselves on the pebbly beach of Damouchari, just beneath the ruins of the old medieval castle. If we walk a little further along the paved road, we reach a small harbor with the deserted building of the old customs and two tavernas. Some scenes from the Hollywood film ''Mamma Mia!" starring Meryl Streep were shot here in 2006.
 
Damouchari port

   Continuing a short distance on the paving, there is a kalderimi on the left that leads to the asphalt road. From here, walking for another 15 minutes, we can get to the beach of Papa Nero at Ai Giannis. This final section is described in the Tsagarada-Damouchari-Ai Giannis route.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Damouchari-Mouresi-Tsagarada

Chalorema stream
Distance: 5,7 km
Duration: 3 h (walking time 2.20')
Altitude: from 0 m. (Damouchari) to 350 m. (max)
Signing: red marks, a few signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Vigla of Tsangarada, Damouchari)


 Download GPS track:   from Everytrail    from Wikiloc       

        This is a nice circular walk, starting off from the seaside settlement of Damouchari in East Pelion. First we climb to Mouresi village walking on cobbled stone path (kalderimi) and then cross the overgrown ravine of Chalorema on a recently reopened path, to reach the location called Vigla at Tsagarada village and return to Damouchari, walking again on spectacular kalderimi.  At the end of our walk we can have a swim at the beach and lunch at one of the tavernas there. If we use public transport (KTEL bus), we can get off at nearby Ai Giannis (Agios Ioannis) and walk to Damouchari (a 15-minute walk from the south end of Papa Νero beach of Ai Giannis). Please wear long trousers as vegetation near the stream is usually overgrown, despite volunteer efforts to keep the path open and clear.
      Starting off from the drinking water fountain at the parking at the end of asphalt road at Damouchari, we climb to the left on a concrete road which has a central stone paved lane. After 50 m. we find the signed kalderimi climbing up, opening to a stone paved road that soon becomes an earth road. Watching out for the red marks on the left as we climb the earth road, we find the kalderimi, which was abruptly cut by the road and is not readily visible (attention). Further up, it opens to another earth road and we find it again on the left side of the road. This procedure is repeated one more time and we find ourselves walking through a virtual tunnel of vegetation around us.
A virtual tunnel of vegetation
       The kalderimi opens to a concrete road climbing steadily and we reach a junction, where it becomes again visible through the concrete. If we take here the road to the left, in five minutes we will reach an excellent viewpoint peak called Tsouka. Back to the junction, continue up the road-kalderimi having a line of cypress trees at the side. As we reach the asphalt, we do not continue straight ahead towards Mouresi square (attention), but follow the asphalt to the left.
The overgrown Chalorema ravine
      As the asphalt takes a sharp right turn, we take the narrow concrete road to the left at the sign to ''Villa Glykas'' (ΒΙΛΑ ΓΛΥΚΑΣ) and then the earth road going straight on downhill. Shortly before the end of the road, watching for the red marks, we find the path on our left side. This climbs down to cross the wide Chalorema stream, and continues on the other side amongst dense vegetation. Ignoring a path to the right going to Agios Stefanos of Tsagarada, we keep climbing following the red marks.
      The path becomes an earth road and eventually joins the downhill asphalt that comes from Agios Stefanos church. We walk downhill and soon get to a junction with an asphalt road to the left and a sign to ''Vigla'' (''Βίγλα''). It is better to take that road and follow it straight on, until we get  to location Vigla, a small plateau with a plane tree, a bench and a drinking water faucet. Here we join  the route Tsagarada-Damouchari (coming from Agia Paraskevi church). We continue straight ahead on an earth road for a few meters, reach a fork and go left to find the kalderimi next to the fence.
View to the sea from Vigla

     A little further down, we reach a wooden kiosk. On the left a small stone balcony is built, where one can sit in quiet and admire the view to the Aegean. As the kalderimi zigzags its way down, we can feel the sea breeze and hear the waves that hit the rocky coast below.
Closing in to Damouchari

     Two paths cross on the right, going towards Krifo Scholio and Fakistra beach. There is a protective low stone wall built on the outer side, because the slope is very steep. Eventually, we pass Chalorema stream over a wooden bridge.
The bridge over Chalorema stream at Damouchari
        As if to justify its name (Chalorema=destroying stream), the stream has destroyed the concrete lane on which we walk at the other side.  Here we are at the beach of Damouchari, under the ruins of the old castle, where we can have a swim into the Aegean sea.
The beach of Damouchari
       Walking on the flat stone paved lane parallel to the sealine, we pass just above the small port, the only place in the whole east Pelion area where a ship could safely dock. Some scenes of the movie ''Mamma mia'' were shot here in 2007 and there are happy pictures of the taverna owner with Meryl Streep.
Damouchari port
          A little further on, as a concrete road continues ahead, we notice the kalderimi climbing to the left. It soon opens at the end of the asphalt road, where we started our walk.