Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Μilina-Chondri Ammos-Mavri Petra

Chondri Ammos

Distance: 12,2 km
Time: 3.40' (walking time 3.20')
Altitude: from 0 m. (Milina) to 245 m. (max) to 0 m. (Mavri Petra)
Total ascent/descent: 400 m.
Signed with: round yellow signs and red paint marks
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track (gpx):  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


           This walk goes from the sea of Pagasitic gulf to the Aegean and back. It is almost circular, as start and finish are 2,8 km away on the coastal main asphalt road. It is best to walk in May-June or September-October, when the sea is warm enough (a swim at Chondri Ammos is a must do), but the sun is not too hot, as a large part of the walk lacks shade. At Mavri Petra there are two tavernas for food and drink.
           Starting from the church at the seaside of Milina, we initially walk on the asphalt road to Lafkos. We go past a bridge on the right (over which goes the road to Kidonies), and then leave the main asphalt to the right, heading to the settlement of Piges. On our right side is the bed of Koumanorema stream (mistakenly referred at some maps as ''Ammorema'').
         After the last houses, the road becomes unpaved and passes for one hundred meters on the other bank. Returning to the left bank of the stream, we leave the road and start climbing on kalderimi next to the fence of a cottage. The kalderimi soon becomes an earth track, on which we walk to the east, going past a small chapel (the Kato Ai Giannis). After a little while, we notice another chapel on the left bank of the road just above us, the Epano (Upper) Ai Giannis, which has the nickname ''sti sara'' (''at the  scree''), because of the loose rocks we can see on the opposite slope. Here comes a kalderimi from the cemetery of Lafkos, so the village of Lafkos could serve as an alternative start for our walk (see the walk Lafkos-Platanias westerly route).
Walking next to Koumani Rema stream
         We continue on the road, which runs parallel to the Koumanorema stream bed, going past two junctions with an uphill road to the left. After the second junction, the road we walk comes for a short distance on the right bank of the stream and finally ends at a metal door at the left bank. At that point we go into the dry stream bed under the shade of high trees, in a beautiful natural setting.
        We walk past two wells and a dry water fountain. Then the path, always signed with red marks, starts to climb on the right bank of the stream and eventually opens to an open flat area, called Pente Alonia (''five threshing floors''). Here we join an earth road to the right, and continue on a southwesterly direction. After about a kilometer we meet a junction and go left. In about 600 m. there is another junction. Here we go right and in a few meters we notice the path branching off to the left downhill.
Seeing the Aegean Sea

         Following  that path, a small stream starts to appear on our left side and soon we can see the Aegean sea at the distance. After a couple of zigzags, the path opens into an olive grove and disappears. Walking empirically in the same direction for a short distance, we come to a hut and enter an earth road. This joins another road in a T-junction. To the left, that leads to Mikro beach. We turn to the right (to the west) and follow the road until it comes to end at the pebbly beach of Chondri Ammos, in about 2,5 hours from the start of the walk. A few summer cottages line the beach. In antiquity, this was one of the two ports of the ancient city Olizon, mentioned in Homeric poems (the other port was at Valtoudi-Mavri Petra). Some ruins of Olizon may still be seen at the nearby hill ''Paliokastro''.

      After a refreshing swim in the crystal clear sea, we put on our hiking shoes again and walk along the beach. On the other side an uphill earth road begins. At the next two junctions we take the road to the right, At the next three junctions we go left uphill, following the red marks. From certain poins we enjoy really nice views over the sea.
Leaving Chondri Ammos
         At the top, there is an olive grove on our left side. Reaching a derelict hut, we take a downhill path to the right. Descending into the olive grove, we soon reach an earth road, which we follow downhill. Keeping an eye for the red marks on the right side, after a little while we find a path section, descending parallel to the road, below on the right. This opens to an earth road on a sharp turn-junction and we take the left branch, decending gently on a northerly direction. That road opens to the main coastal road, at the location called Mavri Petra (''Black Stone''), next to the two tavernas that operate there.
Mavri Petra
       If we follow the asphalt for another 2,8 km. to the right (north), we will return to the starting point of our walk.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Veneto-Kamari

View to Kamari
Distance: 8,9 km
Time: 4 hours (walking time 3.45')
Altitude: from 230 m. (Veneto) to 275 m. (max) to 0 m. (Kamari)
Total ascent: 432 m.  Total descent: 623 m.
Signed with red paint marks, a few signs
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track: from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


     
         This is an excellent route in the relatively unknown North Pelion, which starts out from Veneto with quite a large section of kalderimi and continues on paths mostly through natural forest at an altitude of approximately 150 – 250 metres, ending finally at the beach Kamari (near the village of Keramidi), where we can refresh ourselves in the Aegean Sea. It is suitable for all seasons, even the summer, since there is shade along most of its length. Following recent clearing work in 2015-2016, the route is now open, well marked with signs and red dots and is waiting to charm those who have the good fortune to walk it!

       To return to Veneto, one possibility is to phone for a taxi from Keramidi (tel 6977893576) or from Kanalia (tel 6945277835). Another option is to ascend to Keramidi on foot (see the route Kamari-Keramidi) and either take the bus to Volos (www.ktelvolou.gr), or walk back to Veneto using the O2 national path (Keramidi-Veneto). At Kamari there are guesthouses and restaurants, as the beach attracts tourists (mostly domestic) during the summer season.
Kamari beach
Our starting point is the main church of Ipapandi in Veneto, a little before the square on the left as we enter the village. It's worth spending a little time at this noteworthy monument, built in 1765-67, to admire the ornate carved wooden iconostasis (if the church is open).
Carved wooden iconostasis of Ipapandi church
     We walk in front of the church on a short section of kalderimi that survives, and then downhill to the left on a cement road. At the last houses in the village the main road takes a right turn, but we continue straight ahead in a northwesterly direction on a narrow earth road which soon becomes a kalderimi, passing next to a ruined stone hut. We come out onto an earth road, cross a small stream and continue uphill on the road. Further up there is a road junction. Here we go straight ahead in a northwesterly direction following the path, which runs next to a house and then becomes cobblestone (kalderimi).
Path-kalderimi in a tunnel of vegetation near Veneto
         The kalderimi goes over the Trano Rema stream bed and ascends through holm oak forest, where it becomes a path again. At junctions we stick to the main, better-trodden path. We come out into a rocky clearing, Schismata, with a pleasant view towards the village and the sea. We reenter the forest and further on there is a junction to the left with a path that ascends to the south west (attention, we don`t take that), coming out at a hut in the location called Vigla. Always following the red dots, we go straight on at this point, descending to the north, and in a short distance the path turns to the west and we come to cross the Platanakos stream. Just below us, the (normally dry) stream forms an impressive, ten meter high waterfall over the rocks.
Stream of Platanakos
         We cross the stream bed and ascend on the path, which widens and turns into an abandoned earth road. This section was previously closed by brambles. Now, however, it presents no problems and after a short distance we turn right onto a path that soon comes out onto a wide earth road at a fork. We follow this uphill and, shortly before a sharp left hand bend in the road, we find the continuity of the path to our right.
The beautiful path through the forest leads us to an upward-sloping clearing. This is called Portokalivia and was inhabited in the past. It is a good spot to stop for a rest. The path continues from the top right of the clearing. We cross a stream and walk up a stony hillside with white marble stone. From certain points we can see the Aegean sea at the distance.
View to the sea
When we reach the ridge, we walk through an abandoned grove with a threshing floor. This location is called Kato Stefani. Going to the left on dry stone terraces in a westerly direction, we find our way helped by the red marks and signs. Further on, we cross another stream, the Araporema. We ascend to the opposite ridge, Sferdouklia, alongside an abandoned olive grove, and then cross another stream and ascend to the next ridge, Ano Tsouka, passing next to a stone hut. Close to here, according to information from retired forest warden mr. Koutsibanas, there is a cave.

Seeing Kamari from Ano Tsouka ridge
        As we reach the ridge, we can at last see Kamari and the small harbor next to it, beyond a smaller ridge, Kato Tsouka. As we descend, we come across a shepherds gate, open it to pass through, and leave it shut behind us. 
       Eventually, the path ends at a cement road. Another path also comes out to this road just to our left. Following the road, we descend between the houses and reach a wide cement-paved stream bed, which soon brings us down to the beach.
Kamari in summer



Friday, October 16, 2015

Makrinitsa-Lagonika-Pouri

Τhe ravine of Lagonika, opening to the Aegean Sea
Distance: 19 km
Time: 8 hours (walking time 6.25')
Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1290 m. (Lagonika) to 480 m. (Pouri)
Total ascent: 951 m.  Total descent: 1076 m.
Signed with: red paint marks, some metal signs
Drinking water on walk; yes (Krio Nero)
Download GPS track (gpx):  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc

           This is the more westerly one of the three alternative routes from Makrinitsa to Pouri, the other two being Makrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri and Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri (the latter requires a permission from the Air Force authorities, because it is passing through the military installations at Pourianos Stavros).

                As we come to the parking lot at Makrinitsa, at the end of the asphalt road, we see on the right a kalderimi (cobblestone path) heading uphill. A handmade sign indicating to “Pouri”(Πουρί) is nailed to a tree. This was made, along with  many others, by a local volunteer hiker, Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the fountain in the parking.
Climbing from Makrinitsa

             The kalderimi winds uphill among the village houses, passing by a lone pine tree next to a bench and two fountains and eventually opens to a narrow dirt road, which leads us to the old monastery of Agia Paraskevi.
Agia Paraskevi church
           After a refreshing stop at that tranquil spot and filling our water supplies from the fountain, we continue uphill on dirt road. After a right turn we find the path on our left. It soon opens to another dirt road, which then turns right and comes to an end. We continue on path with cobblestone sections, climbing into chestnut forest.
           We cross an earth road and further up turn left on another road. Watching on our right side, after about 30 m. we find the path again, climbing between chestnut trees. Further up, we walk parallel to a water ditch, noticing another handmade sign to “Pouri”. From a certain spot, we can see lake Karla at a distance to the west.
View to lake Karla
                Passing next to a water tank, we  enter a secondary dirt road, which after a few meters joins the main dirt road coming from Makrinitsa. The location here is called Trano Isoma. We continue to the left and in twenty meters reach a junction next to a concrete ditch. The road to the right leads to Flambouro and Pourianos Stavros. We take the downhill road to the left, initially heading north, then turning west. We soon come to another junction with a shrine. 
             Here we take the road to the right on a north-northeasterly direction. This has replaced the old path (we can notice two small surviving sections of it on our left) and eventually leads to the stone bridge of Karias, built in 1934 over the stream of Kaliakouda (Xerias).  
Karias stone bridge
          After the bridge, the earth road continues uphill to the north and we pass next to a hut at location Krio Nero (means cold water). Here we can fill our bottles with drinking water, as there is no other fountain on our way. Heading on, the road  takes a northeasterly direction. On our left is the large ravine of Elatorema stream. The firs that grow there are the only evergreen trees in winter, in an otherwise gray scenery of deciduous beech forest. 
              We come to a V-junction where we take the road to the left going downhill. Watching for it on the left side of the road, we soon find the path which initially runs parallel to the road. Eventually we come down to cross the stream of Elatorema. 
Elatorema stream bed

              The path continues on the other bank, initially in a westerly direction, but then changes course to the north (attention to  the right!) and climbs on the slope. It crosses a road and continues to climb. Further up, it opens to an open area with stony ground, which is called Chamorigani and offers nice view to the west. Here is a path junction. One path continues downhill to the north heading to Sourvia monastery and Andovitos (attention!). The other path, which we follow, continues uphill northeast through a forest with low beech trees, having on the right the ravine of  Elatorema and the overgrown peak of Pourianos Stavros (1624 m.). The radars at the top are not visible from here. Wherever we turn our heads to, we see slopes overgrown with thick beech forest.
Descending from Lagonika peak

               We come to pass just under the peak of Lagonika (1295 m.), reaching the highest point of our walk. Another path comes to join from the left, coming from Andovitos (see the route Fitoko-Lagonika-Pouri). Our path now begins to descend. From a certain spot we have an excellent view of the large ravine of Lagonika opening to the Aegean sea. We come to cross the stream bed (normally dry at that level) and continue ascending gently on the other bank.
Thick beech forest on the slopes of the ravine of Lagonika

           Coming to a hut used by the hunters of Zagora, we  ignore a downhill path (also marked with red marks) and elect to continue on the same easterly direction slightly uphill, to join an earth road just above the hut.
          After about two kilometers on the road, watching for the red marks (attention) we notice the path coming from Pourianos Stavros crossing the road and we follow it downhill. Our direction is steadily northeast. We pass through a clearing with a cement pole (1103 m.), we cross two earth roads and finally the path opens out just above the chapel of Agia Marina, next to a  cistern. The church was built over a century ago, after permission to use water from Lagonika spring was allowed by its owner to the people of Pouri in 1891, a highly significant event for the village at the time. Water from the spring arrived at the cistern on the nameday of St. (Agia) Marina, on the 17th of July.
Agia Marina chapel

          We continue following the concrete ditch on the right side of the church and  reach another cistern.  We walk now on a dirt road northeast and we come to a signpost where the main path to Pouri branches off to the left. It`s a wide downhill path heading northeast. Following the red marks, we descend through beech and chestnut forest. Reaching a concrete water tank further down, we go to the right over a concrete ditch and immediately find kalderimi, leading to the upper square of Pouri and the main church of Agios Dimitrios.
Pouri




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Μakrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri

Distance: 21,4 km
Time: 8,5 hours (walking time 7 hours)
Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1415 m. (refuge) to 475 m. (Pouri)
Total ascent: 974 m.  Total descent: 1088 m.
Signed with red paint marks, some metal signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Krio Nero)
Download GPS track (gpx):  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc
         A well-worn classic trek in Pelion, most of which runs into beech and chestnut forest. This is the middle one of three alternative routes, the other two being Makrinitsa-Lagonika-Pouri (more westerly) and Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri (more easterly, requires a permission from the Air Force authorities because it passes through the military installations at Pourianos Stavros).
              As we come to the parking lot at Makrinitsa, at the end of the asphalt road, we see on the right a kalderimi (cobblestone path) heading uphill. A red handmade sign indicating to “Pouri”(Πουρί) is nailed to a tree. This was made, along with  many others, by a local volunteer hiker, Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the fountain in the parking.
Ascending from Makrinitsa, view over Volos
            The kalderimi winds uphill among the village houses, passing by a lone pine tree next to a bench and two fountains and eventually opens to a narrow dirt road, which leads us to the old monastery of Agia Paraskevi.  
Agia Paraskevi church
           Having enjoyed a refreshing stop at that tranquil spot and filling our water supplies from the fountain, we continue uphill on dirt road. After a right turn we find the path on our left. It soon opens to another dirt road, which then turns right and comes to an end. We continue on a path with sections of cobblestone, climbing into chestnut forest.
           We cross an earth road and further up turn left on another road. Watching on our right side, after about 30 m. we find the path again, climbing between chestnut trees. Further up, we walk parallel to a water ditch, noticing another handmade sign to “Pouri”. From a certain spot, we can see lake Karla at a distance to the west.
Seeing lake Karla at the distance

             Passing next to a water tank, we  enter a secondary dirt road, which after a few meters joins the main dirt road coming from Makrinitsa. The location here is called Trano Isoma. We continue to the left and in twenty meters reach a junction next to a concrete ditch. The road to the right leads to Flambouro and Pourianos Stavros. We take the downhill road to the left, initially heading north, then turning west. We soon come to another junction with a shrine. 
            Here we take the road to the right on a north-northeasterly direction. This has replaced the old path (we can notice two small surviving sections of it on our left) and eventually leads to the stone bridge of Karias, built in 1934 over the stream of Kaliakouda (Xerias).  
Karias stone bridge
          After the bridge, the earth road continues uphill to the north and we pass next to a hut at location Krio Nero (meaning ''cold water''). Here we can fill our bottles with drinking water, as there is no other proper fountain on our way. Heading on, the road  takes a northeasterly direction. On our left is the large ravine of Elatorema stream. The firs that grow there are the only evergreen trees in the winter, in an otherwise grey scenery of deciduous beech forest. 
Evergreen firs at Elatorema (early December)
       After a juction with a downhill road on the left (here goes the route to Lagonika), the uphill road we follow finally ends, we cross a wooden bridge and continue uphill on a path.   Higher up, this opens to a deserted earth road, where we notice another handmade sign by Kottalis. We walk on the road uphill for a few meters and find the continuity of the path at the turn, climbing on a southeastely direction. The path opens to another road, which we follow to the south (right), reaching the West Refuge (altitude 1415 m.). This hut was built in 1997, remains always open and can house up to ten people in case of need. Here we are at the highest point of our walk, under the peak of Pourianos Stavros (1624 m.), which lies to the east.
West Refuge
           After a necessary stop to rest, we continue on the road for a few meters and then enter the path on the left, descending to pass a stream. This is the beginning of the large ravine of Lagonika. The wooden pedestrian bridge is broken and we cross the stream with a little difficulty. 
          Descending into the beech forest, our path eventually opens to the beginning of an earth road. Here one option is to follow that road for about 2 km. and then take the downhill path (signed with red marks, see the walk Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri) that leads to Agia Marina chapel. The other option, as followed in this recording (also leading to Agia Marina), is to turn immediately left downhill to reach a hunters` hut just below. 
Walking in the beech forest
       Two downhill paths with red marks continue from that hut (attention!). The left one goes northwest to Lagonika peak. We take the right one, initially heading north and then northeast. After a while, we come to cross a concrete ditch and an earth road. A few meters further down we meet a second earth road, which we follow to the right (east). We walk on this for about an hour, on a parallel course to the irrigation ditch that takes the water from the spring of Lagonika down to the groves of Pouri.         
Agia Marina chapel
          Eventually, we reach Agia Marina chapel, next to the open cistern that collects water by the ditch. The chapel was built over a century ago in 1891, when permission to use water from Lagonika spring was allowed by its owners to the people of Pouri, a very significant event for the village at the time. Water from the spring arrived at the cistern on the nameday of St. (Agia) Marina, on the 17th of July. 
Interior of Agia Marina

          Following the concrete ditch on the right (southern) side of the church, we reach another open cistern below.  We continue on a dirt road northeast and we meet a signpost where the main path to Pouri branches off to the left. It`s a wide downhill path heading northeast. At that point, instead of taking the path, we elected to continue on the road to visit Profitis Elias chapel, a minor detour well worth the trouble. So, we continue on the road, reach a junction and turn right following the red paint marks. From the end of that road we continue on a path descending in chestnut forest. This opens to an apple grove and becomes earth road. We follow the road downhill. At the signed junction we go left downhill and reach the small chapel of Profitis Elias, next to a kiosk.
Profitis Elias chapel

         That spot offers an excellent view to the east and south. We see Horefto beach and the villages of Zagora, Anilio and Mouresi lying on the overgrown slopes  descending from the peaks Kotroni and Pourianos Stavros. Rising from the deep blue Aegean sea, the Sporades islands (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos) are visible too.
View from Profitis Elias chapel
          We continue on the road and in a little while we easily find the continuity of the path descending on the right side in chestnut forest. This opens to another earth road further down. Reaching a concrete water tank at the end of the road, we go right crossing a concrete ditch and immediately find the kalderimi, which brings us down to the main church of Agios Dimitrios, just above the end of the asphalt road.
Agios Dimitrios church, Pouri



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tsagarada (Taxiarches square-Agia Paraskevi square)

Taxiarches square
Distance: 1,85 km
Duration: 35 minutes
Altitude: from 560 m. (Taxiarches square) to 460 m. (Agia Paraskevi square)
Total ascent: 30 m.  Total descent: 104 m.
Signed with red paint marks, yellow signs with number ''4''
Drinking water on walk: yes
Download GPS track:  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


         This is an easy and beautiful short walk through Tsagarada, connecting the two main squares of Taxiarches and Agia Paraskevi. It is also useful to hikers who, for example, have come to Tsagarada walking from Milies or Agios Georgios  or Hania and wish to continue down to the sea to Damouchari  and Agios Ioannis or even Fakistra.
          Starting off from Taxiarches square and the characteristic quadruple drinking water fountain, we walk on the downhill kalderimi heading east, on a course roughly parallel to the main asphalt which runs a little higher.
       We go past Serpentin Garden mansion and a small wooden bridge on the left. Reaching a junction, we take the wide uphill kalderimi to the left. After that,  there are two more junctions where we go straight ahead, ignoring the uphill kalderimi to the left (attention!). Here and there we notice small yellow metal signs inscripted with number ''4'', which also serve as a guide to our destination (they actually indicate a local circular walk).
         Eventually, we come to cross the asphalt road going to Milopotamos beach. We cross this diagonally to the left and a few meters higher up find the continuity of the kalderimi which enters a wild chestnut forest.
Kalderimi in chestnut forest      
           Reaching the small chapel of Agios Panteleimon, we walk uphill on a narrow asphalt road for a few meters. In front of us is the magnificent stone building of Nanopoulio school, built in 1909 on a donation of a wealthy local who made a fortune as a trader in Egypt. It currently functions as elementary school for the children of Tsagarada and Mouresi.
Nanopoulio school
             To the left is Xenia hotel, closed and deserted for a long time now.
          Heading to the right, we find the kalderimi again and follow it until we reach the square of Agia Paraskevi, where grows the magnificent and famous thousand-years-old plane tree.
Αgia Paraskevi square