Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Volos-Anemoutsa-Agria

View to Agria
Distance: 11,6 km
Duration: 3,5 hours (walking time 3.10')
Altitude: from 20 m (start) to 394 m. (max) to 0 m. (finish)
Total ascent: 503 m. Total descent: 506 m.
Signed with red paint marks
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track: from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


           
           This is a walk mainly on earth road with sections of path, passing from some interesting spots. Starting from Volos football stadium just above the swimming center (we can go there by taxi or city bus nr.3), we walk on a path that climbs on the slope of the adjacent hill (named Goritsa) through pinewood. On our right are the headquarters of the local Scouting organisation. We cross the asphalt twice and later join it at an angle. The road leads to the top of the hill and the chapel of Panagia. The view over the top is excellent. All around this area lay the ruins of an ancient city, built at 4th century BC, that was abandoned a few decades later and even its name still remains unknown (see mythology-history).
View over Volos from the top of  the hill
        From the east side of the church we take a downhill path, seeing the cement factory down below. The path opens to an earth road and we walk on that to the northeast, passing under remains of the ancient city`s fortification. We come to a locked door and pass through an opening. Further on, the road turns right but we continue straight ahead on a path which soon opens to another earth road. Our course runs just above the cement factory`s old quarry. The road ends, we continue on a path through a grove and then on a road next to a fence. We come to a junction and take the concrete road on the right, going uphill. At the following junction we go straight ahead.
The cement factory
          From a certain point we enjoy panoramic view of the cement factory from above. The road continues unpaved, incorporating small sections of kalderimi. We pass by a watering trough with a ruined cistern and eventually come to a road junction with a large sign in Greek. The downhill road to the right leads to Agria and if we take that, our walk will be shorter by twenty minutes. We preferred to head straight on towards the small settlement of Anemoutsa. After a little while, we come to a small drinking water fountain without water. On the right is the chapel of  Taksiarches. From there, we take a downhill path with some sections of kalderimi, following the red marks. This opens to the forementioned earth road going down towards Agria. After 200 m. on the road, we come to a cypress tree and a shrine (attention). Here we turn right into the olive grove, cross a stream and immediately come to the old deserted monastery of Taksiarches. The church is in good condition after renovation, but the other buildings have sadly collapsed.
Τhe old monastery at Anemoutsa

       Always following the frequent red marks, we continue on a path on the right side of the stream, going towards the sea in front of us. Certain spots  may be unpleasant to people with fear of heights, but not really difficult.
On the narrow trail towards the sea
          We cross an olive grove, pass on the left side of the stream and join the road to Agria, which is paved with concrete. At the junction where the paved road turns left, we continue to the right on a narrow earth track. Following the course of the stream on our right side, we pass by the drinking water fountain of ''Yiannis'' (without water too), then a school on our left side. Walking on Porfirogeni (ΠΟΡΦΥΡΟΓΕΝΗ) str., we finally end up to the seafront of Agria with its plethora of tavernas and cafes. We can return to Volos by city bus nr. 5 or taxi.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Niaou (Afetes)-Neochori

Approaching Neochori
Distance: 5,8 km
Duration: 2 hours (walking time 1.40')
Altitude: from 235 m. (Niaou square) to 470 m. (Neochori square)
Total ascent: 280 m.  Total descent: 50 m.
Signed with round yellow signs and red paint marks
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track:  from Everytrail   from Wikiloc


         In this walk, we follow the course of the old kalderimi, a significant part of which still exists. Its best part is near Neochori, at the old stone bridge. We also enjoy nice views over the sea near the village of Niaou. Only problem is, we have to walk on the asphalt for a little while. Neochori is also connected with hiking routes to Milies and Siki, and Niaou to Afissos (see respective walks). At the square of Neochori there is a restaurant open all year round, at Niaou during the summer season and weekends in winter. See bus timetables at www.ktelvolou.gr
        Niaou is a slavic toponym meaning ''pen'', and has been the original name of the village from the beginning until 1955, when it was unwisely decided to rename it ''Afetai'', after the ancient seaside settlement which, however, is unrelated to that area (it is considered to be situated at modern-day Platanias). The original name is still in use by the locals and should, in my view, be reinstated.
Niaou (Afetes)
          Starting from the square and the main church of Timiou Prodromou (St. John the Baptist), we climb on kalderimi for a few meters and then turn right on the cement road going uphill on an easterly direction. After crossing a stream and passing by a drinking water fountain, we notice the sign to the left and start climbing on a wide earth path which becomes kalderimi and then earth path again. It opens to a narrow asphalt road, which we follow to the right for forty meters to find the continuity. We climb now on kalderimi on the slope, having a mansion on our left. This section was built in the early 50`s and remains in good condition.
        Higher up, we cross the stream to the left and walk on earth road, which opens to the main asphalt. We walk on this for twenty meters to the right and then take an earth track, parallel to the asphalt on its right side, going gently downhill to the east. There is a mansion at a distance of 50 meters to the right. On our way, we can make out bits of the old cobblestone.
        After a while, we cross the asphalt at an angle and continue on the other side. In front of us, we can see the road signs of the main asphalt junction (Delta) to Argalasti and we head on to that. Eventually, we join the asphalt and walk on this for 50 metres. Reaching the junction, we take the old road which runs parallel to the main asphalt on the left. If we look carefully, we will notice some traces of the old kalderimi at some point.
       The old road eventually joins the main asphalt, which  has covered the kalderimi for more than a kilometer. We can avoid a significant section of asphalt if we take the earth road on the right, which opens out to the main road again at Agrigiannis winery, after about 700 m. After the winery, we have to walk about 500 meters on the asphalt and then take a narrow earth road to the right.
Kalderimi in pinewood
         After ten meters we leave the road to the left and walk downhill on a path which soon becomes a kalderimi crossing pinewood. We soon come to cross a stream over an old arched stone bridge. According to the inscription on the eastern keystone, it was built in 23 April 1895 after a donation by Konstantinos Topalis, an eminent lawyer and politician from Volos.
The bridge of Topalis near Neochori
     Leaving the old bridge in quiet, we climb on kalderimi. Reaching the graveyard, it becomes concrete road. At the junction we go left and soon come to a parking lot. Climbing the stairs we finally arrive at the square of Neochori.
The square of Neochori

Monday, February 9, 2015

Platanias-Agios Spiridon monastery (circular)

Agios Spiridon monastery
Distance: 10,1 km
Duration: 3,5 hours with stops
Altitude: from 0 m. to 363 m.
Total ascent/descent: 405 m.
Signed with round yellow signs and red paint marks
Drinking water on walk: Agios Nikolaos chapel
Download GPS track:   from Everytrail    from Wikiloc


         In this circular walk, we climb from the tourist beach of Platanias following initially the main (eastern) route to Lafkos. Then take the earth road to the monastery of Agios Spiridon, and then return back through a connection to the route Promiri-Platanias.
         Starting from the seaside, initially we walk into the wide streambed. At the corner of a basketball pitch, we take the earth road on the left and start going uphill on a westerly direction, next to a small stream that lies on our left side. Futher up at a junction we go right and walk between olive groves on a northerly direction.  Just after a stone hut which is on our left side, noticing the signpost we leave the road to the right, crossing an olive grove. Αt the other end of the grove we enter the path and we soon cross the stream of Poros. This word means ''pass'' in Greek, but also ''running water'' in Slavic (poroj), so it is unclear where it comes from, as both meanings are valid in this case.
Agios Nikolaos chapel
          On the other bank we walk uphill on kalderimi, which eventually becomes an earth road leading to the quiet small chapel of Agios Nikolaos, a suitable place for a stop. Further up, the road takes a sharp left bend next to a cottage. The path originally goes straight ahead, but is unclear and we prefer to follow the road. We go past a first junction and at the following one we find  the path between the two roads in the middle. Further up, it opens to an earth road, which we follow to the left for 100 m. to find again the continuity of the path, watching out for the red paint marks on our right. Climbing up, we go past a cottage and a concrete water tank and join the asphalt road coming from Mikro beach. Walking 30 meters on the asphalt, we go past a narrow earth track on the right and then reach a junction with a wide earth road, which we follow.
         This leads us after 2 km to the monastery of Agios Spiridon. It belongs to Promiri, was rebuilt in 1834 after being burnt down by the Turks and currently functions as a nunnery. It is open 8-12 in the morning and from 16.00 until sunset, every day except Friday.
Agios Spiridon monastery
       Leaving the monastery, we leave the main road and take the narrow earth track on the right going downhill. At the outside of the left turn we find the path, descending to an overgrown ravine with running water. We cross the stream and ascend on the other bank heading east. After a little while the path becomes an earth road. We pass under a cottage and then reach a road junction, where we go downhill to the right, following the small round signs. At the second junction we go right again and at the third one we go to the left. Eventually, we join the main kalderimi coming from Promiri and walk on this downhill. It goes out for a little while on an earth road and again continues to the left.
The main kalderimi to Platanias

       The cobblestone path opens at a concrete tank below, to the point where two streams come together. We continue on an uphill road, having on the right the fence of a cottage. At the upper corner of the fence we find the kalderimi, that descends for a few meters and then finally stops and becomes a footpath next to a low stone wall (pezoula). Then we pass on the right side of the stream and continue among olive trees. Here the trail is not so obvious, but we generally follow the course of the stream to the sea in a southerly direction, assisted by signs and red marks. Further on, we pass to the left side of the stream and walk on an earth road.
Walking into the streambed

     Eventually, we reach a point  just next to the stream, where the earth road turns left uphill to meet the asphalt, next to a road sign ''Have a Nice Trip-Welcome to Platanias''(we don`t take that route). In front of us is a private property. At this point we enter into the streambed on the right, which is normally dry and fairly easy (and pleasant) to walk on, and follow it for about 700 m. until it opens to the beach of Platanias.
Platanias