Monday, September 11, 2017

Makrirachi-Anilio

View of Makrirachi

Distance: 2,5 km
Time: 1 hour'
Altitude: from 300 m. (Makrirachi) to 160 m. (minimum) to 370 m. (Anilio)
Total ascent: 201 m.  Total descent: 130 m.
Signed with red paint dots and round yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track (gpx): from Wikiloc


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          Many people from both villages remember the wooden bridge down at the stream in normal operation until the 1970`s. When Nikos Haratsis walked this route in 1994, only some stones of the south base remained. Nowadays there is absolutely no trace of the old bridge. Crossing the stream on our own can be difficult in the spring when the snow melts or following heavy rain, so it should be avoided under these circumstances, until a new bridge is built some day. In summer and autumn, when the flow of water is reduced, crossing the stream is relatively easy.
        Starting from the square of Makrirachi, we descend on the kalderimi (cobblestone track) next to the restaurant. This soon becomes a cement track with a central cobblestone lane. As this track opens out to a small parking area, we find the continuity of the original old kalderimi looking down on the right (attention to the red dots!).
Οn the way down from Makrirachi, view to Anilio
          The kalderimi soon is covered with concretre and we reach a junction, where we turn left on the asphalt. In the next junction we turn right downhill on the concrete track. We do the same at the next junction and finally the concrete track ends at an apple orchard.
The apple orchard
We can make out the kalderimi as it continues to descend on the right side of the orchard, its stones covered with soil. In a few meters there is a section blocked by vegetation and we have to follow its course stepping down the low stone wall. After that, the kalderimi ends and continues as an earth path leading down to the streambed.
At the streambed
        We walk another fifteen meters just next to the stream in the direction of the sea and then find a way to cross it to the other side, where the continuity of  the kalderimi is easily seen. Its stones are covered by fallen leaves, ivy and soil. Water emerges from the earth and runs on the surface for a short distance, producing mud and making our life difficult.
         Climbing into chestnut forest, we come to join an earth road and follow it uphill. This passes in front of the old chapel of Panagia (Virgin Mary), nicely renovated. An inscription above the door informs that it was built in 1745. Next to the chapel is the old cemetery, surrounded by cypress trees.
Panagia chapel of Anilio
       Further up, the road becomes concrete paved and we have a junction, where we turn right, heading for the square. If we intend to continue to Plaka beach, it is better to take the other cement road straight ahead, which joins the asphalt near the new cemetery, from where the kalderimi to Plaka starts. From Anilio, one can either walk down to Plaka beach, or up to Hania (see the walk Hania-Anilio-Agios Ioannis). If, on the other hand, we are walking from Anilio to Makrirachi, we can continue uphill to Hania (two routes, the Path of the Waterfalls and the main kalderimi via Profitis Elias) or walk the asphalt down to Agii Saranda and Horefto.
View to the sea above Panagia (notice the cypress trees)


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hania-Tria Remata-Kissos

Distance: 12,9 km
Time: 5,5 hours
Altitude: from 1300 m. (refuge at ski center) to 1430 (max) to 506 m. (Kissos)
Signed with red paint marks and various signs
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS file (gpx): from Wikiloc

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       Τhis is a suggested alternative route from Hania to the village of Kissos.  The standard route Hania-Kissos is shorter (7,5 km starting from the second parking lot of the ski center, or 6,5 km if we start from the base of lifts -approx. 2,5 hours), but the problem is that nowadays half of the walking is on the main asphalt road to Kissos. By contrast, the route presented here is almost twice as long, but much of it takes place on fabulous path in beech forest, and the last part is on earth road in chestnut forest, following the course of the large Kissotiko ravine. In Kissos, apart from the renowned church of Agia Marina (featuring an excellent carved wooden iconostasis and byzantine-style frescos from 18th century), there are restaurants and hotels operating all year round. From Kissos, one can continue walking to Mouresi and Agios Ioannis.
        The start of the walk is at the refuge of Volos Alpine Club (EOΣ) at the ski center. If we start from the end of the asphalt road at the third parking lot, we walk on the uphill stone paved lane which leads to the refuge (the higher one) in 15 minutes. Left to the refuge we start walking to the east, on an uphill dirt road that ends at the wide ski track “Panorama”. At the other side of the track and a little higher, we find the entrance of the path marked with a signpost. This path also leads to other destinations (Tsagarada, Mouresi, Eastern Refuge, Xourihti, Agios Lavrentios, Agios Georgios).
Path in beech forest
         Walking in beech forest initially to the east and later to the south, we climb  to the clearing of Golgothas peak at 1430 m. of altitude. Here in 2006 two F16 fighter jets crashed, killing their four pilots. Searching around, one can still find some debris from the planes. In 2015 the father of one of the pilots built here a memorial to the dead.
Golgothas
       Leaving Golgothas, our path heads downhill in a southeast direction. We pass two signed crossings on the right to Agios Lavrentios and Agios Georgios respectively, and then the path opens to a narrow earth road, at the area called Monastiraki. 
The earth road at Monastiraki

         Here we follow the road to the left (there is a sign to ''Kissos''). After 50 m., looking to the left (attention), we see the small round sign and a red paint mark on a tree,  indicating the continuity of the path. We descend into beautiful beech forest in a northeasterly direction, noticing some charcoal pits and other traces of past human activity. 
          After a while, the path opens to an earth road. We have to watch for the red marks, as stretches of path and stretches of road alternate on the way down. Eventually, we come to cross the large Kissotiko stream. After a final section of path, we walk on the earth road for about an hour, because this has replaced the original path. Walking into chestnut forest, we can see excellent views of the Kissotiko ravine and the overgrown opposite slope. 
Approaching Kissos
       Approaching Kissos, we pass by the chapel of Profitis Elias on the right. The road is covered now by concrete. At a V-junction we go right and then continue on kalderimi down to the village square with the main church of Agia Marina, built in 1745. 
Kissos square -Agia Marina church

Friday, January 6, 2017

Katigiorgis-Vromoneri

Vromoneri. At the distance, Skiathos
Distance: 1,5 km
Time: 30'
Altitude: from 0 m. up to 53 m.
Total ascent/descent: 70 m.
Signed with round yellow signs
Driniking water on walk: no
Download GPS track: from Wikiloc

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          This is an easy and pleasant half-an-hour walk (one hour with return) in pine forest between two sandy tourist beaches on South Pelion`s east coast. The small harbour of Katigiorgis is located just opposite the renowned tourist beach of Koukounaries of Skiathos island, which is at close distance. Indeed, there is a boat connection to Skiathos operating during the summer. Katigiorgis is also connected to Volos with a regular bus line. At both beaches restaurants and tourist accomodation operate in the summer period. 
          Starting from the beach at Katigiorgis, we walk to the right and start climbing on a cement paved way through the houses. A little higher up, it narrows and becomes paved with local Pelion stones. We pass next to ''Avra'' studios and then walk on an earth road. Reaching a road junction, we turn left, noticing the round yellow sign on the electricity pole. Further on, the road continues as an earth path in pine forest. 
        On our way, we come near another tiny sandy beach called Vlachorema. The path joins an earth road for a few meters and then branches off at an angle to the left (marked with a signpost). We pass next to a natural terrace and soon the path opens to the beach of Vromoneri (name meaning ''bad water'', given because of the brackish water of wells around the area).  
Vromoneri

Kala Nera-Pinakates-Vizitsa-Milies train station (circular)

Climbing up towards Pinakates
Distance: 14 km.
Time: 5,5 hours with stops
Altitude: 0 m. (Kala Nera beach) to 590 m. (maximum, Pinakates)
Total ascent/descent: 708 m.
Signed with red paint marks and various signs.
Drinking water on walk: yes
Download GPS track:  from Wikiloc

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       This circular walk, most of which takes place on cobbled stone path (kalderimi), connects three eminent Pelion villages to the beach of Kala Nera.
        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 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.
      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.
       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
       To continue to Vizitsa, the easiest way is to walk to the right (southeast) on the asphalt which runs above the square and after 400 m. we will notice on our left the signpost to the path behind the road`s safety bar. But there is also a way to walk through the village avoiding the asphalt, as indicated here. So, we start going backwards from the square descending the few steps and in a few meters there is a kalderimi T-junction, where we turn left downhill. Reaching the corner of a house we take the left branch. At the next two junctions we ignore a sharply climbing kalderimi to the left and continue straight ahead, going roughly parallel to the asphalt road which runs a little lower. Eventually we come down to cross the asphalt seeing the signpost to the path on the opposite side, behind the road`s safety bar.
The path on a rainy day
        The path zigzags down to cross the stream of Vasiliki, 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. 
View to Vizitsa











         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 find kalderimi again entering Vizitsa, descending towards the square. A concrete road comes to end at that spot. A little further on, we pass next to an old drinking water fountain (Sakellari fountain, 18th century), sadly without running water most time of the year. 
A mansion in 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.  
The square of Vizitsa

        Going down the wide kalderimi, we come to the asphalt. The main kalderimi to Kala Nera continues straight ahead downhill. We have the option to take this to return, making the walk shorter by about 45`. However, on this walk  we are heading first to the Milies train station, so we follow the asphalt to the left for about 100 meters. Just after the shop of the local women`s association ''Hesperides'', we find on our right the kalderimi leading to the tiny old monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist). 
The kalderimi below St. John`s monastery

        From the entrance of the monastery we continue downhill on a path just next to the monastery`s outer wall and join a wide descending kalderimi. We pass by a roofed drinking water fountain on the left and then join an earth road, on which we walk downhill. Passing under the village`s cemetery, we cross an asphalt road and continue on a path which soon becomes kalderimi.  On our right is the large overgrown Miliotiko ravine. At the opposite bank we can make the white chapel of Stavros and, if we look carefully, the chapel of Taxiarches built midway on the cliff. 

       Further down, the kalderimi becomes earth path and we come to a junction. Both branches lead to the train station: the right one opens to the rails and we follow these to the left to the station, while the left branch crosses an overgrown stream and continues to the entrance of the train station, next to the cafe-restaurant that operates there.  
The train of Pelion, entering Milies train station

         We follow the asphalt for 100 m. (on the left an uphill kalderimi leads to the square of Milies) and then find the kalderimi to Kala Nera next to a small drinking water fountain and follow it downhill. Wide and clear, it winds down to cross the Miliotiko stream over a concrete bridge and continues on the other bank between olive groves.

          At some point it joins at an angle an earth road, on which we walk for 100 m. to find the continuity on the left. Eventually the kalderimi ends and we continue walking on an earth road, which later becomes paved with concrete after passing by the cemetery of Kala Nera and then joins the main asphalt. At the juction lie a few cypress trees and a road sign to ''Argireika''. We walk on the main asphalt for 100 m. and then, at the junction with the kalderimi coming from Vizitsa, turn left on an asphalt road that opens down to the seaside of Kala Nera, at the point of the bus turn.
Kala Nera