Monday, May 30, 2022

Makrinitsa-Pliasidi-Zagora

 

View to Horefto 

Distance: 18,5 km.

Time: 8 hours (with stops)

Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1480 m. (max) to 510 m. (Zagora)

Total elevation gain: 1075 m.

Total elevation loss: 950 m.

Signing: red paint, some metal signs

Drinking water on walk: Agia Paraskevi mon. near Makrinitsa

Start: Brani parking lot,  Makrinitsa (end of asphalt road) 

End: Agios Georgios square, Zagora

Download GPS file (.gpx): from Wikiloc


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        In his book ''History of the Provinces of Volos and Agia'' (published in 1960) Yiannis Kordatos, a renowned scholar of Zagora,  mentions an alternative, higher way used by locals to go from Zagora to Makrinitsa-Volos: (sic) starting to climb from ''Kordateika'', passing by the ''middle Kotroni'', reaching ''Schizopetras'', turn west, get past ''Machera fountain''  and from the peak ''Plesidi'' go down to Makrinitsa. We tried to unearth this forgotten route, and after some research came up with this 8-hour walk.

    After having some rest and refreshments at Agios Georgios square in Zagora,  we may wish to  continue descending for an hour or so to get down to Horefto beach  for a refreshing swim to the sea.


          As we come to the higher 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 ''Πουρί'' (Pouri village)) is nailed to a tree. This was made, along with  many others, by the late local hiker Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the drinking water fountain in the parking.

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 chapel

        Having enjoyed a refreshing stop at that tranquil spot and filling our water supplies from the fountain (no other fountain on our way, 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.

Path in 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.

Agios Augustinos chapel at Trano Isoma

         On our way is also the newly built chapel of Agios Augustinos, where we can have a stop. We continue on dirt road and come to a signed road junction. We continue straight ahead on a northeasterly direction, next to a concrete irrigation ditch. The road ahead leads ultimately to Flambouro springs and Pourianos Stavros peak. After 50 meters we turn right on another dirt road that climbs steeply uphill. On a tree a small round sign indicates the direction to ''Pliasidi'' to the right.


        We pass by the Tzanopoulos estate, where there is a hut. On our left we see a square building, probably a water tank. Immediately after the estate the road makes a slight left turn downhill goeing to Flambouro. At this point we leave it and go straight ahead uphill in an easterly direction on a path, which eventually takes us to the asphalt that goes to the military radars. We are close to the peak of Pliasidi (1547 m.), which is on our right, but going to thefenced  top is prohibited.


        Reaching the asphalt, the red-on-white marks turn to the right (attention). We turn left and walk on the asphalt for about 2.3 km, going towards the radars. At the second junction with a dirt road on the right, we leave the asphalt and take the road, which descends northeast into the beech forest.  We pass by a large rock, which the locals call "Machera". From some points we have a very nice view to the south, seeing three large wooded ridges descending to the sea one behind the other.


 

       Further down, at an altitude of 1180 meters, as we join another dirt road (which comes from the asphalt just below Chania), we reach a small shelter for hunters and firewatchers that has the inscription "ΠΥΡΟΦΥΛΑΚEΙΟ ΘΗΡΟΦΥΛΑΚEΙΟ'' (in Greek). On the day we passed (7/11/21) it was being renovated by a group of hunters. 

At the hunters shelter

        We walk on the road for two hundred meters and go right at the junctions (straight ahead the road goes to Xeforti and Agia Marina). The area here is called "Schizopetra". Descending, we find successive sections of path that alternate with sections of road and we need to pay attention to the red marks. Οur general direction is northeast.

Path in beech forest

        Further down, we cross an apple grove (as the path on the  side of the grove is very overgrown), and join a dirt road again. Going downhill, the road below is paved with cement as it passes between cherry and apple groves. From one point we have a nice view to the chapel of Agios Athonas, built on a hill above Zagora. 
Agios Athonas chapel

         A little further north we see another hill with antennas at the top, which on the map is referred to as "Lefko Kotroni" (732 m.).

        Going down the concrete road and watching out for the red signs at the intersections, we pass by the church of St. Magdalene. Furtther down we find a section of the original kalderimi as we descend next to the fence of a cottage. We continue on  kalderimi covered by cement. Further down, as we get into the village and cement covering ceases,  the original kalderimi reappears and leads us straight to the central square of Agios Georgios.

Agios Georgios (Zagora main square)




Sunday, May 29, 2022

Katigiorgis-Promiri-Katigiorgis (circular)

 

Promyri

Distance: 18.2 km.

Time: 7.5 hours with stops

Altitude: from 0 m. (Katigiorgis) to 234 m. (Promiri square) to 373 m. (maximum)

Total ascent / descent: 622 m.

Marking: red marks and round signs

Drinking water on walk: Promiri

Start / end: Katigiorgis beach

Download GPS file (.gpx): from Wikiloc

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         In the book of the late Nikos Haratsis "A Pelion Guide for Walkers", published in 1995, there is a description of the route Promiri-Rodia, noting that "the route has been completely abandoned for many years, and therefore is closed at many points''. After another 28 years of complete abandon, one can imagine how closed the kalderimi-path was.

The path before cleaning

        However, in the winter of 2022 with voluntary work and with a lot of patience and perseverance, we managed to find and open the lost path. So now, restored and signed, it can be used either in combination with the other route via Lyri (Promyri-Lyri-Katigiorgis)  to create a circular walk, as we did here, or to walk only the new path section (Promiri-Rodia-Vromoneri-Katigiorgis, a distance of ten kilometers). In the latter case, we must have arranged how to return to Promiri. One solution is to take the bus that makes the route from Katigiorgis to Promiri-Volos at 14.00 on weekdays and 13.30  on weekends (that is in summer, 25/6/2022 to 11/9/2022, winter schedule is different, check timetables at www.ktelvolou.gr) .

Approaching Promiri via Lyri

        In the circular route that we present here, we first climbed from Katigiorgis to Promiri via Lyri and then returned by the new path through Rodia-Vromoneri. 

Katigiorgis

        Starting from the beach of Katigiorgis, we go up to the main road. At a hundred meters, as the road turns, we go straight ahead on a narrow uphill concrete road, which was probably a cobblestone path in the past. We cross the asphalt and continue on a dirt road in a pine forest. At the intersection we go right, paying attention to the red marks. Here this part of the road looks abandoned. Our course is generally north-northwest. Further on, walking on a dirt road, after a fence we have on our right, we leave the road to the right and find a path that goes down and crosses a small stream.


        We ascend through an olive grove, leaving a kiosk on our right and reach the ridge, where we cross a dirt road and  continue on a straight line, in an area with pine trees. Descending, we find ourselves in an olive grove again, keeping the same (northern) direction  and cross another small stream.

Οlive grove

      We climb again in an olive grove, just next to its border with wild vegetation, which we have on our left. Reaching the ridge, there is a crossroads of dirt roads and we go straight downhill. A little further down we have an intersection, where we go straight. In front of us is the Laskos estate. The path is on the left side of the road. After cleaning it in 2018, it is again today (May 2022) closed by vegetation and will need new cleaning. In any case, we follow it along its side, until we see it become passable again, so we enter and walk in it. It soon becomes a kalderimi.

At Laskos estate

         Further on it comes out on a dirt road, which in turn comes out on the asphalt, opposite a bus stop shelter. We walk on the asphalt to the left, walking through the settlement of Lyri. At the exit of the settlement we cross with a stream. This is the large Gerogianni stream that comes from Promiri.  There is a metal bridge on the right side of the road. We turn left, walking on a vague path with red signs next to the stream. Further on, we cross the stream and pass to its left bank. When we did the walks (June 2019 and May 2022) the path was maintained and we had no problem. If this section is unmaintained and half-closed by vegetation, we can always walk into the stream bed (the stream is normally dry, unless there is rain).

Walking on the streambed

         At the end of this path section, we cross to the right bank of the stream and walk parallel to it, into an olive grove. We cross the stream a couple more times, until we come to a dirt road that also crosses the stream. We are now walking on this road, having the streambed on our left. In a little while, at a fork in the road, we take the left branch, which goes just next to the riverbed. As we ascend, we can make out sections of kalderimi in the road. Approaching Promiri, the road becomes asphalt and then stone paved.

Dormition of Theotokos church, Promiri

        We pass over the central church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, built in 1760. A little further up is the village square, where we will definitely have a long stop for coffee or refreshments. So far we have walked about three hours from Katigiorgis.

Promiri square

         Now it`s time to walk back. Keeping on the main street we come to exit the village. After the gas station there is an information board on the side of the road made by the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion. A few meters on, the cobbled path branches off descending into the ravine, going to Platanias and we follow it. In a few minutes we reach a crossroads with a pole (attention!) The cobbled path to Platanias continues straight, but we go left, changing direction now to Rodia. In a few meters we see on our left an old fountain without water.

At Kanalaki

        We are now at the location "Kanalaki", in an impressive setting with rocks, running water in the streams, large plane trees whose trunks take strange shapes, a magic forest. The old half-ruined cobbled path, after crossing two small streams, begins to climb with sharp turns. Here it is wide and in good condition.

        Leaving the wooded ravine, we continue uphill on a grassy unused dirt road and in a few meters we see the path on our left and follow it. We continue in the same direction at the right border of an olive grove and higher up we cross a dirt road. Here at the making of the road, the machine dug the ground half a meter below he path level, and we have to climb this to continue on the path. We ascend parallel to the road, which is on our left, but after a while the path joins the road, on which we come to walk on. Further on, we find the continuity of the path on our left (a cairn marks that point along with red paint). We are at Mavron Oros (Black Mountain), which is really a hill and not a mountain,  422 meters high, located south of Promιri. On our way we reach a maximum altitude of 373 meters. 

View to Skiathos and Aegean sea

        A dirt road passes on the ridge as we come and cross it, next to a pole with round signs. From this point we have a nice view to the Aegean and Skiathos. 

A pole with round signs by the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion


      The path now descends continuously in a southeast direction. We cross the stream of Kriovrisi on a section of kalderimi and then we ascend in a wooded area, until we reach an olive grove.

Crossing Kriovrisi stream

                 From now on, until we reach Vromoneri, we will be walking on rural roads. Reaching a  hut we go right and at a new intersection we go right again on the wider road. We come to another intersection, where we go left on the wider road, noticing the round sign on the tree. Again at a new intersection we go left (right goes into the settlement of Rodia, which is at close distance, but we do not need to enter the settlement). In a little while we have in front of us the chapel of Agios Ioannis the Theologian, a good place for a stop. 

Agios Ioannis Theologos chapel

        We continue on the dirt road to the east, then we take the asphalt for 500 meters and then we follow the road sign to Vromoneri beach.

Vromoneri beach

        A path continues from Vromoneri, parallel to the coastline, through pine forest. Various signs help to guide us to Katigiorgis. On our way, we pass by the tiny deserted beach of Vlachorema.

Vlachorema beach

Vlachorema

    
   
We go down through the yard of the '' Aura '' studios and finally reach the beach of Katigiorgis and the cafe-restaurants that operate there.  
Katigiorgis

        


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Agios Georgios-Monastiraki-Profitis Elias (circular)


 

Distance: 14,3 km

Time|: 6,5-7 hours (with stops)

Altitude: from 630 m. (Agios Georgios) to 1315 m. (max)

Total elevation gain/loss: 910 m.

Signing: red paint, some metal signs

Drinking water on walk: yes (springs Petrostrouga, Mavromati, Kria Vrisi-Profitis Elias)

Start/end: Agios Georgios square

Download GPS file (.gpx): from Wikiloc


      

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         Τhis circular walk takes place in the beech forest above Agios Georgios.  Starting from the village square, we climb up the main kalderimi between the houses. We pass by the church of Agios Athanasios on our left and continue uphill on kalderimi, exiting the village.
Handmade signs

        Coming to a path junction with handmade signs, we continue straight ahead following an irrigation ditch (the other branch turns right to Tsagarada). In front of us the peak Schidzouravli (1450 m.) can be seen.  
View to the Pagasitic gulf

        We cross a narrow earth road first and then we meet a second one, which we join  and walk on it. Further on there is a junction , where we go right uphill. At a right turn of the road lies the spring of Petrostrouga,  a source of drinking water on our way. A little higher up at the signpost, we leave the road to the left and follow the path going uphill towards ''Kissos'' and ''Hania''. 


This path brings us to Mavromati spring, another source of drinking water. After the spring, we continue on earth road and at the junction turn left. We keep climbing until we get to the junction at the col, a location called Monastiraki. Here we turn left to the path towards ''Hania''.

Path in beech forest towards Agios Lavrentios

        Reaching the next signed junction, we turn left to ''Agios Lavrentios'', descending on the earth path into beech forest. We reach another drinking water, ''Kria Vrisi'', which is located just under the path. We continue following the red paint and climb down to the small chapel of Taksiarches, built by the Greek Air Force in the memory of the four F-16 fighter pilots that died near this spot in a crash in 2004. 

Chapel of Taksiarches

        We cross the earth road and behind the chapel we find a path-kalderimi that continues downhill. 

        Reaching another earth road below, it is recommended to take a short deviation to visit the viewpoint of ''Psila Hagiatia'' (High Balconies). So, we turn right on the road keeping attention on our left for the red paint marks.

Drakia, as seen from Psila Hagiatia

        This location offers beautiful view to the village of Drakia that lies on the opposite side of a large ravine through which Vrichonas river runs. 
Psila Hagiatia viewpoint

        Retracing our steps back, we keep on the earth road until it joins a wider road on which we walk uphill to the left. In 50 meters there is a junction, where we take the narrow earth road to the right. Further on there is a V-junction and we take the left branch. We pass by a waterfall just next to the road.


    A section of the road is reduced to path because of extreme corrosion by flooding waters in a jungle-like scenery. We have no problem to follow it though, and further down the earth road reappears. At a junction we take the left uphill branch. Walking through apple groves, we reach the chapel of Profitis Elias, a  fine spot for a stop.  A drinking water fountain is nearby.

Profitis Elias chapel

        To get back to Agios Georgios, we take the narrow earth road in a southeasterly direction (attention, we don`t take the wider earth road! This comes from Taksiarches monastery and goes to Kremida springs). Further on there is a V-junction and we go right. Keeping attention on our right side, we leave the road taking a descending path. Reaching the door of a fenced grove, we turn left and find a descending path and soon enter the village. Walking now on kalderimi, we pass over an arched stone bridge, then the church of Agios Athanasios and take the kalderimi down to the village square.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Propan-Labinou-Labidona monastery-Lithos (circular)

 

Lithos

Distance: 9,7 km

Time: 4,5 hours (with stops)

Altitude: from 310 m. (Propan) to 377 m. (max) to 0 m. (Lithos)

Total elevation gain/loss: 460 m.

Signing: red paint

Drinking water on walk: yes (Labinou, Labidona mon.-if open)

Start/end: Propan village square

Download GPS file(.gpx) :from Wikiloc


  

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    This circular walk passes from many interesting and beautiful spots. It may start either from Propan village square, as described here, or from Labinou beach. In the latter case, we have the advantage of being able to finish our walk with a swim at the sea, near a summer taverna, not having to climb uphill at the end of the walk. Propan also has a taverna-cafe operating at the square.

    A few words about the name: State officials decided  in 1954 to rename the village as "Kalamaki" after its beach at the Aegean sea, because the old name Propan (which is of unknown origin, probably non-Greek) was considered undesirable. However, in 2014 at the locals request, the original name was officially reinstated. All the road signs and most of the maps however, are slow to change.

Propan-view to the sea

    Starting from the square of Propan, we walk on the kalderimi going  gently uphill in a northwesterly direction, passing just under the main church of Agios Athanasios. Keeping on the same direction, we walk on a cement road and then kalderimi again. This brings us to ''Kakli'' water fountain at the edge of the village. On our right is a gully and a quarry (Propan is famous for the stones its quarries produce, used in traditional Pelion-style  roofs and floors).

Kakli water fountain

    We continue climbing up a steep earth path that joins a cement road, and we go left uphill to reach the asphalt road. On our left is the church of Profitis Elias. We walk now on the asphalt to the right for about 1 km and then we leave it to the right, taking an earth road. At the two next earth road junctions we take the left branch. The earth road brings us to Labinou, where we walk on the main asphalt uphill for a few meters and then on the stone paved track at an angle to the right to the village square, which sadly remains deserted, its cafe-restaurant closed for a long time (September 2021). 

Labinou-at the deserted square

    We descend a few steps from the square onto a concrete road, and walk down on this, ignoring a narrow kalderimi on the right. After 50 m. on the road, we notice a wide kalderimi branching off to the right and follow it, going through the village houses.

The path-kalderimi to Labidona monastery

    Further down, we reach an old spring water fountain (Kria Vrisi) on the bed of a stream, next to an old olive press turned into a cottage. We follow this stream downhill. A little further down we get to the asphalt and walk on it downhill  to reach the entrance of the old monastery of Labidona, after which the village was named. It was built in 1796 by craftsmen from Zoupani village, North Greece. Dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary, its annual feast is on August 23rd. For a long period it used to be deserted and unfenced, vulnerable to thieves, but nowadays it operates as a nunnery, open to visitors Thursday to Sunday (see timetable here ). 

Labidona monastery

    Leaving the monastery, we walk back uphill on the asphalt and, as it takes a right turn, we leave it to the left, taking  a narrow cement road going roughly parallel to the coastline. Further on, he road is unpaved and then becomes a path-kalderimi. Coming to a path junction, we take first the left branch that goes down to the sea, at the location called ''Lithos''. An impressive rock formation coming out from the sea that even gives the opportunity of a swim if the sea is calm. A spot of intense natural beauty. 

View from Lithos to the south

    Coming back to the path junction, this time we take the other branch and walk near the lower edge of an olive grove. We come to cross a stream in an impressive wild scenery, and continue  on the other side through another olive grove. 

Crossing the stream near Lithos in impressive scenery

    The path becomes an earth road on which we walk to the south. There is a summer cottage on our left. At the junction we don`t take the uphill right branch. Instead, we go straight ahead in a southerly direction. If we look carefully, we will see at some point on our left a section of the original kalderimi coming from the sea shore, where trading goods carried by boats were taxed. Nowadays the old tax building has become a summer cottage and is private property. So we keep ahead on the earth road which now climbs up steeply. A ravine  is on our left and the road goes down to cross the streambed. Then there is an earth road junction, where we take the right branch. We now walk parallel to the stream uphill. At another junction we take again the right branch that goes downhill, then becomes path and crosses the stream, passing to the right bank of the ravine. 

    Climbing constantly on kalderimi on the right bank of the overgrown ravine, we reach the first houses of Propan. We cross a narrow road at an angle to the right, and continue uphill on kalderimi that leads finally to the village square.    

Propan