Friday, January 6, 2017

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

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