Friday, April 6, 2018

Milies-Afetes (Niaou)-Chalorema ravine-Afissos

Distance: 12,5 km
Time: 5 hours with stops
Altitude: from 385 m. (Milies) to 235 m. (Afetes) to 0 m. (Afissos)
Total ascent:  314 m.  Total descent: 697 m.
Signed with red paint waymarks and round yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (at Pavlakia, Zervochia)
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          This is a fullfilling and varied walk, lasting about 5 hours, that leads from the village of Milies to Abovos beach at Afissos, through the ravine of Chalorema, also crossing several other streams on our way. If one wants to make it shorter, it can stop at the village of Afetes (in that case, the time is 3.45' and distance 9,9 km). Other walks connecting Milies to the Pagasitic sea are Milies-Boufa and Kala Nera-Milies. There is also a walk from Afetes (Niaou) to Neochori
         Regarding to the name Afetes, we should have in mind that the village in question has always been called Niaou, a Slavic name meaning ''pen'', until in 1955 the authorities decided to rename it as Afetes,  after the homonymous ancient seaside settlement which, however, is unrelated to the area (archeologists currently assume it was located at modern-day Platanias). The village`s original name is still in use by the locals and should, in my view, be reinstated.
Niaou (Afetes)

           Starting from Milies square, we walk on the asphalt downhill and after 100 meters we take the wide stone paved kalderimi to the left, going initially uphill. This has also signs to ''Agios Nikolaos'' and ''Neochori''. We soon begin going downhill, exit the village crossing the asphalt and continue on excellent kalderimi.
         We cross a stream, ascend on the opposite bank and, reaching the ridge, we meet an earth road and follow it to the right (attention, we don`t go straight ahead towards Neochori!). We can clearly see the kalderimi inside the road. Further down there is a section of kalderimi on the right through woodland. We cross the road at an angle and continue downhill. Just after crossing the first stream, there is a junction with a path on the left going to ''Agios Nikolaos''. We keep on the main kalderimi towards ''Pavlakia'', cross a second larger stream and continue uphill. Further up, there is an olive grove on our right and the kalderimi becomes earth road, on which we walk uphill (ignoring a path on the right).
            Reaching the ridge called ''Pavlakia'', we cross another earth road and continue straight ahead downhill. At the shrine we turn right. The earth road ends at a cottage. At that spot also is a tiny chapel and a small drinking water faucet. We walk downhill into the olive grove (no clear path here) and, about thirty meters below the cottage, we find the continuity of the path, marked with red paint and a walking sign, which continues to descend in a southerly direction. 
           Further on, we go through an olive grove in a westerly direction, and then the path turns left (to the south) and continues to descend following a small stream, which we initially cross and then keep it on our left. Watching out for the red paint and signs, a little further on we come to a junction and go down to the left, cross the stream again and continue on the path, which eventually comes down to cross the large Platanorema stream. This spot lies approximately one kilometer lower than the Panayiotiko dam.On the other bank is an old building for waterwashing textiles (''dristella''). Here, under the shade of high plane trees and the sound of the running water, is a good place to have a stop.
Crossing the Platanorema stream
           On the other bank we climb up, initially on kalderimi, then on earth path. An earth track recently constructed to access the dristella cuts across the path and we have to climb a few meters on the stones. We cross another earth road and continue straight ahead on a path-kalderimi, having a small stream on our left. The path becomes a narrow earth road, which joins another one and we go right. Attention, at this junction someone takes off our signs and even breaks the stones on which there is red paint. So, if no signs or waymarks may be seen, we must remember to go right at this junction (to the left, the earth road comes to an end at an olive grove a little further on).    
Platanorema stream
             We now keep walking on the agricultural road for a fair distance on a southerly direction and on even ground, ignoring junctions with uphill or downhill roads. We go past a drinking water fountain and then walk through the rural settlement of Zervochia, which is related to Neochori.  After exiting Zervochia, walking on asphalt, we keep watching for the signs on our left and take the narrow earth road ascending gently to the left. Soon it starts going downhill, we cross the main asphalt at an angle and continue down on a straight line. We cross a small stream and then take the first uphill earth road on the left, following the signs. This becomes a wide kalderimi, which opens to an asphalt road next to the cemetery of Afetes (Niaou). This asphalt road leads down to Afissos, but we don`t take it, because if we did, we would miss the best part of our walk yet to come (the Chalorema ravine).
Frangakis stone bridge at Niaou (Afetes)
               From the lower corner of the cemetery we take the road-kalderimi on the left, walk over the arched stone bridge of ''Frangakis'', then on the uphill kalderimi and reaching the parking lot continue to the right to reach the cosy shady square of Niaou (Afetes) with the main church of St. Jonhn the Baptist (Agios Ioannis Prodromos). At the square operate two cafe-restaurants.   
The square of Afetes
               From the east side of the square (opposite to the church), we take the downhill kalderimi, watching for the red waymarks at junctions. Constantly descending, the kalderimi comes to an end as we reach the Chalorema ravine. Here a wooden bridge, built by volunteers, will help us to get down to the streambed. 
Getting down to the streambed
        We now walk into the dry streambed, in a breathtaking scenery with high vertical rocky banks, shaded by high trees. It is difficult to believe that we are in South Pelion. Nevertheless, this was a path regularly used by locals to get to their groves near the sea.  
Walking into the ravine

          After a fair distance, the ravine opens and we walk on a concrete road, which leads down to the tourist beach of Abovos in Afissos, at the corner of cafe-restaurant Marabou. An ideal end to such a fabulous walk is to have a swim in the calm waters of Pagasitic sea.
Abovos beach at Afissos

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