Friday, November 9, 2018

Pouri - Three bridges (circular)

The bridge of Poros
Distance: 23 km
Time: 9 hours with stops, walking time 7.35'
Altitude: 430 m. (Pouri) to 710 m. (max) to 165 m. (min)
Total ascent/descent: 1025 m.
Signing: red paint blobs, metal signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Agios Georgios chapel, Pirgakia, Kserorema)
Start/finish: End of bus line (parking) at Pouri
Download GPS track: from Wikiloc

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            This is a long, 9-hour circular walk, passing by the three old stone arched bridges built near Pouri and the ruined village of Palia Mitzela. For more information on Pelion bridges, one can look up Nikos Haratsis` book ''Πέτρινα τοξωτά γεφύρια στο Πήλιο'' (Stone arched bridges in Pelion -in Greek).
          Starting from the parking lot at Pouri, at the end of the bus line, we walk on the cement paved road, which later becomes unpaved, generally on even ground ignoring other road branches uphill or downhill, looking for the red paint marks for confirmation. After 3,5 km, we reach a V-junction where the main, wider road goes uphill to the left. There is also a sign in Greek pointing left to Aghia Marina (AΓΙΑ ΜΑΡΙΝΑ). At this junction we take the narrower road to the right. The road passes by several orchards, having on the right the large ravine of Lagonika.
The ravine of Lagonika
          After about 1,5 hour from start, noticing the red marks, we leave the road and continue on earth path in beech forest, which incorporates some sections of kalderimi. The path brings us in half an hour to the stone bridge of Poros over the Lagonika stream, at an altitude of 622 m. It is considered to being built during the Ottoman era (before 1881 AD) by stone craftsmen from the Epirus region (Northeastern Greece), like most of the bridges, mansions, churches etc. in Pelion. Haratsis measured its arch height (rise) at 7,7 m. and width at 10,0 m.   The name Poros has two possible explanations: it either comes from the homonymous ancient Greek word meaning passage, or from the slavic word poroj meaning running water torrent. Indeed, water is always running at that point. There even exist trouts, possibly originating from those released by Alfons Hochhauser in the 70`s.
          Crossing the stream over the bridge, we walk uphill on the path. A little higher there is a path junction. The main path continues on the left towards Ano Poros clearing and Ano Kerasia. We take the narrower path on the right, which eventually gets to the small clearing of Kato Poros, offering an excellent viewpoint from the edge of the cliff to the large overgrown ravine.
View from Kato Poros
         After Kato Poros, we descend on the ridge in a northerly direction, cross a small stream and continue into the beech forest. Reaching a junction, where a path branches off to the left, climbing towards Ano Poros, we don`t take that but continue straight ahead, eventually crossing the stream of Skala, an impressive spot with large rocks. Climbing steadily now on a deserted earth track, we reach the chapel of Agios Georgios. Here is a good place for a stop, with drinking water running from a plastic tube. Near the chapel is a mysterious place called ''Grammata'', with pictures carved on a rock dating probably from the Ottoman era, but we were unable to find the exact spot despite searching for it.
At Agios Georgios chapel

Grammata (photo: Blacksmith Chiotis)
   We continue on the earth road and in a few minutes come to a junction and take the road to the right downhill. After about an hour we reach a T-junction and go left. Watching on our right, we soon find the signed O2 path (Pouri to Veneto) which leads to the bridge Pirgakia. It is the lowest of the three, with an arch height of 5,5 m. and width 10,65 m. The stream it crosses, named Kapnoutsi, is usually dry, but seemingly in times past enough water was running to justify building a bridge. This stream opens down to the sea at Kolokithaki beach.
Pirgakia bridge
       After the bridge, our path comes out again to the earth road. In twenty meters we have a small spring water fountain on the right, a welcome sight (but will be dry in summer). After another fifty meters, watching out for it on the right, we find the path again, that leads us through the ruins of the village of Palia (Old) Mitzela. Destroyed by the Turkish Ottoman army in 1828 during the Greek revolution, it lays abandoned ever since. The remains of the main church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) were recently destroyed by illegal excavators searching for gold -an awful shame and disgrace.
At the ruins of Palia Mitzela village
          After the institution of the Greek independent state, the village`s refugees were granted land near the state borders of the time, at Pagasitic gulf, were they built the New Mitzela (or Amaliapolis).
           Leaving Palia Mitzela, we reach the large ravine of Lagonika and the path becomes stone paved (kalderimi) as it winds down the slope. We cross the stream over the excellent stone bridge of Diakoumi, also built in the Ottoman era - a testimony of the Pelion villages` thriving at the time.Its foundations established on large rocks on both banks, its height is 12,5 m. and width span 12,2 m.
Diakoumi bridge

            The path opens out to an earth road (which to the left goes down to Ovrios beach) and we walk on this to the right (east). After about two kilometres, as the main road takes a sharp left bend downhill, we head right to a narrow earth road and follow it, finding at the end the path-kalderimi going straight ahead and cross  Kserorema stream, the last one to come in our way. Climbing up on the opposite slope, we meet a fountain, where spring water emerges from the rock, under a big plane tree.

          We come to an earth road and follow it uphill for a short bit, then walk on even ground. At an angle to the right, an uphill concrete paved road also leads to Pouri. We prefer to head straight on, and soon reach a narrow asphalt on a sharp bend and follow it uphill.  Reaching the lower quarter of Pouri, we notice a spring water fountain on the right. From there we take the uphill kalderimi, leading us to the corner of the parking lot, which is located at the upper (main) quarter of the village, where we started our walk.
View to the sea from Pouri

PS. We thank Kostas Chiotis from Pouri, who showed us the path Poros to Agios Georgios.

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