Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Veneto-Flamouri monastery-Ano Kerasia

Distance: 12,9 km
Duration: 5,5 hours with stops (walking time 4.15')
Altitude: from 250 m (Veneto) to 780 m (Stavros) to 650 m (Ano Kerasia)
Signed with: red marks, signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Flamouri mon.)

 Download GPS track:   from Wikiloc    from Everytrail      

        A beautiful trail in North Pelion, mostly on kalderimi (cobblestone) and earth path with small sections of dirt road. Having arrived at Ano Kerasia, one can continue walking for one and a half hour to Kato Kerasia (see the trail Kato Kerasia-Ano Kerasia). Please note also that the asphalt to Ano Kerasia is not suitable for large buses. Accomodation is now available in Veneto (Apartments Veneto).

        Starting from the car parking in Veneto, we walk up the concrete steps to reach the village square. Climbing a few more steps, we join the concrete road which goes uphill in an easterly direction, ultimately ending at Petromelisso beach. We pass next to the chapel of Agios Nikolaos and exit the village. We walk past a junction with a road to the left that goes to Koulouri beach and two more junctions with uphill roads on the right.
Signs at path entrance near Veneto

        We soon notice  a multitude of signs on our right side, marking the entrance of the path to Flamouri monastery. We walk in a southerly direction assisted by red marks and a few signs,  on flat terrain alternating between forest and low vegetation. In some sections, vegetation creates virtual tunnels to pass through.
Vegetation tunnel near Veneto

        Leaving behind a small stream first, we soon start descending towards a large and wild stream, called Kakorema (meaning bad stream), the ending of which at the sea is Petromelisso beach. Walking down the slope, we pass next to an old ruined stone hut.
Kakorema stream

       After crossing the stream, we continue uphill on the overgrown opposite slope, to reach an open rocky plateau on the ridge, called Petrialo. At this point an unclear and unmarked path joins in following the ridge, coming from the sea. This is a good place to have a stop for rest. Unfortunately, a new earth road was recently opened from Petrialo to the streambed just under the monastery. Therefore, we are forced to to walk on the road until it ends and we are able to walk on the original path again.
    Before reaching the stream bed, ignore a narrow uphill path to the right. After crossing the stream, we come to a signed junction, where a wide path heading to the monastery`s ruined dock of Agios Nikolaos at the seashore, continues downhill on the left on a straight line. We head right and start climbing the slope with zigzags,  frequently finding sections of kalderimi.

     On the ridge, we meet a yellow sign. Here on our left a path goes downhill to pass the Vathoulomeni stream, leading to Koromilia peak-Alfons memorial and Paliocastro of Veneto (see the  respective trails). 
Flamouri monastery
        We continue slightly uphill on the main path, which soon leads us to the monastery of Flamouri. Βuilt in 1595 A.D. by monk Simeon, it celebrates on the 6th of August (Transfiguration of Christ the Saviour) and currently has four monks. Women are not allowed inside, but male visitors of a limited number will be offered food and lodging upon arrangement. Restauration works are undergoing. From Veneto to Flamouri it is a 3-hour trek including stops (walking time 2.20').
Flamouri monastery interior
     After visiting the historical monastery and filling our water supplies from its fountain, we continue walking uphill through chestnut and beech trees. We leave a junction with a narrow path on the left going to Sourvia monastery and then pass the stream amidst an impressive scenery with water running through tall beech trees and big rocks.

    Climbing further on, we reach the location called Stavros to enter a dirt road and follow it downhill. Half an hour later we reach a plateau in the area of Kato Goura. On our left an earth road goes uphill towards Kokkinogia, Ovrios beach and Pouri (joining ultimately the O2 path). We walk straight ahead and in one hundred and fifty meters we have on our left a water pit  for cattle animals to drink.
Beech forest near Kato Goura

     From here, one could continue on the road to reach Ano Kerasia, but it definitely is a better choice to take the path, so we take a left turn following the red marks to pass next to the spring of Kato Goura, seen under a tall beech tree. The path continues through a beautiful beech forest in a southwest direction. Further on, we come next to a fenced property on the left and enter a dirt road. After fifty meters on that road, we turn right downhill at an angle, to find the kalderimi which takes us to the ruined stone bridge of Geladistra. We pass the stream crossing the bed next to the remains of the bridge and continue uphill on the other side on a wide path.

     Reaching the ruins of the village, the path becomes unclear. However, we walk slightly downhill to the left to find the fountain that lies in the small stream below. From there a kalderimi winds up, opening at the village square featuring the renovated church of Agii Apostoli.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Makrinitsa-Pourianos Stavros-Pouri

The stream at Flambouro, after heavy rain

Distance: 17,2 km
Duration: 7-7,5 hours with stops (walking time: 5.50’)
Altitude: from 620 m. (Makrinitsa) to 1590 m. (Pourianos Stavros) to 490 m (Pouri)
Total ascent: 920 m.  Total descent: 1122 m.
Signed with: red marks, some metal signs
Drinking water on walk:  Agia Paraskevi church near Makrinitsa
Download GPS track:   from Wikiloc    from Everytrail     

     This used to be the shortest route from Volos to Pouri, 5 hours by mule in the old days. It also is the highest trail one can walk in Pelion mountain, reaching a maximum altitude of almost 1600 meters. Αfter the construction of  military radars at Pourianos Stavros in the 1960`s, the peak became a restricted military zone and that route was abandoned. Τhe present walk is passing very close to the peak. Warning:  Do not attempt to walk on this route without prior permission from the Air Force authorities (call +302421076180), otherwise you risk getting arrested, because the area around the top remains a restricted military zone. If we have no permission, there is a way to avoid the military zone via the West Refuge (see further on).

       Arriving to the parking lot in Makrinitsa, at the end of the asphalt road, we see on our right a kalderimi (cobblestone path) heading uphill. A handmade sign indicating to Pouri in Greek (''Πουρί'') can be seen nailed on a tree. It was made, like  many others, by a local volunteer hiker, Dimitris Kottalis. One can also start from the fountain in the parking. 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.
Volos city as seen from Makrinitsa

       Having enjoyed a refreshing stop at that tranquil spot and filling our water supplies from the fountain, we continue uphill on dirt road. After a right turn we find the path on our left. It soon opens to another dirt road turning right to an end. We continue on path with cobblestone sections, climbing into chestnut forest.
On the path to Trano Isoma, looking down at Volos

       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 among chestnut trees. Further up, we walk parallel to a water ditch, noticing another handmade sign to “Pouri”. Passing next to a water tank, we enter a secondary dirt road, which after a few meters joins the main dirt road coming from Makrinitsa. The location here is called Trano Isoma. We continue to the left and in twenty meters reach a junction next to a concrete ditch (attention!). The downhill road heading north leads to Makrinitsa-Profitis Elias chapel and also to Karias bridge-West Refuge.We take the uphill road to the right, heading steadily northeast. 
       Further up, we see a marble signplate on the left, commemorating the construction of the irrigation ditch in 1938 to bring water from Flambouro spring. After a while the ditch turns right, entering into the beech forest. A few meters on, we turn right too, following the path which is marked with red marks, just like in the entire trail.
Path in beautiful beech forest on the way to Flambouro spring, above Makrinitsa

    From a certain point, we have a magnificent distant view of lake Karla to the west. Our course is to the east and after crossing a stream we continue northeast onto a marvellous path. Eventually, we join a dirt road which soon leads us to the bed of Kaliakouda stream (Kserias).
Walking along the dry riverbed

      Walking into the wide riverbed, after about four hundred meters the concrete ditch takes a turn from our right side and  comes to end at Flambouro spring on the left. There we find the path again and start climbing a rocky slope.

      Walking on the ridge steadily uphill, we eventually come up to an open space, having an excellent view to the east and south. On our left to the east we see Kotroni peak (1550 m.) and to the south peaks Aidonaki (1537 m.) with the telecommunications antenna tower, Pliasidi (1547 m.) with antennas as well, Kokkini Rachi and Rachi Giftou (1340 m.). A stop here is mandatory.
View to the peaks Aidonaki, Pliasidi, Rachi Giftou
      A few meters up, we join a narrow abandoned earth track and go right. After a few meters, it joins a wider earth road. If we take this to the left (west), we will reach the Western Refuge in half an hour, and from there we can either return back to Makrinitsa, or continue to Pouri (see the walk Makrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri). This option has the advantage of avoiding the military zone,  so there is no need to get permission from the Air Force.

       In this walk, we take the road to the right (east) and in fifty meters we reach the asphalt which leads to the radars at the peak. Here we are at restricted military zone. We walk on the asphalt uphill and after six hundred meters, as the road takes a sharp left turn just under the radars, we go right on a dirt road. After another six hundred meters, on a left turn, we find the path with red marks crossing the road and head downhill. From this point on, it`s a steady downhill walk until we reach Pouri village.
View to southeast from Pourianos Stavros

      In a few meters, we reach another excellent spot with an even broader view. We can see Agriolefkes peak (1470 m.) featuring ski tracks, and behind it Schidzouravli (1450 m.) and Dramala (1455 m.) fading beautifully into the Aegean. Another mandatory stop to enjoy Pelion`s inexhaustible beauty here.
      We continue downhill into dense beech forest walking on the ridge called Kseforti, heading northeast. The path is clear and well marked all along. At some points parallel routes arise, meeting again shortly. Further down, we cross a road (which to the left comes to end at the hunters` hut in Kanalakia area, connecting to the Makrinitsa-West Refuge-Pouri and Makrinitsa-Lagonika-Pouri trails) and then cross a second road. We pass through a clearing with a concrete pole (1103 m) and further down come across a second clearing which is on the right.
Concrete pole at Kseforti (altitude 1103 m.)
     Eventually, after crossing another road, the path opens on the upper side of Agia Marina chapel, next to the cistern that collects water coming by a concrete ditch. The church was built over a century ago, after permission to use water from Lagonika spring was allowed by its owners to the people of Pouri in 1891, a very significant event for the village at that time. Water arrived at the cistern on the nameday of St. (Agia) Marina, on the 17th of July.
Agia Marina chapel
       Following the concrete ditch on the right side of the church, we  reach another open cistern down below.  Walking on a dirt road, we come to a signpost where the main path to Pouri branches off to the left. It`s a wide downhill path heading northeast. At that point, instead of taking the path, we elected to continue on the road to visit Profitis Elias chapel, a minor detour well worth the trouble. So, we continue on the road, reach a junction and turn right following the red paint marks. From the end of that road we continue on a path descending in chestnut forest. This opens to an apple grove and becomes earth road. We follow the road downhill. At the next signed junction we go left downhill and reach the small chapel of Profitis Elias, next to a kiosk.
Pouri: Profitis Elias chapel
Chestnut forest on the way to Profitis Elias
       This location offers an excellent view to the villages of Zagora, Chorefto, Anilio and Mouresi, from the Sporades Islands (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos) in the Aegean Sea and up to the overgrown peaks of Kotroni and Pourianos Stavros.
View from Profitis Elias chapel
        Going down the road from Profitis Elias, we find easily the path again on the right. This opens to another earth road further down. Reaching a concrete water tank at the end of that road, we go right, cross a concrete ditch and immediately find the kalderimi, which leads to the village square and the main church of Agios Dimitrios, just above the end of the asphalt road.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Beech forest near Mega Isoma
Distance: 14,5 km
Duration: 7 hours with stops (walking time: 5.10')
Altitude: from 1300 m. (start) to 1470 m. (Agriolefkes) to 490 m. (end)
Total ascent: 556 m.  Total descent: 1337 m.
Signed with: red marks, metal signs
Drinking water on walk: No

Download GPS track:    from Wikiloc     from Everytrail
       This is a classic trek in Central Pelion, passing by the peaks Agriolefkes, Golgothas, Schidzouravli and Dramala, heading east to end up at Taxiarchon Square in Tsagarada. It can be undertaken pleasantly during summer, because most of it takes place at high altitude into cool and shady beech forest. It also features some spots offering magnificent views. Having arrived at Tsagarada, we can walk for another two hours on kalderimi, to reach the tourist beach of Ai Giannis (Agios Ioannis) and Damouchari (see the walks Tsagarada (Taxiarches square-Agia Paraskevi square) and Tsagarada-Damouchari-Ai Giannis (Agios Ioannis)). 

       Start is at EOS Volos Alpine Club refuge in Hania ski center. Left to the refuge we start walking on an uphill dirt road that ends at the wide ski track “Panorama”. Following the track uphill, we reach the concrete pole marking Agriolefkes peak (1470 m). If we don’t want to climb to the peak, there is a signed detour path on the opposite side of the track, skipping the peak by the east side.
Agriolefkes peak (1470 m.)
       Having  admired the panoramic view, we continue in the same direction on a downhill path with red marks, which is joined from the left by the detour path mentioned earlier and then climb again to the clearing of Golgothas peak at 1430 m. of altitude. Here in 2004 two F16 fighter jets crashed, killing their four pilots. Searching around, one can still find some debris from the planes.
The beech forest in early November
      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 cross a narrow forest road. The area here is called Monastiraki. On the other side of the road, two paths continue, one on the left slightly downhill with blue marks, heading to Lakka Morogianni-Ftiritsa. We take the uphill right one with the red marks, heading east towards Dramala peak.
     After a while, we leave the main path to the right following the signs (attention!), and climb on a difficult uphill path also featuring a safety rope further up. This was created by hikers in order to reach Schidzouravli peak, as there was no established mainstream path going there in the past, because of its rocky nature. Remember that these paths mainly used to serve lumberjacks carrying wood and charcoal by mules. In case we do not want to pass from Schidzouravli,  we can continue walking straight ahead on the main path going to Dramala peak.
       Reaching the rocky top of Schidzouravli, we continue east to get to the concrete pole at the highest point (1450 m.). The view from here is magnificent. To the north, we see Pourianos Stavros peak with military telecommunication buildings, and more westerly Pliasidi, Aidonaki and Agriolefkes peaks of Pelion. Further on, if the sky is clear, we can see Kissavos, Olympus and Athos mountains. Turning south, we see Dirfis mountain of Evia and to the west, Othrys, Parnassus and Pindus mountains. Pagasitic Gulf and the Aegean Sea complete the picture.
Schitzouravli, view to the south over Pagasitic gulf
Schidzouravli peak over low clouds (early November)
        After getting enough of this natural beauty, a hard task to achieve, we continue east following the red marks and find ourselves again in beech forest. Walking steadily in an easterly direction on the ridge, we pass a junction with a downhill path to the right going to Agios Georgios and soon reach a large clearing  with ferns. Walking slightly uphill, a little further on we find the concrete pole marking Dramala peak (1455 m.). Here we have no view, as we are surrounded by beech forest.
      The path continues into the forest again, and soon changes direction to the south going downhill. A path coming from Mouresi  joins in from the left. Then we walk on open ground, having a view of the peaks to the west. We soon reach a crossing with a sign, where we go left uphill towards Tsagarada, changing direction to east-northeast. The other path here on the right continues downhill to Agios Georgios village. 
Summer view to Schidzouravli from the east
      After a little while, we cross a small clearing, walking on flat terrain through dense beech forest. This area is called Mega Isoma. Heading steadily east-northeast, we start descending on the ridge and the beech trees grow taller and taller. The path is not absolutely clear, but dense red marks on the trees help us find the way. Coal pits and letters engraved on trees indicate presence of lumberjacks in the past. Enormous one-piece rocks next to really big beech trees create an impressive scenery, especially on a foggy day. One wonders, could there still be some Centaurs hiding around here? (see mythology and history)
       As we continue downhill, the marks lead us to a natural balcony (view point, vigla) at 1090 m. Here the view is so captivating, we find it difficult to leave. In front and beneath us is the deep gully of Milopotamos overgrown with chestnut and beech trees. On the left the first houses of Tsagarada and Ksourichti. At a distance on the right, we can see the village of Neochori, built on a slope facing west. Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos lie side by side into the vast Aegean Sea on the east. This magnificent spot is by itself enough reason for someone to walk on this trail.
Vigla viewpoint
      However, comes a time when we must continue. Descending steadily on the slope, guided by the red marks, we cross a narrow forest road to the right and  then reach another road and follow it downhill. The path continues on the left and  further down opens to a road, on which we walk left downhill. In a few meters we join a wider earth road and go right. (to the left it goes to Agios Athanasios en Atho chapel). This road ultimately comes from Tsagarada.
      Watching for it on our left, we immediately find the path, which further down opens to the road (go past  a chain) and again in a few meters we find it on our left, cutting corners. After reaching the road again, we continue to descend until we see on the left side a ruined hut and a small metal shrine (attention!).  At this point we turn right, next to an electricity pole on a narrow road-kalderimi (cobblestone) and in thirty meters go left at a concrete water tank, following the red arrow.
    Walking downhill on cobblestone among the first houses of Tsagarada village, we finally cross at an angle the main asphalt road and arrive at Taksiarchon square, which lies beneath the road.
Tsagarada, Taksiarchon square