Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kanalia-Drakopigado cave-Souvala Manoli (circular)

Distance: 15,1 km
Duration: total time 7 h, walking time 5,5 h
Altitude: from 100 m. (Kanalia) to 695 m. (max)
Total ascent/descent: 754 m.
Signing: red paint marks, a few signs
Drinking water on walk: no 

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     This long circular route, centred around the village of Kanalia, gives us the opportunity to visit the impressive  vertical cave called Drakopigado. The walk starts with an uphill stretch to the north on the path-kalderimi towards Keramidi. When we reach the asphalt road, we continue in an easterly direction on a path that leads us to the Kanalia-Veneto route, which we follow downhill to return back to Kanalia. The most suitable season for this walk is early spring or late autumn, when the sun is not too hot, since the walk is mainly over stony ground with holm oaks and rather little shade. 
     Starting off from the square in Kanalia, initially there are two alternative routes that we can follow. For the first, we go straight uphill on the right hand side of the square on a road that ends at the last houses of the village but continues as a wide path that leads us to the village’s underground water storage tank. There we pass through an opening in the wire mesh fence slightly to the right of the locked door and find the path opposite the left hand (western) corner on the boundary fence. 
   The other possible route, which we follow here, starts on the road to the left of the square from the bus terminal. We walk in a westerly direction (go left at a junction) through the village until we reach the Hadzidimi drinking water fountain. People that used to come down from Keramidi with their mules would have passed by here on their way to Volos. The inscription on the fountain gives the date 1870.
Hadzidimi fountain

      We continue on the road, which ascends for a few metres in the same westerly direction, then immediately turn right onto a narrow track (we may have to cross a wooden fence) and continue uphill. We pass by a pen, which we leave on our right as we join an earth road. After a bend to the right a few metres further on, we leave this road and find the wide path indicated by red dots, which ascends in a northerly direction and in a short while converges with the other path from the right leading from the water tank.
View of Kanalia and lake Karla
     Walking steadily uphill, we pass a metallic shrine and begin to notice the remains of the kalderimi, which steadily increase. Eventually, we come out onto the asphalt road. Opposite, the kalderimi continues towards Keramidi, but we don`t follow that. We take the road to the right and after 100 metres we reach a hairpin bend. At this point there is a sign, a bench and a few metres of stone paved path, built in 2006 as part of a program to mark out the paths of North Pelion. The sign points to ''Ano Kerasia''.
Stone paved path at the asphalt road hairpin
     We walk over the paving to the east and continue on a path, which leads us to a clearing with a pen and a stone hut. Ignoring a descending path on our right, we continue on the level on a path passing from the upper side of the hut. Our route takes us through several other clearings, where cows graze. We move in an easterly direction, through vegetation that mostly consists of mature holm oaks, though with some impressive large oak trees. Looking down, we have a view of Kanalia and Lake Karla, while ahead in the distance the peaks of Pourianos Stavros (1624 m) and Pliasidi (1547 m) can be seen.
Pourianos Stavros peak far at the distance
     After about 6 km from the start of the walk, we come to the junction to Drakopigado, marked with red paint on a rock. 
At the jubction to Drakopigado

        Here we take the downhill path to the right and in ten minutes we reach the large vertical cave, its bottom accessible only by rope (attention, danger of falling!). Its maximum visible depth is 59 meters and opening width 17 m. Stalactites adorn its walls.
Drakopigado cave

         The name Drakopigado means ''Dragon`s Well''. According to the local tradition, it was formed by the Dragon`s foot, as he took a long leap to the opposite ridge.
Stalactites on the cave`s walls

 Returning back to the jubction, we continue walking eastwards. After a little while, we begin to ascend steadily over stony ground, following the red marks, until we reach an abandoned goat pen at an elevation of 695 metres. This is the highest point of our route. We continue eastwards gently downhill, cross a small stream and reach a large water pond (called Souvala Manoli) next to an earth road.
Water pond (Souvala Manoli)
      Here we meet the Kanalia-Veneto route. If we walk on the road towards the left (east) we can continue to Veneto or to Ano Kerasia. We choose to turn right (west) and continue downhill. Further on we can make out thirty metres of kalderimi in the road.  As we descend, we have an impressive view of Lake Karla ahead of us.
Descending towards Kanalia
       In a short while, we follow the marks to the path off to the right of the road. Further down, we come out onto a deserted road, which descends coming to an end at a clearing (an old field),  and we continue on the marked path with sections of kalderimi. On our right is a large stream. We pass by an abandoned pen and further down come to a large clearing. Now we walk on an earth  road, which we follow towards the west. On our right we see a pond and then Aghios Nikolaos chapel, which belongs to the Flamouri monastery.
      The earth road finally comes out onto the Kato Kerasia-Kanalia asphalt road next to an old lime make. We follow this road to the right in order to return to the square in Kanalia, which is about eight hundred metres from this point. 
Large oak tree on the route


Distance: 6,5 km
Duration: walking time 2 h, total time 2,5 h
Altitude: from 0 m. (Milina) to 290 m. (maximum)
Signing: small round signs, red paint marks
Drinking water on walk: no

 Download GPS track:   from Wikiloc   from Everytrail

     This is an easy circular walk starting and ending in Milina, half of which is on a recently opened path (in 2013) between the settlements of Kidonies and Piges. It would be better to do this walk between the autumn and spring, as the low altitude and sparse shade give little protection from the heat of summer. 
      Setting off from the church on the seafront at Milina, we initially follow the asphalt road that goes towards Lafkos. After about 600 metres on the asphalt, we turn off to the right onto an earth road and cross the bridge at Koumanorema stream. We continue uphill in a southerly direction, passing a five-a-side (5X5) football pitch. At a crossroads about a kilometre further on, we turn left onto the road towards Kidonies and continue uphill. However, before we take this turning, it is worth walking 50 metres along the road to our right to visit the chapel of Aghios Nikolaos (the key for the church door hangs in the top right-hand corner).

Agios Nikolaos chapel at Kidonies
     Returning to the crossroads and continuing up the road, we soon reach the settlement of Kidonies: a few houses amongst olive groves, a spring water drinking fountain and a water tank with a plane tree. We continue gently uphill on the road to the left. Higher up, the road bends to the left and immediately afterwards we turn right uphill at a crossroads. From this point, we can see the villages of Milina, Horto, Metochi and, further to the right, Lafkos.
Looking down to Milina. Chorto and Metochi at a distance
      The earth road ends in an olive grove and we continue to the left on the newly-cleared path, which initially has a dry stone wall on its right. In a short while, we enter a stretch shaded by trees, going uphill in a southeasterly direction, and cross a small stream.
A recently cleaned section of the path

      We soon reach an open spot, from where we can see Lafkos opposite. Continuing on the path, we reach a crossroads with a signpost. From here, the path straight ahead to the south leads to Hondri Ammos and Mikro beaches, while that to the right appears to lead towards the top of nearby hill Sila (326 m). We choose to turn left towards Piges and soon start to go gently downhill in a northerly direction. In the distance we see the Pagasitikos Gulf and the village of Milina. 
View of Lafkos from the path
  We pass next to a ruined building (possibly used for making lime) and come out into an olive grove. Continuing in the same direction for a few metres, we reenter the path which, a little further on, is bordered by dry stone walls. The path eventually comes out onto an earth road, which we follow downhill to the left amongst olive groves.
Spring at the olive grove

 We pass the small church of Aghios Georgios and the spread out houses of the settlement of Piges and in a little while cross the Koumanorema stream and find ourselves on a narrow asphalt road, which leads us to the main asphalt road Milina-Lafkos, a few metres further up from the point at which we left it at the beginning of our walk.