Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The kalderimi to Pavlakia
Distance: 11,4 km
Duration: 4 hours with stops (walking time 3,5 hours)
Altitude: from 380 m. (Milies) to 460 m. (Neochori)
Total ascent: 509 m.  Total descent: 428 m.
Signed with: red paint marks,  yellow signs
Drinking water on walk: no
Download GPS track:  from Everytrail    from Wikiloc

       The first half of this route is a beautiful kalderimi, while the second half uses earth roads and sections of path. We pass by two old monasteries, Agios Nikolaos and Panagia Tourkogianni, from both of which only the main church of the monastery remains today. We also walk near the artificial lake at Platanorema formed by the Panagiotiko dam. In Neochori, as in Milies, there are taverns open all year round. From Neochori, one can continue walking to Siki or to Niaou (Afetes) and Afissos. Bus timetables can be found at www.ktelvolou.gr

       The first section of the walk is the same as that for the Milies-Panayiotiko dam-Boufa route. Setting off from the square in Milies, we follow the asphalt road downhill. A hundred metres further down, at a right hand bend in the road, we branch off to the left onto a wide paved track that goes gently uphill. Reaching a crossroads, we take the  track to the right. Further on, this becomes a kalderimi, then a downhill cement road and we cross the main asphalt next to the last house of the village.            
A stream at Pavlakia
              We now walk on beautiful old kalderimi, which continues opposite, descending to a ravine with lush vegetation. Further down, at a bend in the kalderimi to the left, there is a branch to our right that used to serve people using the train station. For information, this branch leads to the main road Milies-Volos at a sharp bend, 200 metres below the junction that leads to the train station. 
Agios Nikolaos church at Pavlakia

            The kalderimi we are following, which is kept clear and in good condition, crosses the stream bed (Kakorema) and climbs up the opposite side with an olive grove to its right. When we reach the top of the ridge we meet an earth road. Here is a kalderimi crossing and we can get to Agios Nikolaos by both ways. We prefer to cross the road and, descending gently, the kalderimi opens to another road. This leads us after a hundred metres down to the old church of Agios Nikolaos, a remnant of the monastery that used to exist here. Here is a good place to have a stop. Unfortunately, we are not able to admire the notable frescos inside the church, as its doors remain locked. 
Fresco at Agios Nikolaos

Interior view of the narthex of Agios Nikolaos church

                      Retracing our steps back, we easily find the continuity of the kalderimi on the other side of the road and follow it to the east. We cross two small stream beds, pass by an old hut and eventually the kalderimi ends, where it comes out onto an earth road, along which we walk uphill. The wider  area  is called Pavlakia.
Kalderimi at Pavlakia
           Further up, we come out onto the earth road that comes from the settlement of Stavrodromi. We turn to the left (east) and then after a hundred metres at a fork we go to the right (southeast) onto a narrow earth road that brings us out at a flat area with a threshing floor and a row of cypress trees to the right. Just after the threshing floor, we turn left and find a path that descends heading east. We cross a small stream bed, pass a derelict hut on our right and then we take the right hand path at a fork. This area was burnt in a recent fire, but is already turning green again. We cross another stream bed and then meet an earth road, which we follow downhill. Below us we see the Panayiotiko dam with the lake that has been formed in the valley of Platanorema - a beautiful and peaceful picture.
The lake at Panayiotiko dam

        A little further down there is a crossroads, where we turn left and walk above the lake to the east. After walking for about two kilometers (half an hour) on the road, at a point where there is a grove to our left, we come to a junction. The downhill road to the right brings us to the old monastery of Panagia Tourkogianni. The only part that remains of this is the humble renovated main church. The old icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) is kept at Neochori and is brought here only during the feast on the church’s saint day on the 15th of August.
Panagia Tourkogianni church

                                     We continue on the road, which goes down towards a stream. In the past, two rows of cypress trees lined the path, but now they have been lost in a fire. We reach a concrete building of the water system, where we turn left into dense vegetation, noticing the red arrow on the electricity meter pole (attention-the signposts we put there are sadly missing because someone has removed them). 
Turn left in vegetation, noticing the red arrow

          We walk parallel to the stream for a short distance, after which we cross it and climb up the other bank on a path in a southeasterly direction. This path was cleared and signed in January 2015 by volunteers from the Friends of the Kalderimi of South Pelion and Volos Alpine Club
Climbing on the path after crossing the stream

             Eventually, we come out at an angle onto an earth road, which we follow and soon see Neochori in front of us. We come out to the main asphalt road, pass over the bridge entering the village and then take an uphill paved track, following the red paint marks, which finally becomes a kalderimi opening to the square, next to the old drinking water fountain.      
The square of  Neochori