The “early” meeting time of 9:30 on a Saturday morning proved to be sufficient to ensure a very small number of members arrived at the designated time, Ekkehart and Berenice, who were leading the walk were among them. Thereafter a “dribble” of walkers arrived, eventually swelling the ranks to 17 by 10:00!
We took a dirt road and drove 2km from the meeting point at the Milies junction near Neochori, parked and set off walking.
The route, which within a few yards turned into Kalderimi, started downhill, Mervyn reminded me later “what goes down must go up.
The surprising thing for me and others on the walk was the length of the Kalderimi, I don’t mean the length of the walk it was the sight of so much Kalderimi and in such good condition. Ekkehart and Berenice live close to the area we were walking and spend quite a lot of time in clearing the old paths. Ekkehart estimates he spends about 200 hours a year clearing Kalderimi and had cleared an overgrown part of our route the day before. Berenice had swept the Kalderimi of the blanket of leaves it was covered in. I imagined she’d been washing and polishing the stones judging from their fine condition.
Doris somehow managed to intercept us on the Kalderimi having come in from the Milies side. Quite an achievement I thought! Maybe she’d had help in locating us from Marie and Yum Yum, her dogs, not to mention directions from Ekkehart.
Our first stop was the Tourkogianni Monastery where we met two of our friends from the Volos mountain club. Even though Ekkehart had obtained the key there was a little difficulty in gaining entry, until some of our members exhibited some very useful skills! The inside of the monastery is well worth seeing, photos are attached.
The path took us toward Milies and eventually crossed the Milies – Koropi road. Mushrooms seemed plentiful in this area and our friends Michel & Michelle had collected one of the larger varieties appropriately named San Michel.
We continued down and came to Aghios Nicholas church where we stopped for refreshments. On recent walks Lyn has offered sliced apple and pear to those walking. On this occasion Lyn wasn’t walking due to a prior engagement with a sewing machine, Alan attempted to fill the breach by offering round Mythos, a noble gesture, sadly a 330ml can of beer doesn’t go very far among 20 walkers, I resisted the temptation. After a diligent search of my rucksack it was apparent that Gill had once again failed to locate the “unhealthy options” shelf in A&B! St Nicholas then answered my prayers as Ekkehart came up trumps by pulling a giant size bag of ginger biscuits from his rucksack to share with us! Game, set and match to Ekkehart!
The path became a little rough soon after, some scrambling up and down slopes ensued before we found our way onto a dry river bed with large rocks to contend with. We had now reached the lowest point of the walk, we soon re-crossed the road, albeit much lower than where we had originally crossed, and began the climb back to the starting point. This was quite testing for some us but the beauty of the area made it all worthwhile.
It was an exhilarating walk with long stretches of Kalderimi in the shade of trees which seem to go on forever. Hopefully the trees will survive the efforts of “loggers” who seem to be making inroads into the forest. We came across two groups who were using mules to transport logs to the nearest road.
The afternoon ended in Germanos taverna in Neochori, where one of the dishes we were served was Wild Boar.
An excellent day’s walking thanks to the efforts of Ekkehart and Berenice.