Kardamili: up the Viros Gorge

Made my own breakfast Tuesday morning for the first time since I arrived in Greece early in May.  When I stayed on Symi and Tilos for extended periods in 2010 I was self catering and got into the habit of buying and preparing my own food but staying in hotels for a few days at a time isn’t conducive to that.  It was good to sit on the balcony on Tuesday looking out over the sea and tuck into a plateful of Greek yogurt, nuts, honey and assorted fresh fruit.  I may even buy bread and marmalade as one of the supermarkets does nice wholemeal.  Coffee is a different matter.  There is only a briki for making Greek coffee or boiling water for instant, neither of which I find palatable.   No worries, there is a very fine and inexpensive coffee shop with comfy armchairs opposite the apartment, probably a full 20 seconds away.

But enough of the housekeeping, I’m here for the mountains, the walking and the history which the area exudes in bucket loads.

Having done the modern equivalent of girding my loins I set out at 10.30 to walk up the Viros Gorge.  I wasn’t hurrying, partly because I kept stopping to gawp at how spectacular it is, partly because I kept stopping to photograph bits of it, partly because you can’t walk and look around without falling on your face.  Or your Londonderry Air as I did later in the day.

The floor of the gorge is brilliant white in the bright sunlight, creating a technical problem of contrast for photographs which I haven’t worked out to overcome yet.

One of the elements in the landscape round here is the ‘pencil’ cypresses familiar from photos of posh villas on hillsides in Tuscanny but very much part of the natural scene in the gorge.  They towered above the floor of the gorge with the cliffs towering above them in turn.

‘Pencil’ cypresses reach up to the cliff-tops hundreds of feet above

Often just growing head and shoulders above the other trees

After about an hour the cliffed walls opened out a little and I reached the tiny monastery of Agios Sotiros set just above the floor of the gorge.  Perfect place for banana and nutbar, very pleasantly augmented by copious amounts of mulberries picked from the massive trees in the courtyard which were absolutely laden with luscious, ripe fruit.  My fingers turned purple, almost black as I picked them.  Large numbers were lying around where they had started to drop and I inadvertently sat in some leaving massive stains on my shorts which I only discovered when I stripped off for my swim later in the day.  Couldn’t have been a better spot to have my snack.  And the stains came out easily with a wash.

Agios Sotiros with one of the heavily laden mulberry trees alongside

Another view of Agios Sotiros

The monastery complex seen from way up on the path to the gorge rim

From the monastery a path rises very steeply 1000 feet to the village of Pedino on the rim of the gorge.  A long pull up in the heat but interspersed by pauses to take photos of the views and the wildlife.

Nature has a way of warning us what’s not good for us: I wouldn’t touch this little fella

One of the very many sulphur yellow butterflies. This time I managed to catch some of the colour, only visible on the upper surface of the wing

Just another rock?

Wild lily at the side of the path

A bit of a bleat here.  Because the Canon s95 was pinched in Patras I don’t have a camera in my hand for the quick-draw shot.  I learned years ago when I tripped on Tilos that the SLR can take the brunt of a tumble so, on broken ground, and this was very broken ground, it stays in the rucksack out of harm’s way. It kept the camera safe when I did take a tumble later in the day but I missed the opportunity to photograph a fast moving snake on the way up the side of the gorge (I was on the way up, not the snake which just disappeared under a bush).

Coming into the gorge-rim village

The temperatures are starting to rise now and most of the pull up to the rim of the gorge was very hot work but very well worth it.  The views from the village were dramatic but too expansive and hazy to make decent photos.  I may need to go back later in the day to catch the evening light though that creates the problem of getting back before dark.  It took over 2 hours to drop back down to Kardamili but that was again because I kept stopping to take in the view.  It really is very impressive.  Covered about 18 kms in all, rising up to 460 metres above sea level.  Not bad for a first day in real heat.

Arrived back at the village by 16.00, hot tired and ready for a swim.  Perfect end to a very good walk.

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One Response to Kardamili: up the Viros Gorge

  1. Chris Dawson says:

    Hi Barry. Sorry to hear about your camera but it’s good that you have finally made it to Kardamili. I know what it feels like, having had by wallet stolen on the Athens Metro. Are you planning to stop off at The Diros caves on your way down The Mani? It is arguably Greece’s most significant natural site and is well worth a visit. It is located at the bay between Areopolis and Pirgos Dirou.

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