Greece, Symi:  …… and now for something a little different

I don’t often go on the ‘Round-the-island’ boat trip but occasionally I do when I have visitors staying. Like recently.  There are a number of excellent reasons for doing it:

1  It’s a good way to see the island

2  It’s relaxing for tired muscles after trailing around the mountains for a week

3  It’s a very good way to keep cool, not only because of the breeze on the boat but because it stops  at five points for a swim

4  There is a very good barbeque on the beach at the tiny Sesklia Island to the south

The reason I don’t do it more often is that I prefer to be walking through the world rather than watching it pass by me with limited opportunity to side-track to look at things.  I prefer more activity, more interaction with my environment. Sitting on a boat watching the shoreline pass by is a bit like watching TV.

The best compromise is to choose the day when the boat’s first stop is at the island monastery of Agios Emilianos.  Described on the ‘Greek Island Walks’ page of this blog it’s a walk of between 2 and 3 hours across the island to the west coast (see).  Having checked the evening before and arranged with the captain to be picked up at Emilianos, we knew we needed to be there by 11.30 when it left for the second swimming stop.  We allowed 3 hours and took 2½.

With the prospect of an hour to kill on the beach at Sesklia while the barbeque was being prepared, I decided to use it to walk into the interior and visit the castle there.

‘The Interior’ sounds very grand for such a small island but it is surprising how different it is from what you see sailing around the coast.   I last went to Sesklia more than 10 years ago and had no idea how much it had changed.  The short stretch of concrete road from the jetty to St Paul’s church had been extended.  What I remembered as a dirt track running westwards from there is now good quality concrete.

At the point where it turned sharply north to go around the back of the hill up to the large farm buildings on the top, I turned off and walked up through old stone terraces to the castle.  The walk along the road was quick and easy but once onto the terraces it was a matter of following sheep tracks winding through aggressive vegetation, much of it long-dead from drought.

There is more left of the walls of the castle than most of the others on Symi, with one corner nearly 3 metres high.  There seemed to be few large ‘ashlar’ blocks lying around so either they have been cannibalised and used in the construction of the nearby farm buildings or, like in other old castles, large blocks were used for the base of the fortification topped by smaller stones.

Only half a mile from the jetty in the bay, it’s an interesting alternative to sitting under the tamarisks at the top of the beach.  A comfortable stroll back in time to join the queue for the barbeque.


Looking up to the vestiges of the castle walls


Getting closer and the size of dressed stones as an outer defence become clear.


This style of construction, with smaller stones and terracotta levelling out large blocks, is more common elsewhere than on Symi


As in other ancient constructions on Symi, there seems to be one large, carefully cut block with a channel in it



Looking along the wall facing the farm building below.



The central plain on Sesklia island probably has more flat, carefully farmed land than the whole of Symi


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1 Response to Greece, Symi:  …… and now for something a little different

  1. derrick eveleigh says:

    hi Larry, whoops, I mean Garry. No that’s not right either. Oh yes! Hi Barry.
    There you are, we said we would not forget you! Pleasure to have met you on Symi in May. Memories of a cold beer and a chat in Lefteras Kafenion. When you told us about Greece unpackaged I said I had heard of it but could not remember where. It was of course on your website. I did not connect Barry with that Barry. We could have told you we had done your walks the time before on Symi……..Only the short one of course! Hope you are well and if you are still on Symi have a Mythos and remember us.
    Derrick and Jenny

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