Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Over the Hills and (not so) Far Away...

We've been getting into the great outdoors again, tempted out by the delightful spring weather and temperatures that are still conducive to hiking in the hills.

This time we decided to strike out up a track that we drive past with great regularity, yet had, up until last Thursday April 18th, never walked along. If you leave Lardos heading south to Kiotari and Gennadi, you round the headland and pass what's known locally as Lardos Limani (Lardos quay), which consists of a concrete jetty thrusting out into the sea between the two headlands, one of which bookends Lardos Beach and the other Glystra Beach. As you pass the Molos taverna, to your right, you then pass a few modern 'link' houses and then you see a hill around which the road is about to pass. It's easy to spot the gently rising path that leads up the side of this hill. To your left is the sea, and right opposite the track is a wide parking area above the rocks that tumble into the blue waters below.

Image courtesy of Google Maps. The path is clearly visible in this aerial shot, beginning right above the letter "Pil" in the word "Pilonas."

The path ascends there to the right, and the parking area is clearly visible on the left.
We set off up the track, not having any clear plan as to what route we'd follow as we got further away from the road. Here are the first few photos...

Our car is just visible down there in the parking area across the road from the track.

This was taken as you crest the first ridge, a few hundred metres from the starting point. Suddenly a fairly level plain opens up before you, offering quite a few different options as to which way to go. Later photos below were taken on that ridge above my beloved's head and slightly to the right.

One of the first things we noticed was the proliferation of these amazing flowering plants, known under many names, including: Dragon Arum and Voodoo Lily.

We'd seen the Voodoo Lily plant before, but not for many years had we seen them actually in full flower. We knew that they reportedly smelt of rotting flesh and I'm here to tell you that they sure do!  Sadly, we know what rotting flesh smells like because sometimes we come across the carcass of a sheep or goat, even of a dog, in the undergrowth when we're doing a rural walk. In fact, we hadn't lived here long when my wife dug up one of these plants because she liked the 'leopard skin' pattern on the stalk. We'd actually planted it in the garden when Mihalis, our farmer friend, dropped by and, in his usual blunt manner, declared, "You'll want to get rid of that and do it quickly. Unless, that is, you enjoy the scent of rotting flesh."

Thus we learned early on about the 'delightful' aroma that these plants put out. It works though, because it's apparently irresistible to the flies which pollinate it. If you haven't seen one 'in the flesh' as it were, the flowers are easily half a metre and more in length. As you can see from the fact that I photographed several of them, that they're having a good year this year, probably owing to the amount of rain we had over the winter.

If you take a peek back at the photo of my beloved above, you'll see behind her a steeply rising hillside, atop of which are two rocky peaks, between which is a sort of pass. That's what we decided to aim for.

If you're tempted to try this walk, be aware that there are no paths. Once you strike out to your right from the track that stays on the valley bottom, you'd be a fool not to be wearing very stout footwear and to also have your mobile phone (well charged) with you. Once you start the ascent itself, the ground is exceedingly rough, and peppered with dead woody shrubs, which, by the time you get half-way up the incline, often need snapping off so as to get through. Plus, since the vegetation is so lush at the moment, you have to be very observant to avoid a twisted or broken ankle. Also, I found to my cost that there are some pretty robust cobwebs (some with residents) strung between the dead woody branches, often at eye-height, so, unless you stop and take a breather, don't bother trying to admire the view as you walk. 

If, however, you do decide to stop, somewhere where the rocks are just about OK to stand with a degree of stability, the views are lovely, and get better the higher you climb...

Most of the Kiotari coastline is visible here. Glystra, however, is tucked beneath the hillside to the bottom left.
Lardos quay is just out of shot to the left here.
Again, Kiotari is behind us.
Now we're a little higher up, getting amongst the crags. Gennadi is there in the far distance.
Lardos Beach and Pefkos are both in this shot.
A couple of bemused locals, no doubt looking at us and saying, "We don't get many of those up around these parts." This was taken at the top, on the ridge, or 'pass' between the two peaks.
Same spot as the one above. It looks level, but drops away steeply either side of us.
Beginning the descent well above the Molos taverna.
Another Voodoo Lily, with Lardos Quay visible below. You can see from this shot how rough it was underfoot.
This one gives a better impression of how steep the descent was, coming down toward the Molos Taverna. Once again, Lardos Beach and Pefkos are visible in the distance.
Yet another shot showing the terrain. Ankle-breaking territory if you're not very diligent.
The wild flowers are still an absolute joy at the moment.
Still descending. It was a long way down!
A fishing caique leaves Lardos Quay, towing its skiff behind it.
This is simply the view to the right of the one above it.
Another attempt to show the flowers under your feet. Click for the larger view.
Finally arriving back near to the car, which is just visible behind my left ear. To reach this point from the steep descent also entailed finding one's way through the occasional rusty chainlink fence.

The beloved standing right where she stood to take the one of me. After this it was straight to the Gré Café in Kiotari for a Freddo Espresso and a sit down.
The whole adventure took us around 75 minutes, with very little time to stop and admire the views. Incidentally, while that last caption is on the subject of our retiring to the Gré Café, I've become much more inclined to order a Freddo Espresso than a frappé of late. One of the reasons, apart from the even better taste, is that Espresso is a healthier option, since frappé is made with instant coffee and Espresso from beans.

The weather is finally beginning to warm up this week, and we had just a tad under 24ºC in the shade outside yesterday, so the walks will soon be curtailed owing to the heat. But we hope to get a couple more in before we convert to beach/swim expeditions.

Hope you appreciate the great lengths to which we went to bring you those shots!

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