Kritsa Gorge ‘May Day!’

I waited in Kritsa car park at 10.45 a.m. on 1st May to see who would join our free to participate circular walk, to include a descent through Kritsa Gorge. The final roll call was amateur botanist Steve Lenton, (AKA Steve the plant) retired botanist Rosemary Johns, naturalist Steve Daniels (AKA Steve the bug), Lynne McDonald from Eklektos Bookshop Elounda, Cindy Pay, Ann Roxy, Frank and Linda who were in the area on holiday, and my husband, Alan.

I’ve previously shared the route we use to pass through lower Kritsa Gorge, and you’re welcome to print it off. To access it just click on the photo of Alan, below:

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This route needs confidence and dexterity to use footholds and hand grabs, and even before reaching this area you will need to scramble over boulders.

Be safe, wear stout shoes, take water, a snack and a companion.

Alan and I have walked this way many times to enjoy the dramatic way views and landscape change, so seeing it through the eyes of people experiencing it for the first time was fabulous. Even though Steve the plant had walked the gorge before he’d not accessed it via the ancient trading path that had probably been laid when the Dorians held nearby Lato. It was while on this path that Ann made a horrible discovery, her husband had correctly identified a plant, and now she was going to have to tell him that she was wrong, ouch! As the path opened out we turned left over scrub and looked back to Lato. A beaming Lynne recognised the description of the area from Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa (only reference today, honest!) and started to mentally compose her bookshop blog about the walk. (Link at the end)

Entering the dramatic gorge bed is like stepping into a different world and it soon became apparent that one of our group, Cindy was going to have more difficulty on the descent than she’d anticipated. We soon learned she is one determined lady! By carefully assessing each clamber and/or drop Cindy worked out the best way to move, and with support from her stick, and other members of the group, particularly Steve the plant, Steve the bug and Rosemary, on she went. Despite this exertion, Cindy took many photos, or was that a ploy for breathing space? Here’s her group shot:

From Cindy 1 Ann, Yvonne, Alan, Lynne, Steve the plant, Rosemary, and Steve the bug. By this point our holiday makers decided to stride ahead so that they could find time for a swim.

Amidst the chatter we could always hear Latin bandied about as Steve, Rosemary and Steve discussed what they were seeing, although they used layman’s terms to help us understand. Rosemary demonstrated how a few drops of water turned a dried piece of black matter into plump green moss in seconds. A trick I’ll certainly use again!

DSC05953 A lump of wood became an interesting find for Steve the bug, as he showed us burrows made by beetle larvae. Notice his waistcoat? Each full of  small items of ‘kit’.

Not long after this Steve the bug asked me if we’d find water. My initial though was that surely he knew to bring plenty of water with him. Doh, he didn’t want to drink it! Imagine his joy when we came to this brackish pond.

DSC05957What a fast mover! That dipper appeared from nowhere. What Alan described as tadpoles were mosquito larvae, apparently important elements of the food chain. Well, let’s hope they all get devoured; I hate it when when a mosquito puts me on the menu!  The real treasure in this scoop was a dead fly. At first I thought Steve was joking, but no, he’s sent it to the British Natural History Museum for identification. Later, as Cindy needed to pass over a deep pond, various people shouted advice, The best from Steve was, ‘If you fall in, grab a handful of stuff from the bottom!’

From cindy 2As we neared the narrow drain like parts of the gorge I worried how Cindy might manage, and confess that at one point I checked my phone signal in case we needed help. I at least wanted to tell those in the lead how far behind them we were. However, the towering rock walls, as seen in this photo from Cindy, beat any signal, just as her determination beat all obstacles.

I shouldn’t give the impression that Cindy was the only person to find it tough going,  it it very rugged terrain. Lynne was heard to mutter, ‘never again, ‘ but after a bath and a glass of something chilled, she’s already made plans to return.

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Emerging into an area with more green stuff bought delight for Steve the plant. He found this growing in a rock crevasse and is not 100% sure what it is, mainly as it’s out of its expected habitat.

Of course, he does have a sneaking suspicion of what it is. If you click on the photo with the ‘green fingers’ it will take you to visit Steve’s Cretan Flora site. Here you can see what Steve thinks it will look like later in the summer when he’ll return to make a positive identification.

By now those at the front of our party, including Alan were well ahead, I imagined them back at the cars, sprawled out enjoying a rest. Meanwhile, I crossed a flat, relatively smooth area and found myself on the ground. A loud crack frightened me, and for a few seconds I thought I’d broken my ankle, but it was just a sprain. Luckily the phone signal was good, so I called to ask Alan to return with a walking stick as one of the group had fallen…

All’s well that ends well, and when we all sat with a cold beer, the sheer exhilaration from Cindy certainly made the trip worth while, and I was pleased we didn’t call ‘May Day’ on May Day!

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Footnote, in case of a sprain NHS Advice is PRICE, protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

So, now I’ve been idle on my balcony for a few days and I can honestly say there are not many places where I’d be so content! Luckily I’ve found plenty to read, including account of our walk via Lynne’s eyes and Steve the bug’s weekly blog. Here are the links to their blogs:

Click here for Lynne’s blog

Click here for Steve’s weekly blog

7 thoughts on “Kritsa Gorge ‘May Day!’”

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