Tag Archives: Crete Walks

Bramiana Reservoir – circular walk on a dull day.

Early November 2019 we wanted a walk even though skies were grey. Our choice was the reservoir created by the Bramiana dam, near Ierapetra in south east Crete. On our previous visit, a year earlier, we saw impact of eighteen months drought when the water level had dropped significantly.

Torrential and sustained rain during early 2019 had restored the lake and on this walk there was no sign of the church. We set off under very grey skies, clad in waterproof jackets, that thankfully proved unnecessary.

DSCN1157On the road that passes the reservoir between Kalamafka and Ierapetra there is a good size layby that makes an excellent place to leave the car if you will walk around the lake. Although there is a substantial wooden building here we’ve never seen it open. Information boards detailing wildlife are weather damaged beyond use—let’s hope the appropriate authority replaces them.

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The stone ‘tower’ in the above set of photos is an old water mill proving the worth of this area to agriculture in the past and today. Another photo shows a derelict picnic area. Extreme weather with raging winds, rain and baking sun have destroyed the wooden shelter, picnic tables and herb gardens. We still sat and watched waterfowl while we had our lunch but next time we’ll find a more comfortable spot.

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This unusual bug seemed to think the rusty fence could be a suitable mate. The colouring wasn’t typical of a dragonfly so I wondered if it was a damselfly. After looking in The Quick Guide To Creepy-Crawlies I decided it was a dragonfly as its wings were out while resting.

Heavy rains in January have already removed any danger of the reservoir drying up for this year at least.

If you fancy doing this walk, you can find my route on wikiloc.

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Zaros, a scenic gem

Zaros collageIf you’ve been to Crete, there’s a very good chance you’ve taken a drink of prize winning Zaros bottled water. It comes from underground springs in the village of Zaros, nestling beneath Mount Idi in the Psiloritis range of mountains.

It is a stunning area and the small lake provides a tranquil oasis for a stroll. From platforms around the lake edge you can view fish, terrapins, dragonflies and waterfowl. There is also a taverna to relax and enjoy the view.

We have visited Zaros and the lake several times when driving between Heraklion and the south coast. I’d previously noticed the tempting sign pointing towards the Rouvas Gorge but it had never been the right weather or circumstances to hike.

INCO logoAt last I’ve walked the gorge along with some fellow members of INCO, the International Community Association of Agios Nikolaos Region, (and surrounding areas). As well as being an informative and supportive group we also enjoy a range of clubs and activities.

In the middle of October our group of eleven people stayed for two nights in the amazing Idi Hotel, situated midway between Zaros village and the lake.

Prices are competitive for bright and well appointed rooms. Breakfast had a good choice and we enjoyed an evening meal in the taverna/fish farm alongside the hotel.

DSCN0770Some members had a relaxing stroll and/or sunbathing in mind while seven of us set off to walk circa 6 km each way in the gorge.

This sign made it clear parts of our route would be tricky! Our most petite member found the steps cut in the rocks too steep and returned to the lake. Another person returned a while later leaving five of us to continue up.

Sometimes, long sloping stretches gave us a chance to catch our breath before the path zig-zagged up again. The forestry commission has made sturdy bridges and ramps to cross the most difficult drops and these were in excellent condition.  Although the effects of water gushing down the gorge are clear to see, the gorge was dry at the end of summer. Right at the top there was a boggy patch to prove how the water drains from the forested slopes around the church dedicated to Agios Ioannis. This shady area had welcome picnic benches to use while we ate our lunch. We were about ready to start our walk down when a large group arrived with a guide – this signaled we’d have to share the path on the way down. That said, we only passed about a dozen people.

Here is a slideshow of the scenery enjoyed on our hike.

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dscn0866Have to say, the last 1 km downhill was accomplished at great speed – some keen to get back to the hotel for a swim and others wanting a cold beer by the lake.

On our second evening we walked down to Zaros village to eat a wide variety of food at the Vegera restaurant where the exuberant, Vivi made us very welcome.

Zaros water bottling plantOn the final morning, before we all went our separate ways, we enjoyed a pre-arranged tour of the Zaros water bottling plant. The local community and employees own the factory and, as water is a free resource, this felt absolutely right.

Perhaps it’s not something you’d think of adding to your holiday itinerary, but all agreed it made a fitting and interesting end to our Zaros break.

If you live in the Lassithi prefecture of Crete and would like to know more about INCO, you can either email incocrete@yahoo.com or fill in the contact form below.

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I think I’ll make a large print of this photo for my home in Kritsa, it will remind me of a fabulous break.

Explore Kritsa, Crete

Explore-Kritsa_screen versionI’m proud to announce publication of my latest book on 27th July 2019, and this time its non-fiction.

The Kindle version is at a launch price of £1.99. via this link viewbook.at/ExploreKritsa If, like me, you prefer a ‘proper’ book this is the link: http://mybook.to/ExploreKritsa

This book reflects my love for Kritsa, a village on the Greek island of Crete where I’ve enjoyed a home since 2001. Since then I’ve enjoyed many varied experiences and walks that I’m happy to share. While researching for my novels, Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa and Rodanthe’s Gift I accumulated a range of information about Greece and Kritsa and the book includes some of this insight.

Presented in three parts, the book has a month by month guide to my view of Kritsa life, 15 local walks ranging from gentle strolls to strenuous hikes and useful information such as where to eat and drink.

Explore Kritsa is available in both paperback and Kindle versions via Amazon and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the book will soon be on sale in Eklektos Bookshop, Elounda and shops in Kritsa – I’ll update as and when I get more information.
Here’s the July chapter from the month by month guide to give you an idea of what to expect…

July, Brings Summer Festivals

Here we are in peak season, and high temperatures drain energy. Me? Well I spend part of most days at the beach. With Agios Nikolaos only a bus ride away it’s easy to access beaches, and if you’ve a car then you’ll discover a good variety within thirty minutes. You can choose a beach with full tourist facilities or a quieter retreat where it’s appropriate to take your own sunlounger and snacks.

July sees the start of the Meltemi season when winds blow from the north. A tip: if you find it too blustery on a north-facing beach, select one facing towards the east. Sad to say you’ll sometimes encounter a shore covered in plastic refuse brought in by wind and waves. If this happens, the best option is to choose a beach facing a different direction. On organised beaches there are often staff on litter-picking duties to resolve the issue. I’m not saying this to put you off the fabulous local beaches, but I’d hate you to see rubbish and think that it’s a permanent blight.

In this hot weather it’s good to explore Kritsa early morning, when shady kafenions beckon. Another excellent time to visit is late afternoon when the sun passes behind the mountains. I’ll confess to enjoying a room with air conditioning for two hours mid-afternoon. Then, with a long, warm evening ahead, we’ve energy for a stroll. Funny how we seldom make it home without stopping for a cold beer. There are so many great kafenions and tavernas, and we enjoy visiting them all as the summer progresses. Some places use fans to waft air around and I always hope they have another for the cook.

Keep your eyes open for posters advertising Μαγεροτσικαλιάσματα, Magerotsikaliasmata, one of Kritsa’s annual festivals. I recommend you arrive after 9.00 p.m. to enjoy local music, dancing and food. The venue is the schoolyard and you purchase tickets on the way in. Wine, beer and raki are available to buy on site. Look around the various cooking demonstrations to see food cooked over open fires. When you’re ready to eat, hand over your ticket and volunteer waiters will bring your meal. Once the music starts, people take to the dance floor. Other people have said it, but the way children dance makes you think it’s in their DNA. Cretan music and dance are customs handed down from one generation to the next. I’ve heard a local musician practising from the time he was a boy. At first, we winced as we passed; now we stand and listen to appreciate his incredible playing. If you fancy learning to dance, there are local classes with an open invitation to participate. Me? I prefer to watch. During these festivals the musicians play for as long as someone keeps dancing. I’ve been on our balcony at dawn and heard them – what stamina!

If you’re finding the excessive heat hard to cope with, try a trip to the Katharo Plateau where you’ll find it several degrees cooler than Kritsa. Blast out the car’s air conditioning or open windows wide for the 16 km trip up a twisting asphalt road. Once there you’ll find three tavernas serving rustic refreshments.

A good choice for a sundown stroll is the village of Kroustas, 4 km further on from Kritsa. Our walk starts with views towards the Thripti Mountains. Here you’ll have a fabulous, iconic view that captures attention as the reflected sunset turns the mountains a delicious pink. Hidden depths and contours stand out more than at any other time of day. As you watch, the shadow creeps upwards until it snuffs out the light.

In this heat I’m keeping my walking recommendations short and sweet:

Walk 2: Panagia Kera, the Famous Byzantine Church – 2.2 km. This is an ideal morning stroll through the shady olive groves, ending with opportunity for rest and refreshments.

Walk 4: Kroustas Views and Backstreets – 2.2 km. As mentioned above, this is ideal for late afternoon/early evening. Afterwards you can enjoy refreshments in Kroustas’ main street, where arches of shady mulberry trees keep the heat at bay.

The second part of the book has walking directions and sketch maps for 15 walks ranging from strolls to uphill hikes. There’s a walk for you if you’ve only a short time in Kritsa and want to know what you’re seeing as you stroll by. Then, if you’ve time and energy to spare you can choose walks to suit your fitness level and interests. As well as directions, the walking guide gives snippets of information about the churches, historical sites and views that you pass. One of my early readers thinks people with no intention of walking will also enjoy reading the directions/information to gain insight from the comfort of their armchair.

Although I make walk suggestions to suit the season and topical information, you can do more or less depending on the weather, your interest and fitness.

I used an app called Wikiloc to record the routes and give details of how to download information to help you stay on track. For an example Click here.

In the third section, Useful Information, I cover how to get to Kritsa, historical snippets including when there is free admission to local archaeological sites, places to stay in Kritsa and where to eat.

Whether you’re an armchair traveler, planning a visit, arrive for a brief tour, book accommodation or have a home in the village this book is for you – just Click Here.

Click here for more information and I hope you enjoy Explore Kritsa.