The High Mountains of Crete
The White Mountains, Psiloritis and Lassithi Mountains
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Guidebook of walking routes in Crete's mountains, covering the Lefka Ori (White Mountains), Mount Ida (the Psiloritis range), the Lassithi mountains and E4 trail. The 87 walks are graded, and range between 2 and 28km with various longer options, covering a multitude of terrains from rugged mountain ridges to forested crags and beaches.
- In theory year round, but winter really is winter and summer can be very hot indeed. Spring and autumn are the most attractive times.
- Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Hora Sfakion
- Graded from A to E, easy to remote and rugged, including many backpacking routes in the high mountains. Managing water supplies is most important.
- Must See
- In the White Mountains, the famous Samaria Gorge and 12 equally spectacular others. Psiloritis (Mount Ida), the summit of the island in central Crete and Mount Dikti in eastern Crete.
Guidebook to walking and trekking the high mountains of Crete. The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete's mountains provide breathtaking walking and wilderness to this popular island. The routes in this guidebook are graded for difficulty and range from short, easy strolls to challenging, multi-day treks and summit climbs, so there are options for walkers of all abilities.
All the mountain ranges of Crete feature high plains, gorges and ravines, but in the heart of the Lefka Ori there is something else. High above the treeline snow thaws by July to reveal a great circle of massive barren peaks, interspersed with ‘moonscape’ outcrops, or depressions, of sinkholes in black, grey or red rock. This high desert wilderness is seldom visited but covers some 960sqkm.
In central Crete, where the island is at its widest, the huge mass of Psiloritis (Mount Ida) dominates the whole region. Covering about 560sqkm this massif is different in that a single huge, partly scree-surfaced summit ridge rises above massive cliffs on one side and a large area of lower peaks and forested foothills on the other. The summit of Mount Ida, at 2456m is the highest point in Crete. It offers several challenging linear walking routes including the high level Nida Plain.
The Lassithi Mountains cover about 780sqkm and virtually divide central Crete from the eastern end of the island. It is not only the largest of the high mountain plains but also the largest flat area in Crete. About 820m in altitude, it is oval in shape, more than 9km across west-east, and 5km north-south.
In Crete the E4 starts at Kastelli and takes in several of the less-visited archaeological sites on its journey east. Although the main trail follows the mountainous backbone of Crete, Cretan branches of the Hellenic Alpine Association have also designated good route ‘variations’ either along the coast, or as branches that lead to the main trail.
There is also lots of general information provided on walking in Crete, getting there and getting around and advice on making the most out of exploring the island's mountains. With its dramatic gorges and numerous peaks rising to over 2100m, high mountain plains, forested crags, massive cliffs and remote beaches, Crete offers a wide range of landscapes and challenges for walkers. A combination of the climate and its ancient historical sites make the Greek island of Crete a great destination to explore on foot.
- walking routes range from 2 to 28km
- all routes are graded for difficulty: Grade A refers to short walks that are easy underfoot, to Grades D and E which are more demanding day walks on remote and rugged terrain which require good navigational and walking experience
- stunning photography and maps throughout
Hillwalking and trekking regions
Plants, trees and flowers
Wildlife and hunting
Getting to the trailhead
When to go
Insects and other hazards
Types of pathways
What to take
Using this guide
Part 1 The White Mountains (Lefka Ori)
The Omalos Plain
Walk 1 Around the Omalos Plain
Walk 2 The Gorge of Samaria National Park
Walk 3 The Ascent of Gingilos
Walk 4 Xyloscala to Kallergi Refuge
Walk 5 Kallergi Refuge to Melendaou
Walk 6 Xyloscala to Koustoyerako via Strifomadi
Walk 6A Koustoyerako to Xyloscala via Strifomadi
Walk 7 Omalos to Koustoyerako via Ay. Theodoros chapel
Walk 7A Koustoyerako to Omalos via Ay. Theodoros chapel
Walk 8 Omalos to Ay. Irini Gorge
Walk 9 Ay. Irini Gorge to Souyia
Walk 9A Souyia to Lissos and Paleochora (E4 Trail)
Walk 10 Omalos to Zourva
Walk 10A Zourva to Omalos
Walk 11 Zourva to Meskla
Walk 12 Omalos to Lakki and Meskla
Walk 12A Lakki to Omalos
The Northern Foothills
Walk 13 Kambi to Volikas Refuge
Walk 14 Kambi to Melidoni
Walk 14A Melidoni to Kambi
Walk 15 Kares to Gournes
Walk 16 Melidoni to Fres
Walk 17 Fres to Vrisses
Walk 18 Fres to Vafes via Tzitzifes
Walk 19 Melidoni to Vafes via Vothanas
Walk 19A Vafes to Melidoni via Vothanas
Walk 20 Vafes to Vrisses
Walk 20A Vrisses to Vafes
Walk 21 Vafes to Askifou
The Askifou Plain
Walk 22 Around the Plain
Walk 23 Askifou to Imbros
Walk 24 The Imbros Gorge
Walk 25 Kommitades to Hora Sfakion
Walk 26 The Asfendou Gorge from Askifou
Walk 27 Askifou-Goni to Kallikratis
Walk 28 The Kallikratis Gorge
Walk 29 Askifou-Ammoudari to Niato (E4 Trail)
Walk 30 The Ascent of Kastro
Walk 31 Askifou to Imbros via Trikoukia
Walk 32 Askifou to Anopolis (or Hora Sfakion) via Kali Lakki
Walk 33 Askifou to Vafes
Walk 34 Krappis to Lake Kourna
Walk 35 Anopolis to Loutro
Walk 36 Kambia to Loutro
Walk 37 Kambia to Anopolis or Ay. Ekaterini
Walk 38 Kambia to Hora Sfakion
Walk 39 Anopolis to Aradena
Walk 39A The Aradena Gorge
Walk 40 Aradena to Ay. loannis and Sellouda
Walk 41 Aradena to Ay. Roumeli via Sellouda
Walk 42 The Aradena Forest and Kroussia
Walk 43 Anopolis to Askifou via Kali Lakki
The south coast of Sfakia
Walk 44 Hora Sfakion to Loutro (E4 Trail)
Walk 45 Hora Sfakion to Anopolis
Walk 46 Hora Sfakion to Mouri
Walk 47 Loutro to Livaniana and beyond
Walk 48 Loutro to Ay. Roumeli (E4 Trail)
Walk 49 The Gorge of Samaria National Park
Walk 50 Around Ay. Roumeli
Walk 51 The Eligias Gorge, Angelokampi and Turkish forts
Walk 52 Ay. Roumeli to Anopolis via Sellouda
Trek 1 Theriso to Livada via Kolokithas
Trek 1A Livada to Theriso
Trek 2 Kambi to Livada via Volikas EOS Refuge
Trek 2A Livada to Kambi
Trek 3 Askifou to Livada via Niato and Grias Soros (E4 Trail)
Trek 3A Livada to Niato and Askifou (E4 Trail)
Trek 4 Livada to Katsiveli (E4 Trail)
Trek 4A Katsiveli to Livada (E4 Trail)
Trek 5 Katsiveli to Potamos (E4 Trail)
Trek 5A Potamos to Katsiveli
Trek 6 Omalos (or Kallergi Refuge) to Potamos (and Katsiveli) via Melendaou (E4 Trail)
Trek 6A Potamos to Kallergi Refuge (E4 Trail)
Trek 7 Potamos to Ay. Ioannis via Zaranokefala
Trek 7A Ay. Ioannis to Potamos via Zaranokefala
Trek 8 Anopolis to Katsiveli
Trek 8A Katsiveli to Anopolis
The Ascent of Pachnes
Trek 9 Roussies to Pachnes summit
Trek 9A Pachnes summit to Katsiveli
Trek 9B Katsiveli to Pachnes summit
The south coast
Trek 10 Ay. Roumeli to Souyia (E4 Trail)
Trek 10A Souyia to Ay. Roumeli (E4 Trail)
Part 2 Psiloritis (Mount Ida)
Walks and treks from trailheads of the foothills
Walk P1 Anoyeia to the Nida taverna
Walk P2 Zaros to Ay. Ioannis Rouvas chapel via the Rouvas Gorge
Walk P3 Ay. Ioannis chapel to the Nida Plain (E4 Trail)
Walk P4 Kamares to the Kamares Cave
Walk P5 Kamares Cave to the Nida Plain
Walk P6 Kamares to the summit of Mount Ida
Walk P7 The Arcadi monastery to Aravanes Kampos
Walk P8 Aravanes Kampos to the Nida Plain
Walk P9 Lakkos Mygerou (Livadia) to summit of Mount Ida
Walk P10 Aravanes Kampos to Toubotos Prinos EOS Refuge
Walk P11 The Amari Valley: Fourfouras and Kouroutes
Walks and treks from trailheads on the Nida Plain
Walk P12 Nida to the summit of Mount Ida (E4 Trail)
Walk P13 Summit of Mount Ida: descent to Kamares
Walk P14 Nida to Anoyeia on the E4 Trail
Walk P14A Nida to Anoyeia on Old Droving Trail
Walk P15 Nida to Ay. Ioannis chapel (E4 Trail)
Walk P16 Nida to Kamares via Kamares Cave
Walk P17 Nida to the Arcadi monastery
Part 3 The Lassithi (Dikti) Mountains
Walk L1 Kastamonitsa to Ay. Georgios (E4 Trail)
Walk L2 Ay. Georgios to Tzermiado
Walk L2A Tzermiado to Ay. Georgios
Walk L3 Tzermiado to Karphi and back
Walk L4 Ay. Georgios to the Katharo Plain and back
Walk L5 Ay. Georgios (for Mt Dikti summit) to Selakano (E4 Trail)
Walk L5A Selakano to Ay. Georgios (E4 Trail)
Walk L6 Selakano to the Katharo Plain (for Lassithi or Kritsa)
Walk L6A Katharo Plain via south rim road to Selakano
Walk L7 Katharo Plain to Kritsa (for Ay. Nikolaos)
Walk L7A Kritsa to the Katharo Plain
Walk L8 Magoulas to Xeniakos and Ano Viannos
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Glossary
Appendix C Further reading
Appendix D Useful contacts
Appendix E Index of maps
Part of the challenge of mountain walking in Crete used to be that you had to work with small-scale maps, and this is still the case in some areas. However, since 2006, Anavasi of Athens has been producing – and this work is ongoing – large scale GNSS-compatible maps of all the best walking regions of Greece, including the Cretan mountains. Relevant to this guidebook there are four separate maps covering the White Mountains, one of Psiloritis (Mount Ida) and one of Lassithi.
Visit the Anavasi website for the latest information, including local stockists. Distribution has been good but even so it may be prudent to buy the maps you want (about £8 each) before your trip, either direct from Anavasi, or, in the UK, from Stanfords (seeFootpaths marked on maps
Starting from scratch with the new technology (rather than just copying footpaths from older maps) the Anavasi management, and volunteer helpers, do as much ground research themselves as time allows. Therefore some of the paths described in this book may not yet be shown on these maps – each new edition adds more – while others shown may not be described here. (There are lots of paths in the mountains, both old and new.) Members of the Cretan EOS have also modernised footpath research by depositing gpx/kml files on relevant databases and these have been used, along with Google Earth, to recheck the location of some of the old paths.
Traditional main mule track routes are marked on most small-scale maps, giving an indication of their existence (somewhere) even though trailheads may be hard to find.
Whether old or new, maps do not indicate the great cliffs and crags that are so characteristic of these limestone mountains. Where the researcher’s description says ‘difficult path’ you can be sure it means just that – such as rugged rocks and/or loose gravel. And any named gorge that looks like a valley on the map will indeed be a cliff-bound gorge. Google Earth will give you a preview of what to expect, although it can also make the topography look more daunting than it actually is.
To date the maps are:
The White Mountains, at scale 1:25,000:
- Lefka Ori (White Mountains)–Sfakia/Pachnes (11.11/11.12), ed. 2012
- Samaria–Sougia–Paleochora (11.13), ed. 2014
- Frangokastelo–Plakias (11.17), ed. 2013
The Mount Ida/Psiloritis range, at scale 1:30,000:
- Mt Idha (Psiloritis) (11.14), ed. 2013
The Lassithi Mountains, at scale 1:35,000:
- Mt Dikti–Mt Selena (11.15), ed. 2014
Older editions of the Lefka Ori and Psiloritis maps (showing fewer paths) may still be available in some shops. Some users prefer these older maps.
Two 1:100,000 scale Harms Verlag contour maps are recommended as back-up and for their wider coverage. They are also the second best choice for walking:
- Map 1 – Western Crete (includes the Lefka Ori and Psiloritis)
- Map 2 – Eastern Crete (includes Heraklion, Lassithi and Sitea).
Anavasi also publish ‘Touring Maps’ at 1:100,000 scale.
Since new maps may appear at any time it is worth asking Stanfords for the latest publications (12–14 Longacre, London WC2; tel: 0207 836 1321).
In Chania, Pelekanakis on Halidon Street may have sold out of walkers’ maps by September, or, at least, the particular map you want. Anavasi maps are also found in Hora Sfakion, Loutro and Ay. Roumeli (where, naturally, the Samaria map is popular). Rethymnon old town has a well-stocked bookshop near Plateia Martyron. In Heraklion there are likely bookshops in the vicinity of Plateia Eleutherios Venizelou, including a foreign-newspaper stockist near the fountain.
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Page 38. Chania. The bookshop Pelekanakis is now closed. The ‘survival’ shop in Skalidi (almost opposite Karistiyannis corner shop) stocks Anavasi walking maps as well as various items useful for camping.
Page 74. Information on the Gorge of Samaria. The Forestry Service has reopened the Natural History museum at Xyloscala and moved the Gorge Entrance Ticket Office to that site which is a little further back down the road from the Car Park and Refreshments shop. Hopefully this well-intentioned museum will no longer be quite so by-passed in the rush to start down the gorge. In addition, although the Geological Museum in Ay.Roumeli old school house is well worth a visit it is not easy to find it open as this depends on the availability of a park warden to supervise.
p.91 last line: Walk 7. Omalos to Koustoyerako – on the way to Olisma.
“A large roadside cairn with red waymarks” is now replaced with an E4 pole.
p. 89 - 90. Walks 6 and 6a: Koustoyerako to Souyia. Paragraphs ‘ Koustoyerako to Souyia’ and ‘Souyia to Koustoyerako’ are obsolete. Replace them with:-
A new kafeneon, probably seasonal, opened in Koustoyerako in June. It is about 100m beyond the plateia on the road southwards to the ‘radio’ masts which are sited on top of the coastal escarpment. This walking route down to Souyia, on dirt roads and footpaths, has become popular as an extension to Walk 7: Omalos to Koustoyerako via Olisma. An information panel with a sketch map, and timing of about 3 hours, is provided alongside the old kafeneon (closed) in the plateia. As the track nears the masts a waymarked footpath leads off it, SE, down the escarpment to join the E4 coastal Trail. A steeper, rocky route, straight down a spur from the masts, is not used by commercial groups.
Alternatively, a shorter walking route to Souyia goes via the old mule track to Livadas village (30mins). This starts alongside the old kafeneon (closed) and loses height rapidly through shady olive groves and woodland. A huge crag in the woodland marks the limit of these village orchards. There are two ‘gates’ to open here, the second one giving access to the remaining section of the route, cleared (2017) and easy to follow. A surviving cobbled section joins the main road and from there turn left for Souyia (5km). Follow this main road downhill as far as a T-junction with a dirt road heading slightly uphill and then downhill to Souyia. At first, after passing between two crags, you have the option of bearing left on a newer road. This traverses the mountainside to join another dirt road – the E4 Trail – where you turn downhill for Souyia, or eastwards for the Tripiti gorge and Ay. Roumeli.
Page 89 - 90: Walk 6A and 7. Souyia to Koustoyerako. Paragraphs “Koustoyerako to Souyia” and “On foot from Souyia” are obsolete. Replace with:-
Souyia to Koustoyerako: At the north end of the riverside promenade, cross the river bed on a car track that leads to the concrete-surfaced minor road to Livadas. (To join the E4 Trail coastal route bear Right at the first dirt-road T-junction, Alt. 80m). The road winds steeply up the hillside which is fenced off into various goat-grazing territories. Beyond a complex of stone-clad holiday villas, it rounds a crag and levels off. Pass a Y-junction with a newer dirt road. (This traverses back across the mountainside and joins the E4 coastal route at Alt.100m). Keep straight on for the main road up to Livadas, a linear village perched on the steep hillside. Houses above the road are in woodland but an obviously cherished well- kept church is sited below the road, beside a shelter canopy and a spring. Further on, the terrace of the old school house, long closed, makes a poignant but pleasant picnic spot. After passing the last outlying hamlet, on a spur below the road, note the built ramp of a cobbled mule track. This is the footpath short cut (800m) up to Koustoyerako. It is waymarked and clear to follow until just before you reach the outskirts of the village. Here, open the ‘gate’ in a fence which marks the boundary of village olive groves, orchards and vegetable gardens. The path continues up under a huge crag and alongside a terrace retaining wall.
Koustoyerako plateia features a large monument to an early revolutionary against Venetian rule. Across from the old kafeneon (closed) an E4 information panel directs you uphill to the Omalos via Olisma (Walk 7A, or 6A). There is a wash-board sink and tap up this road. A new kafeneon opened June 2017 (probably seasonal only) is about 100m along the unmade road southwards to the ‘radio’ masts.
It follows that a round walk to Koustoyerako and back can be done from Souyia, perhaps starting along the E4 and climbing to the masts and then returning via the old village mule track.
Page 144. Walk 24 The Imbros Gorge - Kommitades to Hora Sfakion.
The short cut overland route to Hora Sfakion upper village from the Sfakiano gorge is lately fenced off (May 2017). (reported to author). There is no ‘gate’ in the fence and it is guarded by dogs. This unfortunate development may be due to the danger of stock rustling from the nearby main road. Walkers from the Imbros gorge (or Sfakiano gorge) heading for Hora Sfakion via the Byzantine Chapel and old village are now obliged to miss these features and tramp yet more of the main road. An option in the afternoon is to wait (about 15.30) for the Chania-Anopolis bus at the taverna on the Hora Sfakion/Kommitades main road junction.
Page 160. Walk 32. Blue Paragraph. The Sfakiano gorge: (not walked by author). Petr Lang (see Appendix p.392) reports May 2017, there is a mitato and water trough fed by a lastico near the chapel.
Page 175. Facilities at Anopolis. At Kambia the formerly named Tria Adelphia Rooms/Taverna (known locally as “Stelios and Antonia “ ) is now closed and replaced with four self-catering ‘Madares Apartments’. This type of accommodation, probably the way forward for many villages, is easier for a family to run since continual attendance on the premises is not needed. The nearby (5 mins walk) Panorama Rooms ”Georgia’s” serves home-cooked meals including breakfast to non-residents.
p. 212 Walk 51. The Eligas Gorge.
Since the EOS installed assistance ropes on difficult crag sections of this through route up to the Potamos valley and the Madares, this gorge has become more popular with trekkers. In addition, from Fliskounyas, a short-cut route up through the crags to the Kormoukopos cave and Ay. Ioannis is used by experienced rock scramblers – there are no assistance ropes. Note: The only walkers’ route up the escarpment to Ay. Ioannis from this direction is via the Sellouda mule track, Walk 52.
p. 213 For Angelokambi, the cistern and Turkish forts (Eligas Gorge).
Updated information about this route (2017) is as follows:-
About 30 mins from the entrance to the Eligas Gorge pass an indistinct Y-junction of paths (cairn) on the stony trail. The left hand option is a newly formed path leading directly to the start of the Angelokambi kalderimi, west side of the gorge. However, this new path is steep and it is better to continue up the main trail for another 10 minutes or so to where a stone- built goat fold is seen over on the left. This marks a cave, a goatherd’s shelter long abandoned. A small seepage of stagnant water makes it a habitant for biting insects. For the mule track kalderimi, climb up on the left side of the cave and follow an almost level path SW and then NW, as it heads for the cliff-face and the start of the kalderimi. (The steep new path joins this path.) From the foot of the zig-zag kalderimi it is about 15 minutes to the cistern/seepage well sited on top of a spur (views). You need a long line to draw up the water (see page 46). The old mule track then doubles back into a large gully running down from the top of the forested ridge high above. Follow this path around and up to the boundary wall of Angelokambi. Currently (2017) a bare wooden ‘pole’ marks this spot in the wall. This makes a useful marker on the return route. There are no paths across this spurge-covered hillside which, at first, is free of pine trees. For the old ruin at the cliff edge (perhaps also once a small fort) ascend the hillside SW and then, more steeply up, WSW, to reach the ruin after about 15 mins. Note this direction for your return as the boundary wall cannot be seen from the ruin.
Continue up alongside the cliff edge to Alt. 350m for a stupendous view down to the coast and Ay. Roumeli. Domestic goats long gone, there is no particular path up through the pine forest to the top of the ridge and the Turkish forts but the general consensus is that the easiest option is to tackle the climb diagonally NW uphill from the ruin. Return the same way. It is also possible to make your way down the gully near the cistern.
Page 211. Walk 50. Around Ay. Roumeli: optional ascent of Papoures. This walk has lately also become more popular. Details are as follows:-
From the main fort climb steeply uphill to reach the ruin of what may have been a small look-out or signalling post. The path is waymarked (2017) with blue dots and cairns – although these can suffer from winter storms. Above the look-out post, pass a gully and then, above the pine forest, reach a bare hillside. About 100m further on note a ruined shepherd’s shelter where waymarking ends. Here, turn up right, N, and climb to a saddle with large cypress trees where you turn NE across easy terrain for the summit. Total ascent time from the look-out post about 40 mins. Return down the same way.
Page 262. Trek 10. Blue Paragraph. The cistern above Domata beach has been repaired by the EOS and now holds water. Use purification kit as the run-in allows stagnant water into the cistern.
The author has supplied the following updates.
p.30 Chania bus station. The Internet Corner is closed.
WALKS 5 and 6. Omalos to Souyia
p.89. Revisions: Koustoyerako to/from Souyia - on foot since taxis are scarce:
Revisions to route descriptions as follows:
Koustoyerako to Souyia via Livadas
The main road winding downhill between Koustoyerako and Livadas is about 2 km. Alternatively, the 800m shortcut footpath (30 mins) starts alongside the kafeneon (closed) on the plateia. Crossing an olive grove, it leads to a 'gate' in a fence. Pass through this and continue straight across to another ‘gate’. Here, you cannot see the on-going path. Bear right and make your way steeply down towards a small ravine. You will soon find the path again – it is well-tramped by sheep or goats, and marked with cairns in places. A cobbled section joins the main road and from there it is 5km to Souyia. Follow this main road downhill as far as a T-junction with a dirt road heading slightly uphill to the south. Follow this minor road directly down to Souyia. Alternatively, after passing between two crags, you have the option of bearing left on a newer road. This traverses the mountainside to join another dirt road – The E4 Trail – where you turn downhill for Souyia or eastwards for the Tripiti gorge and Ay. Roumeli.
Souyia to Koustoyerako
At the north end of the riverside promenade, cross the river bed on a car track that leads to the concrete-surfaced minor road to Livadas. (To join the E4 Trail coastal route bear right at the first dirt-road T-junction, Alt.80m). The road winds steeply up the hillside, which is fenced off into various goat territories. Beyond a complex of stone-clad holiday homes, it rounds a crag and levels off.
Pass a Y-junction with a more recently built unmade road. (This traverses back across the mountainside and joins the E4 Trail coastal route, at Alt.100m.) Keep straight on for the main road up to Livadas, a linear village perched on a steep hillside. Houses are sited above the road in woodland, but an obviously cherished, well-kept church is sited below the road, beside a shelter canopy and a spring.
Further on, the terrace of the old school house, long closed, makes a poignant but pleasant picnic spot. After passing the last outlying hamlet, on a spur below the road, note the built ramp of a cobbled mule track. This is the old mule track-cum-footpath shortcut (of about 800m) up to Koustoyerako. Rarely used, it is easy to follow until just before you reach the outskirts of the village, where it appears to end. There is a fence on the hillside above, with an angled corner on the right. An openable panel is found just beyond that corner. Cross the fenced area to another ‘gate’ after which the path runs straight across an olive grove to Koustoyerako plateia (no facilities). A concrete sink and water point is found up the road of the E4 Trail, which is signed from the plateia.
For Omalos via Olisima take this road, which ascends to a large concrete water tank (no tap) and vineyards and thereafter serves high mountain forest areas. At the cistern… etc. (p.90)
Souyia to Koustoyerako (alternative route)
From half way along the riverside promenade, cross the river bed on the E4 Trail path, which climbs the steep bank opposite to join a dirt road. (Turn left here to join the road up to Livadas). Turn right for the E4 Trail. The road climbs to a pass. At this point (Alt.100m), there are three choices of route: east along the E4 to the Tripiti gorge and Ay. Roumeli; north along an unmade road to join the road up to Livadas and Koustoyerako; and north-east up a rocky path (marked with cairns) to the ‘Radio Mast’ (Alt.400m) that is seen from Souyia. Thereafter, an unmade road from the mast connects to Koustoyerako (3km).
P. 90. Blue note in margin: Koustoyerako via the Radio Mast, down to Souyia: Walkers have waymarked this route down the spur with cairns to form a round day-walk: up to the Radio Mast and the unmade road to Koustoyerako and return to Souyia down the roads as described above.
p. 212 Around Ay. Roumeli: The old school house now houses a Forestry Service museum, informing on the geology of the gorges of Crete. It is open 13.00 – 15.00 (tourist season). Closed Mondays. Further enquiries: Stelios at Pachnes taverna/rooms.
Ay. Roumeli and Souyia: KTEL runs a seasonal service from the ferryboat at Souyia (18.15) to Xyloscala, Omalos hamlet (one hour) and Chania (2 hours).
The Neos Omalos hotel, and perhaps others, offers guests who are walking the gorge with only a day sack, a luggage transfer service via Souyia ferryboat to Ay. Roumeli.
For groups walking the E4 coastal path to Loutro or Hora Sfakion, a similar arrangement may operate (enquire).
February – June 2016
The author has supplied the following updates. She is very grateful for the observations supplied by Anavasi map volunteer Simon Stutz.
p.29. Public transport
Left luggage lockers at Chania bus station are electronically timed and take coins only. This may now also be the case at other bus stations.
Hora Sfakion has a new pharmacy in the plateia.
Revised maps dated 2016. Anavasi has lately revised all the maps listed on page 61. Check their website, or that of Stanfords for availability. If non-standard scales are used in order to encompass a wider area on a paper map, a marked up length of string is useful for measuring distances.
The Omalos Plain
p.80. Walk 3: The ascent of Gingilos
First line should read 'To the west splintered paths continue up...'. (not southwards)
Line 10 should read 'Profitis Ilias Tripitis chapel is in view, far below, to the south west on a crag…'. (not west)
p.103. Walk 12: Omalos to Lakki
This route has been waymarked (2015) by the EOS.
The Northern Foothills
The long distance traverse of the northern foothills includes footpaths that are now almost entirely disused. Jerusalem Sage has taken over in most places. The following updates refer to paths between Kambi and Askifou which in places are now blocked with Spiny Broom, although a determined trekker can still get through. It is easier to find the way in the west to east direction. These routes are shown on the latest 2016 Anavasi map of the Lefka Ori.
p. 113. Walk 14: Kambi to Melidoni
From Kambi, the first shortcuts (after the road junction 5 mins from the church) that avoid a wide loop in the tarmac road are disused. The longer shortcut starting at the top of the hill, which crosses olive groves (to avoid the Tsakistra road loop is passable.
p. 115. Just before the round stone-built shepherds' shelter a fence follows the crest of the ridge. The main path heads for the panel that is openable and follows through directly to the shelter.
p. 116-117. Walk 14: Kares to Melidoni section
Red waymarks mark the new EOS route from Kares up to Gournes, at first following the village service road from the bridge. But for Melidoni, branch off to the left at the T-junction (just beyond the house with a yapping dog) following the vineyard service road uphill to the steel-tube gate. Here, red waymarks direct you above the road onto the old mule track and viewpoint. Your first destination, high level terracing at 121SE across a ravine, is now too overgrown to be easily recognisable as terracing. Although also overgrown in places the footpath downhill across the ravine and up to the terracing is still well-tramped by goats and easily passable, but the terracing has fewer waymarks and is unpleasantly blocked in places with Spiny Broom. However, to cross it, head for the large oak and cypress tree in the centre and then continue to the opposite crag (big red waymark) from there. Climb the crag and bear right, through Jerusalem Sage, on the old path down to Melidoni's highest olive grove. Like the terracing this path is now entirely disused although still passable (2016). Since all adjacent hillsides also attract thorny plants the only alternative walking route from Kares to Melidoni is by road, about 8 km. There is no public bus service because roads here are too narrow for modern KTEL buses. Taxis based at Ay. Pandes on the main north coast road (E13 in 2016) are one solution for remaining inhabitants.
p. 119. Walk 15: Kares to Gournes
In 2015 the EOS waymarked this route in red. At first it follows the village service road that bears left from across the bridge beside the War Memorial. Alternatively, you can join it via the old mule track that runs uphill beside the churchyard retaining wall.
p.126-127. Walk 19: Melidoni to Vafes via Vothanas
The valley east of the water tank ridge is now heavily overgrown and at present walking routes from it, that link across to the road down to Vothanas, are difficult. One solution is to follow the service track from the big water tank as it heads south up the ridge. When this takes up a zig zag course leave it on a small path that climbs to a distinct saddle on the ridge. From there it is possible to get down to the 'east' valley and make your way up to the water hole and the road.
p. 128-129. Arevites to Vafes
The shortcuts off the road are now too overgrown. Follow the road.
p.130. Vafes to Melidoni via Vothanas
Lines 4 and 7: should read 'turn west' (not east). The shepherds' road now reaches the natural waterhole. However, to get to Melidoni, see updated notes for p. 126 – the path down the valley is now not worth trying, due to thorns. To continue west, climb to the crest of the next ridge from a point not far down from the waterhole (reported route - not walked by author). Since there is no real path, following this route in either direction needs good visibility.
p. 133. Walk 21: Vafes to Askifou section
Local shepherds use an alternative route from the end of the Vafes road up to Renda. Also overgrown, this route goes up nearer the spine of the spur rather than contouring around it on old terracing.
On the next page: the chapel close to Thekipou is dedicated to Ay. Mamas (not Ay. Pnevma).
p. 138. Askifou
The Panorama Rooms/Taverna at Kares offers lifts to nearby trailheads. Also, by special arrangement, luggage can be sent round to accommodation in Anopolis by bus for guests who want to walk there via Niato, Kali Lakki and Scarfidia (Walk 32). The Panorama is one of the newer enterprises of Sfakia keen to offer clients easier access to the local mule track network.
p.147. Walk 26: The Asfendou Gorge
There is now a (seasonal) kafeneon in Asfendou.
p.159. Walk 32: Askifou to Anopolis via Kali Lakki
Scarfidia spring to Feeno Kai Yanous is 1.5km, about 20mins.
p. 168-169. Walk 33: Askifou to Vafes
A shepherds’ road now links the Deskou valley with TheKipou. The footpath route described can be followed as an alternative, but it is disused.
The footpath described is replaced by one that goes down the spine of the next spur, rather than contouring around it from a level below Renda.
p. 175. Anopolis
There is now a separate, well-stocked shop in the plateia. As with all village shops its stock expands during the months of the tourist season.
p. 186. Walk 40: Aradena to Ay. Ioannis and Sellouda
The Honesty Box drinks dispenser in Ay.Ioannis former school yard is gone. If Alonia Studios, just across the way in an outlying hamlet, is open, they can sell drinks to passers-by.
p.189-191. Walk 42: The Aradena Forest and Kroussia
Altitude at Kroussia is about 1240m. (not 1420m).
The traditional sheep droving route from Kroussia down to Anopolis, via the Aradena gorge, is now waymarked in Green-White. However, as this path through the forest nears the rim of the gorge it turns northwards to access the upper kalderimi, because the middle kalderimi (west side) is destroyed by natural erosion and involves rock scrambling. Therefore, for Aradena, turn right near the gorge rim and follow paths near to it until the forest ends and you can descend to Aradena. Alternatively, the upper kalderimi crossing leads you to unmade roads that link to Anopolis after a long but easy tramp.
p. 205. Walk 48: Loutro to Ay. Roumeli
The road to Likos from Livaniana now terminates at the beach giving you the option of not having to cross the terrace of Nikos Small Paradise taverna as you proceed westwards on the E4.
p. 233 – 235. Trek 3: Niato to Koutala Seli section
In June 2016 the EOS scrapped their original E4 Trail route from Niato to Koutala Seli pass and redesigned it to start from Katastromeno cistern which is the second concrete-topped cistern on the road out of Niato, north side. The route gains height across the north-facing flank of Kastro. New E4 poles, supplemented with paint waymarks, are sited at intervals. Therefore this route is now the one to use. Each pole has a GPS waypoint: visit www.levka-ori.com.
p. 238. Trek 3a: Livada to Niato and Askifou
From Koutala Seli pass follow the E4 Trail, re-routed and waymarked 2016.
p. 238. Trek 4: Livada to Katsiveli
The E4 Trail signpost with route timings has been re-positioned to the saddle, or pass, beside the EOS Refuge.
p. 251. Trek 7: Potamos to Ay. Ioannis
Ay. Ioannis cold drinks dispenser is closed.p. 254. Trek 8: Anapolis to KatsiveliLine 3: The short-cut footpath through the forest to Gonia at the foot of the Lago ravine is now entirely disused, but passable if you care to negotiate some fallen trees and keep tabs on your direction to/from the ravine. It is stony underfoot but there is plenty of shade. Otherwise, the unsurfaced shepherds’ road to the Madares is now the accepted approach route.p.255: Last paragraph. It should read: 'To the right (east) of the trail there are crags and a sinkhole which together form the upper end of this particular valley. Occasionally the snow infills and covers all of this, making a passage around the edge of the drift on that side possibly an easier choice than the alternative steeper route on the left, even though that route is free of crags'.p. 262. Trek 10: Ay. Roumeli to SouyiaThe Chania EOS work party team plans to repair Domata cistern. Hopefully, if feasible, there could be a hand rail across the bad section, page 264, last line. Information on these E4 Trail repair projects from the EOS in 2017. Also, apparently there is another spring on this route: see http://www.levka-ori-com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=375p. 387. Further readingCultural and Travel GuidesLuca Gianotti. The Cretan Way (Anavasi 2016). An Italian walker, keen to revive interest in the originally ‘spartan’ E4 Trail (devised early 1990s) follows it modern style - avoiding camping and using a GPS. Relevant accommodation addresses are included.World War IIPatrick Leigh Fermor. Abducting a General (John Murray paperback 2015). Written in 1965 but includes an informative introduction (2014) by SOE historian Roderick Bailey. There are also Notes, comments and GPS waypoints of the abduction route to suit both walkers and car tourers. Of particular interest relevant to this guide book is Walk P1b from Anoyeia.
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Loraine Wilson is an experienced guide to the White Mountains with over 18 years experience, a wealth of local knowledge and contacts, together with a deep love of the wild landscape and local people. On her returns to England she is an architectural photographer and her photographs are a splendid attraction to this, her first guide.View Guidebooks by Loraine Wilson
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