The Mountains of Greece
Trekking in the Pindhos Mountains
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This guidebook describes 41 challenging day walks in the mountains of Greece, that can be combined to make challenging long distance treks, in the Pindhos Range, near Athens and in the east coast and the Peloponnese areas. The walks demand a high degree of commitment and physical ability due to their remoteness and difficult terrain.
- June–Sept is the most settled period for weather, and not too hot in the mountains. Snow Nov–April in the mountains.
- Athens, Yánina, Delphi, Ámfisa, Areópolis
- Demanding rather than technically difficult. Suitable for fit and experienced walkers. Remote: navigation skills essential.
- Must See
- Traverse of the Pindhos, Mt Olympus, Mt Athos, Mt Parnasos, the Mani; the Greek people
Most of Greece is mountains – beautiful, rugged, undeveloped, remote and yet accessible. Alpine pastures soften the harshness of the crags, forests fill the ravines and springs and rivers abound and many are over 2000m in altitude. They are hillwalkers’ rather than climbers’ mountains, but you do need to be in good physical shape to explore them. Routes – though not technical – are physically demanding because of the variations in altitude, the distances involved and the absence both of organised facilities for the walker and of the restorative creature comforts.
The routes described in this guidebook are arranged in three groups: the Píndhos Range, Athens and the East Coast, and the Peloponnese. The Píndhos Range accounts for the vast majority of them. They can be put together to form continuous multi-day hikes – including going the whole hog from Delphi to Albania – or treated as straightforward ascent of a single peak. Similarly, the routes described under the other two groups can be used as day walks or as building blocks for something longer. This guidebook contains 23 route descriptions for the Píndhos Range, 7 for the Athens region and 11 for the Peloponnese area.
Walks are graded on a scale of 1 to 3. You will find that nearly all are graded 3, not because they require a high degree of technical expertise or involve any serious danger – with rare exceptions they do not. But they do demand a considerable degree of commitment because of their remoteness and inaccessibility, and the absence of organised facilities. Routes are often long, with nowhere to stop between start and finish. The terrain is unremittingly difficult and navigation often far from easy. Most of them are definitely not for the fainthearted or inexperienced.
Traditional Mountain Life
A Little History
Flowers and Wildlife
Maps and Where to Find Them
Sleeping and Eating
Getting On with People
Weather and When to Go
What to Take
Getting to the Mountains
Using this Book
The Píndhos Range
Chapter 1: South Central
A: Mt Parnasós
Route 1 Parnasós Traverse: Velítsa to Delphi
B: Mt Ghióna
Route 2 Ascent of Piramídha from Víniani via Reká ravine
Route 3 Ascent of Piramídha from Kaloskopí
Route 4 Ascent of Piramídha from Sikiá
Route 5 Link to Mt Vardhoúsia
C: Mt Vardhoúsia
Route 6 E4 Traverse: Áno Mousounítsa to Artotína
Route 7 Áno Mousounítsa to Kórakas summit
Route 8 Áno Mousounítsa to Skasméni to Mousounitsiótiki Dhiaséla to Artotína
Route 9 Áno Mousounítsa to Karpenísi: ridge walk via Sarádena refuge
Route 10 E4 Link: Artotína to Karpenísi and Ágrafa
D: Mt Íti
Route 11 Íti Traverse: Pávliani to Ipáti
Chapter 2: Ágrafa
Route 12 Lake-to-Lake Traverse: Kremastón to Plastíras
Route 13 Asprórema Circuit from Epinianá
Route 14 Khondéïka/Prosiliáko Circuit from Ágrafa
Chapter 3: Northern Ágrafa – Delidhími to Mesokhóra
Route 15 Delidhími to Mesokhóra
Route 16 Alternative route from Káli Kómi to Mesokhóra
Chapter 4: The Aspropótamos
Route 17 Mesokhóra to Métsovo
Route 18 Mt Peristéri/Tsoukaréla
Chapter 5: Northern Píndhos – Métsovo to the Albanian border
Route 19 Métsovo to Mt Grámos
Route 20 Mt Smólikas Traverse
Chapter 6: Zagóri and Mt Gamíla
Route 21 Zágori Circuit
Route 22 Zágori Circuit alternatives
Route 23 Mt Gamíla and Aó'ós Gorge Traverse
Athens and the East Coast
Chapter 7: Mt Párnitha
Route 24 Malakása Traverse
Route 25 Summit Circuit
Route 26 Khasiá Traverse
Chapter 8: Mt Olympus and the Pilion Peninsula
A: Mt Olympus
Route 27 Mt Olympus Circuit
B: Mt Pilion
Route 28a–e Mt Pílion Routes
Chapter 9: Mt Athos
Route 29 Northern Circuit
Route 30 Southern Circuit
Chapter 10: Mt Khelmós
Route 31 Mégha Spílio monastery to Lake Tsivló
Route 31a Link Tsivlós to Peristéra
Route 32 Peristéra to Styx waterfall
Route 33 Kalávrita to Styx waterfall
Chapter 11: Mt Párnon
Route 34 HAC/EOS refuge to Profítis Ilías to Krónio summit to Malevís convent
Route 35 Polídhroso to Stamatíra to Áyii Anáryiri monastery to Polídhroso
Chapter 12: Mt Taígetos (Tafgetos)
Route 36 Taígetos Traverse via the Pendadháktilo ridge
Route 37 Hikes around Anavrití
Chapter 13: Cape Maléas
Route 38 Velanídhia to the lighthouse
Route 39 The Monastery of Áyia Iríni
Chapter 14: The Máni
Route 40 Cape Ténaro
Route 41 Kiónia: the fallen columns
Appendix 1 Glossary
Appendix 2 Selected Bibliography
Appendix 3 Contact Information
Maps and Where to Find Them
The problem of finding reliable maps has been largely resolved by the appearance on the scene of Anávasi, specialist mapmakers and publishers. Their maps, varying in scale from 1:25 000 to 1:50 000 and 1:100 000, cover the majority of the most interesting walking areas of the country. You could do worse than confine your activities to these areas. No other maps are remotely as good.
The Greek army’s (HAGS) 1:50 000 sheets, still treated as classified material, are interesting historically, for they mark all the old and now mostly vanished mule paths, but are out of date and extremely difficult to get hold of. Those produced by the National Statistical Survey of Greece (NSSG) exist only at 1:200 000 and are also out of date. Road Editions (1:50 000 for selected areas) are useful, but more for the motorist than walker.
An additional advantage of the Anávasi maps is that many include a verbal description of the routes and also incorporate the new metric grid Greek Geodetic Reference System (GGRS 87), which can be added to a GPS as follows:
Maps can be obtained from:
Edward Stanford, 12 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LP (tel: 020 7836 1915; www.stanfords.co.uk)
Anávasi, 6A Stoá Arsakeíou, towards the Omónia Square end of Panepistemíou Street – on the left if you are coming from the central Síntagma Square: tel/fax: +30 210 3218104; www.mountains.gr and www.anavasi.gr
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Route 15, stages 5 and 6, and Route 19, stages 5 and 6, are best avoided for the time being. The paths are very overgrown.
The Píndhos Range, Chapter 1, B: Mt Ghíona
Mílos – there is now a wooden picnic kiosk on the path. The spring has been piped down to the kiosk and the water gets unpleasantly hot in the exposed pipe. A pity but it is the only sure supply of water. From Mílos onwards the path has been cleared and widened.
page 45, top of page
The junction for the path to the refuge is now clearly marked by green E4 signs. It bears off to the R up a steep spur into the firs. It has been refashioned by machine which makes for a rather unnatural gradient. After about 1hr 15mins you emerge from the trees and come to another new picnic kiosk just above trees, from where you can see the refuge to the N.
page 45, para 2
The secondary hut beside the refuge has gone. For water, continue 15mins along the path due N of the refuge,to a spring.
The Píndhos Range, Chapter 4, Route 17
Stage 2, page 148, para 5
THIS IS A CORRECTION TO THE ROUTE DESCRIBED
From the spring, continue up the track and, as you climb, you will see two farm buildings above you to the SW. About 12mins from the spring, the track turns sharply R and crosses a small stream bed. Immediately after, a very poor track bears off L (south). Continue straight on the better track for a few minutes and arrive at a fork. The L fork leads to the two farm buildings, which are now behind you. The clearer/better R fork continues to a building which is still out of sight, lying in a hollow due W of the Gréku spring.
Leave the track here and climb gently NW on grassy slopes towards a ridge. As you reach it, the solitary building in the hollow is now visible below you to your R. In front of you is a large rock-strewn bowl.
You will see two distinctive rock bands across the bowl and above you – the L one being lower than the R one. You need to pass above both bands.
Traverse to your L around the bowl, climbing gently to reach the L side of the lower rock band. Here there are faint traces of an old path. Follow these over the ‘top’ of the rock band, passing a prominent white boulder to your R.
At the top of the band are a couple of flat grassy areas. Cross these and follow the obvious zig-zags of an old path up to an obvious notch at the top of the ‘taller’ rock band above and to your R. At the notch (50mins) there is another flat grassy area which you cross.
Follow the remains of the old path which are fairly clear and head in a generally WNW direction, passing several more flat, grassy areas to reach a false col where the true col with a stone wind break comes into view. Continue along the path in a WNW direction to reach it (1hr 5mins from Gréku spring).
In addition, the author has redrafted some of the route information for Routes 1, 9, 17 and 19. In the main these represent fuller details for routes previously only sketched out as variants but which, because of various changes, mainly road-building, have turned out to be the best routes.
The new sections of route description can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking here and will be incorporated in the next printing of this guide.
'The Mountains of Greece opens up the remote hinterland and the best mountains, with plenty of peak-bagging days alongside treks to historical sites such as Delphi. It also includes my all-time favourite, the Zagori Circuit. Taking into account that many of the 41 routes could be connected to become one long expedition, the potential for trekking is immense.
Whatever your attitude, if you are a keen hillwalker who likes the idea of exploring a remote, often challenging landscape, as far from the 9-5 daily grind as you can get on this planet, this book is required reading.'
(Walking World Ireland Magazine / Sept 2006)
'Cicerone guides have evolved into handy plastic covered, heavy duty-paged, pocket-sized handbooks. This one is bang up-to-date, introducing the way that communities in the mountains have disappeared or evolved, with consequent changes to the tracks. It gives good advise about how to deal with these largely deserted ranges.
Can't wait to do some of these wild mountain treks.'
(Irish Mountain Log magazine / Autumn 2006)
Within the 350 plus pages of the book, there are literally years upon years of walking, making this one of the best value books on walking in existence. Just dream, some high level walking finished off with a few days next to the Aegean!
(The Aitchison-Jones Walker's Pocket Book 2007)
The Mountains of Greece is a new and expanded edition of Salmon's earlier guide, which has been brought up to date. One innovation is instructions for adding the Greek Geodetic reference system to the hiker's GPS. Salmon points out that the Anavasi series of maps, which now makes walking in the Greek mountains less hit or miss than previously, incorporates the new metric grid Greek Geodetic Reference System.
Salmon and his co-author Michael Cullen both have long experience of Greek Mountains, and their introduction contains sensible advice, on sleeping ad eating, clothing, communications, weather, maps and Greek Mountain Club refuges ('not really of any use to the visiting walker' because almost always locked). They have included colour photographs which though small succeed in conveying well the rough beauty of the mountains.
(The Anglo-Hellenic Review, Autumn 2008)
Tim Salmon first visited Greece in 1958. He has lived and worked in the country, visited countless times, written and translated books and articles, and made a film about shepherd life for Greek TV.View Articles and Books by Tim Salmon
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