“What we enjoy, in July and August,” a regular summer visitor to Paleochora told me, “is a scenic drive to a quiet village for morning coffee, then a short walk, preferably shady, returning to the village for lunch, then spend the afternoon on a beach.”
So, here’s an “Explore” which ‘ticks all these boxes’, beginning with a pleasant 40km drive, north
to Plemeniana, north-west to Aligi, then north again through the Milones gorge to Sassalos, on to Malathyros and Trialonia, finally descending into Deliana, a journey of well under an hour. In the village centre is “To Faraggi” taverna, the name referring to the Deliana/Mesavlia gorge (see “Explore” June 2010), but after refreshments, we shall visit the nearby and lesser-known Rokas Gorge.
Coffee over, walk (or drive) 400m north out of the village, and turn left (signed) to the church of the Metamorphosis 250m further on (parking here.)
Continue along the track, which five minutes later bends left down to the river. Pass through a wire gate, and before crossing the bridge, drop down right into the stream-bed.
The descent of the gorge is a little more than a walk, nowhere difficult, but hands are required here and there. Water flows until early summer, especially in the first section, channeled between walls some 3/4m apart (we came here once in spring to find it impassable.)
The route is (rather unnecessarily) indicated by blue way-marking, taking you down, after an hour or so, to pass between spectacularly sheer cliffs.
Soon afterwards, a (signed) path leads left out of the gorge, climbing up to Roka village (see “Explore” January 2014.) If you can arrange transport, the walk from Deliana/Roka makes a fine expedition.
Below here, the gorge drops very steeply, soon afterwards ending on a minor track, after which the shallow riverbed continues to reach Kissamos Bay at Nopigia.
There are ways to return to Deliana to the west, through Astrikas and Mouriziana, complex route-finding, and it seems better to walk as far down the gorge as you wish, then head back to “To Faraggi” for a late lunch of home-cooked traditional Cretan food (but best avoid the ‘Greek couzin grilled’ …)
Before leaving the village, be sure to visit the 14th century (Byzantine) church of Agios Ioannis, and if there’s time, drive a kilometer to the entrance of the impressive Deliana Gorge.
As an alternative way home, take the winding 7km road from Sassalos to Floria, then easily down through Kandanos to Paleochora, where the Libyan Sea and your favourite beach will be waiting for you.