EDITOR’S NOTE: With Greece and other countries still in lockdown, we will continue to bring you Bob’s monthly articles about local walks. We hope that it will keep Paleochora in your mind and that you will “store them up” to walk yourself when you can visit again!
Since telling you about our local waterfalls (see Explore ! – February 2018) and describing how to reach Retzakas cascade (March 2019), I’ve discovered – or rather been shown – another ‘cataract’, above the tiny village of Chrisopigi, and this makes the highlight of a short (two hours or so) circular walk from Kantanos. If you’ve no car, this fits in with KTEL (but check current timetables) – take the 11am bus from Paleochora, which will drop you in Kantanos platea c. 20 mins later ; return on the 12.45pm bus from Chania, passing through Kantanos c. 2pm.
From the platea, walk into the village centre, passing Kontekakis ‘zacharoplasteio’ (tempting, but save it until later), and turn right at the Post Office. If you pass a chemist, and then the ancient church of Ag. Aikaterini, you’re on the right road; just 150m beyond the latter, turn left at a sign towards the Holy Apostles. Follow the rising track, keeping left to the church (usually open) and above it to reach the main (Temenia) road.
Walk up into Koufalotos, and turn right, signed (among others) to Zoi’s House, on the road to Chrisopigi; pass the former Tyrokomeio – cheese factory – then uphill and turn sharp left to Chrisopigi church – “the source of life”, from where there are expansive views over Kantanos (see image at the top of this article)
Back to the road, and around into tiny Chrisopigi, where there’s a ‘cross-tracks’ of sorts; the one you need is ahead, uphill. This will lead you in fifteen minutes or so, crossing the stream four times, to the hidden waterfall.
It’s a delightfully sylvan spot, the water dropping maybe 4m into a shallow pool, then falling in a series of smaller cascades down the valley.
Walk back down to Chrisopigi and turn left, crossing the stream, and up to a very unique house, with paintings on the walls depicting the Battle of Crete, and in the garden a rain gauge, measuring monthly rainfall here since September 1999. In all those years, the heaviest rain was in February 2019 (69mm) which doesn’t surprise me at all, it was a dreadfully wet month.
Close to the house, at the top of a track heading downhill, is a fine Cretan ‘kri-kri’ or wild mountain goat ; you’ll take this track, but if you have time and energy, continue along the surfaced road, which climbs (steeply) to the well-maintained and open church of Ag. Panteleimon, from where the views, as the old Baedeker guides used to promise, are “rewarding.” A little further on are the seemingly deserted houses of Benoudiana, where the road stops.
From the ‘kri-kri’, keeping always downhill, follow the narrow and stony donkey-path, then turn left along a lichen-covered wall to join a surfaced road. A right turn will take you directly back to Kantanos, but to extend the walk go left, pleasantly to and through Lambiriana, beyond which keep right (signed) to the church of Ag. Kyriaki, with fine frescoes in the older part.
Continue ahead, along one of the loveliest paths I know, first above pine trees and then ancient oak woods, until it drops to the outskirts of Pasakiana, where you turn right.
From here, follow the surfaced road for a little under 1 km, through Sideriana, to reach a junction; turn left over a bridge (where the stream comes down from the waterfall) and easily back into Kantanos. Now you can relax outside the cafe (if open now …) in the horns of a dilemma – ice-cream from goats milk, galaktoboureko or other of the enticing Greek sweets. But be careful if you’re waiting for the bus …. the consolation being that if you miss it, you’ll have time to repeat the walk before the next one arrives around 5.15pm.
Many thanks to Despina from ‘Zoi’s House’ for telling me about the waterfall, and later, with her son Nektarios, taking me to see it. Despina tells me that the stream is usually dry by July or August; let’s hope that current restrictions will end before then, or we can enjoy this walk and visit the waterfall after the autumn rains later in the year.