Always ready to find and travel the footpath less taken, one marked from far below Prodromi into the upper reaches of the Kakos Potamos valley leapt off the latest edition of the Anavasi Hiking Map for Sougia and Paleochora.
The map indicates a “faint path” leading south and south-east from Agios Georgios church, dropping steeply down into the long valley which culminates at Sougia harbour.
Familiar with this area from previous wanderings (ref. Explore ! in February 2015 and May 2021), this would make a fine afternoon walk, before taking the ferry home to Paleochora. Simply a matter of linking the path below the church with the route down the valley to Sougia, where a sign indicates ‘Agios Georgios 5km’. Well, as things turned out …. no.
Leaving Prodromi alongside the pink-walled Archon Villa, a track rises to reach the ridge, and one of my favourite views – a panorama of the White Mountains, 2000m high above the Libyan Sea, with the coastline extending to Agia Roumeli and far beyond.
We paused at the (easily missed) Dorian grave, a “tomb with a view”, especially from the inside. Below here a track heads south to Agios Petros & Pavlos and on to Lissos, and another, an infrequently used mule trail, contours north around the hillside to the Selada pass, and on down to Kamaria.
Our rough road went ever on and on, eventually reaching the small and isolated church of Agios Georgios, 14th century, with frescoes by the ubiquitous Ioannis Pagomenos, and the perplexing question – Why build a church here ?
We searched for the path, apparently due south from here, or signs of waymarking, but drew a complete blank. Just fences, walls and terracing, and largely inhospitable rocky terrain.
Frustrated, we walked on down to ruined shepherds’ huts and feeding troughs, repeated the process, with similar results. Rather than returning to Prodromi, we opted to find our way into the valley.
Through, over and under wire fencing, down terraces and often crumbling walls, waist-high undergrowth, into and out of a deep ravine, between pine trees, finally reaching the riverbed, where we found ….. waymarking …. heading further up the valley.
Time, tide and the Samaria ferry wait for no-one, we would return another day. The following week we drove to Sougia, past the encouraging sign ‘Agios Georgios 5km’, beyond the turnings to Lissos and the Sougia Round Walk, following the waymarking (red/blue, the colours of Crystal Palace AFC if you’re a supporter, but who is ?) to our previous location.
And on for c. 500m, where it stops; but from here a barely discernible path, marked by small stone ‘cairns’, winds SW and then W, through terracing, to end below the aforementioned abandoned buildings. We found no indication of the start of the route down, which begins approx. 80 degrees from here.
Vindicated, we returned leisurely down the Kako Potamos valley, which – even without the climb to the church – is stunningly attractive and rarely visited. This time we took the ‘Round Walk’ over to beautifully situated Agia Eirini church, and once again down into ever-welcoming Sougia.
Soon perhaps, the route will be waymarked down from Agios Georgios, or more clearly out of the Kakos Potamos valley. Currently, it’s advisable to walk from Sougia to Prodromi, although this will ascend almost 600m. If you attempt it in either direction, Good Luck, and let me know ….