All British visitors to Paleochora with a mountain walking background will be familiar with the ‘Three Peaks Challenge’, either the Yorkshire version of 24 miles (38km) over the summits of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, or a longer route climbing Ben Nevis (Scotland), Scafell Pike (England) and Snowdon (Wales), usually (but not always) with vehicle transport between the bases of the peaks.
So why not a ‘Three Peaks’ walk close to Paleochora, through the Selino hills, and linking the villages of Kakodiki, Kadros, Azogires and Anidri? And including en route the ‘peaks’ of Profitis Ilias above Kadros (590m), the Turkish Fort on the ridge between Spaniakos and Azogires (635m), and Profitis Ilias above Anidri (280m). Ending of course by descending the Anidri Gorge to Ianniscari beach, and walking back along the coast path into Paleochora.
Colin’s visit last November co-incided with perfect walking weather, and provided the impetus for a route I’d had in mind for some time. After calling at the bakery for high-energy spinach pies and doughnuts, we caught the mid-day bus to Kakodiki, alighting at the cafenion ‘Oi Filoi’, the start of our walk of around 25km.
The first part of the route, past Agia Triadha church and through Tzinaliana to Profitis Ilias has been described here before (see ‘Explore!’ Sept 2009). With less than six hours of daylight remaining we walked fast, were at the foot of our first ‘peak’ in less than an hour, and after a quick climb to the chapel on the summit, were leaving the site ten minutes later.
There are several ways from here to the Turkish fort or ‘pirgos’, none of them easy. The direct line, deceptively, is the hardest and most time-consuming, so we returned along the track, taking the road down towards Kadros, then branched left up to Ankathares, an outlying district of Spaniakos. From here there’s a donkey path, not easy to locate, rising between olive tree terraces, eventually ending on rocky slopes directly below the ruined fort. A short scramble took us into the shelter of the ruin, with stunning views down to Paleochora, and a 15-minute break to replenish energy and liquids.
Walking easily down the track towards Azogires, we looked forward to a lemonade in the ‘Alpha’ cafe, found it open but deserted, enjoyed cold drinks from the fridge, left some euros on the bar, and carried on.
Three hours gone, and another hour along the well-defined path contouring high above the valley brought us into Anidri. Dusk was falling as we reached our third “peak”, the hill-top church of Profitis Ilias above the village.
Our descent, after a quick climb up, was even quicker, as we dropped into the Anidri Gorge, where Colin set a fast pace down towards the sea at Ianniscari (Anidri Beach).
Thankfully the two torches (each) we carried were unnecessary, but our arrival at the beach co-incided with almost total darkness, just before 6.00pm. Our eyes slowly attuned as we headed for the lights of Paleochora, while above us shone every star in the November night sky. We reached Chalikia (‘stony’) beach, and the nearby ‘Votsala’ cafe (sadly closed for winter) at 6.35pm, taking 6 hrs 15mins from Kakodiki.
Strong walkers visiting Paleochora are invited to take up the challenge, and maybe earn a beer.
Send a report of your successful walk, including the dates inscribed on the bells at the two Profitis Ilias churches, to info [at] thepaleochorasite.com and be put on a special “roll of honour” that we will make on this site.
Note that this walk requires a high level of fitness and route-finding, and should not be attempted alone, or in the high temperatures of mid-summer. Much of the route is described in our book “Ten Walks from Paleochora”, if you have, or can find a copy, as it’s now out of print. Good Luck !