Turn Left at the Fridge

Of all the walks I’ve enjoyed on Crete over the past three decades or more, my favourite, and the one I’ve done most frequently, is from our house, which Lynne designed and we had built during the winter/spring of 1998/99.

It’s a route of only around 6 km, but will take me anything up to two hours, depending on the diversions and distractions en route. 

Start here …

Depending on the day’s weather, I’ll take sun hat/cream, or gloves and windproof, and always dried fruit, nuts and a bottle of water.  So, off down the drive, and …. 

Turn Left at the Fridge …. 

…to join the track which rises steadily via several loops and bends into Spaniakos.  As I climb higher, the views unfold, down and across the valley, and in turn northwards to Spaniakos’ main church, Panagia, and to the ridge of hills beyond Kalamos and above Vlithias.


Soon I’ll reach the houses of Giannakiana, uninhabited now, and a spring from where emanates our water supply, as pure as any in Crete, and I’ll usually go to check the flow, and the pipes for any leaks and splits.  A little higher is Spaniakos ‘Talos’, once a ruin, now restored into peaceful high-quality holiday accommodation.


One bend more, and I’ll join the surfaced road, where a right turn would take me on a longer walk over to Azogires, or higher up the valley to Kadros, Kakodiki, even Kantanos, and a return home by bus.  But I’ll turn left into the ‘centre’ of Spaniakos, still called Tzami, the Greek for ‘mosque’, after that built by the Ottomans c. 1670 and destroyed immediately after the Turks left in 1897. 

The village population is now barely into double figures, but the 1881 census records 136 inhabitants, at a time when only 36 people lived in Paleochora.  I’ll pass between the former school, the local pupils long since gone, and the last of three cafenions, this one closed since 1970.

Ag Giorgos

A short distance further I might divert just five minutes to the hidden church of Agios Giorgos, which is far older than its exterior might suggest, and usually open to look inside.  I’ll often climb the small hill at its rear, and on a cold day find a sheltered viewpoint with the flask of hot chocolate I’ve brought.

Wild Gladioli

Back to the road, and easily downhill ; built only in the 1960s, there are several ‘shortcuts’, not easy to find now, which made the walk down to Kalamos more direct.  There are almost always wild flowers growing on the verge, and I’ll pick some to take to Lynne.  “ I’ll always bring you flowers,” I promised her soon after we met all those years ago, and I still do.

One of the ‘shortcuts’ leaves the road left, and will take me down through olive groves into the ‘platea’ above the main road in Kalamos, where there is ice-cold water and, in spring, oranges and mandarins.  I’ll relax under the old plane tree and enjoy both, and may look into the 13th century church of Agios Giorgos.

Ag. Ioannis, Kalamos

Just 300m down the main road is the way to Agios Antonios church, and of course I’ll walk up there.  Lynne has been at rest here since June 2011, and one day I’ll join her.  It’s a beautiful location, surrounded by hills and olive trees, looking down our valley to the sea.

Ag Antonios

There’s a direct way back to our house from the church, a donkey path through the olive trees which Lynne and I located, cleared and waymarked two decades ago ; but now it’s neglected and overgrown, and if I tripped and fell over loose rocks, no-one would ever find me ….    So I’ll return to the main road.

Way home

Across the bridge, around the bend, and up to where, in the immortal words given to so many friends and visitors over the years, I’ll  ……. Turn Left at the Fridge.  And final confirmation from a purloined road sign means I’m almost home.

Nearly home …

If it’s a cold winter’s afternoon I’ll hurry inside, close the shutters and light the woodstove ready for an evening by the fire.  More often I’ll make a pot of tea or coffee, take a beer from the fridge, or if the sun is downing and dusk is nearing, sit on the terrace with an iced ouzo.

End here …

        And, to misquote Tennyson, enjoy the view, peace, tranquillity and serenity from 

                                “ Our island home, far above the waves ….”

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    • Bob Tait on January 27, 2024 at 11:06 pm

    And that’s it … the final and 173rd Explore ! The long-running series begain in June 2009, and articles have appeared monthly ever since, with the exceptions of May/June/July 2011 when Lynne was ill.

    Over the past fifteen years we’ve been through many gorges, followed coastal and inland paths, climbed to high summits and into dark caves, spent nights on deserted beaches and mountain tops, sailed to several islands, kayaked along Crete’s coastline, found impressive waterfalls, cycled through remote villages, and visited numerous sites of historical and architectural interest.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these over the years, and if they, and the photographs, have tempted you to discover more about Paleochora, Selino, and Western Crete, even better.

    And, of course, never stop Exploring !

    • James Dymore-Brown on January 28, 2024 at 11:06 am

    Hello Bob,
    It is a magnificent achievement to have written so many articles over the years. When I lived in England they were my monthly fix of Crete and eagerly awaited. The mix of history, route description, photos and literary quotes providing well rounded reads. Your infectious enthusiasm for mountains anywhere, runs deep in your soul.
    Thank you so much.

    • June on January 28, 2024 at 11:55 am

    Bob you have given so much joy to so many people with your walks posted each month.We have all discovered places that we would have never found without your help.You have shown us a different side to Crete and I know I and everyone else will miss your monthly posts.Thank you so much for all those years you have encouraged us all to venture further on the beautiful island of Crete.

  1. I just want to say a big thank you to Bob for writing all of these wonderful articles.

    It’s more than just tippy-tapping away at a keyboard. Each had to be researched and experienced first hand with photos and field notes before the laptop was even opened. It’s an amazing resource.

    Oh…and Bob…there was only one month since 2009 that was missed, not three.

    I admit I was often “almost late” getting the monthly post published – that was never your doing. It was me never realising what the date is.

    But in the end they all came up on time (just). They will remain an inspiration to visitors to get off the beach for a day and, well, EXPLORE!

    • Diane Amans on January 29, 2024 at 8:17 pm

    Well done Bob! Thanks very much for these excellent walks.
    Really clear with some great photos…we won’t forget ‘turn left at the fridge!

    D/ x

    • Lorna on January 30, 2024 at 3:32 pm

    We have enjoyed all the walk descriptions and discovered so much about the area since our first visit in 2009. I use the search function to remind myself of walks. When we go in May we are planning to do the restored royal path from Omalos. Thank you so much.

    • kokkinos vrachos on January 30, 2024 at 5:45 pm

    Yassou Bob, I only came across the HP a few years ago. Since then I have read all the articles. I already knew some hikes, of course not. Through the HP I got a lot of suggestions and useful background information.

    I printed out about 10 hikes (all in the area of Paleochora and Sougia) that I still want to hike. I’m looking forward to it.

    When it comes to Paleochora (one of my favorite places in Crete), I always like to recommend this HP.

    Kaló Chimóna – Have a nice winter, KV

    • Rosemary & David Turner on February 1, 2024 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you, so very much Bob, for sharing your adventures over the years. Your knowledge has given us a wealth of information about the area and whilst we have not done the walks, we have visited some of the places you mention that are accessible by road and this has revealed to us the “ hidden Crete”, the “non tourist track”. During winters past when we have been here in the UK, we have accessed your site, always keen to know where you have been, to marvel at your adventures and stunning photography. But now, no more…..and you deserve a well earned “ retirement” particularly considering all the joy you have brought to so many people over the years. Thank you again.

    • Dennis webb on March 2, 2024 at 11:46 am

    thanks bob for almost 15 years of guided walks on crete , i always looked forward on a regular wet british day to getting my laptop out and viewing your walks , done a few walks on the mountains above omalos and also the samaria gorge, a beautiful island . a far distance to our peat bogging saddleworth moor days, again thanks for all

    • Elaine Byram on March 10, 2024 at 1:45 am

    Hey Bob,
    Saw your name on an OMRT page. Just wanted to thank you for having me on the Mountain Leadership Course at Oldham college at the ripe old age of 17 in 1982 …it set me up for an interesting and varied career and boosted my confidence massively. You were a great teacher- so calm and reassuring when I was, for the first time, surrounded by adults, working in some wild terrain and wild weather.
    All the best in your retirement.
    Elaine Byram aged 58!

    • Bob Tait on March 10, 2024 at 6:18 pm

    How nice to read the comments from Dennis and Elaine, two former students who have both enjoyed a lifelong interest in the outdoors. It’s a very long way from Saddleworth Moor to the mountains and beaches of Western Crete, but the memories linger on …..

    • Janette Beverley Yates on March 15, 2024 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Bob great photo‘s was lovely seeing photos of your walking trips. I remember when Joan Grey and i used to go walking with you a round Derbyshire. Fantastic memories also going to Wembley watching the England school boys. Fondly remember, take care Janet Webb

    • Stig Evensen on March 20, 2024 at 12:35 pm

    Hello from Norway!
    Thank you for your impressing work – bringing this great part of Crete to the public- world.
    We have had the pleasure of reading many of your articles from our first Crete-visit in 2000.
    I have bought and printed the Paleochore EXPLORE ( Ten popular..) og brought bouth the Anavasi Map: Samaria – sougia – Paplaiochora and the App; Anavasi Map.
    Now we are planning our next visit – maybye we can ask you for some advices -if you still will be living at Crete?
    Best regards from
    Liv Nanna Holtet and Stig Evensen

    • Bob Tait on April 7, 2024 at 3:13 pm

    Well Liv and Stig, I’m not planning to leave this little part of Paradise ! There is still so much to explore on the island, even in Western Crete. Recent ‘discoveries’ have included the Boriana and Kydoni gorges below Karanou, the Vates waterfall above Palea Roumata, impressive after heavy rain, and waymarked trails from the small villages of Spilia (near Kolymbari) and Sirili (close to Tavronitis). You will have to locate these without Explore !
    But I’m always happy to talk about paths and places, and offer any advice I can.

    • David & Rosemary Turner on May 26, 2024 at 4:28 pm

    Dear Bob,
    Rosemary & David Turner from England here. As you know, we have enjoyed reading your posts about Crete. We are staying in Paleochora ( Hotel Poseidon with Ioannis & Niki Grigorakis ) from June 12th until the end of July. We wondered whether you be be open to the suggestion of meeting you for a coffee or a meal ( on us of course) because we would love to thank you for the pleasure and insight you have given us over the years . We have not booked a car for our time in Paleochora but I am sure that it could be arranged. Our email address is talk2turners@btinternet.com

    Perhaps you would let us know even though we might well be disappointed ?

    Could we ask you not to publish this message or our email address on your website.
    Thank you – and as you can imagine, we are hoping that this will be possible.
    Very best wishes,
    David & Rosemary

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