a mountain walk along the spine of Crete
by Richard Ellis
The last two days of the walk were rather low key after the drama of the White Mountains. I left Kallerghi at 0800 after a proper Austrian mountain breakfast served up by my new Bulgarian friend Daniel.

The dirt road down from Kallerghi to the Omalos Plateau

It is about an hour down the dirt road to the Omalos plateau and half way down I realised I had left my beloved katsouna (shepherd's crook) at the hut. I couldn't bear the prospect of going all the way back up so I rang Joseph to say that I would collect it the following week. My luck was in as he had to drive down to get extra building materials so I waited half an hour at the bottom and bingo I had my stick back. I have learnt that it is now forbidden to cut sticks from the wood of the rare ambelitsia tree so mine is now a museum piece (with the distinction of having walked 450 kms across Crete).

It's a 12 km road walk to Seli (the junction with the Chania - Souyia road) - I had decided early on that I would not follow the conventional E4 down the Irini Gorge and round the coast. In May, with Loraine's encouragement, I had explored an old mule track which leads westwards up from Petras Seli past the wind turbines and over the ridge. It contours round the north west side of the hill until Kandanos comes into view, at which point you start dropping down to meet a dirt road that takes you all the way into the town. These earlier explorations (with waymarks on the GPS for good measure) meant that I made good time as I crossed these high scrubby meadows dropping gently down the dirt road and Kandanos was getting closer all the time.

Looking west from the ridge
the west coast is almost in sight

The wind turbines at Petras Seli
the old mule track passes
through the lowest saddle
on the far ridge

On the way to the saddle

I wasn't sure, after earlier experiences, whether there would be rooms in a self-sufficient town like this. Luckily there were some rather posh apartments at €30 per night so I enjoyed the luxury and got some serious clothes washing done. These apartments are attached to a very good cafe / taverna where I had some seriously delicious food that night (η Πλατεία - Samantha (American) on 28230 22210).

Rooms in Kandanos

I had made good progress and was settled into my room by half past four - which was just as well since the temperature was definitely rising at these lower altitudes.

Kandanos memorial

©Richard Ellis 2011 (rhellis10@gmail.com )
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