a mountain walk along the spine of Crete
by Richard Ellis
Nicholas Crane, at the beginning of his huge walk across the watershed of Europe, writes that Julius Caesar and his Roman Army probably had it right when they walked for three days and rested for one. He ignored the advice (to his regret) and so did I in Part One, but now I had learnt my lesson.

A splendid view back over the "horeftres" route from Asi Gonia
to Askyfou the day before. Askyfou is at the bottom of the picture.

So for my rest day, I went for a little 7 km walk around the Askyfou plateau (without a pack) and found my way up to the Turkish fort which dominates the skyline there. The path is not that easy to find - it is on the way to a stock shed (where the road is firmly barred by a locked gate) and starts at about the only place where there is a genuine gap in the stock fencing on the uphill side. You also have to battle through quite thick scrub before reaching the top where the fort itself is fenced off - so technically you can't get in.

My plan was to have a little siesta and set off mid afternoon to the next level up at the Tavri EOS (Alpine) hut so that could be my springboard for the following day's challenge. So, with all batteries fully charged and my water "bladder" loaded, I climbed the old, familiar, path to Tavri. I was carrying 7 litres of water, mindful of Joseph's story of the 61 year old German who had got lost on Kastro a month earlier and run out of water before being rescued by helicopter in the nick of time.

The E4 path up to Tavri

The old mule track

The climb up to the hut took about an hour and a half, 3.5 kms and a height gain of 550 metres - a useful saving for the next day.

The hut itself is used as a summer camp for Greek kids and there was a football pitch laid out with strips of artificial grass - somewhat blown about by the winds - but there was no-one about now. So I took a strip of "grass" and put it in a sheltered part of the balcony by the climbing wall (these huts are always locked unless you are part of an organised group with the EOS). At the last minute, I decided to put the tent up to make sure I got the best night's sleep possible and set the alarm.

Tavri hut

The climbing wall !

©Richard Ellis 2011 (rhellis10@gmail.com )
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