a mountain walk along the spine of Crete
by Richard Ellis
I set off next morning at 0700 after a 0545 start. Soon there are interesting variations on the E4 route. The short, direct, one marked with E4 signs ends in an olive grove with no way out ! You keep climbing on the basis that you will meet up with the Anavasi version of the route and then all of a sudden you find the dreaded stock fencing. I was lucky to find a way through (over) it, scramble up and over a ridge and see the easier, but longer, dirt road alternative on the other side of a full-flowing river. However, my choice of route seemed to be what the EOS expects you to do, as suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, there was another rare E4 sign on my side of the road on the way down to the river.

Looking back to the South coast
I forded the river and finally joined the dirt road running north towards Kato Kria. No wonder everyone’s navigation fails on this section.

The dirt road leads you on an easy uphill gradient leading northwest towards Kato Kria. This is a beautiful green valley with the river below you on the left. At a certain point, with no help from signs of any sort, you have to dive down to the left to cross the river and follow a cement road up to Dafni – otherwise you end up in Kato Kria and well off the E4.

The E4 Trail with Thripti in the distance

Walking into Chrisopighi
If you poke about in Dafni you will find the central square with plane trees and running water – and the usual tribe of elders encouraging you to sit and hear their life story.

The high level walk from Dafni to Chrisopighi sets off on a dirt road somewhere between the square and the tarmac road and is also delightful (but completely unmarked until the right turn down to the tarmac road) and is a pleasant alternative to the main road below, which eventually you have to join anyway for the last couple of kilometers into Chrisopighi.

Chrisopighi has a wonderful kafeneion, which Despina runs with a happy smile. Fortuitously a megaphone fruit and veg merchant was selling oranges in the square. Despina seemed happy for me to buy four oranges for her to juice for me which was an effective way of getting some fruit into me ! She made me a huge omelette and a huge salad served with Lemonita, beer and water and the bill came to 11 euros which was probably the best value on the whole trip.

The cross-country route from Chrisopighi to Orino, as marked on the map, is a mix of fantasy and fact – mainly fantasy. It took me 3 hours. The route has to follow the dirt road uphill rather than a mythical path along the dry riverbed that is blocked by some very robust stock fencing and a lot of undergrowth. Eventually these two routes meet anyway - somewhere near a house with uncontrolled dogs and then the path dives off, unmarked, southwestwards along a splintered path marked occasionally with red dots. Both the dots and the path peter out quite quickly and I was navigating with blind faith in the GPS up and over a rugged crag and across overgrown “meadows” until lo and behold an E4 pole came into view on the horizon.

Orino with Thripti in the background

From there it was a simple descent into Orino on the tarmac road and a bed for the night courtesy of friends from Athens with roots in this lovely high-level village running with water. There are a couple of tavernas in Orino, but no “rooms” as such - there are no obvious camping spots either so a night spent round here could be uncomfortable.

©Richard Ellis 2011 (rhellis10@gmail.com )
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