a mountain walk along the spine of Crete
by Richard Ellis
KTEL buses and timetables are their usual mystery. The 2.30 bus from Rethymnon to Amari meets another bus at Ag Foteini - but nobody tells you this is going to happen. The first bus then goes westabout to Yerakari and Ano Meros. The other bus goes eastabout through Amari and Fourfouras to Lochria. The map said go to Yerakari which confused the driver as I had told him I wanted to go to Amari. However, the timing was perfect and it meant I could get onto the Kedros mountain paths and still get into Spili by 8.30 pm. T let me down a bit with paths which didn't exist (or went over cliffs), but otherwise it was the perfect start to Part Deux.

Looking back over the Amari Valley to Psiloritis

You get to see Kedros close up and enjoy fabulous views back over the Amari Valley to Psiloritis and forwards over the high, little-visited plain above Spili. Once off dirt roads, the path is generally pretty clear on the ground but as ever the GPS helped me not to stray too far. As you come up out of Yerakari on the Spili road (a tempting ten kms) you take a left just after a fresh water fountain and immediately by a large cistern. There are many distracting side roads along here but you stay with the main dirt track as it winds close under Kedros before turning west.

Heading towards Kedros

Looking west after
leaving the dirt road

At a T-junction by a rocky hillock the path goes off road (still generally westwards) and contours above a shallow valley which soon opens up into the plain. You will end up going round the far end of the western ridge of Kedros which is above you on the left. The bearing from where you leave the road is roughly 285 degrees. The path ends up bending right back on itself after a couple of kilometres as it turns - almost on the ridge top - eastwards again - apparently the wrong way. But this is because the cliffs above Kissos which would be the direct line to Spili are too steep to contemplate with a heavy pack (though T or a colleague must have done it once).

The cliffs above Kissos - there is supposed to be a path down these cliffs through Kissos to Spili

Anyway, E4 signs take you down a gentler but still slippery path well east of Kissos so there is a dull but picturesque 6 km road walk on the main Agia Gallini road through to Spili - no more than an hour which was a relief as the sun had already set.

A bed for the night in Spili

Costas had a room at €25 - clean and comfortable enough but not the friendliest of welcomes so my dinner business went elsewhere. Wi-Fi over pizza meant I could clear emails which was a bonus.

©Richard Ellis 2011 (rhellis10@gmail.com )
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