Travelled: 141 kilometres from Napflio to Stemnitsa, The Peloponnese.
Visited: Dimitsana Village, the Open-Air Water Powered Museum €3 pp and Acropolis of Gortys
Stayed: Small carpark at Acropolis of Gortys, free no services, but very isolated and quiet. Great spot to walk up the gorge. N37.53420, E22.05252
We have been travelling out of London for 50 days now but this morning it seems particularly dark. We look out the window to an overcast sky, we mutter to each other about how long since we have seen a cloud and there is a clamp of thunder. Within a few minutes it starts to rain, then pours, then it becomes a little biblical as the hail joins the chorus. The campsite is suddenly a lake and we join a wagon train of campers moving to higher ground. Our plan is to travel into central Arkadia today and it looks like where leaving a little earlier than we thought.
The Rough Guide particularly highlights the Lousios Gorge as the best walk in the Peloponnese and as you know Pam likes a walk. The Lousios River has cut a gorge through the mountains of Arkadia, a series of mountain top villages line the Gorge. Below and surrounding those villages the Rough Guide indicates there are some 50 Churches and Monasteries in the gorge many ‘hanging like swallows nests in the cliffs’.
By early afternoon we have visited the village of Dimitsana which sits on two hills facing each other at the entrance to the gorge. At 1600 metres it’s high by Greek standards. It’s a post card village, so much so that the Hymer just fits through. It has a couple of lovely old Churches. One in particular has a new copper roof on the Church and the Bell Tower. It glistens in the sunlight, but it’s virtually impossible to photograph from the village as the laneways are so narrow and shaded.
Our next stop is the Open-Air Water Powered Museum on the outskirts of Dimitsana. This was a surprisingly interesting and beautifully presented exhibition. It demonstrated how water power was used by people in this isolated area of Greece to process and create products. Milling flour, creating black powder and tanning hides are some examples.
We drive on to Stemnitsa about 8 kilometres further south, but still on the ridge top. While it appears to be even more stunning than Dimitsana, the road is narrower again. The Hymer fits through between some buildings with less than a 100mm to spare. In fear of something coming the other way we do a U-turn and head back out. It had started to rain again so we gave having a walk a miss and decided to focus on a spot for the night.
According to the Rough Guide and a map we purchased at the museum, most of the interesting and accessible sites are in the lower half of the Gorge. So we decide to make for the lower carpark at the Acropolis of Gortys and see what’s there. It’s a 10 kilometre drive into the gorge to travel less than a kilometre as the crow flies (note the number of hairpin bends on the map above). Anyway with Pam clutching the armrests and providing plenty of advise we arrive at the carpark. A lonely and more isolated spot you would never find.
Travelled: 16 kilometres from Acropolic of Gortys (on the Lousios River) to Karytaina Village, The Peloponnese.
Visited: Hiked Lousios Gorge, visited the village of Karytaina.
Stayed: Karytaina, carpark of the village square below the Citadel. Free, water nearby, toilet down the road a little. N37.485058, E22.041557
We have a very quiet night at Gortys, a single car drove through and kept going about 9 pm and that was it. After yesterday’s rain and being in the mountains it was a cold night, our first night with the covers on since Saint Bernards. The plan is to walk up the valley for two hours to the New Philosophou Monastery. Sounds easy when you say it quickly. The issue for today being, the path follows the river on the gorge floor and the Churches and Monasteries are sitting high up on the cliffs so we will have some steep climbs.
Now the first real climb begins as we make our way up to the Monastery of St. John the Baptist (Prodromu). It’s not hands and knees but it’s a series of oversize steps that just keep on going, occasionally it levels out to a gravel trail and then the steps start again. It’s very pretty and we do it at our own pace.
We arrive back at Gortys very tired, but felt it was one of the most beautiful and interesting walks we have ever taken. So we do what Australians do, have a skinny dip in the Lousios River which was freezing cold (I had brain freeze and noticeable shrinkage, as George would say). We do the weeks washing while we are at it.
Michael and Pam