Michael and Pam's Travels

Lousios Gorge, Greece. 2015

Travelled: 141 kilometres from Napflio to Stemnitsa, The Peloponnese.
Visited: Dimitsana Village, the Open-Air Water Powered Museum โ‚ฌ3 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.

 

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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’.

 

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Dimitsana clings to the ridge tops above the Lousios River.

 

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.

 

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Note the flimsy spiral stair into the tower of this Church, from the first level it’s a series of home made ladders.

 

So nice to have a cool afternoon for a change. Pam

So nice to have a cool afternoon for a change. ย Believe it or not, Pam and I are both surprised by a car rolling down this laneway a few seconds after this picture is taken,

 

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.

 

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A fulling tub in the Open-Air Museum

 

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A water powered mortar and pestle used to create black powder for canon.

 

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.

 

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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.

 

The Acropolis of Gortys car park. It's very isolated, but it's nice a quiet.

The Acropolis of Gortys car park. It’s very isolated, but it’s nice a quiet.

 

Travelled: 16 kilometres from Acropolic of Gortys (on the Lousios River) to Karytaina Village, ย The Peloponnese.

Visited: Hiked Lousios Gorge, visited the village of Karytaina.

Stayed: Karytaina, carpark of the village square below the Citadel. ย 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. ย The plan is to walk up the valley for two hours to the New Philosophou Monastery. ย Sounds easy when you say it quickly. ย 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.

 

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Acropolis of Gortys, the site had been excavated many years ago then abandoned. ย Gortys was a 4th century Greek city. ย There are two large excavations here but no signage unfortunately, just another ruin to the Greeks.

 

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On the banks of the Lousios River about 200 metres from Gortys we find this little Church. Standing on the foundations of an earlier Roman structure the Church of St. Andrew dates from the 11 century. ย Given it get’s few visitors and little attention it’s a wonder it survives.

 

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The Lousios River constantly reminds us of its existence as it noisily makes its way down the valley.

 

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Around 30 minutes into our walk we find this little treasure. On the site of an earlier monastery, it has been converted into a washing and treating tubs for tanning leather ย It is a real labyrinth of small rooms all with water running through channels. ย Apart from anything else a chance to catch our breath.

 

Now the first real climb begins as we make our way up to the Monastery of St. John the Baptist (Prodromu). ย 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. ย It’s very pretty and we do it at our own pace.

 

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We arrive at the Monastery and say good morning to the first and only Monk we see. ย We get a bit of a grunt in return. ย So we just make ourselves at home and have a wander about. ย From this photo you wouldn’t now Pam just walked up a steep hill for 20 minutes ?

 

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At my right you can see where the Monks live, there was washing hanging from most windows, that could explain the bad mood. ย On the other hand I also noticed split system air conditioning units on the roof.

 

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All the way up the hill to the Monastery we could hear a bell ringing and thought it must be some goats in the bush, but on our way back down to the river we found this fellow was strolling along parallel to us. ย Funnily enough an hour or so later on our way back down the Gorge this mule and a small horse had a couple of American tourist completely bluffed. ย They just stood their ground in the middle of the track with their flanks to the Americans, who I don’t blame didn’t want to risk getting kicked. ย Anyway they didn’t like our walking sticks and moved on soon enough.

 

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Every now and then the pitch of the river would change and you may look over and see a series of falls like this one.

 

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Another hour later and we are climbing again this time to New Philosophou Monastery on the opposite side of the gorge.

 

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The Monastery Chapel was a bit overwhelming with frescoes and adornments, but from our experience that appears to be the Greek way. ย We were a bit lucky as a small tour group of half a dozen people is going through and we can listen to the guide give his commentary. ย One of his group was a woman from Leura, we had a good old chat in the garden.

 

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The gardens of the New Philosophou Monastery and Chapel are just beautiful. ย We had a chat to a very friendly Greek Orthodox Priest about his appointment to this Church and his previous appointment in Athens. ย He hopes for a transfers to Australia.

 

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Pam just loved this bit !

 

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By this stage in our walk I would get out a KitKat and wave it about to encourage Pam to ignore the obvious need for a handrail.

 

We arrive back at Gortys very tired, but felt it was one of the most beautiful and interesting walks we have ever taken. ย 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). ย We do the weeks washing while we are at it.

 

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We drive on a relatively short distance to Karytaina the next mountain top village further down the ย gorge, but that’s another story. ย Note the washing hanging from the Hymer window we are too tired to worry about decorum.

 

Michael and Pam

 

2 thoughts on “Lousios Gorge, Greece. 2015

  1. Ewout and Jenny

    Hi Guys
    Can see you are enjoying your travels in Greece. Great photo’s. Don’t complain about the warm weather we are heading north and it’s getting quite cool-cold. Safe travels.
    Ewout and Jenny

  2. Jeff and Joyce Hodges

    Wonderfull sceanery read some where Guymers have strong legs and no brains bet you slept well loved it.

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