Route 18 - Vrastrama to the church of Agios Efthymios

History Note Part 1

The highlight of the walk is a visit to a natural cave, Ag. Efithimios at the bottom of a remote ravine. This was once the home of a hermit, and is now a shrine.

History Note Part 2

There are two possibilities for this walk. The first is a one way journey from Vrastama to Ag. Efthimios and then on to the road near the village of Plana.

Walking Info - Part 1

This walk is quite arduous and difficult in places requiring good footwear, and should not be attempted after heavy rainfall. The walk starts in the high mountain village of Vrastama and follows an unsurfaced road over the hill behind the village to descend along a

Walking Info Part 2

narrow ridge into the large valley beyond. The many deep ravines cutting through the valley restrict the possibilities for easy progress and it is necessary in places to descend into the beds of streams and follow water courses.

Follow the tarmac road that leads away from the beach and towards the woods. In 120m the tarmac ends and the unsurfaced road turns to the left. ignore this turn and carry straight on into the woods on a sandy track. After another 120m the sandy track swings round to the west, to climb the hillside, giving sea views to the right as it crests the rise and turns to the south. The route now passes through open woodland to reach a shallow ravine in another 200m. Follow the low earth wall of the ravine round to the point where steps are cut in the bank. The path now crosses the ravine, avoiding wet patches.

The path now crosses the ravine, avoiding wet patchesby contouring round through the tall rushes, to climb back up into the wood at the other side. Look for the waymarkers. Continue on in a south westerly direction, following the waymarkers on the trees, to arrive in 200m or so on a small ridge. Here we turn left, decending slightly, as the route passes through some dense bush to arrive, in 120m, at more open ground (an old olive grove).

In another 130m of walking a farm access road is reached, with a ploughed field beyond containing olive trees. Turn left and follow the farm track to the top of the hill to arrive at several turreted apartment buildings on a track junction (point A on the map). Turn right here as the route now climbs up into the pinewoods, turning to the west as it does so. Notice the polythene bags attached to the pine trees, which are collecting pine resin, used in the production of 'Retsina/the popular, local wine.*

In fine weather there are beautiful coastal views to the right as the track climbs through the forest along the ridge to reach a height of 70m above the sea. Eventually the track starts to descend, turning southwards once more with an olive grove to the right and open fields to the left. Ahead and far below can be seen the spit of sand which reaches out into the sea, marking the Cap (Akrotiri) of Possidi. The path continues to descend to the south, passing to the left of several properties, to reach a junction on an open headland.
Turn left and follow the track down and round to a second junction on a bend. The road to the right leads down to the sea. We must turn left to continue along the ridge, walking north then east on a track which first descends and then climbs up through the forest, as it circles round the deep gorge to the right.

After 300m or so the track bears sharp left (Note the small Eklissaki at the corner) and continues level at first and then climbs past beehives as it curves first to the southeast, then to the north, to reach its highest point before turning west on the return route. From here the broad valley between the coast and Kalandra lies to our right, and as the path turns west again a fine view is obtained over this open expanse with its rows of olive trees interspersed with woodland and the occasional building.
The path now descends, with an olive grove on the left, to reach a junction on a steep descent, where there is another Eklissaki on the corner. Our route follows the track leading westwards back up the hill to arrive at point A on the map, once more (near the turreted apartment blocks). From here retrace your steps back to the Possidi Holidays Hotel.

* Retsina has been produced in Greece since ancient times. The pine resin, originally added as a natural preservative, gives the wine its distinctive flavour. In earlier days it was collected by cutting away a strip of bark on a pine tree and fastening a tin container to the tree to collect the sap that oozed out as the tree repaired the wound. When the sap stopped running a further strip of bark was removed below the first and so on. Nowadays the pinesap or resin is collected in heavy-duty polythene bags and these are often to be seen fastened to trees in the pine forest.