Key information: Viros Gorge
- Outstanding walking around and into the vast Viros Gorge, often on ancient mule tracks.
- Huge views, lovely vegetation, history galore and the ever present high Taygetus massif looming behind.
- Walkopedia rating91.5
- Natural interest16
- Human interest12
- Negative points0
- Total rating91.5
- Length: 11km
- 4+hrs circuit
- Maximum Altitude: 600m or so
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This is outstanding walking, a deep and thrilling gorge just above Kadamyli on the coast, with timeless villages peppering the slopes above and the peaks of the Taygetus range ever present at its head. The villages are linked by a network of old paths and kalderimi (mule tracks) and the scrubby hillsides' recesses littered with monasteries, chapels and old cliff-face refuges from the Turks.
There are various ways you can explore the gorge and the surrounding hills, including a walk up and back from Kardamyli, a long and demanding day and less interesting near the coast. The best walking must be around the deep middle section of the gorge so, if the walk-in doesn't appeal, you can drive to an upland village to begin.
The best of all walks must be a circuit from one of the gorge-top villages, Tsenria or one of the surrounding hamlets to the north, or Kolibetseika (which has a hotel on the gorge lip for a debrief afterwards) or nearly Kato Chora (Hora). Walkopedia began at Kato Chora and descended into the great gorge, to the quiet, lovely, deserted Sotiros monastery by the river in the silent depths. The path down winds through old terraces, some with still-husbanded olives, then attractive, flower-flecked scrub and woodland (in April when we were there). The views over the gorge to the villages and bare high hillsides of the far side are to be savoured.
We lunched by the river, then, after contemplating the monastery and the centuries of continuity now gone still, we tackled the steep 300m + climb to the far side, a hot slog not speeded by our 10 year over-heating.
As we contemplated our diminishing water bottles at Pedino, at the top, a kind and interesting British couple offered us water. They now live there part time, and their house was light and airy.
A delightful meander through old hamlets and terracing (with a good viewing of a hoopoe) got us back to the lip of the gorge beyond Yiatreika, where one of the finest and most thrilling of kalderimi winds and zig-zags its way down the 200m or so drop to the gorge bottom. Then it is a trudge back up the track, relatively gentle this time, to Kolibetseika and Kato Chora. Visit the nearly tiny chapel in its magical setting where Bruce Chatwin's ashes were burried.
A really memorable, inspiring walk. 11km or so, 4hrs +.
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