The Kalymnos Trail: updates, clarifications and other news
GENERAL BACKGROUND page 20 (correction)
The photo on page 20 shows the non-venomous Coin-marked Snake (see small insert below). The less common Ottoman Viper, shown below in the main picture, is venomous and potentially dangerous (photo courtesy of Matt Wilson). The two are easily confused so, if in doubt, be cautious.
SECTION 1.5 (An easier alternative: 26 Sept 2015)
If the ‘easy rocks’ above the rock tower (Section 1.5) look a bit tough then retrace your steps for 50m… here an easier slope leads up and over to the ‘gully/valley’ above the short scrambling section.
SECTION 1.9 (A small change to the description: 22 May 2015)
1.9 The route with the best finale is as follows: From the pile of rocks, a small path lined with stones and way marks, zigzags pleasantly down to the coastal path.
SECTION 2.1/2/2 (An alternative to the described route: 27 June 2015) (Easy/Moderate)
The original way out of Vlychadia to Aghios Kyprianos is regrettably ‘untidy’ at the start but improves to give an alternative start to Section Two of The Kalymnos Trail. This could easily be restored to its original condition with a bit of care.
2.1 (150m) From the Paradisio Taverna in Vlychadia, go around the bay westwards to the extensive Sea World Museum. On the bend 25m past the museum, a narrow lane leads off right into a craggy valley.
2.2 (500m) The end of the narrow lane peters out into fencing and thorny scrub (although the old path clearly went this way). Though appearing unpleasant, after 200m the path reappears and leads up-valley to a splendid flight of rocky steps. At the top of the steps, go through the gate. After this, a delightful small path veers slightly left uphill and meanders across to the beautiful monastery/farm of Aghios Kyprianos.
SECTION 2.3/2.4 (An alternative to the described route: 11 November 2015) (Moderate)
An alternative to Section 2.3 of The Trail: a secretive path linking the monastery of Aghios Kyprianos with the gardens of the Aghia Ekaterini nunnery. This avoids an uphill stretch of paved road and, as a bonus includes a scramble (optional) through a short cave!
2.3 (1400m) At the far side of the monastery, take the paved road uphill for 50m to a concrete circular threshing floor on the left. Leave the road here and go through the goat gate. The path traverses the hillside to reach a stone wall and a stream bed. Cross the stream bed and follow the path, roughly in line with the small power line coming down the valley. Higher up the valley, the path reaches an obvious cave; this can be wriggled up quite easily to emerge at a higher level after 8m. This has obviously been used by goats whereas monks, nuns and others may have avoided this challenge to the right (cleaner but less fun). From the cave’s higher exit continue to an uphill zigzag, first back up left and then across right along a cute terrace to reach the back gate of Aghia Ekaterini. (This magnificent monastery welcomes visitors who are ‘not indecently clothed’.) From the back gate, a dirt track can be seen across the hillside 200m away; head for this and then go rightwards along it to a T-junction (almost opposite a tiny church).
2.4 (1100m) Turn left at this T-junction and go down to where the dirt road forks right down to a distinctive elegant stone house. Just past this, take a path on the right, downhill, to reach a four-path, sort-of-crossroads. To the left leads to a great beach, to the right brings you almost immediately to Kephalas Cave… but, instead, go straight ahead towards Pithari for The Kalymnos Trail.
SECTION 3.1 (Minor change because of building work: 23 June 2015) (Easy)
The change is shown below in italics:
Section 3.1 (the little detour that avoids the traffic of the main Masouri-Pothia road).
3.1 (1500m) From Linaria, follow the road inland. At the first junction, turn right to a church. Take the steps down opposite the church and then a narrow street to reach the main road from Elies to Kantouni Beach. Turn right towards Kantouni Beach then turn off left after 150m. Immediately take the right fork of this pleasant country lane, which takes you through a relaxing suburban area of bougainvillea, escapee chickens and the like, plus good views of the mountainous day ahead. After 200m there is a small gap between the houses on the right (this gap is opposite the Stefanos Gerakios Climbing House). Although not immediately attractive (you clamber up by a black water pipe), the path soon improves and leads to a concrete water storage building. Walk across the water tank rightwards to find a small path leading up to a ruin on a rocky knoll. Here, the path turns horizontally left to pass between two pine trees. The steadily improving path then slants pleasantly across the hillside along an old terrace, then through pine woodland to reach a good dirt road running at a higher level along the hillside.
SECTION 4.9/4.10 (Map Clarification: 4 June)
The new (2015) edition of Terrain Maps’ 1:25 000 map of Kalymnos is a superb piece of cartography – a ‘must’ for anyone doing The Kalymnos Trail. But even on a large scale map, some areas of complex terrain are hard to decipher, an example being The Far West peaks of Telendos. So here is a clarification of exactly where the route goes in its approach along the ridge to the infamous Telendos ‘Bad Step” (here shown as a little ‘warning triangle’).
SECTION 4.11/4.13 (How to Avoid the Telendos Bad Step: 7 June 2015)
The Telendos Bad Step is the trickiest section of The Kalymnos Trail… 5m of technical bridging up a rock chimney. If this looks too difficult, there is an alternative. From the ridge before the Bad Step, a broad valley leads down to the left (north) (no path). Go down this, keeping to the right past the single olive tree, to where the valley splits into two steeper gullies. Take the right hand gully, keeping to the right of a small rock tower. Just after this, a small path leads off right and, easily, across to a broad ridge. (The Byzantine walls can be seen from here, in the distance above Lambda crag.) From the broad ridge, a small path leads almost horizontally across a wide basin to reach the rock walls below and to the right of the Byzantine Walls. Go up to the Byzantine walls. From here, a pleasant small path leads south-east slightly downhill across the hillsides above Eros climbing sector to the church of Aghios Konstantinos. This a rough but non-technical route and is shown on the 2015 edition of the Terrain 1:25 000 map.
SECTION 4.14/4.15 (An alternative finish to Section Four: 7 June 2015) (Hard)
The Purgatory Finish (2400m) – an alternative to The Kalymnos Trail 4.14/4.15). For those with spare energy after circumnavigating Telendos! The ‘alternative’ path back to the village from Aghios Konstantinos is as follows: About 100m down the path from the church, branch off right under a small crag where some old chiselled (polished!) footholds allow a short careful traverse across to Purgatory climbing sector (ie below the church). A small path then winds high across the hillsides in a south-easterly direction. When below the Three Caves climbing sector, keep traversing (remembering the Golden Goat Rule ie when in doubt, stay level). After some old goat pens, the path reemerges and leads easily to the start of the Wings for Life path above Hochlakas beach. Well worth the effort.
SECTION 6.6 An Alternative Finish to the Section Six (Hard)
This alternative to Section 6.6 avoids all the tarmac road but is tough and stoney: for experienced mountain walkers only.
6.6 alternative (2500m) From the church on the pass (Stavros), follow the small but clear path along the mountain crest northwards to the next col. Here there are two small white rocky tors. You are going to leave the main mountain ridge at this point and gradually slant down left towards an obvious distant gap in a lower ridge (in the general direction of the Emborios fish farm). So, leave the main ridge and gradually lose height to reach a gap/gate in a goat fence. Beyond this, a shepherds’ path drops more steeply to an awkward area of rocks. The easiest way is to use a small chimney where one short tricky step down leads into a gully before scrambling up the far side. Beyond this, the path leads easily to the prominent gap (where there is a wall and a wooden pole). Cross the gap. A steep path then leads down and then across the hillside. Do not try to go straight down to the road (cliffs!) but continue traversing horizontally (to the west) to reach a stone wall which guides you to a convenient ramp though the crags. Once below the cliffs, don’t be tempted to drop straight down the little valley to the Kalamies Beach junction (beehives and locked gates!); instead, use the spur to the left. This passes an atmospheric old ruin made of schist (note the adjacent circular threshing floor). Pass through a goat gate on the spur to another fence then go right to reach the ‘escape’ gate onto the tarmac road. This is adjacent to the Kalamies Beach ‘turn off’. Go down the steep concrete road to the (seasonal) tavernas on the beach.
SECTION 7.4 (Photo Clarification/Approaching Patela: 16 June 2015)
The Trail from the ‘Stairway from Heaven’ to Patela North has a section that seems slightly intimidating at first sight (7.4). This view, looking BACK from Patela, shows that the way isn’t so bad after all. (Note the person on the nearest col.)
SECTION 7.6 (Additional information: 23 May 2015)
7.6 Cairns now lead down to the upper lip of Sikati Cave. From there, it is easiest to descend around the left (north-west) side of this giant doline.
SECTION 7 The Three Bays and Parpounia: Alternative Finish (27 Oct 2015) (Moderate)
The described finale to Section Seven is described in the book as finishing along the climbers’ path from Sikati Cave (7.7) followed by a 3 km downhill walk along the road to Palionisos (7.8). There is however a delightful alternative.
7.7 alternative (2500m) From Sikati Cave, follow the path down to the fabulous beach (Vizotos Bay aka Sikati Cave Beach). After a swim or a paddle, a small but clear path heads up rightwards (south-east) onto the headland. Though not marked on the current Terrain map, this great little path traverses along the headlands, about 80m above the sea and with great views back to the island of Leros. After around 1.5 km, the path drops down steeply (cairns) into a ravine (just south of The Beach climbing sector – about 100m inland from the beach and by a natural freshwater pool)… to yet another superb beach, another swim, another paddle. Check out the ancient beach-well. The path then traverses south-east over a low rise to the head of the bay and a third beach. This beach is less fortunate in that it accumulates flotsam and jetsam brought by the north wind. A clear path, marked on the Terrain map, then leads away from the sea, up the main valley, to the Secret Garden parking area (at the base of the road zigzags down from the Stavros col).
7.8 Alternative: The Parpounia Intake Finish (Moderate)
This final alternative to The Kalymnos Trail avoids all tarmac roads. It follows the goat herders’ trail which brings in the animals from Parpounia down to Palioniosos. The evening views across to Turkey and to the mountain ridge of Glatianin are superb.
(Photo: Another of the Palionisos goat intake paths – from the Papies peninsula)
On reaching the Secret Garden parking area, there are two options:
- a) Either follow the tarmac road downhill to Palionisos.
- b) Or, turn left (east, as if going to the Secret Garden climbing sector), towards the top of a low col. Fifty metres before the summit, a green arrow indicates the turn-off right onto the goat trail along Parpounia to the concrete pillar on the summit (c190m). Continue south-east, first along the left side of the ridge then over right, to where the goat trail drops down to a broad col overlooking Palionisos. At the stone wall, a couple of gates allow access through to the far side. A slanting goat trail then leads diagonally down across the hillside to the taverna on the east side of Palionisos Bay (Note: Further adventures are possible around the Honi peninsula which visit distant threshing floors and hidden sea cliffs… but the going is slow and very rough).
SECTION 8.1/8.9 (Photo clarification: 1 June 2015)
Section 9.4 Clarification (30 October 2015)
The path from the Kyra Psili car park to Kambos (9.1-9.3) is, in the author’s opinion, the most beautiful walk on the island. Beyond Kambos, however, the going gets tough. Here’s a detailed description of how to descend the Almyres Valley (9.4).
9.4 (800m) Work a way down the rock-scramble into the main pathless valley below. Walk under the right-hand crags for 50m to an old tree. Here you can just about see, at a much much lower level and on the opposite side of the valley, a fence at the top of the crag. This is about 250m in from the sea and 150m above it. This is your exit from Almyres. To get there, green spots mark the route. First continue along the foot of the right-hand cliffs until overlooking a ravine with huge cliffs on the opposite side. Descend on this side of the ravine until stopped by a small band of crags. Here a hidden rock ledge traverses left to the slopes below. Head down to a dry steam bed by some trees. Here the trail traverses beyond the stream bed before zigzagging down to the main valley to a tree with a stone wall around its base: this is at the junction of the main two stream beds. The trail then crosses to the far (south) side and traverse horizontally across the hillsides to reach the distant band of crags on the south side of the valley where a goat fence above the crag marks ‘the spot’. This exit, an easy scramble, is waymarked.
SECTION 9.7 Minor amendment 28 October 2015
The gates in and out of the walled enclosure around Aghia Makrina (Section 9.7) are now FIRMLY wired SHUT. The solution is as follows:
9.7 (500m). The way around the upper (north-west) side of the church’s walled enclosure is blocked by goat fencing. The solution is to follow the fencing uphill for a short distance to a small goat-sized gate. Go through then back down to the wall. Follow the upper wall, along the outside of the enclosure to its end. Don’t go through the gap in the fence at the wall’s final corner: go a further 50m to another gate in the fence.
Feedback and comments on The Kalymnos Trail are welcomed by the author.