Taxiarchis - Vrastama

This  walk  between the mountain villages of Taxiarchis and Vrastama starts at a height of  640m above sea level and fmishes at 450m, so it is mainly downhill  with a few  ups and downs along the way.

The route  follows an old  smuggling and shepherds track through   the Holomondas mountains. The    starting point for the walk is the beautiful village square at Taxiarchis. Here stands a marble monument to a war hero: loannis Parliaris, Hero of Macedonia, (1903-1913).

From  the  memorial  take  the road that leads northeast between the houses, leading to the church. Continue on the road  out  of  town until,  after 250m  we come  to the end of the tarmac road, which bends away to the right. At this point turn left (look for the way­ marker),  pass to the left of  a hut with a corrugated iron root:

then through a hole in the hedge, and down a steep bank of loose packed     soil     (care needed). This   leads directly onto a  narrow  shepherds   path leading southwest, which was also a smuggling route in the past. Turn right onto this track, which meanders down the side of the valley through scrub and woodland. On the way edible chestnut trees are  seen, together  with  fine  views  of the valley ahead and to the left. The gradual descent continues, with occasional reversals of direction as the miniature gorges  cut  out  by  streams  in wet weather are traversed. Eventually, after a kilometre or so, the bottom of the gorge is reached, a shady  stream  is crossed, and the path begins to ascend the other side. However in the next 800m only twenty metres of height are gained, as we traverse across the valley. The vegetation becomes more open, allowing finee views of Taxiarchis  above  and  to  the right of us. In the next 200m the  route  swings  to  the  west and  descends  to  a  flat  area, well shaded by trees, with a clear  stream  running  through it. This is an ideal place to stop for   a   lunch   break   or   rest awhile.

From here the path crosses the stream and climbs the bank at the other side; heading in a southeasterly   direction.  After 200m or so the path, which is now passing through dense undergrowth, reaches a clearing and drops down to a dry stream bed. A much larger clearing, on a rise, is reached after another 400m of mainly level walking. Looking back from  here  Taxiarchis  can  be seen standing  prominently; high on the hill behind us. The path  continues  to  climb,  now in  an  easterly direction, to cross  a  farm  road  at  a  high point, where there is an Eklissaki  (little  church). Tum left onto this track for 30m and look for a way marker  on the right  to   indicate  the   next section  of  the  route,  which meanders  down the  hill  in  a generally  southerly  direction. In 200m  or so  a well  shaded stream bed is reached and the path   swings   east   of   south, crosses another stream bed and emerges   into  an  open   area, where a ruined building can be seen  to  the  left.  Soon  after crossing yet another dry streambed the  path  rises through a large clearing in the bush. Here  the  way  is rather indistinct  on the ground,  as it continues  upwards,  due  east. Eventually, nearly  400m  after the  last  streambed, a  small perfectly circular  clearing  is reached This is an old c:baJ:coal burners hearth, where charcoal was   once  made. The   path carries     straight on in a southwesterly  direction  as it rises to a minor summit in a further  250m. Here there are fine views to the left, with varied and colourful vegetation all around. The route now descends through an oak wood to reach a wide forest road in 250m. Tortoises can be seen wandering   here.  Tum  right on the road, which rises to the  southwest   until   a  wire fence is reached; in 500m or so. The road keeps to the left of the fence, bearing southwest to reach the top of a rise; where it divides into two. Our  path follows  the  left-hand branch, which gradually descends across open land to rise again.
About 300m from the fork in the road look to your left for a waymarker. This indicates the start of the next section of the route, a small track leading off into the wood on the left. This path travels eastward and then swings  round  towards the south  to  cross  a  farm  track after 200m. It then meanders southeast through shady woods  for  another  600m,  at which point it reaches a wide forest road. After crossing the road the path begins a gradual descent through bushy undergrowth to reach a streambed. It then rises to an open  plateau in  600m or  so. Here  a  single  tall  Saeuleen Cupressus, stands amidst huge piles  of  cut timber ready  for winter (in October). It can be very  rewarding   to  carefully observe  the  local  flora  and fauna here. On my last visit a member of the group pointed out  a  large   green   praying mantis  on a small bush, which I photographe  of  course.
About 1OOm  southeast of the large tree look for a broad and rocky farm track leading off to the right. This climbs to the southwest taking us out of the valley, to  cross  a  road  after 1OOOm or  so.  The  route continues south on a narrow track, which winds through holly bushes and descends to arrive at a clearing in 500m. From the clearing the path meets a ploughed field, which we skirt round on the left side, and make for a red roofed building in front. This building is part of the recently cons1ructed recreation area, which is attached to the local church on the outskirts of Vrastama. The church, which in spite of its external  appearance  is  quite old, is well worth a visit. From here it is an easy stroll down to the centre of the village, where there are two Tavemas.


P.O. BOX 113 | Metamorfosi Sithonia
Halkidiki P.C. 63088 | Greece
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P.O. BOX 113 | Metamorfosi | Sithonia

Halkidiki T.K. 63088 | Greece

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