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 narrow ridge into the large valley beyond. The many deep ravines cuu±ng 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.

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

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.

This has the advantage that onedoes nothaveto re-ascend out of the ravine, but the disadvantage that transport will need to be arranged for the retwn to Vrastama. The second possibility is to visit Ag. Efthimios and then  retwn  to  Vrastrama by following a different route back; which makes use of goat trails to climb through the bush.

The start of the walk is the road junction opposite the school in Vrastama. Follow the road which rises to the west directly opposite the school In a couple of hundred metres a junction is reached with a water trough on ground  to  the left. Take the right fork, which leads past a large red Eklissaki up to the beautiful little church, with its fountain and picnic tables. To continue follow the road leading east and  up the hill, with the church on your left. This track quickly gains height and     provides beautiful panoramic views of    the countryside to the right. After half a kilometre or so the track bears  right, past another Ekliassis to reach a junction. Tum left here onto a new track (signposted   Ag. Efthimios) which  breasts  the  ridge  to descend into the large valley down one of the many small ridges that  radiate down the valley's  length.  Magnificent views are to be had from here of the whole valley ahead and to the left. The town nestling high on the hillside to the north is Taxiarchis. Directly ahead, in the distance, can be seen a plateau of land linked to the end of  the ridge that we are descending.After one kilometre of easy walking the path bears right and then left to approach this table top of land.

The  route  passes  through  an olive grove, then climbs to the highest  pointt where it comes to  a sudden  end,  with  steep wooded  cliffs  on  three  sides. The way forward  is indicated by  another  signpost   to  Ag. Efthimios  which  points  to  a small   track   descending  the steep cliff face to the east. This narrow,  but  good,   track  zig zags down  into the ravine. As the  bottom   is  approached   a large white wooden  cross can be seen  high  on  the opposite cliff   ahead.  This   marks   the position  of  the  shrine  which we are approaching. Soon  the path arrives in an open space at the    bottom of the   ravine. Makeshift  tables  and  benches are provided,   in  this  lonely spot for feast days, making it a good  spot  for  lunch.  To visit the  grotto   of  Ag.  Efthimios cross   the   bridge   and   walk along   the   left   side   of   the stream for about 60m, where a narrow path will be  seen climbing up  to the  left. This leads directly to the cave, which is accessed by wooden steps. Return to the stream by the  same  route. 

From here there are two options.

1.- to carry on to reach the road leading to Plana (Only do this if you  have arranged transport at the other end).

2.- to return to Vrastama

1.To continue  to Plana, follow the left  hand bank of the stream in the direction it is flowing. At the bend cross the stream and follow the path on the  right  hand  side,  which may involve scrambling over some of the large rocks in the stream. After 200m or so the stream bends sharp left, where there is a wall ahead, directly under the rock face (Point A on the map above). Depending on the depth of water, either walk along the wall or along the stream bed. Follow the left bank of the stream for a distance of about lOOm, whilst looking for a narrow track which rises to the left. Look for the waymarker sign on a tree. Ascend this path which rises up from the stream but continues to follow it for a while. Keep left at the junction which   is  reached   in  about 1OOm. The path now enters an olive  grove  and  crosses  the southern  edge  to  arrive  at  a large tree in the top right hand comer.   The   path   has   now become  a  farm  track  and meanders up  and  down  in a south  easterly  direction for a further  500m,  when  a  track joins from the left on a curve. Keep on the main track, which continues its  gradual  descent down the side of the valley for a further 300m. to arrive at a junction. Here turn sharp left onto the smaller track, which leads to  an orchard  in about 70m. Turn sharp right here to find a small track which descends a slope then winds its way along below the orchard, where the flora and fauna are much more  interesting. After 200m  this  path  reaches   an open cultivated area. Pass round the bottom edge of the garden  and  follow  the  right side up to a field, across which is a freshwater spring, with a cup hanging from a pole. One hundred metres further on the path becomes  a  broad  sandy track, which is followed to a junction with a thorn bush at its centre. Keep left here and then, in 50m, keep right at the next junction. The track now meanders up  and  down gradually gaining height for a further 350m to  arrive  at another junction. Here take the lower path, which descends to the  right, bringing you  in a further half  kilometre to  an olive grove.Carry on, due east, straight across the top end of the  grove,  and  through  the middle of the next grove. The track continues on to arrive at a church  with  roofed  picnic tables and fiesta area. This is a fine place to stop for refreshment and the church is well worth visiting. The path now descends to the  west of the  church  and  then  swings sharply  round  to  the  south, passing beneath it Three hundred metres further on young olive trees  are  passed as the  path bears  right  towards  a  small building. Turn right at the tree and  then   left  at  the  next building, which   has a stream  flowing  through   a tunnel in its wall. Ahead there is a large stone to the left and a large tree  in  front. The  path turns   left   at  the   tree   and follows  the  stream.  To  the right is the stream with a high earth  bank  on  the  opposite side. A  little  further  on  the track fords the stream.To keep your feet dry in wet weather, cross by the large stones to the left of the ford. The track now rises to the right away from the stream  only to meet  it  again 200m further on, with an impressive  clay  cliff  face  on the opposite side. Here bear right and cross the ford, then follow the track for a further 300m,   at   which   point   the stream passes through a tunnel in a very large embankment. The track climbs to the left up this embankment. Descend the other side and follow the track past a pig farm and on down the valley for a further 2km. In the last 300m it is necessary to ford  the  stream again to  ventually emerge on the unsurfaced road leading to Plana.   Here   your   transport back to Vrastama should be waiting, if you have pre­ bookedit.

2.To return to  Vrastama from Ag. Efthimios Take the route downstream to wards Plana as far as point A on the map, where the path to Plana  climbs  away  from  the streambed.  Directly  opposite this  point  is  a  similar  path climbing   up  the righthand bank,   past   large   trees and through  a  gap  between  two sections of rockface. This is an ancient muletrack  and in places  parts  of  the  original stone road can be seen. Follow this route as it climbs, through dense  bush, due south out of the gorge. In about 400m the path swings towards the west and emerges into open ground. The route now leads west to re-enter the bush in about 40m (look for the waymarker). In a further 360m a large tree is reached with a small stream just beyond it. There should be a Poseidon symbol nailed to the tree. This indicates the start of a narrow  goat track, climbing  up through the bush, immediately behind the tree. Follow this track which meanders up through dense bushland for about 300m to emerge into the comer of a large open field. Follow the hedge on the left, the south side, in order to ascend the hill to the top of the field. Here there is a smaller field with a broad mountain track beyond, which ascends to the top of the ridge. Cross the field onto the track but, before continuing, look back for a panoramic view over the whole valley.

Now continue up the track for a distance of 1200m to attain the ridge. From here turn right and follow the track back down towards Vrastama. After 300m or so the junction is reached with an Eklissaki, where you turned off for Ag. Efthimios, earlier in the day. Continue on, down the main track back to Vrastama.


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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