I started exploring Corfu on foot in 1982 in response to requests from my clients (I was working as a summer rep at the time) for places to walk.
Since then I have been walking the length and breadth of Corfu, hiking in its mountains, and rambling in its olive-blanketed hills and open plains. The more I explore, the more I confirm that the island of Corfu is a walker’s paradise, with a huge variety of scenery, lovely footpaths and trails, many places of interest to aim for, and – despite heavy development in a few places – an unspoilt and venerable atmosphere.
I published my first walking guide, the Corfu Book of Walks, in 1987, and greatly expanded it in 1995 as the Second Book of Corfu Walks. It was during research for this latter book that the seeds of the Saturday Walking Group were sown. It happened like this:
I had gathered all required information for the new book, except for on the Pantokrator mountain area. Having walked little in this region since the creation of a network of new tracks, I was rather dreading the long task of exploration. Out on my last ‘lowland’ fact-finding mission near Lakones, I noticed two walkers approaching me, and recognised them both. One was the veteran walker and botanist Ann Nash, and the other was the artist and author Teresa Nicholas. As we chatted, I gathered that, due to worsening arthritis, this was to be Ann’s last walk… and Teresa was looking for another walking companion.
Lucky for me, she happened to have good knowledge of the new tracks of the Pantokrator Massif through past hikes with Ann. We spent two or three days a week exploring, and one of those was always Saturday. Our Saturday walks continued after publication of the book, and we began to ask friends to come along. One day, when walking near Pantokrator, one of them suggested that we might follow the walk with and egg-and-chip lunch at Stamatis Taverna in Strinilas. Thus began our tradition of healthy hikes followed by slap-up meals.
Since those days, the walking programme has gained several spin-offs and add-ons, and many friendships have been forged. We celebrate Christmas with a turkey lunch on the last Saturday before the special day. We enjoy a pot-luck picnic on the nearest Saturday to National Picnic Day on May 1st. We plan some walks to take in the amazing wild flowers of springtime. In late spring and early autumn, walks are sometimes arranged to take in a beach, with chance for a swim. And walkers get to see areas of Corfu they could never access in a vehicle.
Every Saturday sees a different venue, taking in areas as far separate as Acharavi and Agios Mattheos. Walks are mostly circular, and usually between two and three hours in length (we also advise on the degree of
difficulty). The guiding fee is two euros per person, with children of 12 and under and dogs and cats free (yes, we did have a regular feline walker at one time!). Walks are cancelled when the weather is rainy – but we find that Saturday morning generally offers a ‘window’ of fine weather during periods of rain. The Walking Group boasts members from all over the world. Once, a lady
even commuted from Canada (honest!). Among the many nationalities to join us are folk from all over the United Kingdom, and from Greece, Turkey, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Eire, Sweden, USA, Australia, South Africa, Guatamala, Zimbabwe and probably some more I have forgotten. Memorably, we were joined on one walk by a Masai chieftain from Kenya!
The Saturday Walking Group is not a cliquey exclusive club. You do not have to join formally. You don’t have to ask permission to come along, nor apologise if you fail to turn up. Simply join us at the starting venue (usually a bar so you can get a coffee if you wish). Lunches are optional, and if you have any friends who would like to join us for lunch but don’t want to walk, they are welcome too.
See you next Saturday!
See The Events Calendar For The Next Walk