We started off right in Paleokastritza taking the donkey way up to Lakones. now all cement and ‘holiday’ housing but quite soon we picked up the remains of the old stone staircase winding steeply upwards between the olive terraces and on through crevices overhung with trees and ferns. It’s like taking part in a fairy tale.
The path leads right into the centre of the village of Lakones. From the village street we went on upwards again climbing out of the top of the village onto the mountain by a paved way. These ways have been laboriously constructed, stone by stone – as much work went into them as making the M1. It was their ‘M1’ up and down the mountain.
We reached the saddle of the lower part of the PantoKrator range, emerging onto a road and walked along it, no traffic. We continued on to Makrades, Vistonas and Krini. In summer these places are tourist traps, with wayside Tourist Bazaars – the locals voraciously running into the road to flag down passing cars like predatory spiders, with their nets laid in the trees and hedges ,dripping with touristic junk. But now all was quiet and serene – with the first hint of almond blossom appearing.
At Krini we walked on down towards the sea with Castel San Angelo, the old Angevin fortress high on its own conical rock looking very impressive from this side. Ann and Ainley were determined to regain the place they had picnicked once before. It was no sinecure scrambling down through the prickly bushes and loose rocks, on the overgrown terraces to the perch where we had our picnic. It was very lovely looking out onto the empty sea with nothing on it between us and Malta but two dimly visible ships.
Then we had to scramble up again. But it was I who found a small path that led us back up more easily than climbing through the terraces. This was new to Ann and Ainley, who had walked this way many times – and they were thrilled.
We walked through the olive groves , meeting a woman with several sheep – a pure white lamb and a pure white kid. The kid was of such whiteness, a sacrificial animal. It smelled at us inquisitively .
We regained the road and walked along it till just before the village of Lakones again – then took another donkey way which led us down in loops and steps back to where we had started off at Paleokastritza. Wonderful views over that coastline with all the touristic ‘Tat’ tucked in under us – none visible – just the sea , the rocks and the bays.
We had done 6 or 8 miles??
Feb 7th 1991 Gardiki, Paramona – Pentati
Another 10 mile walk, bright day with clouds about. We drove south to Gardiki where is the Neolithic cave; from that point we walked to Paramona on the West Coast, and further up towards Pentati. Years ago I managed to drive the tiny Fiat 500 along this track, I remember the beauty of it – just the olive groves along the sea coast, meeting donkeys and old women – no cars went that way then. It is still very lovely but a proper road exists part of the way now, and there is a lot of building going on with the centre at Paramona – villas and rooms to let, etc -‘Suburbanization’, but it still has some way to go before it is absolutely ruined.
When it got to be our picnic time, we followed a track down to the sea. Just below the little cliff on which this stood was a small area of terracing separated from the sea by rocks. Protected by the cliff above it, and facing the sun – it was a perfect spot – the terraces no more than 6ft wide supported by stone walls with little connecting pathways. It was all beautifully tended. So often we come to abandoned terraces, but this was beautifully ’husbanded’ ( or was it ’wifed’??) The earth smoothed and trenched up , planted in symmetrical rows of spring onions. The top terraces were given over to vines . Globe artichokes grown in a decorative frill about the edge of the plot with their ornamental leaves and green grey colour. A hedge neatly contrived from Spanish Broom, and myrtle to protect the young plants from the sea spray and wind. It had only just been made as the myrtle was still young and fresh. A cistern and a well – not much water in it though. It should have been full after the rain we have had. Fresh donkey droppings indicated where the donkey is always tethered. Fig trees grew out the stones. On the other side of this little bay a similar terrace also beautifully tended.
We had our picnic looking down on the terracing with the sea swirling over the rocks and on out over the sea quite empty and changing its blues under the sun and cloud, grading from deep turquoise to deep blue.
The domestication of these little terraces expresses so much love and perseverance. It’s all done by hand and back , representing more than one life-time. How long ago was the headland tamed, the scrub and stones heaved out and the walls built up, the earth sifted manured and made friable? The well dug, and the cistern created much later.
Generations of back-ache acquired over this little bit of order won out of chaos and constantly maintained . Where did the first people come form who eyed this spot and said we can grow things here – we can make our livelihood and set to work with a will. They could catch fish from off the rocks as well It wouldn’t keep a family now – those spring onions and a few artichokes and the vines. It’s probably the occupation of some old man or woman, when they die, it will become a ruin with potential tourist value being on the sea.
[Unfortunately a pretentious villa with double garage and large verandas is being built above this place. ] Return To The Life and Works of Theresa Nicholas