Walk Local, wherever you are

Somewhere very different - the Samaria Gorge in Crete, starting from Xyloskalo on the Omalos Plateau at 1200 metres and going all the way down to sea level
Distance - about 19 kilometres
Terrain - a made path for most of the distance, but it is downhill all the way - lightweight walking boots are recommended
Maps - you can manage without, which is almost the same as having a greek map, where things like a scale or legend are not considered necessary

Refreshments - there is nowhere to buy food or drink within the national park area (from the start to Afentis Christos). At the park exit there are 3 or 4 'tea shacks' offering cold drinks and plenty more. Within the park area there are springs, natural or artificial, every couple of kilometres. It is ESSENTIAL you have some water with you

Transport - you can get to Omalos by public transport, but an organised tour has its advantages. Bear in mind that unless you want to walk back up the gorge, you will need a ferry to Chora Sfakion or Palaeochora, and it makes it easier if you know there's a coach waiting at the end of the ferry rather than fighting for a seat on a bus


Note - timings are based on a 7:30 start from Xyloskalo. We started at that time when we did this walk at the end of September, and when we reached the end of the valley at about 1 pm, the temperature was 37'

According to our guide, if you have an accident in the gorge, the only way to get you out is on the back of one of these !Mountain Rescue Cretan style

The Start1. The bus will drop you at the car park at the entrance to the national park. There is a charge of about 1200 drachma for entering the park. Immediately a stepped path starts to drop very steeply through a wooded valley. It is worthwhile to look behind you at the head of the valley which will catch the sun at this hour of the day
2. 9:15, Agios Nikolaos. 3.7 km and 650 metres lower already

3. 10:45 Samaria is the now abandoned village which gives the gorge its name. Plenty of places to sit for a picnic, but very wasp infested

4. 12:30 Afentis Christos - a picnic site with running water, not far from the Sideroportes, or Iron Gates, the narrowest part of the gorge, only 3 metres wide


5. The end of the National Park - tea shacks, cold drinks, beer, food, film, etc

6. 13:30 The old village of Agia Roumeli, now abandoned. Look for the chapel in a cave up on the left, and crag martins flying around the crags on the right. From here the gorge is much more open, and facing south it catches the sun so it is very warm indeed

7. Agia Roumeli, from where you will catch the ferry back. There are plenty of restaurants if you are hungry. The warm Libyan Sea and black gravel beach work wonders on the feet, but that gravel is very warm - if you have a rucksack, take sandals or something with you