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Kastos Ramblers Club

July 30, 2011

It was one of those moments that you wonder if you had engaged brain before opening mouth.  You know the sort of thing.  You maiden aunt/sister/best mate phones you up and says “My sink’s blocked/husband’s left me/coming out for a swift half” and you reply “Of course I’ll come and unblock it/there, there, come and stay here for a bit/yeah that sounds like a great idea”.  Then your brain catches up with your mouth and you think “What!!!!  You plonker!  Unblocking sinks is bad news/I can’t stand the thought of her in the house for the next lord knows how long/Swift half my a***, swift half gallon more like it and then I’ll have to help him home.”  We’ve all done it and this was one of those moments. 

'Curly Sue', the nearest boat to the camera. She's ketch, with 2 masts instead of just one. She belongs to Andy and Sue.

We were moored to the quay in Kastos harbour, quietly dying in the heat of the mid afternoon after a brilliant morning’s sail round from Nidri.  I was idly thinking of what we could have been doing if the temperature was a little less life threatening and the thought popped unbidden into my mind.  If we were back in UK, it would have been a good day to go for a walk.  Why couldn’t we go for one here?  Well, the obvious answer came back; ‘cos it’s too f****ing hot!  How to solve this problem mused the now befuddled brain?  Why, we could rise early in the morning and go for a walk before the heat became unbearable.

Without pausing for further reflection, my mouth opened and I declared to J; “Let’s go for a walk tomorrow morning before it gets too hot to move.”  My brain now caught up with me but too late.  I couldn’t back out of such an offer, especially as J had fixed on it like a shot.

Three quarters of the kastos Ramblers Club; Julia, Sue and Andy.

So there I was.  Committed to rising from my pit at a time I had tried to forget even existed, putting on my walking boots and tramping off over a Greek island in the pursuit of…. what?  Then I had another thought.  I might not be able to wriggle of this myself but I could, perhaps, lessen the pain by spreading it round a bit.  What a cunning concept!  Who could I target?

Just then, Andy and Sue appeared in their tender, spreading joy and happiness, as their arrival provided the perfect excuse to open a bottle of plonk and relax.  After they’d both had a couple of glasses and were relaxed, I sprang the ambush.  “We’re off for a walk tomorrow morning, before it gets too hot.  Would you like to come too?” I said, “We’re not going too far, just head up the coast a bit and see what it looks like from the other point of view.”

Andy and Sue looked at one another like I’d just revealed that I was, in fact, Lord Lucan.  I thought, damn, that’s another fine plan that won’t work.  But they smiled at one another and Andy proved that he is not quite as switched on as I thought by saying “Well, I wake at about 7 every day, so that sounds like a good idea.”

The view to the mainland from the north of Kastos

And so it was that the Kastos Ramblers Club came into being.

We met the following morning at about 7.15 and tramped off through the village and headed north.  We found the coast road (not difficult, as there is only 1 road leading out of the village) and we walked along it, chatting about this and that and enjoying the cool of the morning.  The cicadas were making a fearsome racket in the trees and there were some stunning views over the sea towards mainland Greece.

South kastos - not even a goat track

After walking for about an hour and a half, we came to a side track leading up into the hills and followed it for about ½ a mile.  It lead to a little church but there wasn’t even a goat track leading on from it, so we retraced our steps back down to the coast road and (since by then it was starting to get distinctly hot,) thence back to the harbour.  We arrived back at about 10am feeling hot and tired but quietly virtuous and rather smug.

Once back on board our boats, I think that the fatigue-poisons in our blood must have affected our better judgment, as we all agreed to meet again at the same time the following day to have a look at the southern end of the island.  I can think of no other argument for this agreement other than a momentary lapse of reason.

These guys had the right idea - come by boat!

So, bright dawned the day as we rose from our pits at 7 am (yes that’s right 7 am – last time I saw that on the clock it was before waking J up to come on watch as we made the crossing from Italy).  J had looked out her walking shoes and I had my boots on, when Andy and Sue appeared on the deck of Curly Sue looking as shell shocked as we were and we set off through the village. 

This time we headed south and made our way down the road, which soon degenerated into a simple bulldozer scrape through the hillside.  Nothing daunted, we carried on in the expectation that the road must go somewhere….. after all, we had come upon the occasional house and for this reason, kept telling ourselves that there had to be a road nearby.  This proved to be a totally false premise.

All too soon we were greeted by the end of the track in the middle of nowhere.  This time, however, there was the semblance of a goat track heading on down towards the south of the island.  So, without much thought (oh, the benefit of 20/20 hindsight) we bumbled off down the track, dodging piles of goat and donkey droppings as we went, feeling quite like explorers in a vast trackless wilderness.

All too soon, we ran out of goat track and foolishly decided to press on to the next ridge line to see what was there, as Andy was convinced that there was a road somewhere on the western side of the island which should be just over the ridge….. (It’s worth pointing out here that Kastos is all of about 500 metres wide at this point.)  So we picked our way through the very prickly undergrowth towards the ridge.  Now, the walkers amongst you will already know what’s coming.  The ‘ridge’ was but a false crest, a bump in the hillside obscuring the next ‘ridge’.  Nevertheless, we pushed on through increasingly dense maquis and gained that one.  At least this ridge gave us some lovely views down into a bay where a couple of yachts were anchored.

Andy, happy to have found somewhere to walk that wasn't shredding his legs.

By this time, logic had started to kick in with the party and we decided that it would be best to stop trying to cross the island and make our way back north a bit.  This proved a little easier than trying to cross the grain of the island and we made satisfactory progress for a couple of hundred metres.  Then we ran into an impenetrable belt of undergrowth and therefore headed back down hill, following yet another goat track.

Duncan and Sue don't think much of Andy's path.......

This proved to be both our undoing and our salvation.  Our undoing; as I brushed past a tree, some nasty flying beastie stung me and then stung Andy as he followed me.  Our salvation: there was the original goat track, leading back to the ‘road’, so we could at least make our way back to the boat without any further meanderings in the old olive groves.

The mini harbour on the west of Kastos, reached after much searching in the scrub. Port Leone on Kalamos in the background.

We headed back towards the road and, as we did so, I looked to the west and saw, on the western shore of the island, a small quay about ½ mile away.  Running away from the quay to the north was a road and what’s more, there was a well defined track leading down to the road – well – ish.  We’d walked past this point about an hour earlier as we headed south but had completely failed to spot it because we’d be busy looking in the opposite direction at a shuttered up little holiday home, utterly convinced that there must be a road nearby.  So we quickly made out way down the track to the road, which climbed back up on to the top of the island and lead back to the village.  Result.

The 'Whomping Olive' a massive old olive tree we came across.

Now you know all about the KRC.  Not some sort of right wing militia or what have you, but a bunch of nutters in the style of the Almond Blossom Appreciation Society (see the book of the same name by Chris Stewart), albeit without the drinking.

Rainclouds gather over Kastos village - it rained heavily for 3 hours about 20 minutes after this was taken.

A quick post script.  We are now in Messilonghi, a small town on the northern shore of the Gulf of Patras.  We’ve decided to book in here for the winter because it’s cheap, the town is very close and a ‘proper’ Greek town and links to the rest of the world are reasonable.  More details later.

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2 comments

  1. Sounds like a very long day!!! Glad not to be with you as knee very bad, would not have made first stopping point.


  2. Glad you found your way back to the Rampage and hopefully the bite or sting was not too bad. You are still having such a wonderful time. I do so envy you.



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