On Foot Holidays’ latest handpicked hike across Europe is a week-long adventure across Greece’s mainland – the lesser-known Peloponnese.
On Foot has worked with the creators of the Menalon Trail to put its own spin on the route, changing the direction and ensuring there’s sufficient time to get a real insight into community life in the Peloponnese – from the local trades (such as jewellery making in Stemnitsa) to the delicious cooked-from-scratch cuisine to be found in each village.
The route is graded medium-hard and brings together ancient Greek history, landscape and culture. Clamber up closely wooded hills, through shaded valleys and along kalderimi – old cobbled donkey paths that historically linked Greek villages – discovering ancient stone settlements and taking in breath-taking scenery. Relax each evening in traditional family-run guesthouses, soaking up the home-from-home atmosphere and getting to know your hosts over a few glasses of local wine.
After a challenging walk from the Stonemasons’ village of Lagadia, reap the rewards when you look back over the village – the view is simply beautiful. Then, enjoy a lighter descent through verdant woodland and into the stone village of Valtesiniko, with its traditional houses and cobbled paths. Following a visit to the highest inhabited village in the Peloponnese, Magouliana, take the forested path to the lively mountain village of Vitina. Previously a haven for wellness, Vitina was known as a place of healing for the body and soul due to its remarkable fir forest and fresh air.
Crossing the massif of the Western Mainalon and through the shaded forest, you’ll reach the pretty town of Stemnitsa – make sure you treat yourself to a pastry (or two); they’re the best for miles! The final walking day is always a highlight; follow the path to the wonderful Lousios Gorge and marvel at Prodromos monastery – ingeniously built on the roots of the cliff – before continuing to hilltop Dimitsana, one of the most beautiful villages in Greece.
The five walking days vary in difficulty, but there are plenty of options to lessen the load and make it easier, should you wish. Why not add a few extra nights along the way, to allow more time to experience the culture of the Peloponnese, or use the trip as part of a longer holiday to explore nearby historical sites, such as archaeological treasures of Mycenae or Olympia?
Greece: Peloponnese costs from £720 pp (two sharing), including six nights’ B&B accommodation, four picnic lunches, luggage transfers, full Walker’s Pack with route directions, maps, background information, plus local telephone support. Flights/travel to destinations are excluded.
Walking specialist On Foot Holidays offers self-guided, lesser-trodden trips and unusual takes on classic destinations throughout Europe, alongside an authentic local experience, complete with excellent food and wine. Detailed maps and instructions are provided for all routes. Local back-up assistance is available when required.
For further information, expert advice from someone who’s walked the route, and to book, contact On Foot Holidays (01722 322 652; www.onfootholidays.co.uk).
Mark Bibby Jackson
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