The Avakas Gorge

Yesterday I went with a friend to visit the Avakas Gorge on the Akamas. It is a spectacular place to visit with huge pock marked  rock formations on your approach to the gorge and beautiful panoramic views  of cultivated land with a variety of trees in various shades of grey green and greens and the beach behind you. The approach is gentle enough once you get near the trail and very shady so extremely pleasant when the sun is fierce. As you go further along the rocks get higher and higher on either side reaching as high as 30 meters and start to close in over the top. The  pathway runs alongside and sometimes requires crossing the river bed which in the high summer is often dry but this time of year has water and the stones get slippery. As you travel along the river bed the boulders get larger  and more difficult to navigate as you get nearer the exit it is more challenging. This limestone gorge was hewn by a torrent of water over aeons but the water that runs through it now is barely a trickle although about a foot deep in places. There was maiden hair fern growing from the rock face and many large lizards scurrying past as we approached. This area is said to hold  a multitude of flora and fauna and a particularly rare specimen called the Centauria Akamandis with purple flowers, sadly we didn’t notice any as we were too busy chatting.There are several benches dotted along the way to sit and take in the atmosphere. If you are visiting in the summer it would be advisable to go early in the day as the approach is very open and dusty and when the sun is high it is relentless. High up on top of the cliff top sits a cafe called The Last Castle that does spit roasted kebabs over charcoal  either lamb or chicken. You have to book in high season as it is so popular and has marvellous views from its high spot, over the sea. You can sit under a shady vine on stone seats and sip a cool beer while admiring the view after your arduous adventure. We went back along the road to The Searays cafe to have a drink and relax while admiring the view.


The Venetian Bridges of Troodos Cyprus

The first part of my stay in Cyprus was with my cousin Androula in Treis Elies at her lodge Spitiko tou Archonta.  Her daughter had come over from the UK where she now lives, together with her boyfriend and his mother for the family wedding of a cousin. Androula had organised various outings and one of them was a safari trip to visit three of the remaining Venetian bridges, there is also another Venetian Bridge on the edge of Treis Elies at the start of a nature trail over the Dragon river, a beautiful tranquil spot. The plan was to follow some rough tracks through the forest together with a friend of Androula’s from the village, Yiannakis, driving his trusty Landrover which he had had for many years, this would be of great assistance when we needed to cross the river. I had arrived in time to join them on this rare adventure. We set off with a picnic of course including the most welcome inclusion of some cold Keo beer.

Our first stop was the Elias bridge a slightly smaller bridge but very well-preserved . Wild flowers can be seen growing all around this area.

Our second stop was the most visited and easily accessible Kelefos Bridge, this is a very elegant bridge, a beautiful shady area offering multi layered dappled light afforded by the mature trees nearby. This being September there was only a small amount of water in the river but it still offered a cooling effect. A paddle is almost obligatory it welcomes you so.

To view the last bridge it absolutely was obligatory to paddle across the slippery stones, not a chore on a hot day. This is the Roudia Bridge. All these bridges were built in the time of the Venetian rule in the 15th century in Cyprus to allow the pack animals, often camels, to carry the copper or any other ore they could find , across the rivers down to Paphos.

Some of the roads are just forest rack and need a sturdy 4 wheel drive vehicle to navigate. On our way through the forest we stopped at a popular picnic site with freely available mountain water to drink, and plenty of tables and cooking sites for your soulvla should you want to make a real event of it. We were headed for a different picnic site.

Yiannakis went on ahead crossing the river several times to scout out places in the river where it was deep enough for a swim and settled on a beautifully serene spot where there was not another soul to be seen. Here we parked ourselves by the river and drank our beer and chatted as the eggs were peeled and salad made . Several relaxing hours passed

and Androula and Sylvia took the plunge in the cold but beautifully refreshing river pool, while the others went off exploring. This is a side to Cyprus most visitors don’t know or get to see, I highly recommend making the effort it will not disappoint if you love the countryside. There are many indigenous plants and flowers unique to Cyprus and you will find many off them here. The routes are available on maps from the tourist information offices dotted around the island.

A Walk on the Wild Side

My friend Karen and I go walking together when we can, not long walks, enough to have a good stretch and get some welcome fresh air.  We live in a beautiful part of the world and  try to choose a different area  each time we trot off. We  are very fortunate to have such a variety of landscape to choose from, it varies from open fields to seashore, heavily wooded areas to hills with beautiful vistas. We have had some lovely ambles through our green and pleasant land and we thank our lucky stars every time for our beautiful surroundings.

It doesn’t matter too much if it’s raining as we try to choose a sheltered spot if we know it’s likely so we can run for cover under a convenient tree. Last week I fancied a spot of sea air and we drove down to Itchenor to park and walk along the coastal footpath towards East Head which is a well-known beauty spot. The weather did look a bit threatening but with typical  true British grit we risked it. The walk was beautiful and in many parts it looked reminiscent of the continental coast with trees bent against the wind on the foreshore.  But it was a tad windy and then came the rain. Luckily we had turned back before the heavens opened so we didn’t have too far to walk and it certainly put a spring in our step so that we arrived back in double-quick time.

This picture is on the fabulous coastline of northwesterly Cyprus but I have to say, apart from the lack of sunshine our coastal walk did look remarkably similar, only we had Hayling Island on the distant horizon.  Near where my cousin Androula lives in Treis Elies in the Troodos Mountains, there is a long nature trail that takes you through some fantastic countryside and part of the trail passes her village  taking you through a beautiful shady glade by the river. This is different again as it is so densely woody with some marvellous views down the steep bank to the rocky river bed below. You pass over an ancient Venetian bridge built-in the time of the Venetian rule of Cyprus for the pack animals taking copper from the mines. Well worth making time for if you like walking and are in the area.