A Gorgeous Week In Crete

Descending to Sweetwater Beach on the E4

Last Saturday eighteen long walkers returned safely from Crete on the annual continental walking holiday.

Based in Loutro on the south coast, we set off westwards on the 1st day to Marmara Bay from where we commenced the 800m ascent of Aradena Gorge.This entailed plenty of scrambling over pretty rough terrain.If people were expecting easier days to come they were somewhat disappointed, as all the walks were what could be described as challenging . Still, all survived ,with only a few tumbles and grazes.

The following day we descended the Imbros Gorge, following the route of the British Army retreat to the waiting warships in 1941.The 1st World War slogan “Lions led by Donkeys” could equally have applied to the campaign on Crete. In fact I’m sure I heard muttering to that effect over the week as I led the group over the difficult terrain.From the bottom of the gorge we walked westwards on the E4 back to Loutro via Sweetwater Beach.Instead of completing the walk with the rest of us Graham Bothwell chickened out at Sweetwater Beach, and caught a boat back. His lame excuse was that we weren’t going fast enough for him.What he failed to mention was that Sweetwater Beach is a nudist beach !

The 3rd day proved pretty gruelling ,involving a water taxi,a 3 hour coach journey,a 5 hour/1200m descent of the spectacular Samaria Gorge,followed by a 1 hour ferry journey back to base.

A shock to the system for some! Westwards on the E4

The following day we took a water taxi back to the base of the Samaria Gorge , and walked back along the E4 ,trudging through soft sand 20/60m above the shoreline for the first few miles.We enjoyed beautiful views of the coast and clear blue sea.

Graham was delighted to be given the opportunity of returning to Sweetwater Beach for a bit of rest and recuperation on the 5th day.

The steep 600m ascent behind Loutro on the final day in mid/high 20 degree temperatures was perhaps the most gruelling of the week, but rewarded with spectacular views of Loutro.It was worth the effort though to descend the narrow ravine that took us down into Chora Sfakion and a well earned lunch (and cold Beer!) in a waterside tavern.

Brian Griffiths

The alternative,and slightly easier way up the Aradena Gorge