26. Koxare to Kanevos via the high mountain ridge Walk and Cycle in Crete
Ten kilometres. This is not suitable for cyclists. A good track runs from Koxare almost to the top of the ridge.
Then a vague path follows the ridge to the col above Kanevos.
You require good visibility in order to spot the path on the ridge and this walk should not be attempted if the weather is cloudy or windy. The ridge is composed of very rough, sharp, eroded limestone. Only short sections of this immediately to the west of the summit need to be crossed if you follow the path,
but if in any doubt return by the good track to Atsipades. Do not attempt this route on your own and make sure that someone else knows where you are. It is mostly easy walking on the correct route. Finding the path can be difficult.
From Koxare if you look south-west you can see a track zigzagging its way up towards the summit. Follow routes 24 or 25 to Atsipades.
25 min. At Atsipades take the track that climbs east from the lower, eastern part of the village. If you caught the 07.00 hours bus from Plakias you will most likely be in the company of small groups of sheep and goats being taken up to pasture for the day.
30 min. The track shortly bends sharply into a valley as it contours east. The valley above the track splits immediately into two dry valleys. The ridge between the two forms an excellent path all the way to the top. Keep up the eastern side of this ridge at the bottom, crossing a loop of the track as you climb. You can also follow the easier gradient of the track as it switchbacks its way almost to the top.
1 hr 30 min. At the top of the ridge the path rejoins the track and continues to curve round to the west.
1 hr 40 min.
Follow a short side track left at the head of this valley and then cross an area of flatter ground heading towards a shallow col to the south. This now gives you the first good views to the south.
1 hr 45 min. The route to the top via the ridge to the west is now straightforward.
2 hours A broken concrete survey pillar and a small ruined church mark the summit.
There are excellent views in all directions.
This is one of the best vantage points to see the Lamergeir, the great Bearded Vulture. This bird circles in the updraught from the south slopes of the ridge, so look along and above the ridge in both directions with a pair of binoculars. You are more likely to see Griffon Vultures and Golden Eagles, however.
The next section of the route west needs care as the limestone is sharp and very dissected.
Some of the rock will ring like a bell if struck. As you make your way west look out for a series of linked hollows with fewer rocks and more vegetation running east west. The best route is through the bottom of these hollows. Contouring round the side is more difficult. I do not recommend following the very top of the ridge.
2 hr 30 min. Continue following the line of these hollows. The goats make use of them and their path is the best route west.
2 hr 45 min. The line of these hollows turns into a shallow valley twisting gently through groups of stunted trees.
Continue to follow the floor of this valley west for one kilometre until the view to the west opens out and you can see the bulldozed track leading up to the col above Mirthios.
3 hours You can follow the contours round to the col, or continue to follow the valley bottom down over better grazing land until you reach a group of farm buildings.
3 hr 15 min. Rejoin the track here and follow this down to Kanevos.
3 hr 30 min. The crossroads at Kanevos.