Mihail Perivliótis to Ágios Emilianós to Taxiárhis Mihail Roukouniótis
Perhaps the longest and most energetic walk in the book - to the far western Kefála headland, passing numerous monasteries. There is a long and stony descent from Ágios loánnis Theológos to the coast, which will seem even longer on the return. There are organized boat trips from Yialós to the Ågios Emilianós monastery islet most days in season, so you could perhaps make prior arrangements for a lift back at the end of the day. It would also be possible to take a boat out and then walk back- but this would both miss the best views, and leave you with the uphill work, so is not recommended. Allow at least 2 hours for the outward route from Horió, and longer for the return in the heat of the afternoon.
Follow Walk 4a to the asphalt road outside Mihail Perivliótis monastery. Turn right, but do not go round to the right with the asphalt - go straight ahead onto a concrete road, to the right of the monastery. This road climbs gradually up the bare hillside, towards Panagía Myrtariótissa. There are views down left into the much more fertile, little Ksisós plain, which has many churches and trees, and an increasing number of houses. A dirt track swings off down to the left, but ignore it and continue to climb.
You can probably see, at the far end of Ksisós, the beginning of the drop down to Ag Vasílios monastery and Lápathos beach (Walk 12). About 5 minutes from the asphalt, join a dirt track branching diagonally left off the concrete road. Take this track along the hillside, below both the end of the upper concrete road and the cluster of houses around the Panagía Myrtariótissa church.
Follow the track out onto the ridge, where it swings back left and climbs up towards the monasteries of Ágios Geórgios Kotikón and Ágios Nikítas. However, from the saddle of the ridge, with Panagía Myrtariótissa just up to your right, a waymarked path leads off on the far side of the ridge. It is not always immediately obvious, although it is a definite earth path and it is paint-marked. It leads off diagonally, descending slightly, towards the sea to the west, and has spectacular panoramic views down to the large, square-walled Taxiárhis Mihail Roukouniótis monastery, the military camp and the distant Datça peninsula of Turkey. Before your index finger leaps to your camera, be aware of the fact that photography is strictly forbidden within sight of the camp.
Follow the path to cross a little outlier ridge, and a monastery-Ágios Geórgios Kotikón – and trees come into view up ahead. Your path, however, starts descending gradually. The convent of Ågii Anárgyrii appears below you, on the right, in a little cluster of trees. The path descends still further, to cross a steep valley. Beyond a brief patch of woodland, some ruined houses come into view, about 30-35 minutes from the asphalt. As you approach the houses, note a path running down to the right alongside a line of cypresses. This is the incoming path from Ågii Anárgyrii and will be your return route. In early autumn, the flat, bare yard of the ruins is the site of hundreds of white-flowered spikes of sea-squill. In spring and early summer, only the broad leaves and the tops of the huge bulbs are visible.
Stay with your path, well to the left of the yard area. Beyond the yard, the path remains almost level as it goes to the left of a solitary, silvery-leaved olive tree among the native cypress trees. Do not be tempted by a broader path leading into the woodland below. If, in the woodland, you reach the characters AOK arranged in stones you have taken the wrong path. This is a possible route, but narrower, much less straightforward, and involves crossing a gully-bed - which the correct, left-hand, path does not.
A deep valley opens to your right-hand side and you will be skirting the left-hand edge of this. Reach the monastery of Ágios loánnis Theológos (St. John the Divine) in about 50-60 minutes from the asphalt. There is water in the tank behind the ancillary building.
Head downhillI, to the right of the monastery, on a continuation of the path (not the second path that heads off level behind the water tank). At a fork in this path shortly after, go to the right with the red paint marks. You will probably be relieved on your return journey, to reach this junction and know you are just a short way from Ágios loánnis and the climb is mostly over.
The path heads down across natural rocky terraces. Although this part of the route is in cypress and pine woodland, there is not much cooling shade, however any breeze through the trees will add a pleasant fragrance to the air. At an obscure, second, fork (which you may not even notice) on a descending zigzag, go down to the right where marked by red paint.
Continue down, with some good views ahead through the trees to the Ágios Emilianós monastery, until eventually the path swings to the right. Emerge from the woodland and onto more open hillside, with a view of Maróni beach down to the right, and across the water to Turkish Datça. Soon there are even better views of the Agios Emilianós monastery on its little islet.
Stay with the main path, as it zigzags its way down the western side of the ridge. Avoid steep shortcuts between the longer original loops of path as they can be slippery when descending. The correct path heads inland and around the back of the small valley - ignore a red-paint- marked steep route going diagonally back down towards the small beach on the right.
Looking and heading westwards, the white Ágios Filmonos monastery is visible ahead, between you and Ágios Emilianós. Ahead to the left is a farmstead with enclosures. The path forks, with left going towards the farm. Stay right and swing in below a low wall with a raised path up to your left. Go on a few moments, then branch left to join the raised path. Stay level between Ágios Filímonos and the big enclosure on your left, past an isolated tree, until you reach a good, clear path to the monastery entrance leading up from a gate on the left. This path runs off to the right, up the terraces. Pass two gateways between Ágios Filímonos and its toilet block (right), and join a solid concrete path heading down alongside the walled fruit garden.
Follow this stepped path to arrive, in about 35 minutes from Agios loánnis, at the greyish- brownish-greenish- and rubbish-strewn-beach. You are away from the limestone now, and onto volcanic geology. This side of the island is closest to the similarly volcanic Nísyros and the Kéfalos peninsula of Kós.
Go along the beach, past the little jetty and tamarisk trees, and follow a narrow path near sea- level for a few minutes. Cross the rocky causeway to reach the outer gate towards you - of the monastery of Agios Emilianós.
On your return from Ågios Emilianós, as an alternative to the stepped concrete path to Ágios Filímonos, you can, on reaching the beach and jetty, turn off to the right. A semi-clear path up the shrubby slope of the side of the beach. In a few moments you come to a view out over the west side of the island, just south of the Kefála headland. Go a little further up and come to a view of some of the Diavatés islands. Follow a rough path, which goes a little way to the right of a large, evergreen carob tree. Follow the path south, then turn left and inland immediately before a fenced enclosure. This will bring you to meet your outward path just south of Ágios Filímonos.
Follow the woodland path back up to Ágios loánnis Theológos and then along to the ruined buildings. Immediately right of and beyond the ruins, head down and you should find the descending path to Ágii Anárgyrii, which starts by the lowest of the buildings. Almost immediately you are on this path, Mihail Roukouniótis comes into view, though not initially
Agii Anárgyrii, which is reached in about 8 minutes from the ruins. Ágii Anárgyrii is dedicated to the two saints, Ágios Kosmás & Ágios Damianós, celebrated on I November. Leave this convent on the concrete road, heading towards Mihail Roukouniótis and the military camp. Go through a road gateway, swinging left almost immediately afterwards and heading uphill to reach the huge spreading cypress tree at the entrance of Mihail Roukouniótis, about 17 minutes after the ruins. Follow the asphalt road onward from here, up the ridge and eastwards. Then swing right with the road, to arrive at the dirt track entrance to Ágios Fanoúris and a view of the eastern, Yialós side in under 10 minutes.
A short way beyond, go off the asphalt, on the eastern side. There are two paths. The left- initially a dirt track - is steeper and goes towards Yialós (Walk 3a in reverse). The right, to Horió, though poorly surfaced in places, stays comparatively level, below the road (Walk 4b in reverse). Go right for Horió and meet the junction of your outward path about 6 minutes from the asphalt. Go left, past the Agía Paraskeví church and head on down into Horió.
Mihail Perivliótis to Ksisós to Ágios Vasílios to Lápathos Beach
A straightforward walk from the Mihail Perivliótis monastery, through the Ksisós (Xisós) plateau and alongside an increasingly steep-sided valley, to the Ágios Vasílios monastery perched on a ciff ledge above the sea. A further, short, steeper descent takes you down to Lápathos beach at the gorge mouth. 35-45 minutes or longer. Return by the same route.
From the left of Mihail Perivliótis there is a signed concrete road. Take this and turn right at the immediate fork. Follow the road for about five minutes, to the monastery of Agios Nikólaos
Ksisoú (courtyard locked), which is reached by a small path branching off to the right. Behind the monastery is another, smaller church (open). Return to the concrete road and follow it nearly to the end, at the gates of a house, but take a red-dot-marked path, going down to the left of a fence. Follow this path along between the gully (left) and the fence, around a small ridge. then down to cross a secondary streambed to the right.
The path leads along the western side of the valley for about 15 minutes, to your first view of Lápathos Beach at the gorge mouth below left. Stavrós Polémou monastery comes intoo view on the high skyline up to the left.
From having been comparatively straight, the path fractures and zigzags down, with spasmodic red markings and cairns, Some of the waymarkings for this descent are shortcuts of the path and steeper than necessary. The path then swings right and it circles around the back of the head of a side gully from the gorge. Pass through a small woodland of regenerating cypress trees, and across a flat area overlooking the sea. Two cairned paths head seawards, merge, and continue diagonally downward to the left. The route winds briefly through a more rocky area, then swings further left at the cliff top. As you turn in the direction of the beach, you pass above the tiny monastery of Ågios Vasílios down to your right, about 30 minutes from the asphalt.
Rocky steps detour down to the right to the ledge on which the church (open), its bell, and a small domestic building containing the water tank, are perched. The church has some smoke- blackened frescoes. Look southwards across to the Ágios Nikólaos headland and the buildings of the Ágios Nikólaos Kefáli monastery.
From the main path above the monastery, take care on the 5-15 minute section onward route to the beach. Initially you must scramble down a steep rock gully, leftward, to a small flat area. From here, the way broadens, but the surface is of unstable earth and small stones, and less secure. The route splits, with a steeper, more-used, waymarked, loose-earth option to the right zigzagging down towards the sea. The alternative to the left follows the line of the edge of the cliff, is less steep, and somewhat more stable. It descends to the valley floor and then a path is cairmed right to the beach. Behind the broad, mostly stony beach, several gorges produce a wide and immensely rocky backdrop. Trees at the centre and far side of the beach provide shade.