This September I spent the holidays with my wife in the beautiful Skites Resort between Ouranoupolis and the Athos border. No plans to visit Athos but after some time I felt the urge to make a long walk and see a glimpse of the Holy Mountain. So I decided to walk along the border going from coast to coast and back. I took the dirt road next to our appartment going north. Dirt road, in the top right corner of the photo.After a few hundred meters I saw a restored post-Byzantine aqueduct where I learned that this part of the border area used to be the property of the Vatopedi monastery. Looking to the west, in the shade of the trees, a chapel is located called Ag. Triadas where the locals of Ouranoupolis meet. But I followed the road to the north. When I looked back I saw the windmill and a dome of the church of Chromitsa, the Mount Athos based dependency of the Russian monastery, Panteleimonos. Not visible but somewhere in the distance lay the border fence.The actual border is, again invisible, somewhere on the 100 meter line. The communication tower on the highest point is at 510 meter. In 2012 this area was damaged by a large wildfire.Map by Peter Howorth with the border and some of the locations which I passed during the hike.
When I almost reached the other coast, after 3 hours walking in the hot sun, a car picked me up and I had the following conversation with a friendly Greek who spoke a little bit of English: “I am from Holland ‘, I said. The man said: “me, uncle, Walweek, Walweek, Walweek”. Finally I understood that he meant that his uncle lived in the village of Waalwijk in The Netherlands. ” Does he work in Greek restaurant?” I asked.
“No” the man said ” work as father from Jesus”. When we both stopped laughing we arrived at the beach. I thanked him for the lift and walked to the beach club.
At the beach club Giorgos & Amanda in the Komitsa area I ate bread with Feta cheese and watched some German customers who gave the impression that they had never left this place since the 1960ties. Still with long hear wearing their India robes and bandanas. From the beach club it was another 200 meters to the border.The border wall, with the Arapis peninsula behind it. The ” no entry for women” text of this Mount Athos sign is completely faded by the sun. These signs were all over the Mount Athos coastline and border mainly to prevent that women would enter the peninsula.
With fresh water in my backpack I started to hike back the same route as I came. The area is very deserted and also protected nature. Further up the road a jackal was fleeing rapidly when I came in sight. I heard jackals on Mount Athos but never saw one there.I was rather glad when I saw Sidney Lochs tower and Drenia and Amouliani Island again. It took me 6 hours and almost 20 km to get from one coast to the other and back. I was pretty tired and somewhat overheated but had a wonderful day.
Commendable enterprise, Herman, interesting. I fully understand your satisfaction at the sight of Loch’s tower!