A large proportion of the old monopati (footpath) and kalderimi (cobbled stone footpath) between Prodromou and Lavra still exists. It is situated a bit more uphill than the road. After the well the path descents to the new, concrete, road that services minibuses and trucks. After a kilometre or so the kalderimi starts again, now on right side and lower than the road. The access is easy to miss, by the way. The total distance of the walk is 4,76 km, according to the excellent and trustworthy Peter Howorth map from 2016.
After two kilometres of mild climbing we arrived at the source where we drank the fresh and clear water out of the cup. Pilgrim Barry is happy he reached this point. From here at nearly 400 metres the path gently slopes down.
Another, more detailed, view on the abundant source. It is a disgrace for the Holy Mountain that pilgrims leave plastic bottles and bags here. We, pilgrims, shouldn’t pollute Maria’s garden. We left Prodromou without breakfast and we ate some canned dolmata near the well. But we always take the cans and plastic waste with us and leave without leaving a trace.
I wouldn’t recommend climbing these stairs.
We walked mostly in our own pace over the ancient stones. We were mostly on our own. Contemplating all the experiences of the night before. Sometimes we waited for each other. Here pilgrim Herman approaches. It was still early in the morning and everything looked fresh and new in the floodlight. Walking there alone with only the birds that sing their spring songs and the sound of your own footsteps below is a wonderful spiritual experience.
The kalderimi is in a reasonable condition, but there are surprises, loose stones and many standing stones to redirect the water. Excellent territory for spraining your ankles. The walking sticks proved their value here as well.
Around a corner I saw a scary, leafless tree with a white cross. It terrified and fascinated me in a strange way. The tree was dotted with white fungus like a psoriasis patient. It was still early in April so this Oaktree will produce its leaves a bit later in the year. It will look friendlier then.
When the sky becomes visible from the wooded monopati/kalderimi the first sight is on the Great Lavra. The first and oldest monastery on Mount Athos. Founded in the year 963 by Athanasius the Athonite.
We look at the road just outside the monastic stronghold, with a row of protective towers. The sea is visible in the far distance. High cranes are swarming around most of the monasteries on Mount Athos. This time I choose not to avoid them in the picture.
The medieval battlements are clearly visible behind the walnut tree.
Just outside the entrance is an old watermill. We were not sure if it would still work. At least it didn’t rotate when we were around. The back drop of the Holy Mountain is impressive from here as well.
Next time we roam around the Great Lavra and take a proper look within its tall walls.
Thanks, mr. Kamps, for your evocation of this beautiful spring morning under the mountain.
No disturbing sounds of minibuses and trucks at this hour?
Not at all, mr. Koolschijn. I can’t remember any disturbing sounds on that track. It was a delightful walk.