With so many beautiful Greek islands to explore, let Ramblers Worldwide Holidays take you on a walking tour of the very best, including its stunning collection of holidays to Crete.
Western Morning News editor-at-large Martin Hesp was transported to another world on a Ramblers Worldwide Holidays (RWH) trip to Western Crete. Here, he walks us through a few of his favourites hikes, taking in movie- star beaches, remote hilltop tavernas, historic seaside towns and floral mountain gorges. Plus, enter our competition for a chance to experience this ramblers’ paradise for yourself.
I knew the beach and had wanted to go there for decades. And suddenly there I was – exhausted, and delighted, in the great sandy bay that so memorably played host to the famous 1960s film Zorba the Greek, starring Anthony Quinn…
RWH leader Yvonne Gribben had been telling us about the movie version of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel on the wondrous hike we’d taken, which had ended on the sandy shores at Stavros, east of Chania at the tip of the Akrotiri Peninsula, where this holiday is based.
That morning, we’d left the charming old port to travel a dozen miles up to the enigmatic Gouverneto Monastery for what our guide promised would be a ‘wild, windy, rough and lonely walk’. It was all of those things and more. I’d say this walk encapsulates the magic of Western Crete like no other. But the trouble with walking in Crete is that you find yourself thinking this a lot.
After a well-deserved rest in ‘Zorba’s bay’, it was time for the bus home to Chania, which is one of the most appealing ports I know in the whole of the Mediterranean. It’s a place steeped in history, and even more hustle and bustle.
We did a total of six walks, each with its own highlights and charm. Most dramatic of all was the great descent down the Imbros Gorge on the southern coast, terminating with a delicious lunch at Kommitádes, a village that hugs the coastal mountain slopes. In fact, all the meals we enjoyed in Western Crete were first-class, which shouldn’t be surprising as the island is renowned for its cuisine.
The family-run Hotel Falassarna was perfectly adequate and the staff were enormously friendly and accommodating – not that we spent much time there. If there’s one difficulty in summing up this Cretan holiday, it’s trying to decide which walk I liked best. If I single out the White Mountain hike from Therisso, then it’s probably only because it was the last one we did and is, therefore, freshest in my memory. Think tree-clad foothills, mule paths, towering mountains and a village taverna perched on a hilltop.
To put it in a nutshell, I’d say this vacation was everything a walking holiday should be. Not only was each of the hikes superb, but the whole holiday took us, magically, into another world. It was one of blue vistas, intimate valleys, narrow gorges and snow-capped mountains. It was a small universe of floral delight, a galaxy of ancient and modern, sand and sea, olive and grape, excellent food and even better scenery.
Win this holiday!
This week-long holiday for two is worth £1,850
The prize is for two people sharing a twin room on a RWH group walking holiday based in Chania. It includes return flights departing 14 October 2014 from Gatwick or Manchester (Manchester flights may incur a supplement) and transfers, B&B en-suite accommodation, dinners and an expert leader.
For more information about this holiday, go to www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/page/a-week-walking-in-crete
To enter, go to www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/page/walk-magazine and answer the question below. Terms and conditions can also be found on this web page.
On which RWH holiday will you discover Greece’s Alpine Secret?
Or send your entry to walk magazine Crete Competition, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, Lemsford Mill, Lemsford Village, Welwyn Garden City, Herts AL8 7TR. Include your title, first name (not initial), address with postcode and email address. Closing date is 19 August 2014. The first correct entry picked at random after this date will win. RWH or the promoter may contact you from time to time with details of offers. Please state ‘NO OFFERS’ if you do not wish to be contacted.