Nature Trails of Rhodes

The total distance of this walk is 11km (6 1/4 mi). The expected duration in a pace of 6km per hour is 1 h 40 min. The grade can be described as easy. Walk is along a gravel track

Equipment: sturdy shoes, sunhat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, cardigan, raingear, raincoat and water. How to get there: Bus to Archipoli. To return: The return is from Archangelos, from where there are numerous buses

In fact, the best time to make this walk is late afternoon or early evening, when the countryside is bathed in a soft purple light. You’ll start out from the quiet hillside village of Archipoli, ascend a pass up into goat country, and step into a landscape right out of a classical painting. The air will be scented first with pines and then thyme. This scene is neither dramatic nor spectacular. It is simply perfection, and remains one of my most vivid walking memories.

So while the walk is ideal for beginners, it’s also ideal for the energetic. Simply tack it onto Alternative walk 7 and make a day’s outing of it. You will virtually cross the island. This does, however, leave a gap in the middle – the four kilometres between Eleousa and Archipoli. It can either be filled by a bus journey or walked. The road is sealed, but little used.

Start the walk in Archipoli. Head out of the village on the Kolymbia road. After 10 min walking, just past a sharp, descending S-bend, and just before a culvert, you’ll see a wide gravel track on your right. Turn onto it and gently climb between two forested ridges towards an enclosed valley. A small streambed, filled with plane trees, lies below the track. Oleander bushes splash pink along the valley floor. At 20 min into the walk come to a junction. Keep left and up. For the first thirty minutes walking, you’re enveloped in sweetly-scented pines. Then the trees slowly abate, yielding to a landscape of Launaea, thyme, sage and Spanish broom. Goats hop about the rocky crags of the ridge. At 45 min a track joins from the left and you begin the descent over the pass. The way gets rougher and more narrow.

At 50 min into the walk, through a gap in the hills, Archangelos and its Profitis llias (the mountain behind the village) come into view. Between here and there lie groves of flickering, silver-grey olive trees, catching the evening breeze. Squares and oblongs of freshly-harvested wheat fields patch the Plain. Under a retiring sun, this scene is perfection. A building and a water trough sit squeezed into the gap here between the ridges, overlooking this splendid view.

When you reach the olive groves below, the way swings back to the right, and minutes along you come to a junction. Keep straight on, passing a small building beside the track. You now meander through ageing olive trees. A few vineyards and fruit trees break the monotony of colour. Tethered donkeys bray out, seeking whatever attention they can get. You’ll see the farmers returning to the village. They generally stop and offer you a lift.

At about 1 h into the walk, you join a gravel track coming in from the right. A ‘shocking’ blue shrine on your left alerts you to it. Keep straight. Ten minutes along, this track forks; head left. For those running low on ‘walkers’ petrol’, there’s a water fountain two minutes past the fork. Then, without warning, ten minutes later, the way becomes tarred. You’ll cross the main Rhodes-Lindos road at 1 h 30 min and head into Archangelos. Continue straight on, across the road, bearing left. After crossing a small stream, keep right. At the T-junction, a minute on, right again, and you’re in the main street. The bus stop is just past the first alleyway heading into the houses, on your left. (Not the Stegna road, the next one.) But first you may have time to climb to the castle and admire the view!

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