September Newsletter. Search for Ayios Georgios. Sharing experiences as we journey together

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1 Sharing experiences as we journey together Search for Ayios Georgios This is my third newsletter this year and comes 6 months after I published the last one. I decided to change the format for this edition and just concentrate on one of my activities during the summer. In past issues of this newsletter I ve mentioned about the old church visible from the coastal path on my Baths of Aphrodite trail, well this summer I set about trying to find it, here is my story. I ve often stood and looked at this church as we pause for a photo shoot on the way back from the Blue Lagoon. It s visible from the coastal path, near the viewing point where we sit and rest following the ascent up the steep rock trail. I m always assuring my companions that this is the last hill we ll hike today and the rest of our journey together is basically flat to the car. The church sits nestled amongst the trees looking out to sea. It s not far from the coastal path, and there is a path heading towards it halfway down the steep slope. So I decide to revisit the spot with the express purpose of finding the trail to the church. I target August; it will be too hot but provided I take enough water I ll be okay.

2 The day comes around and I get to the start of this new trail and set off, recording my findings as I go along. The path continues northwards but doesn t turn left upon itself to gain height. I resign myself to the fact that the trail will almost inevitably join the Aphrodite Trail the section that zigzags down the north side of the mountain and intersects the coastal path. It does and a goat sheltering under an adjacent tree continues to chew through the undergrowth he s oblivious to my presence and I m sure he s mumbling told you under his breath. I tell myself I must have missed the trail and set off back tracking my footsteps hoping to see a trail I missed earlier. I encounter a couple of likely suspects but dismiss them immediately, they re just goat trails. Then I notice what looks like a signpost higher up the mountainside, and I confirm it when I examine it more closely with my binoculars. As I scan around the hillside a little more, I see another sign. I can just about make out the name Ayios Georgios on the sign but its quiet faint. I take a GPS reading and head back to the coastal path and home. My first exploration is a failure, but the signs confirm there is a pathway up there; I just need to find the start of it. Once home I check my maps and Google but there s no mention of a church in that part of the Akamas. I need to revisit the area again, another time.

3 It s now late September and the weather is a little cooler and I m up for another exploratory trip to the Akamas to find the trail to the church. I get all my gear together and set off. Soon I find myself back at the viewing point and I m scanning the hillside to try and see any sort of pathway up towards the church. I see what looks like a trail just down a bit from the church and heading north. Perhaps the trail to the church starts from the Aphrodite trail on the north side of the mountain. I ve resigned myself to finding an easy route straight up the hillside, making a bee-line for the church and then trying to find the real trail down to the coast. I single out a small tree as my setting off point and once there, start my vertical ascent. 10 minutes later I m scrambling up a slope to examine a sign nailed to a tree. It says Ayios Georgios and there s a faint arrow pointing up the hillside. Someone else has had the same idea to trek up the hillside in a straight line, and leave a trail for others to follow. As I look in the general direction of the arrow I see another sign. My journey gathers pace now as I find more signs nailed to trees and then I find a length of string attached to the sign itself.

4 I m totally absorbed in recording my progress following these signs that I forget to look around intently, as I move left to avoid a thorny bush I notice some large slabs of rock on the ground. Moving a little further forward the church appears on my right, bathed in sunlight. I thank my predecessors, whoever they are, for marking the trail and making my exploration today so much easier. Before I examine the church I take a look around and find what may have been a hermit s cave, perhaps St George himself lived in it. There s not much headroom and the ceiling doesn t have any telltale charring marks on it so there haven t been any fires in the cave. No icons either. The church is in a very dilapidated state, there s just the main curved wall (the sanctuary) visible from the trail below, part of the dome over it and a small part of both return walls. Nature has reclaimed the one wall which sort of disappears into the undergrowth; the opposite wall is just a few foundation stones and not much else. The roof is non-existent.

5 There are a number of wooden signs placed around the remaining walls, presumably left over from the batch used to mark the trail up here by my predecessors. I notice a few icons placed behind some rocks leaning on the sanctuary wall, just below the arrow-slit window facing east. There s evidence that others have been here recently and in the past. There s an empty shotgun shell on the floor near a plastic yogurt carton. The standing walls of the sanctuary are covered with dates, etched onto the rock, some are from the late sixties. As I eat my lunch I look around to find a better, easier trail down from the church. There is one, and it s probably the one I could see from the coastal path. I trek down it and it gets narrower but still looks like a good trail. Soon I can see the coastal path again and I know I m about to intersect the Aphrodite trail, as I did on my first visit. It does and the goat s not there this time. I back track a little to see where my new trail intercepts the one I hiked last time. It looks so obvious now, and I don t know how I missed it before. I mark it with my GPS and continue back to the coastal path. I notice the ships

6 are returning to Latchi and as I round a corner on the trail I notice plumes of smoke coming from Polis. The helicopters are busy ferrying water back and forth putting out the scrub fire. My mission is completed successfully, I found the trail to the church. I ll now offer it up to my clients as an option on my Baths of Aphrodite trail, it ll be difficult coming at the end of a 12 15km hike, but we ll see. October to December October is shaping up to be a busy month for me as I have a number of hikes booked. The weather will continue to cool and I will try to explore another trail in Troodos, hopefully early November while there s still quite a lot of daylight. As always I will keep you informed of my hiking experiences and I hope to see some of you again in the future. Enjoy the rest of this year. Amadeus Holidays Limited Website: Facebook: Mobile: