An Ancient Footpath to Erimitis Spring

Paxos has three ports and the central village of Magazia. Magazia means “shops” and was once the main shopping centre of the island (it even had a ginger beer maker!). In surrounding valleys and on olive-clad hilltops are family hamlets consisting of a cluster of houses and a family church or two.

When the island was more self-sufficient (important when winter bad weather could prevent any supplies reaching Paxos for weeks on end) and the olive was king, a well-trodden network of pathways connected villages and hamlets with olive groves, vineyards, pasture land, terraces of wheat, schools, shops, friends and a supply of water.    

During the British occupation of the Ionian islands in the early 19th Century, tracks (wider than the goat paths) connecting the three island ports were turned into a central road – donkey tracks became a donkey road!

During the earlier, four centuries of Venetian rule, cisterns to collect rainwater were introduced to island house building. River and stream beds still traverse the island with fast flowing waters in the winter but the only source of natural spring water was and still is just above Erimitis beach on the west coast.

A series of stone-floored pathways, bordered by dry stone walls, lead from the hamlet of Boikatika (the hamlet of the Boikos family) down a wild valley of untended olive groves to a point above Erimitis Bay where soaring limestone cliffs look down onto a chalky turquoise sea.

A steep, stepped path winds down to the spring’s source and a well, enclosed by stone. Even in the heat of summer, water oozes and seeps through the rock face to give life to a variety of small wild plants, just above the sea.

In 2008 a large chunk of limestone cliff broke away and slid into the sea. What was a rocky inlet beneath the cliffs suddenly became a beautiful beach of limestone and pulverized stone – now turning into golden sand.

Look carefully at the surrounding hillsides of maquis and myrtle and you will see the remains of stone houses and overgrown terraces, which were once cultivated – a perfect place to live with fresh water on your doorstep. Prime position is now given to two modern villas at the top of the last flight of steps to the beach but there is still a dominant feeling of a rich, green wilderness, framed by the Erimitis cliffs.    

First glimpse of Erimitis cliffs

There is now a road down to the last flight of steps but parking is nigh impossible so choosing one of the ancient footpaths is the advisable (and more interesting) alternative. Tall olive and cypress trees provide a canopy of shade and the first views of the cliffs and blue sea are breathtaking. A good path to choose starts close to the cat feeding station on the track leading from Magazia to Erimitis Sunset Bar.

Old untended olives
Start of the last section
Final flight of steps to the spring

Take a stick to carefully detach spider webs and a non-plastic container to drink from the Erimitis well (you will find a bucket & rope attached to the well’s lid). On my last visit I saw “I was here” styled graffiti on the rock face close to the well – resist the urge to leave any mark of having been there and enjoy its natural beauty – one of Paxos’ many treasures.

Remember to take a spider stick
Descent to the beach
Erimitis Spring

On Paxos there are 2 organisations dedicated to the preservation of the island’s heritage and culture Volunteers of Paxos and Friends of Paxos – they work with the Paxos Municipality to open, clear and maintain the network of ancient footpaths on the island.

PAXOS FAQ’S

When is the best time to visit Paxos?

April: expect some rain but usually a month ahead of northern Europe so beautiful Spring days – perfect for walking & wild flowers.

May: warmer but could still rain. Perfect month to escape the crowds and meet locals when they are not so busy.

June: temperatures can be high but less humidity so good visibility/views to mainland mountains & other islands.

July & August: Hotter temperatures and warmer seas but more visitors to the island.

September: Sea at its warmest, kids back at school, locals not so stressed.

October: similar to May.

Olive Grove in May

Are beaches sand or pebble?

Most of the beaches on Paxos are pebble (beautiful clear water) but a 15-minute boat ride away are the sandy beaches of AntiPaxos.

Kloni Gouli Beach

What is there to do for teenagers?

Paxos will not appeal to those looking for all night music bars (Castello Night Club, just outside Gaios,  is the exception) – each of the 3 ports has a variety of waterfront café & cocktail bars for all ages. For activities there’s a watersports centre and 2 tennis courts. Families who enjoy boating can hire boats and ribs with 30HP to twin 350HP engines. There are two local companies who organise kayak excursions and walks to hidden island parts. A recently opened gym in Gaios can be used on a day to day basis. There are 2 scuba diving centres and in Gaios, a shop for fishing tackle.

Eating out costs?

In most Greek villages you will have a good choice of tavernas to suit all budgets and tastes. A simple, traditional meal with a half kilo of house wine should cost around 20-30 Euros per person. Select octopus carpaccio rather than stuffed peppers or a wild mushroom risotto rather than fresh sardines and you might spend more. There are now many excellent Greek wines but as most come from small wineries they can be expensive (10 – 20 Euros in the shop & perhaps double that in the taverna) but do try them if you can.

Is it easy to buy fresh fish?

During the busier months of the season most of the locally caught fish is bought by the taverna owners (put on ice & on display in each taverna). You will find fishermen selling their fish from their boats on each village waterfront around 8 – 9am. Otherwise there are two fishmongers in Gaios

Gaios fishmonger with patient audience

Are supermarkets well stocked?

Yes! From Alpen or avocados to zucchini. Good deli counters, big variety of pasta, diverse fruit & veg, drinks galore and even marmite (shame on you). Each village will have a bakery with assorted breads & pastries.

Do supermarkets sell gluten free/dairy free products?

Some supermarkets, in particular the supermarket in Gaios High Street, stock a range of products for food intolerances such as dairy free milk, rye bread, rice cakes and other gluten free snacks and confectioneries.

Do supermarkets deliver?

Yes – most do but the busier the season the harder it is for them so check.

Are pharmacies well stocked?

Yes – and more treatments available over the counter than in British chemists. You will also find well known brands of baby formula and more specific baby supplies that may not be stocked in the supermarket such as creams, dummies etc.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Most shops, supermarkets and tavernas now accept credit/debit cards but you’ll get a bigger smile when paying in cash.

Best parts of the island to stay?

On an island 7.5 miles by 2.5 miles you are never far from a taverna, a beach, a shop, total seclusion or village hubbub. Your holiday view is important – west coast views are over a big sea, aerial displays of seagulls & swifts & birds of prey against a backdrop of white cliffs and valleys of cypress trees; east coast views are across the sea to the mountains of the Greek mainland and a soft Paxos coastline of olive groves , peppered by tall cypress and wild myrtle. Try both coasts!

How child friendly is Paxos?

Children are welcomed everywhere on Paxos. The terrain however is not so friendly towards toddlers. Most of the villas will have split level terraces and gardens and only a very few swimming pools are “gated”. Tavernas have a good choice of child friendly dishes and the Greeks
love their ice cream almost as much as the Italians

Villa Loula
Swimming pool is separated by a gate for extra toddler safety.

Is Paxos good for boat hire?

Paxos is great for boat hire. There are boat hirers in Lakka, Loggos and Gaios. Fibreglass boats & ribs with outboards from 30HP – twin 350HP (Speedboat License required for over 30HP). A fun way to explore the coastline, beach picnics and visit AntiPaxos beaches.

Loggos boat hire

Are the hydrofoil/ferry services reliable?

From time to time the Paxos/Corfu hydrofoil and fast boat service can be affected by mechanical problems or bad weather. If your flight to Corfu is delayed you might miss a hydrofoil/fast boat departure. Our Paxos manager will put a Plan B in place to ensure that you are looked after.

Any other languages spoken by locals?

Most locals will speak/understand English and Italian. French and German by a few. If you hear a language unlike any other, it could well be Albanian – the Albanian population on Paxos is about 20% of the total.

Are there good medical facilities?

There is a well-run clinic in the village of Bogdanatika, not far from Gaios, and two doctors. Gaios has a good dentist.

 

© 2018 Ionian Villas Limited

Call us on: +44 (0) 1243 820928    ..or email enquiries@ionian-villas.co.uk

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