Walking the North East Corfu
The North East Corfu walking region extends over the eastern part of the Pantokrator Massif, including its summit, and as far as the sea to the north, east and south. Its westerly border is an imaginary line drawn from Lake Antinioti in the north to Ipsos in the south, and it incorporates the North East Coast, that string of picturesque bays between Nissaki and Kassiopi which are known as ‘Kensington-on-Sea’. The resorts of Barbati, Nissaki, Kaminaki, Kalami, Agios Stefanos, Avlaki, Kassiopi and Apraos fall within the region, and its also includes the mountain villages of Loutses, Lafki, Old Perithia and Porta.
Kalami to Menegoulas loop
|Refreshments||Porta, Kaminaki, Nissaki bay, Agni, Kalami|
|Access||Kalami is 1.5km off the main coastal road: if you catch the bus (Kassiopi line), ask the driver where to get off; from the bus stop it’s 20min on foot down to the waterfront where the walk starts|
This is an excellent – if long and tiring – circuit above the northeastern coast, for which walking boots are recommended. The walk starts at the lovely bay of Kalami, which boasts a quiet pebble beach, a supermarket and a scatter of smart tavernas. The way climbs through olive groves and small villages to the austere, arid middle reaches of the island’s highest mountain, Oros Pandokratoras (Mount Pandokratoras). Afterwards it plunges back to the glorious coast for an exceptionally pretty jaunt from cove to cove: walkers are spoilt for choice of swimming spots. The route is inadvisable in hot weather due to the ascent involved and the longish stretches where shade is a scarce commodity. Take plenty of water and food; the only café on the inland stretch is located at Porta, although once you’re back on the seafront they are plentiful. Waymarking is fairly good except on the mountain, so follow the directions carefully. The walk starts at the lovely bay of Kalami, which boasts a quiet pebble beach, a supermarket and a scatter of smart tavernas as well as the White House, the unmistakable cube building at the southern end, once the residence of members of the Durrell family.
Leave the southernmost end of Kalami by passing in front of the White House, then take the road uphill. As it bends right, go left on a concrete lane down through olive groves to where a path continues past vegetable gardens to the lovely secluded cove of Gialiskari beach. Turn immediately right up a white rock-based way, then soon left on a path alongside a wire fence. This leads over to pretty Agni beach. Walk past the inviting cafés and continue straight through the premises of friendly Nikolas Taverna and up past a large white stone house. Not far along you leave the coastal path and fork right on a path with yellow paint markers. This climbs steadily past private villas. You cross a road then proceed on an old stepped and paved way through well-graded terraces of olives and cypress trees. Where houses are reached, keep straight on along an alleyway and up to the square of Kentroma (40min) for views all the way to Corfu Town.
Turn left along the main road then take the first right, at a jasmine-scented corner, up a small road (with a CT sign). Only minutes up, as the road curves right, you’re pointed left through masses of wild mint on old steps between dry stone walls. This ends at a road which is followed uphill past villas with swimming pools. A clearly marked path breaks off left for a steep climb and a short clamber before veering right on a more level path past stone walls. After fenced olive groves the road is joined once more. Branch left past a farmhouse where the antenna-studded top of Oros Pandokratoras is visible. Soon you turn left again on a rough stony track, but don’t miss the faint path almost immediately right. A bit overgrown in places, it leads through terraces and emerges on arid karst terrain. This is home to birds of prey, and affords vast views across the water to the mainland.
A road is joined up to a well-appointed panoramic bench near houses. Not far along a ridge is gained and a T-junction – go left for the peaceful mountain village of Porta (340m, 40min). Pass the café and stick with the road uphill to the old school. Close by is a prominent church and war memorial, where wayfarers can rest and enjoy the well-shaded benches.
Just after the buildings go right on a path (yellow and blue waymarks) heading mostly N into woodland, rather overgrown in places. Cross a bridge, then it’s up to cross a lane. Follow the blue n.9 markings scrupulously for the remaining distance to Santa (370m). Bear left through the tiny paved square and take the alleys threading their way between the houses. Keep left at the tarmac, up steps and left again at the road past new villas. Not far along you need the road forking uphill to Mengoulas (470m, 1hr). The village’s elegant stone houses are abandoned for the most part, and the village is populated by flocks of noisy jackdaws and laden fig trees.
At the circular village square, branch sharp left in front of houses and keep your eyes peeled for the waymarks leading up steps to the last buildings. Then, with superb views back over the Albanian coastline, a path makes its way past a low shepherd’s hut and over the arid mountainside that doubles as pasture for sheep. This concludes at a stony lane (at 500m) which you follow to the left (S) for a magnificently panoramic stroll in the company of giant Jerusalem sage plants.
After a water cistern the summit of Pandokratoras towering over karst terrain comes into view as you reach a fork. Here you leave the CT and go left towards farm buildings, soon also parting ways with the blue-marked n.9 (which goes sharp left again). You continue straight ahead, due S. The level way passes over small quarries and becomes a rough stony lane. After a shed is passed Corfu Town comes into view at a wide stony saddle and fork where a pipe runs across the way. Go left here (SE at first) and stay with the lane following it around to veer right to a concrete-stone cistern. Here keep left (SE) in constant descent towards the welcome shade of cypress trees. Not long afterwards, at a derelict house atop a stone wall, yellow markers point you right to scramble down onto an old path through olive groves. Join a quiet road to the peaceful houses of Katavolos positioned dizzily over the coast. Leave the road at the parking area and walk left through to a spreading ilex tree shading stone slab seats – a perfect resting spot. Here it’s right back to the road, which you leave at the next bend for a concreted lane (with CT waymarks) down past a new house. Then branch left on an unmarked path down old olive terraces alongside villas. Yellow paint marks reappear and point you left at the first junction for constant descent. This emerges on tarmac near houses and it’s not far down to the main road (bus stop nearby).
Go left to the corner and take the concrete-based lane but don’t miss the path that branches off it left for a winding descent through olive groves. A lane covers the last leg down to Kaminaki (1hr 40min), the glorious sea and a lovely waterfront lined with tavernas. Go L (NNE) to the end of the beach for a clear path along the rocky coast in the company of huge agave plants and secluded villas. It’s not far to popular Nissaki bay, with its big hotel. Continue past the swimming pool to the bar then go up left along the front of the hotel building to where the lovely path resumes, as does peace and quiet. Shaded by olive trees, it soon climbs steeply albeit briefly on steps to circle private property. The glittering turquoise sea is seen through the trees. Further along you pass the turnoff taken in the outward stage, and soon reach Agni beach and Nikolas Taverna. Now it’s a matter of retracing your steps via Gialiskari beach back to Kalami (1hr).