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Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli

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Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli
20 November, 2013 14:59
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Whenever I go hiking I am always on the lookout for the remains of routes that, in the past, would have been often used by the local inhabitants to go from village tro village. Some of these frequently-used routes are still seen – the ‘kaldermimi’ that connect the various coastal villages.

However, a well-preserved inland route that connects Askifou to Anopoli only exists in fragments. But what about 200 years ago? The question I ask myself is: where is the route good enough to take a horse?

The following is an extract from Pashley’s book (1837) where he describes the route he follows from Askifou to Anopoli. Note that his use of ‘road’ only means what nowadays we would call path. Apparently, a ‘road’ was anything good enough to allow travel by horse or some other pack animal. Pashley used a horse and this is important to keep in mind when evaluating the route he must have taken. It means his route had to be in reasonably good condition. Both he, and later Spratt, were warned against taking the ‘road’ at Xiloskala down to Roumeli because it was not good enough for a horse, and only good for a mule trained for it. Pashley also used a horse on the steep ‘road’ down to Roumeli from Aradena (at Sellouda, although he does not use this name).

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We do not leave Askyfo till half-past eight: after crossing the plain we begin an ascent, which continues, with but little intermission, till twenty minutes before ten, when I find snow, of which my horse eats greedily, lying three feet thick on the side of the road. After a slight descent, which is succeeded by an ascent, I begin, at half-past ten, to follow the windings of a very bad road along the south side of this great chain of the White Mountains, and not very far from their snow-clad summits. Soon after eleven the road improves, and changes its direction to the south-west, the African sea and the island of Gavdha being in sight.

First problem: how does he get out of Askifou plateau. He does not go via Imbros. He also does not mention the Niato plateau. Taking account of how he describes other parts of his travels, I would expect him to mention it. The first illustration is taken from Spratt’s map (1865). There are some ‘roads’ on this map and I have indicated with arrows such a road that leaves Askifou, bypasses Imbros, and winds towards Anopoli. Where is this ‘road’?


The second illustration is an hypothesized route drawn on Google Earth. This route goes up a ravine south of Ammoudari, traverses west, then down southwest to Trikoukia and on to Kalli Lakki. I have never exited Askifou this way myself (I have always gone via Niato), although I know that a marked trail is there. Whether it would be good enough for a horse 200 years ago, I don’t know. Certainly, now, the route from Niato to Trikoukia is not good for a horse.


Now we continue with Pashley’s description.

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At half-past eleven we arrive at a fountain of deliciously cold water, at which is a solitary fig-tree. Trees grow on all these rocky mountains, except quite on the summits of the highest ranges. The commonest tree is the prinos, or ilex, and, near the fountain, are also a great many cypresses. We are less than two miles to the north-north-west of the village of Muri. At half-past twelve we emerge from a valley, which we have been following for some time, and see Gavdha and Ghavdha-pula, as well as the Paximadhia islands, and the projecting point of Mesara: as I look back, both Psylorites and Kendros are now in sight. Muri is about a mile to our south-east and Anopolis is four miles to the south-west. From this point we continually descend along the side of the mountains, by a very bad road, towards the plain of Anopolis, and we reach its northern edge at half-past one.

The surprising thing is that he does not mention Kalli Lakki. Kalli Lakki is/was a busy place, with well-defined access down into Sfakiano gorge. Did the hamlet not exist at that time? The ‘road’ now passes above the hamlet, and there has been enough work put into making support walls that it must have been used often enough to justify the work to make it. So Pashley needn’t have entered the hamlet, but I am surprised he didn’t mention it, if it was there.

Past Kalli Lakki, the route sounds more familiar. Work has been put into the ‘road’ which winds back and forth into and out of a ravine, then going uphill towards Scarfidou, again suggesting that it was often used. Is this the ‘fountain’ that he mentions? It is not clear what his reference point for Mouri might be, but the direction he gives from the fountain and the approximate distance to the middle of the plateau would more or less fit.

He then mentions leaving a ‘valley’. Between Scarfidou and where the present road opens up there is not a ‘valley’ in a big sense, but a pass between hills. What he then says about relative distances to Mouri and Anopoli is slightly confusing. The directions fit only if we assume he is not talking about straight distance to Anopoli but ‘road’ distance (at other places he incorrectly estimates distances). He is now at the north side of the depression at west side of Illingas gorge, where there is the entrance to the gorge at Timos Stavros.

From this depression I know there is a direct path and kalderimi straight to Anopoli. However, this might have been used mainly for working the enclosed fields up there and it does not sound as though Pashley went this way. Instead, he says he descended down the side of the mountain and entered the Anopoli plateau from the north. This implies that his ‘road’ was located where the present road now exists.

I have tried to fit his description to the most common route today, but he says things that do not easily fit, such as being in a 'valley' for an hour after the fountain, then coming to a place with a clear view of the south and east of the island (to Mesara and kendro). This almost suggests to me that he was actually taking a higher route than the one people use today.

So we have a ‘road’ that was probably substantial enough to be worth putting on a map. The questions remain:
What was the main route out of Askifou towards Anopoli?
Why did he not mention Kalli Lakki? Did it not exist?
Getting past the Mouri junction, was the road then at the location of the road now?
Re: Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli
20 November, 2013 16:09
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Thanks Mike,

A very interesting search!

Could this be it?

[Google Earth kmz path file]: [www.sfakia-crete-forum.com]



It is following as much as possible the still available kalderimis. The water well would then be at Skafidakia.

All the best,

Erno
webmaster Sfakia-Crete.com
Re: Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli
21 November, 2013 13:58
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This is a possibility that I was wondering about. The unused trail that connects from Scarfidou up to the road to the high mountains .. I have not been there yet and don't know what it is like.

But if I have learned anything from my wandering around the mountains it is that the trails or 'roads' mirror the interests and needs of the people using them at the time. I have found many old and abandoned ruins at spots that do not seem to be connected to anything now. Unused trails can degenerate and become overgrown very quickly. Result: old and frequently used trails become invisible.

I have not seen a social history of Crete. I mean, not the politics but the ways and patterns of daily life, how villages were connected; when, how, why people went anywhere. On the coast it is obvious. It is not so clearcut elsewhere.

So, now, even though this higher mountain route seems to be going out of the way of a direct straightline route to Anopoli, perhaps people weren't so interested at the time to go to Anopoli from Askifou. The interest was in going higher to the mountains. Other travelers might then use the existing high mountain trails as the indirect way down to Anopoli.
Re: Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli
21 November, 2013 15:44

I am almost sure that the trail connecting Skarfidhia spring and Roussies road as well as the continuing path towards Vigla, the cistern and then the ravine towards Anopolis was certainly not the trail used by Pashley. I tried to locate the section between Skarfidhia and the road in September and basically discovered "nothing". I have to admit that I walked slightly too high, but the route is not logic as it gains a lot of height.
It is more likely that they used the trail from Skarfidhia (which has a fig tree by the way!) towards Mouri, the crossed the Ilingas gorge at Timios Stavros and then used the very direct old trail towards Thesparta cistern and then "central" Anopolis (I juyt forgot the name of the hamlet between Kambia and Kambos.
In my eyes, this makes much more sense as you usually use the "easiest" connection.

Best wishes
Simon
Re: Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli
21 November, 2013 15:52

OK, I have re-read the original post of Mike: I am sure that Skarfidhia is the fountain he mentions. But then he must have taken a path bypassing Mouri (on the western side of the Ilingas gorge). From this area, you can easily reach Thesparta cistern. From there you more or less directly reach Anopolis crossing the plain from a somehow "northern" direction.

Best wishes
Simon
Re: Pashley’s (1837) route from Askifou to Anopoli
22 November, 2013 12:13
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Hi Simon,

Thanks for the update on the (non)existence of the ‘trail’ towards the Roussies road, the Vigla cistern, etc.

I should clarify something, and give some background for why I am confused about Pashley’s description here. The main reason is that he gives descriptions of other routes that are completely unambiguous. Here, for example, is how he describes getting to Aradena:

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On leaving Haghios Dhemétrios, we crossed the low ridge which bounds the plain of Anopolis in this direction, and in about half an hour arrived at the edge of a chasm running south of the village of Aradhena. It commences to our right near the foot of the loftiest of the Sfakian mountains, and extends down to the sea. It is no easy matter to cross this nearly perpendicular cleft in the solid rock, forming as it does a narrow ravine of several hundred feet in depth, down and up the steep sides of which we have to pass. The road, if road it can be called that road is none, winds along each side, changing its course every ten or twelve paces. These turns were the only very dangerous points: at these I more than once expected to see my horse miss his footing, for the stones on which he had to tread were large and slippery, and more suitable for goats than for horses to step on. The descent and subsequent ascent, on the opposite side, to the village of Aradhena, occupied about twenty-five minutes.

Everything he says, even the walking times and (earlier in his book) the compass direction from Riza to Ag. Demetrios, fits perfectly the situation today.


His description of the way from Aradena to Roumeli is just as accurate, even describing the changes in the ground underfoot. Anyone familiar with the way today, can recognize his description completely.

So, getting back to the Askifou route, I think we can be confident about the part from Askifou to Scarfidia. It is the section from Scarfidia to Anopoli that is unclear. The following is a map of this section. The ‘O’ marks Scarfidia, the ‘X’ marks my guess where he gives his compass bearings for Mouri and Anopoli.


The red line marks the place where there is a kalderimi and footpath that connects Anopoli with the walled fields on the upper hills. I don't know how old these walled fields are. It is reasonable to assume they are at least 200 years old, along with everything else around there. However, I cannot fit this route to Pashley's description of where he goes:

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From this point [that is, at point ‘X’] we continually descend along the side of the mountains, by a very bad road, towards the plain of Anopolis, and we reach its northern edge at half-past one.

Here is a photo looking southwest from somewhere in the middle of the route I marked:


This does not look like a ‘descent along the side of the mountains’, which implies to me a traverse.

That is why I am puzzled. I can recognize most of what Pashley says about other routes he took. I cannot recognize this one section.

So I am curious if there is a missing ‘road’ up there that nobody knows about. Perhaps the very high detour via the Vigla cistern and the ravine is not the right way. But suppose we draw a straight line from ‘X’ to the ravine exit above Limnia?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 22/11/2013 12:18 by Mike.

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We take no responsibility at all for the correctness of any information given here,
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