Cretan diary, 10 May 2022

Avdou to Mohos through the olive groves

We walked today about 5 kms (3 miles) through the olive groves for lunch in Mohos, and back by the same tracks. Wild flowers were everywhere along the way. Perhaps the most striking was the broom, which you can see spread up all the side of the hills (and mountainsides, further into Crete. The one I like most, which was perhaps the most frequent, was rose-pink cistus. Both attracted bees all along the track. They were joined by such a variety of wild-flowers. I’ll mention those I can remember (and name): poppies, a kind of local fennel, vetch, blue-eyed grass (which I’ve not seen since in the Tarn valley, many years ago), daises and two or three dandelion type flowers; and a type of orchid grew as we arrived at Mohos.

What is remarkable, though, is that we saw no aromatic herbs on the Mohos side. Even the fennel had almost no scent. Whereas south of Avdou there were oregano, mint, a variety of sage – but no thyme, we saw – up the sides of the gorge we walked a couple of days ago.

Olive trees grew all over the hill-side as we climbed. As we descended the short track to Mohos fig-trees – but with no fruit at all, that we could see – were more frequent. A few almond trees grew with fruit just appearing.

Walking through olive-groves is like walking through vine-yards, in this sense: there are no walls or fences to climb, just tracks which pass through the olive-groves. Today it is no longer cart or pack-horse tracks, but well-used access-ways mostly of concrete or still, occasionally, of rock or stone. These must have been developed when the olive-trees were first planted as today’s olive groves, some centuries ago, I suspect.

A thing I find strange about Crete – and intensely frustrating – is that there seem to be no maps (other than basic tourist road maps). Given that the British and the Germans fought over it in the Second World War and the Germans stayed on, I am sure they must have mapped it. That is my test for my return home: to find a few reasonable maps for here. I would love to come here again, but I would like to walk routes I had worked out from maps, not those recommended by Google.

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