Walks outside the UK
Date: 25th May 2013
Distance: 8.5 miles
Ascent: 460 feet
Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
With: Ann and David
An interesting waymarked route contouring around the upper slopes of Mount Olympos, the highest mountain on Cyprus.
Route Summary: Following the waymarked Atalante Trail from Troodos.
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: The Atalante Trail is one of a number of waymarked walks in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus. This particular walk contours around the upper slopes of Mount Olympos, which at 1,951m is the highest mountain on the island. There are in fact two trails, this one and the slightly higher Aphrodite Trail. In the end we decided to go for this one because, although it is slightly lower than the Aphrodite Trail, it was longer and made the drive up to Troodos more worthwhile.
The Atalante Trail starts from the village of Troodos itself and, without much deviation in height, contours around the mountain at about the 1,750m mark. Large parts of the trail are wooded which allied to the altitude meant that the temperature was mercifully cooler than when I had done the Avakas Gorge earlier in the week.
It was a fascinating walk with a bit of something for everyone. For tree lovers there was some magnificent black pines and as well as juniper and cedars. Whilst we were a bit too late to get the full display of spring time flowers there was still plenty to see. For the geologist there was plenty of pyroxenite and hazburgite rocks. David, one of my companions on this walk, is a keen bird spotter and we spent some time trying to identify different birds. Amongst others we saw a jay, hooded crow, pied wheatear, masked shrike, lots of chaffinches and a pair of falcons we couldn't properly identify. Other wildlife included a few lizards and plenty of butterflies.
As there was little climbing involved the walk was very easy though care still needed to be taken as it was often rocky underfoot. Occasionally the views suddenly opened out, early on in the walk we could clearly make out the large salt lake on the Akrotiri Peninsula south of Limassol. Later on we also had some superb views of the village of Prodomos and the long mountain ridge of Panagia. Due to the height we were walking mountains that would overtop Scafell Pike looked like small hills. Towards the end of the walk also had some views of the Five Finger Mountains in the Turkish part of the island as well as a glimpse of the large radar station on the summit of the mountain.
It has to be said that towards the end of the trail the black pine forest did start to get a bit samey. Having said that this was still a unique walking experience and unlike anything else I'd done before. The Troodos Mountains may not be the most dramatic in the world but it was still a memorable day.