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The Peak of Zaxapia Mapkakh Church - Mochos, Crete

The Peak of Zaxapia Mapkakh Church - Mochos, Crete


Postby Chris Mac » Wed Jul 17, 2019 12:51 am

Date walked: 29/06/2019

Time taken: 5.3

Distance: 20 km

Ascent: 768m

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Holiday time! 8)

After a few years exploring some Canary Isles and enjoying volcanic and crater walks, we decided it was time to head back to Greece and settled for the most mountainous island in Europe! :shock:

Suits me! Unfortunately I would soon discover that my grand plans were to dwindle and it also turns out that Crete, despite being ridiculously full of big mountains and hills, three main areas have peaks over 2000m, is not the most hillwalker friendly place to be! :(

Staying in Stalis, the quieter resort between trashy Malia to the east (full of kids with bumbags worn like bandoliers!) :crazy: and the nicer, bigger Hersonnisos to the west. My grand plan was to make my way to the Dikti range and climb Spathi, the highest summit in the range and the east of Crete. Unfortunately that would involve hiring a car and Y joining me, or entertaining herself on Lasithi plateau, neither an option.

So it looked like something local would have to fit the bill, not a problem, still plenty of Graham sized hills behind me leading up to Mochos, the village inland and uphill of which Stalis is the original port. Map studying showed several hills with tracks ot paths up them but I thought I would be able to wander care-free from hill top to hill top, picking any route I wanted like back home and on the volcanic landscape of the Canaries. Reality would prove this to be an unworkable plan once I was up the hills!

I settled on the Bulgarian Path up to Mochos Village, up and over some Graham sized hills behind Stalis. Built by Bulgarian POW's during the war, it leads from Stalis up to a Monastery then on to Mochos. I planned to reach the Monastery and assess my options.

Below is the route I would end up taking:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (1) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (2) by djchrismac, on Flickr

A few days into the holiday a cooler, cloudy day was forecast on the Friday, a perfect opportunity for my walk as it was aroudn 30 degrees every other day so this would make the walk more bearable. Unfortunately it also meant visibility wasn't great and the mountains further inland would be obscured.

I set off from the apartment along the straigh road you can see here:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (4) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I turned up towards the Riding School and onto the long fat arm of the hill that leads to the monastery seen in the distance:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (5) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I pass a few houses including one called Everest! The path heads straight towards the target up on the hillside initially:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (7) by djchrismac, on Flickr

On my left to the east is the smaller hill that sits between Stalis and Malia:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (8) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Distant Malia, no view of the bigger hills beyond unfortunately:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (9) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The Monastery:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (10) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I continue up the well made path and approach a ravine with a road running through it as the track heads down to my left:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (11) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I'm still heading uphill though and have a concrete bridge to cross that somehow manages to look rickety! :lol:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (12) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Looking west to my right as I cross:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (13) by djchrismac, on Flickr

To the left:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (14) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I've made it in one piece! A fence that could do with a gate that just has rope tying to sections of fence together is the next obstacle, these would be a feature of the walk:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (16) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Although loose and rocky in a lot of places, some sections of the path are still decent:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (17) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The path soon reaches another road:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (18) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (19) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Another oddity, a church for the birds! :lol: Greece features a lot of postbox sized looking church things like this, or little chapel windows in rocks:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (20) by djchrismac, on Flickr

After crossing the road the Monastery edges ever closer:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (21) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Lots of these rainbow corn on the cob plants are passed throught the walk too:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (22) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Some trees to dodge:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (23) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I'm pretty high up now, around 1000ft or so:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (24) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Malia's shoreline in the distance:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (25) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Almost there now:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (27) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Atop the graffiti is another road to cross and the regular sound of quad bikes tearing past has been with me a while:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (28) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Looking back down to the start in Stalis:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (30) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I crossed the road and attemped to get through the fence on the other side before realising the path doubles back slightly:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (31) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Final section of path leading to the Monastery:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (32) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I have company too as the clunk of mountain goat bells indicates, i'm finally with my kind again: :lol:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (33) by djchrismac, on Flickr

You get a pretty good view of the path heading down the hill from here:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (34) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Not open until later today:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (35) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I pass the Monastery goats:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (36) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I surveyed my options as I walked along the road from the Monastery towards Mochos, the off-piste hill sides were a cluster of sharp rocks and spikey plants with no decent looking routes anywhere, plus to reach it you had to cross rough looking goat fences....hmmm!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (37) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Mochos was now in view:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (38) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I didn't want to head there then back down the Malia to Mochos path, I wanted a summit to sit on! I review my options on the map - to my right a track lead all the way to a double peak a few km dostant and around the hill I was on to thewest of the village, that might just suffice. I could then head into Mochos for a snack before returning back to the coast, perfect:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (39) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I pas some more noisy goats and make good progress along the track, denied a walk along this ridge line on my left unfortunately:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (41) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Another church on the hill:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (42) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Mochos Village:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (44) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The path swings right away from Mochos and I catch sight of my target in the distance to the left of a few potential summits:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (46) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Well it has trees at the top, no doubt hiding another church! :lol:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (47) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The track passes a farm with mean looking goats and a few barking dogs:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (48) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Luckily the dogs are securely tied up and gents on their porch return a wave as I walk past a fair distance away. The path soon splits:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (49) by djchrismac, on Flickr

To the left a ruin:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (50) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Further left a bigger hill in the distance just north west of Lasithi Plateau, an area I will have to explore some other time:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (51) by djchrismac, on Flickr

It's take the track to the right for me however, I have a summit to reach:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (53) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The track is good and fairly long but I make quick progress on the way to the unknown peak:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (56) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Distant big hills further south:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (59) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Getting there...
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (61) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Aposelemis Dam down below:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (62) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (63) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I finally reach the final ascent to the summit, head through another gate:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (64) by djchrismac, on Flickr

On my right a large quarry:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (66) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Behind me is the twin peak of the summit i'm about to traverse, I wonder which is taller...
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (67) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I knew it! Another church: :D
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (69) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Zaxapia Mapkakh is the sign on the door, along with some other writing, hard to make out so this will do as the name of the hill, Zaxapia Mapkakh Peak, named after the church. It's a decent viewpoint but unfortunately the even bigger peaks of the Dikti range behind it are shrouded in clouds, dammit:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (71) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The wee church:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (73) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Some views:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (74) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I sit and snack and soak it in, it's always such a different experience hiking abroad and I love itL
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (75) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (76) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Panorama time to try and do it justice:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (77) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Aposelemis down below:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (78) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (80) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Looking back in the direction I came towards Mochos:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (81) by djchrismac, on Flickr

It may be hazy but the scenery is still stunning:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (82) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I wander arount a bit to ensure i've reached the summit and find a few potential rick tops:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (83) by djchrismac, on Flickr

After a final look at Crete's more mountanous terrain it's time to head back towards Mochos:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (84) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The summit just across from me I had decided was slightly tallet than Zaxapia Mapkakh Peak after counting contours on Opencyclemap, oh well, the terrain dictated that I'd have to settle for the one top today, it will do! :roll:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (85) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Head along the track again:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (86) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Looking back at the summit of a nice shapely wee hill, probably just a Tump back home! :lol:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (89) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The track is more scenic on the way back along:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (90) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Distant peaks teasing, a few of them have paths leading to them:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (91) by djchrismac, on Flickr

A slightly spooky thing now started happening, every now and again I would hear the jingle of mountain goats nearby but they would be nowhere to be seen despite constant scanning! :shock:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (92) by djchrismac, on Flickr

To the south and on my right, beyond the Reservoir, a massive bulky hillside of a 2000m or so beast can just be made out, leading up to Lasithi Plateau:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (93) by djchrismac, on Flickr

A strange place for a postbox!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (94) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Looking back at what I conquered, hardly the biggest or most challenging but in this heat it's plenty! 8)
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (96) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Finally approaching Mochos, although the track will take me away from it back to the Monastery then swing around into the village:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (98) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Mochos Village:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (100) by djchrismac, on Flickr

It's nice to escape the throngs of tourists at the coast and explore inland, much more scenic!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (101) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Towards the Monastery again, then turn right:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (103) by djchrismac, on Flickr

A few massive wingspans soared overhead, Bearded Vultures, they are HUGE! I quickly change to the big lens but i'm too slow and they've gone, hopefully i'll get another chance to snap one. Might aswell zoom in on that churcgh again:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (105) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Destination:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (106) by djchrismac, on Flickr

A bleating up the hillside had not stopped since I had, naturally a nosey revealed an angry and satanic looking mountain goat perched on a large boulder and clearly not happy that I hadn't cleared off yet! :lol:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (107) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I pass some of his pals, one looks like a Bantha!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (108) by djchrismac, on Flickr

On reaching the Monastery road I turn right and a not so neat track takes me along to the village:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (109) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (110) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The not-to-be-ridgeline and church now on my left:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (111) by djchrismac, on Flickr

It doesn't take too long to reach Mochos and the view is good as I make my way past some more barking dogs:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (115) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I reach Mochos Village and settle down in Taverna Odysseus:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (117) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The friendly older gent asks where i'm from and we enjoy a chat about Scotland and Crete before he brings me some fried cheese and a coffee, not your usual hill walk snack! :lol:

Mochos has a lovely little central square and church with cafes all around and it's good to see it so busy:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (118) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I set off past the church:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (119) by djchrismac, on Flickr

From Mochos I can follow some roads that will take me to the Malia-Mochos path and down towards Malia, where I can cut left around the smaller hill that separates the two towns directly back to Stalis:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (120) by djchrismac, on Flickr

When I say road it's of the single track road variety!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (121) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The useful blue arrow leads the way:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (123) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Past another nice wee chuch:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (125) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Visibility is improving thankfully:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (126) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Leaving Mochos behind as I head uphill:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (127) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Past a tractor:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (128) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Then a quality astroturf football pitch which was unexpected!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (129) by djchrismac, on Flickr

On my left over there is the way I came up:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (131) by djchrismac, on Flickr

During the final ascent in the distance were around 8 Vultures circling and as I approached the top of the hillside before heading back down to the coast a group of them moved closer giving me time to switch to the big lens again and hopefully shoot some of them! :wink:

Even at a distance they were massive and soaring effortlessly:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (133) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (134) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Then one broke from the group:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (135) by djchrismac, on Flickr

To then soar right over my head about 20-30 feet up and it was like a small plane! :crazy: :clap:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (136) by djchrismac, on Flickr

It was exhilirating to be so close to such a big bird. Excitement over it was time to continue, mindful of being careful not to fall and break my neck on the descent otherwise I might see the Vultures again even closer up! :shock:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (138) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Looking across to my left I can make out the path I took to Zaxapia Mapkakh Peak and Church:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (139) by djchrismac, on Flickr

If you visit Crete it's definitely worth heading inland:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (141) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I reach the top of the hill and can see the sea once more:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (144) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Down to the left Stalis appears:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (147) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Stalis:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (148) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The sun was out again now, it was roasting, luckily I had a large rimmed hat to keep me in the shade as my mountain goat pals used this tree for cover:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (149) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I can make out the apartments!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (151) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Hersonissos is in the distance to the west, behind the ridge line on the other side from Stalis:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (152) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I quite fancied exploring that ridge but after seeing the terrain issues I think i'll pass on it:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (153) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The Monastery again:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (154) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Back to the sounds of quad bikes now! :(
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (155) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The view from here was even better than along at the monastery:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (156) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (157) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (158) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I continue on as the path takes me east and down towards Malia:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (160) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Up on the hillside is what looks like a castle turret:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (161) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Soon another is revealed:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (163) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The path is very scenic:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (164) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Malia and the bridge across the expressway that i'm heading for:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (167) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Getting there, the path is good and I have more goats running away from me but i'm still being very careful as the path is still rough in places:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (170) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Baah yourself!
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (172) by djchrismac, on Flickr:

Looking back at the route down:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (173) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The route i'm taking between hills following the road below and around the smaller hill:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (174) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The bigger than Ben Nevis giant way behind Malia is clearing a bit at last:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (178) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The path zig zags a bit:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (179) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (180) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (182) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (183) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I eventually reach flatter ground and more rainbow flower corn things:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (184) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Time to cross the main road:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (186) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (187) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I've got some track then road to head along now and it's all downhill into Stalis:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (188) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (189) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (190) by djchrismac, on Flickr

Past some old ruins:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (191) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (192) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I spot something on the dirt road:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (193) by djchrismac, on Flickr

:shock:

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (194) by djchrismac, on Flickr

:shock: :crazy:

Ok so anyone walking in Crete, make sure you do not fall and become prey to Vultures! Although you can relax with the fact that they would wait for you to die by some other means before munching on you! :wink:

Maybe it wasn't the vultures... moving swiftly on, I pass an old cash and carry on my right, looking just like the set of an A-Team episode: :lol:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (195) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I reach the A road and follow it down into Stalis, plenty of room at the side of the road and the cars all gave me a wide berth anyway, nice and considerate:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (196) by djchrismac, on Flickr

ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (197) by djchrismac, on Flickr

A look back up at the hills, it's been a great walk, almost at the 20km mark and 768m ascent - the equivalent of a small Corbett:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (198) by djchrismac, on Flickr

The home stretch:
ImageCrete Day 4 - Hill walk (199) by djchrismac, on Flickr

I returned, had a quick shower then jumped in the pool, one of the best things about having a hiking day on holiday! 8)

I never managed one of the monster mountains of Crete, or a Gorge, or a ramble up whatever hills I wanted due to the terrain but Crete is still a walkers and mountain lovers paradise and highly recommended and I look forward to returning to sample even more of it.
Last edited by Chris Mac on Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Chris Mac
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Posts: 626
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Joined: Sep 11, 2014
Location: Glasgow

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