Goodbye Leonidio, Hello Kyparissi – Kastraki

We arrived in Leonidio expecting to stay a couple of weeks and fretting slightly whether we’d have enough to do as we eked-out our visit to coincide with the thirty plus Rucksackers who’d decided on an extended tag-team approach to SunRock 2019. We needn’t have worried – a fortnight since we bade farewell to the last of the SunRockers, and five weeks since we arrived, we’ve finally torn ourselves away. There’s just so much outstanding cragging, benign weather and such a great vibe to the place; added to which our base at Camping Semeli is totally idyllic. (You can just about make out our van in the centre of the shot below, in our exclusive beach-front enclave, with the whole of Panagia and Kokkinovrachos set out above Leonidio in the background.)

We’ve also been lured into staying by the continued (and largely unplanned) flow of good company from home, with Steve and Keith; Gary and Hazel; Pete and Jim; Chris and Keith; and George and Mark (not to mention the return of Mike and Heidi) all putting in appearances and providing great banter and an excuse to drink too much!

Anyway, all good things come to an end, and we lingered over a final morning coffee on the beach…

… before heading on our way over the hill to Kyparissi. We took the Tsitsalia route to Fokiano for a change (which is 6 and 2 3s, until you get stuck behind a very slow lorry!) and you get a fantastic view of the whole of the valley from the zigzags heading out of town

After about 20 minutes snaking along the coast road (a.k.a. Road to and from almost nowhere) you arrive at a point where you can no longer see the road continuing along the furthest skyline, and sure enough you round a bend to find yourself in the perfect natural harbour at Kyparissi. It’s an idyllic spot, only accessible by boat until a few decades ago, and home to the next wave of cragging in the Peloponnese.

We settled on Kastraki for its sunny afternoon aspect and the fact that it’s the “mid-grade” sweet spot in the area. Just on the edge of the village, it’s accessed by a 5 minutes walk past the charming church and cemetery and offers great views down to the sea. Here I am warming up on Rozos, a 🎶 6a in a very photogenic location. Fun climbing and probably worth the “La!” factor.

Helen did the tough and slightly damp Sirmas, 6a, before we headed to the upper tier.

I had a somewhat frustrating end to the afternoon: fueled by fatigue, complacency and sun-stroke, I set about struggling on Tzambas, 7a (which I’d cruised on our previous visit) and Jumping Fish, 6c+ (and gets a 🎶 from Aris – fun pockets and a bouldery move where there’s a gap!)

Helen fared much better, leading Pontikos, 6b

… and the burley Panotsis, 5c+.

By now the sun had dropped behind the hill, the moon was up, and it was time to find a spot on the beach to spend the night.

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