Every two hundred metres along the tarred road back to Kerasochori stood a man in a high viz jacket, armed with a gun. There was no traffic. We waited for Butch Cassidy to come galloping round the corner to oblivion. Nothing so dramatic: this was the Saturday morning village boar hunt. High above the road, more hunters, pick-ups and dogs could be seen, ready to drive the boar down to the waiting guns. Two dead boar already lay waiting for collection at the side of the road. We passed quickly on, out of range. Later on that day, more hunters passed us in their pick-ups, returning home laden with meat.
We were back on the E4 again, though inexplicably the route stuck mainly to the main road, with only the occasional diversion onto footpaths or dirt tracks. But it wasn’t hard to find an alternative grassy track to Nea Viniani, then down to the lovely bridge over the Tavropos river and so to Stenoma. By this time it was early evening and the blue skies of morning had once again turned to drizzle.
The map showed accommodation at Stenoma, confirmed after slight hesitation by the owner of the Makkas hotel. As we walked down to the village there were no signs, and we wondered if it had closed. We asked a passer by, who wasn’t sure. People at the first cafe told us to carry on and ask again. It didn’t look promising. But at the second cafe, an old man offered to take us there, up a steep alley past the church. There was no sign outside and we would never have found it on our own. Our guide knocked on the door. “Popi! Popi!” No answer. But the back door was unlocked. He went in and shouted again. Waiting in the courtyard, we could hear a faint shout in reply.
Popi had been busy with her two year old son. She left him with our guide, while she showed us to our room in the self-catering flat next door. The water was hot and there was a large tree dripping ripe figs over the balcony. We returned to the cafe for supper. The owner had just lit the charcoal grill, and was preparing his own home-grown meat for supper. It seemed to be a family affair, with half a dozen customers all helping themselves to tsipouro from behind the bar. We were back in an area of permanent villages: there was an all year population of ninety, with a small primary school. In summer, numbers rose to over a thousand.
The route: E4 at first along a dirt track from Kerasochori, but then continuing along a track past a couple of quarries, rather than following the E4 back onto the main road. E4 again from Nea Viniani, along a dirt road down to the Tavropos bridge, and up a mule path on the other side. Some signs of maintenance and occasional E4 waymarks. We then cut left along the dirt road to Stenoma rather than continuing uphill along the E4 mule track. Water at Nea Viniani and at the river. Kilometres: 21. Ascent: 681m Descent: 873m. Map: Anavasi 2.4 Mountains of Evritania.
Facilities: Cafe at Nea Viniani. Cafes and rooms at Stenoma.