Klopoukitsa was deserted. There were three or four houses, all closed up, and a church. Since nobody was about, we stopped briefly to fill up with water from a tap outside one of the houses. Suddenly half a dozen kittens, plump, cuddly and adorable, came tumbling out to greet us. The mother cat watched smugly, while they followed me up to have a look at the church. One sneaked in with me, and there was a scuffle to catch it again.
Then, as we walked on, they followed us, mewing plaintively. We’d been followed by stray dogs before, looking for a new master, but kittens were something new. They didn’t give up, even when we came out of the village and headed on up the mountain. I had visions of camping that night, with kittens mewing around the tent flap. Dogs usually turn tail when you stoop to pick up a stone. Not the kittens! We threw gravel: they were undeterred. We pushed them away with our hiking poles: they came on again as soon as we turned our backs. Then in desperation, Alan launched into his Old Man of the Mountains routine, screeching loudly and wheeling down on them threateningly. They fled, but thirty seconds later, they were back. We were a good mile up the mountain when they finally abandoned the chase.
We’d landed up way off our intended route. From Varvariadha, the E4 mostly followed the main road all the way to Karpenisi. Instead, we planned to take the forest track shown on the map up to Kastraki and then on to Kerasochori. But we simply couldn’t find the turn off, destroyed, no doubt, when the main road was tarred. Where it should have been, according to the GPS, there was nothing. Then a woman appeared from a roadside cottage, to invite us for coffee and ask if we needed help. She told us how she used to walk to school at Sello up in the mountains every day, but said that now the path was abandoned, destroyed by landslides, with steep precipices, and too dangerous to use. I’m still not sure if she was referring to the track shown on the map, but we decided to retrace our steps and take the long way round, along the zigzag track heading north towards Marathos.
It was a long slog, adding more than 12 kilometres to the route. The track ambled round the mountain slopes, trailing telegraph poles in its wake. By midday, the fine morning had collapsed into drizzle. We were cold and damp when we reached the turning to the abandoned village of Sello in late afternoon. Ahead the path rose higher into the mist. We pitched the tent, then made supper in the shelter of some large pine trees. It had been too dismal to stop for lunch, and it was good to eat something hot. Then we crawled into our sleeping bags to warm up.
The route: Forestry track going north from the bridge above Varavariadha, then curving south again to Klopoukitsa and the Sello turning. No waymarks, not an “official” hiking route. Water at Klopoukitsa and from a trough just above the road at the Sello turning. Kilometres: 19. Ascent: 994m Descent: 297m. Map: Anavasi 2.4. Mountains of Evritania.