Els Hom (pictured above), one of Stapreizen’s team of Grecophiles – and an expert on Greek archaeology, as well as a dedicated walker and nature-lover – explains: “How often do we get surprised looks from people when we ask them for directions to the old
; kalderimi? ‘But you can walk on the asphalt road now,’ comes the answer. ‘Why use the old way when a car is far more convenient?’ As you can imagine, going out there and discovering the trails – finding them by asking the locals, and recording them – is one thing. But to create walking routes that will last for several years often turns into quite a challenge. As the locals rarely use footpaths these days, walking in Greece means regular return trips to check, re-route, waymark, cut bushes and sometimes sadly even abandon our chosen trails.”
But the situation is beginning to change. “It is good to see that, in the last few years, something of a transformation is taking place,”
; reports Els. “Hiking, mountaineering and trail running are becoming increasingly popular activities, and have begun to attract Greeks as well as foreigners to the paths. More and more Greeks have started to take up serious walking!”
This, in turn, has its own benefits: local groups have begun to preserve and restore networks of ancient paths – on some of the islands, as well as the mainland. Andros
, a verdant paradise in the northern Cyclades, is one such example, where a community initiative has been clearing and promoting the island’s walking trails for several years. Meanwhile, in the Western Cyclades, there have been efforts made to clear and waymark walking routes on Sifnos.