posted in: Ancient sites | 1

It all began with Stafilos, who was probably a Cretan prince, sent to Skopelos by king Minos in the 16th century BC. He is believed to have been the son of Dionysos and Ariadni, brother to Oinopion, Thoas and Peparethos. Only Peparethos joined him in the colonisation of Skopelos and gave the island its name, which fell into disuse in the 2nd century AD. They brought with them vines and olive trees.

In 1936, contents of a rich grave were found by chance in the neck of the headland between the beaches now known as Stafilos and Valanio. They included a gold sword handle, the biggest ever to be found in Greece, plus many artefacts, including a double edged axe, the symbol of the Minoans. They can be found in the National Museum in Athens. It isn’t certain that the grave was that of Stafilos himself but it was undoubtedly that of royalty, as only a leader would have had such precious funeral offerings.

Believe it or not, there are the remains of a Mycenean wall at the end of Stafilos beach (1600-1100BC).

The remains of Roman defence walls can be found at Kastro (castle) Milos, *Panormos, Kanaka Laka and Loutraki (ancient Selinus). There’s also a very interesting looking wall next to the road to Moutero. It’s mentioned by archaeologist Diamantis Sampson, but no details documented.

Temples: Asclepius the demi-god, Artimis/Diana goddess of hunting (within the walls of private Episcope monastery), Eefastos/Vulcan god of fire and metal (Ag Konstantinos), Athene/Minerva, goddess of wisdom and war (Raches) to name but a few. Others existed, their remains having been recycled into the walls of the Christian churches that took their place.

Sarcophagi were also upcycled where possible and used in the building of Christian churches (eg. Ag Michalis Sinadon, *Panagia Eleftherotria). A complete sarcophagus is literally sticking out of the wall in the house of family Kosma. Even older are tombs honed into the rockface at Sendoukia, Aloupi, Alikias and Mavraki, Glossa.

*Roman Baths/Loutra at Katakalou, Loutraki.

A network of beacons/Phryctoria were built on hill-tops across the island, each visible to the next. A prearranged semaphore was used to convey messages. Ruins can be found at Mavrangi, Helenico, Cape Prionos, Mavraki, and Panormos. There must have been others in the Palouki area but none have been documented.


You don’t need me to tell you how many apps and publications exist that help us identify the flora around us. We all have our favorites. Ours is iNaturalist. It is based at the California Academy of Sciences and is an independent nonprofit platform. Skopelos Trails is a donor, contributor and supporter. Confirming contributions, iNaturalist is used as a reference by study groups from all over the world. They can now suggest an astounding 80,000 species of plants, animals and fungi. I log our flora even when I know what I’m looking at. I do this for our records, for the use of others as well identifying unknown species.

It is through this platform that we were contacted by Spain’s department of Biogeographical Eco Botanical facility at the university of Savile who invited us to contribute towards their project on the study of the cytinus rock rose paracite. Over a period of a month, we collected samples of the female and male flowers (inflorescences) and dried them in bags of salt before sending them off in the post. For our efforts, we received a surprise donation which was about the same amount as the donation we had already made to iNaturalist!

End of Year Roundup

posted in: 2020, 2020 clearing | 0

In spite of the obvious disadvantages encountered in 2000, we still managed to reinstate 4 old trails as well as maintenance work.

In February our first volunteer arrived; Kiki Kamo from Japan. Due to transit problems she was here for just ten days but we were able to carry out maintenance at least.

Next up was Avery and Julia from the USA. However, their stay, 7-10 March, was curtailed due to the first lockdown. We made a start on the huge Mikalaki clearing project plus the Loutsa tower project which I finished off alone during lockdown.

In May, I was lucky to have the help of Zoe and Leo from France. They had decided to spend the lockdown here on the island. During that time we reopened an old trail from Pera Karia up to Sendoukia. It took us 5 days and included not only the clearing of vegetation and fallen trees but also the installation of ropes to help hikers up/down steep cliff faces.

There was a long break until the arrival of Emanuel from Romania, who stayed 3-30 September. Emanuel was an amazing volunteer. He didn’t want any days off or feeding and arrived by car with 4 hand made metal gates ready for installation. Emanuel has his own forge in Romania. During his stay we had the use of a forge, kindly put at our disposal by the Patsis family. The gates replaced fences at Kimissia and Ag Marina and Emanuel worked very hard installing them. He also worked extremely hard in flighting through to expose the beautiful aqueduct bridge at Mikalaki.

From 12 October-1 December, Camille and Aris from France became part of the furniture (one month intended and then extended due to Covid restrictions.) During that time, we also hosted Vailva from Lithuania (26 October-23 November). Here is the list of work that was carried out during that time:

4 days at The Mill, clearing away more vegetation, exposing walls plus an old path beyond the aqueduct. We also attempted to find the spring water source.

6 days clearing the Palouki forest trails between the examini, Ag Triatha turning and Ag Anna turning.

3 days reopening 147m of blocked trail near Ag Iannis Kambos.

2 days of trail maintenance at Abuzali – 359m.

3 days back at The Mill Mikalakis

2 days maintenance behind the Episkopi monastery – 105m

3 days in the area of Tjelili near the deer enclosure plus on the valley floor towards Glysteri – 576m

4 days maintenance at Diakopi – 299m

2 days maintenance on the Tower Loutsa trail – 374m

Aris, Camille & Vaiva

6 days maintenance at Ypermaxou

I also had a few hours local help from Maria Papavasiliou, Nana Kobra, Turid Stokkeland, Lefki Sohou, Kerasia Tamouridou, Ioanna Petsa, Georgos Papadavid, Silje Kramer plus a young French girl called Sofia! Thank you all! Thanks also to Peter Broadley for allowing us to use his home for volunteer accommodation. It made a huge difference and helped enormously.


posted in: path clearing | 0

2019 was a very busy year for Skopelos Trails. We started work on 12 January and continued through until 18 December (except July/August). We cleared some 30 trails, installed 3 flights of steps and hosted 39 volunteers from 13 different countries. Our sponsors #RigasHotelSkopelos and Pension Kyr Sotos continued to provide accommodation, Wolf Garden provided equipment, Nikos Orfanos kept the loppers sharp, Anne Perry helped me with this WP account Agapi Karamanli (Anna’s) and Machi Ambelakia provided a banquet, Gusto provided a giant pizza and Eva Karras donated some food. I thank you all!

There are exciting plans ahead of us. Let’s hope we can make them happen!