Circular walk up through pine forests and up over the limestone hills of south west Lefkada. Starts in the village of Athani just above many of the most famous beaches of this part of Lefkada. Great for a walk followed by a freshing dip – or just a drink in the Athani tavernas.
Start from the centre of Athani off the short one-way section (towards Lefkada Town). If you are coming from Lefkada Town take the one-way section and then double back left up the steep hill. Park on your right at the top. The trail starts up the road to the right signposted to Serenity Boutique Hotel. Follow up the road (past the hotel). It turns to a concrete surface and then reaches a T junction where it turns to an unsurfaced track. Take the right track (essentially straight on). You will return to this junction at the end of the walk. If you have a small car you can drive up from Athani and park here saving part of the climb.
Climb the track steadily climbing up through the pine forest. You get glimpses down to the southern tip of Lefkada and Kefalonia beyond. Eventually you reach a rather ugly ruined block building on your left with a large stony scree coming down the hill. Turn left and ascend directly up the scree.
Pick your way up through the scree. It isn’t hard but take care. This is the roughest part of the walk. Keep left towards the top as the scree ends (hurrah) and becomes a good path. Keep diagonally left up the hillside towards the pass/dip up on the skyline. The path is blocked by bushes in parts which need to be circumvented either below or above the path.
As you come over the top of the ridge you see an old stone ruin off to the right. Keep going left towards a track you can see on the slope beyond.
Keep heading towards an unsurfaced track going up the hill. When you reach it turn right and take the track to its end at the top of the hill.
The track ends at the top of the hill and becomes an indistinct path. The route continues along the back of the broad ridge. The path is over gravel hillside with small thyme and heather clumps. It is easy going but sometimes hard to find the path – although there are many goat tracks so easy to keep heading North. Keep going towards the north and towards a solar panel array in the distance. The views here are wonderful both towards the craggy slopes of Stavrotas and the occasional glimpse south west down to the Vasiliki valley.
Before you reach the solar panels there is an unsurfaced track going sharp left down the slope. The track descends across a high meadow and past a corrugated-iron animal shelter until it reaches a T junction with another track. Turn left down this track. If you go too far and reach the solar panels you can pick up this second track from there and get back to this trail.
After about a kilometre down the track there is a junction where you need to turn sharp right. This rightward track is hard to spot at first as the track has fir trees growing in the middle and make it hard to find until you are well on to the track. This track turn left and becomes more distinct. It reaches another T junction with a better defined unsurfaced track. Turn left and continue down through the fir trees.
Eventually you reach the junction with the top of the surfaced road back down right towards Athani. Descend the short distance back into the village (unless you parked at the junction on the way up).
Athani is a wonderful village with tavernas and cafes. It is also close to Gialos Beach down the very steep hairpin road – but with a wonderful beach and swimming as a reward for the brave driver.