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Walking holidays in north Corfu

- by Liz Waugh

Walking holidays in north Corfu.

A few years ago I had the good fortune to enjoy an extended Corfu holiday in north-west Corfu and came across many 'undiscovered' walks in the area. Of course, there are the well-travelled trails like the route to the Pirate's Cove and around the coastal headland from Arillas to Stefanos, not to mention the northern leg of the Corfu Trail.

But there are so many delightful northwest Corfu walking trails that are hardly ever tackled by Corfu holiday visitors.

The region stretches from the beach resorts of Arillas on the west coast to Sidari on the north coast and, via the Corfu Trail, links to the Pantokrator region and north-east Corfu.

The region takes in the big north coast Corfu beach resorts of Sidari and Roda, as well as the Corfu west coast family beaches of San Stefanos, Arillas and Agios Georgios. Inland are the hill villages of Avliotes, Peroulades, Pagi and Agros.

The landscape of north-west Corfu is characterised by fertile valleys nestled between long clay ridges that plunge steeply into the sea. Northwest Corfu makes for some roller-coaster walking with steep climbs that can make even short walks a challenge.

The easiest trails are found on the flat plains around the beach holiday resort of Sidari. Away from the beach resorts the Corfu landscape is serene rural, with fields of hay, scores of olive groves and endless acres of artichoke.

Heading east, the Corfu walker is faced with the Pantokrator massif which dominates the region, soaring to nearly 3,000 feet. The south face of Pantokrator is a steep wall of rock, with just a few narrow gaps where narrow paths wind their laborious way up.

To the northeast, the mountain rocks tumble higgledy-piggledy into the Ionian sea creating a network of gullies which carve out most of the Corfu footpath routes in the area and link the remote hill villages with the small Corfu coastal ports.

Many walkers favour the circular paths that skirt around the high peaks while those that venture to the limestone heights will find a desolate plateau wilderness with scarcely a soul for miles.

The rugged terrain of Pantokrator ensure the toughest walks to be found on Corfu. The limestone peaks are mostly barren, with just a few pockets of hardy oak. Fortunately old donkey trails still survive and some of the main ones have even been cleared and levelled, making easier walking for the Corfu hiker.

Around the Corfu coast are a string of picturesque bays with small holiday resorts such as Barbati, Nissaki, Kaminaki, Kalami, Agios Stefanos, Avlaki and Kassiopi a favourite with the Corfu holiday visitors.

Many Corfu walking trails in this region extend from these small holiday resorts and there several good trails to inland Corfu villages such as Loutses, Lafki, Perithia and Porta.