European Summit Challenge
Cyprus - Mt. Olympus 1951m

The Cold River Trail

It was mid October, the temperature pleasant, and the morning sky, blue and cloudless. I had parked at Pera-Pedi, a tiny hill village at around 770 metres above sea level on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains. Armed with a map supplied by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and a guide book, I was setting off on foot for the Summit of Mt. Olympus, or Chionistra, "snow cap" as it is known by the Cypriots.
At 1951 metres, Mt. Olympus is the Island's highest peak, and was number twelve on my round of each European nation's highest points. By starting at Pera-Pedi, I was packing the maximum into one autumn day; hiking an eleven kilometre route that linked tracks and nature trails in a bid to avoid the roads which snaked their way to the radar station that crowned the rounded hill top.
The track that headed north from Pera-Pedi narrowed quickly, I had expected an old mule trail and this fitted my romantic notions perfectly. A few metres past an old ruined hut, the trail became a thin path of flatten brush grass, thorn bushes snagged my trousers with hooked barbs and I was forced to consult the guide book. My mule track was in fact meant to be an asphalt road, I should have paid more attention. Releasing myself from the shrubbery, I retraced my steps to a U bend in the track and continued up what I had previously thought to be a private driveway. The track now wound it's way over a lightly wooded hillside where pine, olive and other thin leaf trees grew. They offered little shade but I was enjoying the warm sunshine on my back and the reassuring watery roar of the Kryos Poytamos "the cold river" hidden from sight in a steep sided ravine to my left. Reassuring because it confirmed I was on the right path. This river, the tourist literature tells me, never runs dry.
The Pera-Pedi reservoir lies about a kilometre and a half north of the village and the asphalt road is replaced here by a surface of broken stones. I was not expecting beautiful blue waters, and was therefore not disappointed. A dry summer had dwindled water supplies, and the sluice gate was now open so that what flowed in, flew out again. The remainder of the lake bed lay naked and exposed, an ugly muddy sheet that had hardened in the sun. I stopped momentarily to take a photo, drink from my bottle, and eat a cereal bar to supplement an early breakfast. The reservoir was my first landmark and I needed the break.

Mt. Olympus View of Mt. Olympus on the road north from Lemesos.

Shortly after leaving the reservoir, the village of Pano Platres came in to sight. Perched high above me, on a cliff facing the sun, the gleaming metallic dome of the Byzantine church identified the dwellings and took me away to a magical Arcadian land. It seemed unreal, and my camera was unable to capture the spirit of the scene. From my vantage point on the opposite side of the river the village looked impossible to reach, yet clearly I had to get there. How? On seeing a sign for the Myllomaris Waterfall, I once again consulted my guide book. It is never easy to follow a route description in the reverse direction, but the waterfall was on route so I headed off on what otherwise appeared to be a pleasant diversion. Even this late in the season, the 40 metre fall still had sufficient water to be appreciated, and I was joined by families and other groups at the bottom of a series of wooden steps to admire the cascade. Climbing back up these steps I noticed wooden fencing on the hill directly above. This echoed a description in the guide and was worth exploring, for somewhere up there was the path to Pano Platres. Construction was in progress at the Myllomaris tourist facility. Holes and concreted areas had been cordoned off, and another driveway had been ploughed into the hillside, it's purpose uncertain. I cautiously ascended the unsigned track to a point where it made sharp left turn, and there leading from the bend, half buried under a landslide of crumbling scree, lay a series of paved steps. This I reasoned was bound to be the right way, and amazingly, it was.

The Pera-Pedi reservoir
The Pera-Pedi dam and reservoir.

The Myllomeris Waterfall
The Myllomeris Waterfall.

Pano Platres
Pano Platres perched on the cliff top.