The Viros Gorge near Exochori

The Viros Gorge runs from the high Taygetos to the coast at Kardamyli; it formed an ancient route between Sparta to the coast. Some way up, a narrow road finally runs out at the small church of Agia (Saint) Paraskevi near the village of Exochori; from here a track runs on and passes below the stone church of St Nicholas, no bigger than a garden shed, then runs down the the edge of the Viros gorge and the thundering river at the base. The route is an easy stroll along a concrete track designed to allow vehicles to get down to the old pumps and pipes that deliver water to the villages above. The narrow footpath on the far side from the village of Zacharia is a precipitous, zig-zagging route.

The Viros Gorge from a path near the small church of St Nicholas

The flowering plants on the many cliffs and rock faces are few but include a number of endemics. The only butterflies are those that have survived the winter as adults and are now on old, torn wings and include painted ladies, a red admiral and, best of all, nettle-tree butterflies that patrol a patch of ground and regularly settle on the track.

The view west to the coast is blinded by the bright February light but clear to the east looking up to the high Taygetos and the white peak of Profitis Ilias below which is a thick necklace of dark pines. There are no soaring raptors or pair of croaking ravens just the wide views, the sound of the distant river and the clean air.

The Viros Gorge from the path near the tiny stone church of St Nicholas looking east up to the highest peak of the Taygetos Mountains, Profitis Ilias.

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