Patrick Leigh Fermor and other adventurers in wartime Crete
Escorted walks with Jonathan Peat
14 - 21 May 2024
THE WEEK IN BRIEF
The courage shown by the Cretans during WW2 and the German occupation of 1941 to 1945 is well documented, and nowhere more evocatively than in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s epic memoir Abducting a General. In this engaging account of island life during the Cretan resistance he details the abduction of two German generals and the events leading up to it. Alongside fellow officer Stanley Moss (author of Ill Met by Moonlight) and others, this heroic act was orchestrated with the help of allied forces as part of the island’s Special Operations Executive.
Our very special 7-night walking holiday, led by expert guide Jonathan Peat, offers a chance to walk in the footsteps of brave British and New Zealand officers such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, Stanley Moss, Dudley Perkins, John Pendlebury and more, as guests explore three of the epic mountain ranges that played such a pivotal role in the island’s wartime operations. The Lefka Ori, (White Mountains) Mount Ida, and Mount Dikti had provided the backdrop for years of resistance to occupation and by the time the Germans arrived in May 1941 the Cretan people had turned it into an art form. Nevertheless, they were to face their biggest and most treacherous challenge yet as they played their part in one of the most important war stories in the island’s history. Visit the high mountains, wild coastal areas, remote villages and secret caves that were instrumental in the operations and, with Jonathan on hand to translate, meet some of the people whose families were touched by the extraordinary events that still echo across the island today.
DAY 1 - Arrival
Fly to Chania and transfer to Arosmari Village Hotel in Vamos. Meet Jonathan Peat and discuss the week’s programme over drinks and dinner.
DAY 2 - The foothills of the Lefka Ori
Drive to Souda Bay (30 mins) and visit the beautifully maintained Allied war cemetery before continuing on into the foothills of the Lefka Ori (White Mountains) and Keramia (25 mins). Enjoy coffee in the charming Cafeneon, visit the village museum and meet local history enthusiast Kosta to discuss the events of wartime Crete whilst admiring the views of the high mountains. Take a walk through an enchanting valley and visit the ancient olive groves before enjoying a delicious Cretan meal back in the village. In the afternoon, drive up the Theriso Gorge to visit the village of the same name. Return to Arosmari in the mid-afternoon.
DAY 3 - The Lefka Ori
Set off early and drive through a wonderful, varied landscape to the southwestern side of the Lefka Ori (2 hrs). Visit the fascinating war museum in Sougia before taking a boat along the island’s spectacular south coast to see some of the places where the resistance operated during the German occupation (1 hr). Return to Sougia for lunch in a waterside taverna and enjoy a swim in the warm Libyan Sea.
In the afternoon drive up to Koustogerako and visit the Paterakis family, whose relatives were key members of the team that helped abduct General Kreipe. Enjoy a walk around the village and down to the entrance of the Agia Irini valley before returning to Arosmari, arriving in the late afternoon.
DAY 4 - The Far Eastern Lefka Ori
Leave early and drive to the far east of the Lefka Ori (35mins) and the village of Asi Gonia, home to George Psychoundakis’, Patrick Leigh Fermor’s famous Cretan Runner. Visit the little museum dedicated to him before continuing into the mountains and the Kallikrati plateau to enjoy lunch in a small taverna. After lunch, walk into the Kallikrati Gorge (John Craxtons favourite gorge) before driving on through the mountains to the village of Imbros which played a vital role for fleeing allies during WW2. We return to Vamos via the Askifou plateau, stopping at the war museum run by the renowned Xadzidakis family. Arrive back at Arosmari in the mid-afternoon.
DAY 5 - At leisure
Put your feet up or plan your own itinerary and enjoy a day of gentle exploration.
DAY 6 - Meskla, Lakki & Karanou
Drive into the foothills of the White Mountains to Meskla (1hr), a beautiful village hidden in the depths of the orange growing region. Visit an atmospheric Byzantine chapel before driving on to Lakki (15 mins), another fascinating village steeped in stories and legends. Meet Gregoris, for a unique insight into the local history before driving on to Karanou (10mins) for lunch. In the afternoon, walk along the valley to Orthouni before returning to Arosmari in the mid-afternoon.
DAY 7 - Anogia and Mount Ida
Leave early to drive east and ascend into the foothills of Mount Ida and discover the village of Anogia (3 hrs). Enjoy coffee in the main square and meet members of the prominent Xilouris family before heading on to the Nida plateau (1hr). Visit the cave where Patrick Leigh Fermor and General Kreipe spent the night before beginning their ascent of Mount Psiloritis on their way to the south coast and walk in their footsteps, enjoying a picnic lunch in a beautiful spot overlooking the plain of Nida.
DAY 8 - Departure
Transfer to Heraklion for your return flights to the UK.
* FITNESS GUIDE
Up to 2 hours' walking, appropriate for those who take gentle regular exercise. Some inclines but nothing too taxing: mostly dirt roads or paved paths. Walking poles recommended for those who require extra stability.
Up to 4 hours' walking, appropriate for those who are used to a little more rigorous exercise. Some steep inclines: mostly ancient unpaved paths. Good balance required as ground can be rocky.
Up to 5 hours' walking, appropriate for those with good levels of basic fitness and plenty of stamina. More demanding terrain with steep unmade tracks which can be very rocky. Good balance and a head for heights required.
To book your 2024 place, please call our Destination Specialists on 0203 839 4529.
Our walking itineraries may be subject to last-minute changes if conditions are unfavourable. Jonathan Peat also reserves the right to limit access to walks to those with the necessary levels of fitness and walking ability. To find out more about the basic fitness requirements for our walking holidays, please use the link below.