SEA SALT AND HONEY – SHORT WALK CORFU
Ermones, the starting point for a very short walk to a dramatic headland, there are more beautiful beaches in Corfu.
The tiny bay is flanked by a stack of cream and faded ochre studios, “the pink palace” a hotel under refurbishment where they must have used several hundreds of nails in the week I was there as part of their remedial work – and on the far side climbing into the hillside is the Atlantique Mediterranean Hotel where a grand refurbishment took place 3 years ago.
The beach – well less said perhaps, on the day I visited the rolling waves were pounding the narrow strip of gravelly sand causing the parasols and people to scuttle to the last remaining dry shingle.
Abandon the car or the bus that arrives from Corfu town then head past the mini mart on your right and follow the road round to the right of the bay as it falls down to the sea. Duck your head if very tall as you pass under the track of the funicular taking weary hotel guests up the steep terraces to their rooms. Funicular
The tiny slope for launching small boats in the summer is swamped by the foaming waters as chunks of soggy seaweed from the deep ocean is thrown over the sea wall and under my feet.
The tarmac track leads to a rough path on the side of the rocks, first take the lower path scrambling over some of the uneven parts where water from the rocks above has washed away the surface of the path. The sense of expectation is tremendous as the path heads towards the corner taking you to the next bay. Stand on the corner and look across the bay, along the coast then out to sea, no aerials, few people, just the sound of the crashing waves and the joy of taking huge breaths of salt laden sea air. We’ve seen so many people follow this track and disappear I’m keen to see the secret beach they must have found. Sadly it was an illusion, there are beaches and coves along the coast but impossible to reach from this path but it is not a wasted journey there is time to sit and stare out over the water, absorb the atmosphere and begin to relax. Then it’s time to retreat back to the beach café and the chatter of visitors.
Next day, determined to explore a little further I went back to the start of the rock path and took another route, heading upwards past sweet smelling citrus yellow broom bushes and past various spiky bushes (acacia perhaps), walking in the shade of a collection of wayward bushes and small trees with just a glimpse of the sea. There is a sign that few tourists will understand it looks as if something is forbidden or perhaps it refers to the sea, falling rocks or don’t light fires – unfortunately I revert to the British habit, if it’s not in English I don’t understand and so it is not meant for me – I continue.
The path splits again: the higher track leading to unloved olive trees and take the other well-worn path busy with ants marching with determination from one side to the other. Thousands of feet must have trampled this way for at the end of the track is a tiny chapel and acknowledgments from those seeking solace.
The door is firmly locked but at the rear there is a small “window” space on the east wall a small air vent, it was probably covered with mesh to keep out birds or small livestock at one time. There are still signs that the building was and still may be a place of worship or pilgrimage. If you don’t know the history then imagination can create an interesting story: an isolated chapel, the last priest buried in the grounds, a retreat for lovers, a place of solace for the troubled, a retreat for the weary where the amazing azure sea can be observed through the gaps in the rocks, and the peace has no price (providing you can avoid the other tourists). I am a visitor enjoying the solitude, peace and the sun, it must be the other people who are tourists wearing out the narrow path and searching for an ice cream.
Take a slow walk back to the village enjoying the views over the bay, sit under an olive tree to watch the ants and listen to the birds while enjoying the sweet smells of the herbs and broom. Stepping back on the beach take a moment to look up to the hills where the raptors are gliding in the thermals hoping to catch their supper that is hiding in the scrub bushes or on the ledges.
If you have time, ask for directions to the honey farm, a slight misnomer if you expect to find hundreds of hives under the trees but an interesting experience for anyone keen on honey. Check the opening times before you walk along the small road with overhanging blossom and gardens with neat rows of vegetables. Past the cat and dog lying at peace on the verge of the dusty road till you reach a house.
A huge welcome greets you, there is a short talk about honey, a visit to the spotless honey plant, fascinating for me as I have visited the Tiptree honey plant. Our host is a business man from Athens who forsook selling cars so that he could organise his family’s honey business. An entrepreneur with a passion for quality honey he has sourced honey from other Corfu bee keepers, honey that is full of flavour from the blossom of herbs that grow on the hillside, orange blossom and other flowers. Our mixed group were fascinated and full of questions, though our young tour guide had probably seem and heard it all many times before.
Away from the water it’s easy to walk for miles along tracks,
through valleys and across the countryside of Corfu, another time perhaps.