Friends of Paxos

News: Paxos Footpath Project

Paxos Olive Grove - Photography and watercolor by Garbriel Stauffer 2016

Many FOP members share a common ambition: The creation of a footpath network on Paxos, cleared and signposted according to European standards.

A first contact with the European Ramblers Association made in November 2015 was followed by a contact between FOP and Andros Routes, the only island footpath project in Greece that has received E.R.A. certification. The Paxos Volunteer Group (Εθελοντική Ομάδα Παξών)) was created in 2015 by website creator Andreas Kouroupis and Pipitsa Petrou of the Piazza restaurant in Lakka in order to help pick rubbish from Paxos beaches and natural spots and keep footpaths clear.

The volunteers worked steadily every Sunday in clearing the footpath towards Trypitos Arch. A circular route starting from Vellianitatika going past Elliniki Cistern, Trypitos Arch, Lessianitis mill, Tranakatika hamlet and ending at Vellianitatika village was cleared by the end of November.

Four to eight Greek and foreign volunteers participated each time. Neither bad weather nor the difficulty of the task stopped us from meeting almost every Sunday during the two months it took to complete the clearing!

Andreas Kouroupis, web designer and co-founder of the Paxos Volunteers.

Pipitsa Petrou, Spyros Kondaris and Ioanna Desylla clearing a footpath in Paxos, November 2016.

Olga Karayanni the inspirer of Andros Routesr delivering a lecture on the Andros footpaths at the KIP library, Gaios 3 December 2016.

FOP also extended an invitation to Olga Karayanni the inspirer of Andros Routes, to visit Paxos. She kindly accepted our invitation arriving on the island on 30 November. Faye Lychnou and Andreas Kouroupis took her along two of the principal hiking routes of Paxos on the southwest and northwest sides of the island, and discussed with her the possibilities for Paxos footpaths to receive ERA certification. On Saturday 3 December Olga Karayanni movingly spoke to an audience of 30 people at the KIP library in Gaios on her five-year struggle with her team of volunteers to obtain the ERA certification for the first 50 kilometers of footpaths in Andros, which Andros finally received in October 2015.

She showed us photographs of her team, a short film that SKY, the national television channel, made to promote their efforts, explained her funding and volunteer strategies, how her association managed to attract the support of local businesses, the problems Andros Routes faced over the years and how they were overcome. She finally gave us her opinion on the quality of Paxos footpaths and advised us on how we should proceed in creating a high-quality footpath network in collaboration with the local community. ERA certification is to be used as “great marketing tool” and as the crowning achievement of our efforts. The audience, amongst whom, were representatives of three Paxos tour operators and the local authorities – was decidedly optimistic and positive, in its support of the project.

On the day Olga left Paxos, Sunday 4 December, we had already gathered a team of 16 volunteers ready to clear the Eleousa cisterns!

Exhausted but happy volunteers: Spyros Kondaris, Katerina Doui, Faye Lychnou, Panagiotis Velllianitis clearing footpaths in the rain, November 2016.

Next steps in the process:

Continue clearing paths every Sunday with more volunteers and local support.

Raising funds by February 2017 for the training of 4 to 8 people, Greeks and foreign residents, by two German experts from the European Ramblers’ Association. They will teach us how to signpost, clear and prepare the footpaths to European standards and about safety issues, and the arrangement of sitting and resting areas. Our aim is to receive the "Leading Quality Trail" certification.

Funds needed for launching the project:

  • 3500 € - For the training seminar (includes fee, travelling expenses, accommodation and board for the experts)
  • 500 € - For clearing tools (which wear out quickly)
  • 1000 € - For 500 metal and wooden signs to be placed on newly cleared paths.
  • 1000 € - Fora footpath website and the creation of a new Anavasis Paxos walking map (www.anavasi.gr). The 3rd edition will include new paths, named with their original local names and not just numbers.

The total budget for this project will come to approximately 6000 €.

Anyone interested in participating as a volunteer or funding this project please contact Faye Lychnou or Chris Boïcos on this email.

The Paxos Volunteers: Katerina Zernou, Linda Vlachopoulou, Spyros Kondaris, Andreas Kouroupis, Kostas Kobogiannis, Katerina Doui, Faye Lychnou and Delon the dog, December 2016.