THE Andros Route isn’t just a 60-mile, north-south hiking trail across Greece’s northernmost Cycladic island of the same name. It’s also a revival of ancient thoroughfares that were once the only way to traverse the mountainous landscape. A new self-guided tour allows you to hike along the trail and, in so doing, step back in time.
Before the days of cars and roads, a network of footpaths linked the villages on Andros. After quicker means of transport emerged, these old arteries were in danger of being lost until a volunteer project called Andros Routes set about restoring and waymarking them with tourists in mind.
Some now form the main Andros Route. Others make for day hikes around the slender, 25-mile-long island, between its citrus groves and olive groves. Utracks’ new eight-night trip combines both.
What to expect? Try dramatic coastal scenery and pristine beaches, scattered valley villages, fortress-like monasteries, old watermills and arched Venetian bridges. Not to mention a chance to try typical Greek cuisine at sea-facing tavernas and, as the island has never relied on tourism in the past, a rare sense of authenticity.
‘Andros is much greener than other Cycladic islands such as Santorini or Mykonos,’ says UTracks tour rep Hetty Schuppert. ‘This means that even in high summer, travellers will get to spend some time hiking in the shade.’
To allow for flexibility, you stop for two nights in every location, choosing to rest up, undertake an easy tramp or do another full walk — with various options available — on every second day.
Small family-run hotels or B&Bs form the accommodation, the sorts of places where a giant breakfast of freshly baked breads and home-made jams is a given. Some also have a pool or access to a sandy beach. Dinners aren’t included but your route notes carry various suggestions per location.
As well as those tips, you’ll be provided with a small pruner and gloves. These enable walkers to help Andros maintain its tracks as paths here can quickly overgrow if they aren’t regularly cut back.
Available from April 1 until late October, the tour starts and ends in Athens, from where ferries take two hours to reach Andros.
■ From £520pp B&B, including luggage transfers between hotels, utracks.com