I hope to give you an idea of just how marvellous this island is. Many others have done so successfully, notably Lawrence and Gerald Durrell; the latter, however, came to bitterly regret his unintended part in the rapid expansion of tourism. Even so he kept coming back to Corfu.
Try reading Emma Tennant’s more recent “A House in Corfu”; the house in the book is just a stone’s throw away from our second centre. Her evocative descriptions of this location and of the island as a whole are not merely poetic but truthful as well.
The first day’s walk is in the south, the narrowest part of the island, which is shaped like a sickle. From the high vantage point at the day’s end, we look over the east and west coasts and far beyond to the island of Paxos. The holiday aims to include at least one ‘wow’ viewpoint each day! Right at the start, we find ourselves in the midst of the centuries-old olive groves which make Corfu so green all through the year. Some of the trees date back to the Venetian occupation and are simply huge. The nets used to harvest the olives are everywhere to be seen. In May the yellow of broom and phlomis is very colourful and many wild flowers adorn the paths, orchids too at this time of the year though they are near the end of their flowering. In September we are spoiled but constantly entranced by the profusion of wild cyclamen, often in large clumps. Nature photographers are truly well catered for.
The walks take us along all sorts of paths and tracks, some by the coast but mostly inland as we like to keep off the beaten track as far as possible and this is also where we find the small traditional villages which are such a delight. A refreshing break by a chapel or in a woodland clearing; a picnic lunch sitting in the shade by an ancient stone threshing floor… the rustle of lizards; the bleating of goats and maybe a braying donkey. All along the way, friendly greetings from everyone we meet – though an initial “kalimera” from us does no harm! At the end of the walk, sometimes a swim, always a long cool drink. In the evening, three courses of wonderful Greek food at an excellent taverna (some clients who have done Ramblers holidays in Samos and Crete have said the Corfiot cuisine is far superior – possibly it’s the historical influence of Italy or its geographical proximity – who knows?).
To cap a fantastic walking holiday we spend a day at the end in Corfu Town, considered by many people one of the most attractive small towns on the Mediterranean coast. Hundreds of churches, large and small, a former royal palace, two Venitian fortresses, an esplanade of sumptuous cafes reminding one of Paris, fronted by a grassy park where cricket is still sometimes played (David Gower is reputed to have declared it his favourite ground), arcaded streets, alleyways reminiscent of Venice, and lots more. If you have still not seen enough, you may be able, on one of the two free days, to make an excursion by boat to Albania across the narrow channel. We spend a fair bit of time looking over the water to nearby Albania as it is often in our sights during the walks from Nissaki, the third centre. It is an interesting experience to see close-up this country which for so long had been closed to western Europeans and the archaeological site at Butrint (much praised by John Julius Norwich) is worth the trip alone.
Have I whetted your appetite for Corfu? I hope so and look forward to seeing you there.