Cyprus, April 2023

On the first full day of the holiday, we drove to just north of St George’s (Peyia), intending to continue further, to the foot of the road up to Viklari, but repairs to the road were underway so once we’d checked I would be able to get past the construction lorries on foot, Dad went back to Paphos in the car to pick up paint and anything else needed for the week’s work on the villa, while I walked down past the construction and then began my out-and-back run north up the Akamas peninsula.

This was a 21km run, my last long run before the Milton Keynes Marathon nine days later. It was moderately undulating and all on loose gravel – mostly the main road up and down the coast but with a short looping diversion off to the side for a bit of variety. It was mostly pretty quiet though there were several convoys of quadbikes and a few other off-road vehicles which added a lot of noise and even more dust.

The run was much harder than I wanted, probably a combination of tiredness from the flight the previous day, the hills, the loose surface of the trail, and the moderate heat and sun, plus slight stiffness in a brand new pair of running shoes, but it did nothing to improve my confidence. However, it was beautiful and apart from being greater effort than intended, it was a lovely way to start the holiday – and just makes me want to do more of this sort of thing (probably slower, and with more breaks – still mostly running, but more in the style of hiking where I stop regularly for longer than just to take a photo): I note that during this holiday I visited three short sections of the E4 long-distance footpath (which takes a very indirect route from Paphos airport to Larnaca airport), and adding it to my list of nominally targeted but potentially never completed long-distance paths has a certain appeal, though the distance from home would make it the least practical addition to that list.

On Sunday we went for a walk around Symvoulos reservoir, a relatively new body of water in the British Sovereign Base Area. We parked the car near a tiny church which had brought out a huge number of cars for a service, and walked gradually downhill on a good track, crossing the dam, then along an easy but rougher path along the western shore before crossing the feeder stream under the motorway bridges and finishing with a stiff uphill past some mimosa back to the car.

Monday I started with an early run to the south-west of the village, once more enjoying the beauty of Cyprus.

After a morning’s work on the fences of the villa, we drove to what is signed as the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, though it seems to be the remains of two Sanctuaries, and other parts of the ancient city here.

Afterwards we had an ice-cream at the Pavilion overlooking Aphrodite’s Rock (Petra Tou Romiou)

Next day we had an outing into the Troodos mountains, first a short walk to the medieval Milia bridge, then down into the gorge where hides Milomeris waterfall. We then went to the Troodos Geopark visitor centre for an interesting exploration of the geological history of this unique environment. After lunch in Troodos Square, we went for a somewhat longer walk up the delightful river valley again, to reach Caledonia waterfall, returning by what is described as the “escape route” but which is a pleasant and quiet forest road which descends gently, incorporating part of the European long-distance footpath E4, and making a very pleasant circular walk.

A couple of days later, our next outing was through Polis and Latchi to the end of the road at Aphrodite’s Baths. This was somewhere I hadn’t been before, and it was mildly interesting to see the eponymous pool (albeit rather infested with people meditating), but for me the glory of the day was a walk (the “Aphrodite Trail”) to the summit of Moutti tis Sotiras with its stunning views to the north and northwest, and the delightful zigzagging path down the far side back to the coast. We finished with a late lunch in Latchi.

We finished the evening with dinner made on the rotating souvla machine

Friday morning started with an early run past the army post and to the tops of the cliffs where the goats were grazing, with views to the east towards the Akrotiri peninsula. This was to be my final run before the Milton Keynes Marathon, and I fell and badly grazed my arm, but fortunately no other damage done and nothing that would stop me running on Monday.

Then we headed east away from the incoming rain, to the neolithic villages of Choirokoita and Tenta (up to 10,000 years old).

We then went for a drive along the old road and along the coast, reliving memories of what the eastern edge of Limassol had been like in the 1970s and 1980s, before parking next to the superbly executed promenade area in central Limassol for a walk along the prom to the Castle, where we had a look around the Medieval Museum of Cyprus.

After about 19 hours of thunderstorms, the weather has improved and there is time for a final ice cream at Melanda Beach before I get the aeroplane home from Pahos to Stansted. Important pre-race nutrition going on, here.

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