A long awaited book finally got published last week: “The Cretan Way – A 28-day walk” is the brainchild of Luca Gianotti, an Italian walking guide. Rather than trying to paraphrase what the book is about here is an excerpt from the introduction:
I have been to Crete to go walking thirty times: twenty-nine times on an itinerant journey with my backpack for about a week and once for over a month. I decided to call this spectacular route the ‘Cretan Way’, although it has previously been called the E4.
‘E4’ is the name given by the European Ramblers’ Association to the long distance footpath which crosses Europe from west to east, from Spain to Cyprus. The path is over 10,000 kilometres long, and not always waymarked or passable.The Cretan section of the E4 is perhaps the most well-known, but these days it is in decline because it represents a style of trekking from many years ago, which was more spartan and adventurous, requiring a tent and sleeping bag, and as such only some sections of it are walked. For this reason it is unlikely that the whole route has ever been walked. In fact, when I walked it in 2010 there was no evidence on the Internet of other people who had walked the entire route in one go.
Here’s the idea: to inject life back into the path, and let it shine in its own right, going beyond the European project. The name, Cretan Way, has a double meaning, in the hope that this walk will also draw attention to the Cretan way of life. Walking for a month to enter into a different world. The world of a population with its own, independent roots. A world of nature which is both Mediterranean, alpine and more. Much more.
This book is the result of the walk I did between October and November in 2010, crossing Crete from east to west. The idea came about that the Cretan Way could become one of the most loved paths in Europe, on par with the GR20 in Corsica, the Camino de Santiago, and the Via Francigena.
This is why I have tried to ensure this route is accessible to everyone by providing GPS tracks and writing a detailed description of the route which I suggest you follow carefully, especially in the sections where the path is not waymarked.
If you only skimmed through the text in italics note this sentence: …the idea: to inject life back into the path, and let it shine in its own right, going beyond the European project (in effect the E4).
This book is not just a guide to walking the E4 but the beginning of a project which will hopefully evolve into something more. That’s why there is also a web site and a Facebook page that are an extension to the book and will keep information up-to-date and give the project momentum.
This is also why the author doesn’t slavishly follow the ‘official’ E4 route (which is something invented anyway, not a traditional path, so there is really no good reason to stick to it) but makes a few common sense variations: for example the section that goes from Chrisoskalitisa to Kissamos and runs almost entirely on roads is omitted. And Crete’s most famous walk, the gorge of Samaria, which is not part of the E4 has been added to the itinerary.
The walks are clearly described with good maps for each of them (the publisher Anavasi is mainly a map publishing company) and plenty of colour photographs as well as personal thoughts and anecdotes related to each of the sections. Each section also suggests accommodation. This is especially useful in some remote sections where accommodation is very limited. the idea is for people not to have to carry a tent and sleeping bag.