I’m getting the grasp of Greek ferries. Flip up on the port early, examine the place the boat will dock, retire to a kafeneio, then be in the suitable place on the appointed time. The boat will slap down its ramp, disgorge passengers, ingest the following lot, and be gone. The whole course of can take minutes. On this method I hop from Kalymnos to Kos, then take the three-hour voyage to Amorgos, on the similar time shifting from the Dodecanese to the Cyclades.
Greek map

Kevin Rushby’s Greek island journey has additionally taken in
Ikaria and
Kalymnos with Folegandros, Milos and Sifnos to return.
My third cease on this island-hopping journey is an thrilling outpost to see looming up within the early-evening haze. Imposing cliffs rise from a frothy skirt of spray then soar up by stony ramparts to peaks so excessive they’ve managed to conjure clouds from an empty sky. As we sail alongside the north coast, just a few speckles of white homes seem, intently huddled collectively. That is an vintage land, inhabited for round 6,000 years. The faces of the hills are lined with stone-walled terraces, sometimes interrupted by the sharp white paint of a easy barrel-roofed chapel. Between every naked headland is a darkish, mysterious gorge.
I’m staying by Aegialis seashore within the homely Pension Askas, set again from the coast in verdant gardens. My plan is to discover on day hikes and Marios, the proprietor, advises an early begin. I set off at six, heading up the valley on a well-marked cobbled path, one of many historical paths which have given Amorgos a popularity for good strolling. There’s nobody round besides a lone mule rider coming down from Langada village, a clutch of cuboid homes tightly woven along with steep alleyways, every step painted white, each window and door blue.

Ioannis Theologus church’s white cat. {Photograph}: Kevin Rushby/The Guardian
Above the village, now on a stony path, I spot a snake then the uncommon Eleonora’s falcon earlier than arriving at Ioannis Theologus church. In addition to being a sacred place, this tiny white gem is an intricate rain-catching machine: every little patio draining into deep stone cisterns. No priest lives right here now, solely a white cat, completely camouflaged in opposition to the white-washed partitions. There’s a key beneath a rock, however I can’t get it to work and should be happy with a peek by the keyhole on the painted inside.
A mile additional and I emerge on to an enormous panorama of 600 metre-tall cliffs and wild sea. The trail continues, snaking throughout a steep scree slope and clambering round cornices. I’ve been informed that in robust winds or rain, persevering with will be harmful, but it surely’s a light day … till I get midway throughout. Then a violent blast of wind roars in. It’s the meltemi, the unruly summer season wind, roaring up the cliff. I push on and attain my objective, the tiny chapel of Stavros, as soon as house to monks who had fled Palestine within the ninth century looking for wild isolation. They undoubtedly bought what they wished.

A small church alongside the historic mountain climbing path to Panagia Chozoviotisa monastery. {Photograph}: Julien Garcia/Getty Pictures
I retrace my steps throughout the cliff after which pick one other route house: the hillsides are full of lovely historical pathways, generally choked up with spiky crops, generally defended by spider’s webs so thick it’s like strolling right into a loosely strung harp, however at all times resulting in a tumble of stones and an deserted cottage. Inside one I flip over a timber and there’s a rusted eating fork mendacity there, as if the final inhabitants had jumped up halfway by breakfast and rushed away perpetually.

Finally I discover a path that will get me again to Langada and Niko’s taverna, a set of vibrant patios beneath shady vines the place I seize a welcome chilly drink. Later I swim and discover some smaller seashores. Dinner that evening at Askas is a standard oven-baked goat stew.
Subsequent day I set out once more, this time even earlier, heading up the mountainous backbone of the island alongside an exquisite outdated mule path previous extra abandoned ruins. These homes haven’t any home windows, solely a door and a fire, generally a bit area of interest the place a treasured object might need sat. Inside one I discover an outdated wood chest, appropriate for mule transport, and roof timbers as thick as your thigh, proof that this space was as soon as thickly forested. In actual fact Amorgos was an vital supply of oak till a devastating forest fireplace in 1835.

Typical transport in Amorgos’s slim alleys.
I cross over a col after which down by wild gardens of thyme and juniper the place clouds of butterflies accompany me. It’s nonetheless early and I’ve solely seen one goatherd, however after I lastly attain the monastery of Panagia Chozoviotisa I’m in for a shock.
This magnificent edifice, tucked neatly into the face of the tawny cliff 300 metres above the ocean, is full of vacationers bussed up from the port of Katapola. I’m dusty and sweaty and the attendants take pity, ushering me right into a kitchen and serving photographs of psimeni raki, a spirit brewed by the three resident monks with lemon leaves, spices and sugar. It has legendary restorative powers, they guarantee me, though I reckon the massive glasses of iced water additionally assist.

A small church under the village of Langada.
The monastery was seemingly constructed right here after an icon of the Virgin Mary miraculously turned up within the 11th century, having travelled from Wadi Qilt close to Jericho, a spot I’ve visited and one which has the same spectacular cliff location. From the monastery I march on with renewed vigour to close by Chora, one other splendidly labyrinthine settlement with plenty of tiny tavernas tucked into its shady alleyways.
Strolling in Greece in excessive summer season might not be ultimate (Might or October can be higher) however draconian early begins and coordination with the native buses have satisfied me it’s wonderful. Each island of any measurement appears to have good companies – there’s really no want to rent a automobile. By late afternoon I’m lounging within the sea wanting ahead to the house cooking of the guesthouse. I’ve fallen closely for this island, and am regretting not scheduling extra time right here: just a few additional months would have been good.• The journey was offered by On Foot Holidays; a four-night break, together with B&B, route instructions, maps, switch and native phone help prices £350pp; a seven-night break to Naxos and Amorgos is £485pp (each journeys exclude flights and ferries). Ferries will be booked at ferries.gr. Additional info at visitgreece.gr
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