Avgas Gorge, Cyprus

9008790463?profile=originalAvgas Gorge, on the western coast of Cyprus, is a magnificent fissure in the limestone cliffs. It lies in an unfrequented part of the island where tourists rarely went.

At the time of my first visit, I lived in Yorkshire. So, my first sight invited comparison with the limestone country of the Pennines. But, after the first section of the gorge, guarded by a cold, dark gap of only about 10 feet between 300-foot high cliffs, it opened out into an almost tropical treescape.

Often, a mild scramble over the rocks was necessary to pass a dense clump of 15-foot bamboo. Sometimes, the way is almost barred by a thicket of spiny burnet. British servicemen based in Cyprus called this shrub the 'barbed wire bush'. The reason will be immediately obvious if you go anywhere near it wearing shorts! A special delight in Autumn is the wild cyclamen ... exactly the same as the ones in your garden at home, only smaller.

In some places, a more strenuous climb would bring you right up to the northern lip of the canyon. It was a hot Mediterranean day, however, so it was preferable to remain in the relative coolness of the lower levels for as long as possible. The name 'Avgas' means 'egg-bearing' and, in bygone times, the farmers and goat-herds used to come here for birds' eggs to supplement their diet. We easily identified the pied kingfisher, speeding about his business along the river. The birds around the cliff-tops were rather harder.

'Probably vultures?' suggested one wit. But, the Griffon Vulture is often seen in Cyprus.

From the banana plantation at the mouth of Avgas Gorge to the ruined goat-herders’ shack at the head is a distance of about 4km., a walk possible for anyone who could manage a similar distance across country at home. The only extra equipment you’ll need is water. Estimate how much you think you’ll need, then double it!

Good quality running shoes are adequate enough footwear. But, don't wear new, or very expensive ones. They will get9008790485?profile=original filthy with the glutinous grey mud on the floor of the gorge. This is where care should be taken. Tracking this mud onto the boulders makes them extremely slippery.

Snakes and scorpions have been reported in the gorge, but they are not much of a hazard. They are usually more frightened of you than you are of them, and are long gone by the time you get to where they were.

Remember, though, that when you've traversed the gorge, and reached the ruined goat-herder's hut at its head, there's still another 4 km to walk back to the road. If you want to climb out of the gorge at its head, and return along one of the rims, the northern is the easier one. There is a track. On the southern side, there's only thick goat-proof and extremely walker-proof scrub.

But the views from this high vantage should take your mind off the man-eating undergrowth. Miles of, at that time, unspoilt and largely uninhabited beach lay before us. It was hard to believe that Paphos was only an hour’s drive away. Maybe that’s a bit too close to ensure safety from the wrong kind of visitor? My last visit was many years ago; a part of me wants to go back ... the other part is afraid of what I'll find.