Wildtracks

The world beneath Rhodes Pt.1

The Island of Rhodes in Greece is an exceptional place, with many hidden secrets, the following article is a fascinating true story about the discovery of an uncharted cave. The story spanned out over many years.

`Glancing up at the mountain, I suddenly noticed a cave, and  proclaiming to my friends its the place I need to go, I set off alone directly up the mountain. My two close friends were baffled `come on lets carry on to the next village for a bite to eat´, no, sorry but the cave is calling loud. We separated and alone I courageously climbed the mountain. On the way a close encounter with a large sandy coloured snake brought me to my senses and I continued more conscious. Approximately an hour later. The hot limestone rocks the wonderful carpets of sage, thyme and oregano made the walk/climb quite different to other areas in Greece I was used to walking, things seemed more alive, more vibrant, entrenched with emotions of bygone years.

The cave that I first noticed was simply a guide, a signpost leading me over the next two decades to find the hidden cave the secret passageway under the mountain.

 

After years of exploring the mountain, sleeping rough under the stars on its slopes, venturing down every pathway & every plateau, learning about the geography and geology of the mountain and still wondering after many visits to the same place to try and find a trace of something that will lead deeper I finally found it, the hidden passageway. At the time family and friends were beginning to think i'd lost my mind, always returning to the mountain sometimes twice a year in search of something I didn't at the time know.

Finding the pathway to the mouth of the cave was no easy task, it had been right there all the time, there was a decoy in front of the cave's path which makes one think there is nothing else there or nothing to explore. Therefore for years I had many times walked right past the secret cave. Then after 12 years alas... I found it, a small well worn winding  path, an earthwork of some metres leading to the mouth of the cave, on closer inspection, pieces of terracotta, large handles of pots etc were found in the entrance to the cave buried in the soil and goat droppings. they seemed old probably hauled up here by revolutionaries 500 years ago to store olive's and other foods. In winter the limestone path and mouth of the cave is hidden by large potent stinging nettles. In summer and autumn the path is a delight to see.

 

The entrance of the cave was more like an entrance to a tomb, a shallow drop into the earth to a small cavern, the floor was ankle deep in goat droppings and numerous skeletons. The cavern itself was about 8 meters long and had a small chamber right at the back. Crawling into the small chamber nothing else of interest was discovered. the walls of the cave at some parts were worn smooth from water, could this cave have been a freshwater spring thousands of years ago. with a torrent of water making its way from the underground depths.

 

 Above the small chamber at the back of the cavern was a ledge 2-3 meters off the cave floor. Climbing up onto this ledge revealed a passageway created by huge rocks it was another perfect earthwork not created by human hands but precise and arranged in an order to create a perfect small passageway. It took another 2 visits over 2 years to realise that a rock at the end of the passageway could be tilted and moved opening the doorway to the cave itself!. Slowly and carefully I raised myself through the small gap into the labyrinthine corridors beyond.

 

 

Continuing along the narrow pathway, carefully not upsetting the large cave spiders, I realised the cave walls are full of coral, at least it seemed like coral millions of glistening stalactites, in every crack and crevice, a sight to behold. I had found fossils from sea creatures at the tops of mountains in Rhodes, Material proof that the Island rose out the sea at an alarming rate. So could it be possible the beautiful coral roof is a remnant of hundreds of thousands of years back. Or is it simply stalactites?

 

 

Scrambling down the tunnels, was no easy affair the coral outcrops were razor sharp and it was plain to see no-one or any goat had ventured here for a long time. The Tunnels were most likely to have been known by the Greek Revolutionaries who certainly used many caves for their hideouts, successfully outwitting the Ottoman Turks for many years.

After a while, I discovered another tunnel on the right side, this tunnel was very dangerous, it was a chasm, a subterranean ravine, there are two ways one way is deep down many metres to the chasm bed where it seems likely to lead deeper under the mountain, the other way is onto a ledge parallel with the ravine and across to the other side. Without climbing equipment the way is barred, one may be able to make it across the top of the Ravine but would risk falling into the depths of the ravine, the other way is down a sheer wall to whatever hides below. This adventure unfolded over many years discovering more parts to the great puzzle. These marvellous interior paths have certainly seen no human life for a long time & with upmost respect to the sensitive area for now, I choose to keep the location of this wonderful cave anonymous.

 

 

 

The natural stone & earthworks in and around the cave are breathtaking, there is still to explore and discover...

Up to this date, further into the dark depths I haven't yet ventured, although Im sure the time will come.´