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Our epic family adventure hiking through Greece’s Vikos gorge | Greece holidays

Our epic family adventure hiking through Greece’s Vikos gorge | Greece holidays

A cheer goes up as we board our train. We’re catching the Eurostar from London to Paris and a couple so newly married that the bride is still wearing her wedding dress are just ahead of us. Our own excitement may be less visible but it’s just as palpable.

As the train hurtles through the sunny downlands of Kent, I grin at my 11-year-old son, Osian. He is trying to disappear into his hoodie, embarrassed at my trainspotter jokes and the journey’s unexpected romantic twist. Nothing can derail my high spirits, though, at the thought of hiking in one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes, the Vikos gorge in the Pindus mountains of north-west Greece.

There’s also the thrill of getting there. After an overnight stop in Paris, we take an early train to Zurich then catch another to Milan, our noses buffing the windows as we gaze at a rolling diorama of Alpine peaks and meadowed valleys.

In Milan we take a chance on an Airbnb spare room a few minutes’ walk from Centrale station. So magnificent is the historic apartment and so generous is owner Piergiorgio’s hospitality, that I spend too long sipping espresso on his plant-filled balcony next day and we have to sprint to catch our train to Brindisi, the port for our overnight ferry to the Greek port of Igoumenitsa.

The writer and her son, in Zurich, taking a swim between trains

Waking a couple of hours before docking, we rush out on deck for our first sight of the Greek mainland. The Pindus mountains loom as a colourwash ripple along the horizon. Like a time-lapse painting, the detail emerges as we sail closer to land and the peachy whisper of sunrise morphs into bright rose gold. It’s been a long time since I’ve stood on the deck of a Greek ferry with just a backpack and the outline of a travel plan, and it fills me with joy – and relief – to find Osian is enjoying our odyssey as much as me.

A decade spent mothering small children and making peace with the tectonic changes that come with that means there hasn’t been much time, or money, for more intrepid travels. With a big birthday coming up for me and Osian making the transition to secondary school, now feels like the time to strike out further. And to spend some time together one-on-one:…

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