1969 – Norfolk Scout Expedition to Greece

In 1969, a number of members of various scout groups in Norfolk went on an expedition to Greece.  We went at the time of unrest when the Greek military junta of 1967–74, commonly known as the Regime of the Colonels, were in power. The Dictatorship and The Seven Years were a series of right-wing military juntas that ruled Greece following the 1967 Greek coup d’état led by a group of colonels on 21 April 1967. The dictatorship ended on 24 July 1974 under the pressure of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.  Later I was an undergraduate at Cambridge university where there had been The Garden House Riot.  This was a civil disturbance at the Garden House Hotel in Cambridge on Friday 13 February 1970.  It was the only serious disturbance in Cambridge in the period around the widespread 1968 student protests. The event has been described as a marking a watershed in student protest in the UK.  I went up after the riot in 1972.

Four members of our Norwich scout troop, the 8th Norwich Sea Scouts, attended this expedition.  I think two of the others where Chris Mills and Patrick Keep.

We flew to Athens airport, and then took an overnight coach trip to Thessaloniki.  This was our first stop of the expedition. We stayed here three days staying in a school. We visited a Greek Scout troop and toured the city.

We left by train to the port Alexandropolis.  I remember we bought Greek yogurt at one of the stations thinking it was ice-cream.  It was soon discarded through the windows.   At Alexandropolis we had some time to spare, so we bought fishing lines and caught some small fish. We caught a ferry to the island of Samothraki. On the way dolphins were spotted.

On Samothraki we camped for a week, staying in a remote area. On arrival I was tired and hot and wanted to swim. I think there was almost a revolt amongst the Scouts. Next day, after a relaxing night, things were much better. We spent much time walking and also swimming in the sea.  The week here was fabulous.  Here we had seen ruins ,and a replica of the Nike of Samothrace Winged Victory Greek Goddess Statue.  We never made it to the top of this mountainous island, which I believe is 1,611 meters high.  On the last evening we packed the camp, ready to leave in the morning.  We slept under a beautiful starlit sky.

After Samothraki, we bussed it to Mount Olympus. We stayed in a mountain hut for three nights, singing scout songs with the Greeks under the stars in front of fires to keep warm. Bad start, long walk up. No food in the mountain hut, it was totally full of Greeks as it was a holiday period. They quickly glazed (yes, they did!) the veranda so we could sleep in the warm. The next nights were spent in the hut as most of the Greeks departed.  We walked up Myticas which is 2,918 meters high.  

Another coach, and we were back to Athens. Final stay was Athens where again we stayed in a school near the centre. Basically saw the tourist bits, like the Parthenon.