THE TOWN'S ENVIRONS
The town's environs
The island is joined to Akarnania, on the other side of the channel, by a pontoon bridge permitting passage of smaller boats. For larger ships, it swings open every hour. On the Lefkada side, after the bridge, the road forks, left going to the main port and the town of Lefkada, while right leads to the beautiful sands of Gyra (pron. Ghira) and Ai Yannis.
Parallel to the left branch, a slim breakwater divides the eastern lagoon from the channel, or avlaki as the locals call it, which is a band of deep sea allowing heavy ships to sail along the eastern coastline of Lefkada and then into the open Ionian Sea, avoiding the rough seas off Cape Lefkatas, at the southernmost end of the island. Further east of the breakwater , the eastern lagoon of Lefkada extends to the Akarnanian coast.
The two roads, in existence for centuries, surround the west lagoon. The two lagoons are classed among the Ionian Islands’ most significant wetlands. In addition to a great variety of fish to be found there, they are the permanent habitat of hosts of graceful seagulls and herons as well as offering a stopover for a variety of migratory birds such as wild duck, moorhen, pelicans and, more rarely, swans. These sea parks are protected by the Ramsar Convention.
A Walk to Gyra and Ai Yannis
A very pleasant stroll starting out from the town of Lefkada is round the western lagoon, the walk around Gyra. It is 7 km long and the great attraction is that all along the views are exceptional, a pleasure for nature - lovers.The lagoon and the town lie to the east and to the west is the vast stretch of the Ionian Sea. The starting point can be the bridge (successor to the old ponte), the notional extension of the Agora, heading to the exit from town.
Another enjoyable destination is to take the road leading to the fort, with the western lagoon on the left and the channel on the right. The road runs straight and is a walkway and a cycling track. Some wooden shacks/boathouses can be seen, still standing in the lagoon, which belong to fishermen who work in the municipal aquacultures. They skim about the waters of the lagoon with ease in their skiffs, light and flat-bottomed. Do not cross over the bridge, turn left and a few metres on you will see the eye-catching red-coloured summer residence of the distinguished Kalkanis family and on your right the building of Lefkada’s Wine Production Cooperative. When the island was under Turkish rule, there was a very long bridge with 360 arches crossing the lagoon from the shore to the Kalkanis
villa. It was an aqueduct carrying water to the fort. You can see traces of the piping on the bottom of the lagoon.
The building of the Wine Production Cooperative (TAOL) (a post-war construction) on the other side of the road belongs to the local farmers’ cooperative, which is one of the oldest in Greece and has a long history. The best part of the walk begins after passing this building. Along the asphalt road, there is the iridescence of light reflected on the lagoon on the left, the low sand dunes on the right and in the distance the Ionian Sea’s thousand shades of blue. This is where the little scented white lilies (Pangratium Maritimum) grow in the summer. These grow in the wild all over the Mediterranean, as do the yellow flowers of the colocynth (wild cucumber) of Dimitris Golemis’s song (yellow flowers like narcissus). A few minutes’ walk further and the thin strip of land comes into sight, with its abundant greenery. This is Gyra, the small settlement of fishermen who tend the lagoon’s fishery.