Tuesday 5 May 2015

The Bottomless Lake

Memories of Crete again today, prompted by visitations into my mind of this...

Lake Volusemni, the so called "Bottomless Lake" by Artimy Pavlov, Wikimedia Commons
...The Bottomless Lake.

The Bottomless Lake lives in the Cretan holiday resort of Aghios Nikolaus, and the above view is one I've never had of it. I was usually found, on the two family holidays we had in the area, sitting with my dinky little yellow and black fishing rod just where the short canal joining the lake to the harbour enters the lake.

The Bottomless Lake isn't really bottomless. Some boring English nautical fellow took a sounding and found the depth as being around 60 metres. Which is still incredibly impressive for a body of water that my memory reckons is no larger than a football pitch, but destroys the local legend somewhat. You can imagine the bottomless lake as being an entrance to Hades, where evil souls are tortured with deathless drowning before emerging into endless fires and the mocking laughter of the three headed dog Cerberus.

Sisyphus and Damocles look up from their own ordeals only briefly to look the newcomer in the eye with knowing sympathy.

I fished in the Bottomless Lake. Not at the bottom, I didn't even have 60 metres of line on my reel, just four lead shot and a piece of bread on a hook. On an earlier holiday in Elounda along the coast I had fished for grey mullet with some success, although I caught only small ones. They still went down very well fried with lime juice, although my stepfather in his own display of Underworld cruelty made me bone and gut them myself.

Much bigger mullet lived in the Bottomless Lake, as long as my arm or so. But you could never get them within a mile of a fishing hook, and indeed here I never caught any mullet at all, or any of the saddleback bream that were also common in Cretan waters, I only caught those gloppy bug eyed little rock gobies and blennies, ugly, slimy Marty Feldmans of the sea.

But from what I remember, you wouldn't want to eat any of the fish from these waters in any case. The long sea front of the resort used to have a tidal sweep of used toilet paper about a mile long that the windsurfers used to hurtle through in a frenetic cholera death wish. And then the harbour was full of bluey oil slicks from the Playboy cruisers and rusting ferries, deep and cold sea urchin waters somehow far scarier to me than invisible bottom of the Bottomless Lake.

It was about our only Hotel holiday that one, and in the fog of increasing years, not as good as I thought it was at the time. I never swam in the sea or played with other kids on beaches made scary by the local hornets.

It was all sit down meals and swimming in the rooftop pool, a gloomy pit of Weil's Disease that surely one day must have featured in a "That's Life" story about holiday drownings.

I'd rather have swum in the Bottomless Lake, and met the fate of Titans.


Words are copyright CreamCrackeredNature, image as credited


  1. Don't really like the sound of that lake at all Si - but the picture is lovely.

  2. It's a mysterious old place, as are so many on Crete. The huge misty drop from the plateau of Lasithi to the coastal plain being another.