Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Rio Verde, Sierra Almijara.

The Sierra Almijara lies as the eastern end of the range of mountains running along the Mediterranean coastline from Malaga toward Motril.There are some sizable peaks within the range , up to 2,000m however the walk I describe below is in the upper section of the Rio Verde inland of Almunecar.

The walk starts just south of the spectacular cliffs o the mountain road between Almunecar and Padul. This road is well worth the drive in itself even if you don't do the walk. From a lay by with information boards the path runs along the north side of the Cerro Martos along a traversing path with fine views across to the rest of the Tejeda range. After about 3km you reach a mirador where the view opens over the upper Rio Verde and south toward the coastline, a spectacular spot for a brief stop. From here the path descends more steeply to finally reach some steps and a hand rail for the last 50m descent to the river bed and petrified waterfall.

The fall was and is still being created as minerals in the water are deposited to create a type of ''flow stone''. Logs which have become lodged in the falls are becoming slowly fossilised as the minerals cover them. Not to be missed on a path slightly to the right of the falls is a small grotto where stalactites and stalagmites are being created by the same process. Well worth taking a torch.

After exploring this area around the falls follow the path for a short distance further on the right bank of the stream before dropping to cross the stream bed and gain access to a track. Turn right to a notice board with information about the Rio verde barranco. From here recross the stream on the track to climb up to a reservoir. Whilst not massive this is an unusual feature in these mountains and is a fine spot to stop for lunch as after this its all up hill back to the car.

From the northern end of the reservoir take a track which crosses and recrosses the stream a number of times to pass below a pinnacle of rock just before an unusual cortijo part built into a natural cave. Turn right (east) after the cortijo to pass an area with a number of bee hives , take care not to disturb the bees. The track is obvious from here as it climbs then descends a number of times until finally crossing a wide dry river bed before a last long drag back up to the road. Turn right to return to the car.

Duration 4-5 hours ,
Moderate walking, easy route finding
No springs enroute
Very hot in summer.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Mulhacen, a two day ascent.

Monday and Tuesday of last week should have been the time for a group ascent of Mulhacen. However dwindling numbers and illness meant that in the end there were only three of us in the party, myself, Maureen and Glen friends from Lanjaron.

The two day ascent involves an easy walk in to the Poqueira Refuge from Hoya de Portillo in the forest above Capileira. There are a number of possible routes to take however I favour the path which crests the Loma de Piedra Blanco ( ''ridge of the white stones'' ) as this takes you above 2,600m for some distance and leads nicely up to the Mirador de Trevelez at 2,700m. This is always a good place for a break before the descent back to the refuge at 2,500m. The mirador is also the spot where in summer the mountain bus deposits walkers who have caught the bus out of Capileira. Is this the highest bus stop in Europe ?

As with many mountain refuges the Poqueira provides basic , evening meal, bunk bed and breakfast in very hospitable surroundings. With an open fire in the main room and wine and beer available at the bar what could be better. The monday we were there was fairly quiet with about 20 people including a group of mountain bikers who arrived after dark and leaft before first light.

We left the refuge at about eight the next morning and headed west to ascend the valley running up to the Laguna de Caldera at the foot of the west ridge of Mulhacen. From the refuge to the summit is a climb of nearly 1,000m in 5km so its never an ascent to be rushed , so we didn't. Two hours plodding saw us at the refugio de Caldera. This is an unmanned bivouac hut at 3,000m where after a short break to photograph the wild ibex we set off up the final 480m to the summit. Never a technical route, unless it has snow on it , the ascent is steep and just needs to be taken at a very steady pace. An hour and a half of more plodding saw us at the summit under glorious blue skies with fantastic 360 degree views including as far south as the Rif of northern Morrocco.

The descent was via the south ridge back to the main track at the mirador before an easy final couple of hours back to the car.

First day 4-5 hours , second day 8-9 hours
Water at refuge.
Easy walking first day , hard ascent of ridge and long descent on second day. Navigation moderate in clear weather.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Sierra Lujar

The Sierra Lujar lies between Orgiva and the Mediterranean coastline at Motril. At over 1800 m it is not a small range yet it is overlooked as a walking destination as it lies in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada range to the north. Ive looked at the range for a number of years and last year did the then recently opened ''ruta de minas''( route of the mines) The more recent trip however took in the top of the range and access couldn't be easier with a surfaced road accessing the number of ariels on the summit.The track winds its way up the eastern and northern flanks and can be used by even normal road vehicles. En route to the summit we were treated to an annual spectacle as Egyptian vultures from the region gathered in order to begin their migration across to Africa. About 100 of these huge birds where circling the car as we drove up and we were even able to park within about five metres of two which were on the ground next to the track.

So what of the walking , from the masts we could see an area of cliffs off to the north across a wide valley running due north down toward Orgiva. Around the head of the valley was a faint track line which ran east to west along a ridge overlooking Motril and the coastline of the costa tropical (including the plastic green houses). After following ever narrowing track for about 2km we then headed north across an open area to a point looking across a shallow side valley filled with pine. Dropping through the pine was not to difficult however there is no path so we just made it up as we went along. At the bottom of the tree line there was the start of a low limestone raised limestone pavement which lead east to an outcrop high above the main valley itself. An ideal spot for lunch.

Throughout the short route the views across the whole of the area had been remarkable , particularly those north to the main Sierra Nevada range . Certainly I had never viewed the range from this aspect and summits from Caballo in the west, to the outliers some 20km east beyond Puerta la Ragua where magnificent and to see three central peaks of Valetta, Mulhacen and Alcazaba spread out before us was almost as good a site as the vultures had been on the ascent.

Our return route was simply to retrace out steps. Over all the trip was only about 9km however as an exploratory trip it was well worth it with a number of tracks and lines being seen and logged for a later date.
Welcome to a new blog about walking and trekking in and around the sierras of southern Spain. Based in the Alpujarra , the region just to the south of the Sierra Nevada I have easy access to walking and trekking routes in a number of mountain areas within about an hours drive of Granada.
The aim of the blog is to provide information on routes in the region adding more as I go along either repeating routes I've enjoyed in the seven years Ive been walking in the region or as I explore new routes.