Saturday, 24 April 2010

White villages of the Taha

The Taha is an area of the Alpujarra about 10km east of the Poqueira area. made up of about a dozen small villages tha arera is ideal for easier walking in the area. The history of the area is moorish and the name itself, Taha means settlement in arabic. Our route takes in six of the villages from the smallest Altabeiter to Pitres which is the mane village of the area. Starting in Fondeles we follow a pack horse track up toward Pitres passing through the hamlets of Mecinilla and Mecina en route. Reaching Pitres after about an hour comes as a relief and the plaza makes an ideal spot for a break. Pitres is known as the ''Port of Pitres'' and even though it lies at about 1,200m it has its own fishing boat moored at the entrance to the village. The maritime theme is in response to a past politician who promised the good people of the village anything they wanted if they voted for him, the response a request for two harvest a year and a port. Villagers on the coast ha rd of the request and sent a boat and ships anchor up the mountain to support the cause.

We leave from the eastern end of the village and follow GR 142/E4 signs to pass by a hostal and drop into a river bed here again is evodence of recent landslips and flooding . Continuing along the path we reach Altabeiter, a small hamlet of about 30properties which is worth the five minutes it will take to expplore the village. After the village we continue east(ignore the paths off this route) and reach an old watermill perched between two small streams. The path then climbs to run between an unusually formal garden set amongst the almond groves. Continueing east we finally reacj a track heading south down in to the valley follow this for about 5 minutes to a waymarker pointing back west along the valley side.

This section of the route adds mountain drama to what has so far been a much more pasoral scenery.The south side of the Rio Travelez valley is made up of dramatic cliffs and peaks with steep zig zaging paths climbing up the vally side. The path is well waymarked as you slowly descend passing a well maintained era or threashing circles soon followed by a magnificent spring with naturally carbonated water coming out. Soon we enter Feriaroles, at the old wash house in the cente of the village turn left then right at the bottom of the short street to soon return back to a small path which takes us back to Fondales an the start of the walk.

duration 4-5 hours
approx 10km
water at springs in villages

Friday, 23 April 2010

Poqueira Gorge walk

Monday of this week I took a client out on a walk in the middle section of the Poqueira Gorge. The gorge is famous for the three white villages of Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileira which are all tourist traps for most of the year but beautiful non the less. The general scenery of this section of the gorge is one of steep sided valleys with terraces of almonds and cherries interspersed with woodland and scrub.

Our walk headed up hill out of Bubion to Capileira then ascended to follow one of the many water channels or acequias which feed water throughout not only this valley but across the whole of the region. The walking was tough enough as the terrain of the area doesn't allow for much easy strolling. There are however viwes of Mulhacen and the upper ridges of the Sierra nevada so the views are magnificent. Once we reached the head of the valley at the now deserted village built to service the building of a small hydro electric plant we lunched . Here at the confluence of the Rios Nuerte and Toril is was clear that there had been a major slip higher up the Rio Toril as the water in that river was black with silt unlike the Nuerte which was crystal clear snow melt.

The route back to capileirra follows old mule paths along he western side of the vally passing numerour cortijos many of which have old eras or threashing circles outside. Whilst the route is simple enough there have been numerous small landslips allong the paths which lead to a few tricky moments crossing stream beds. In the end we had to cut short the walk as the route directly back to Bubion allong the vally was missing due to a large er slip than we had previously seen so hence a return to capileira and back via the road.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Rio Durcal

This walk is one of many contrsts from desert like dry river valley, mountain scrub through to oak woodland and mountain valley. All this in the space of five hours walking.

One of the dificulties of many of these walks is getting to the start , this walk is no differetn however from the Durcal bypass follow signs from the via servicio northward to ''Durcal Central'', a small hydro electric station which lies at the foot of the Barranco de la Rambla. This is a dry river bed which runs N.E. into the mountains and as you follow it make sure you take in all the rock sceneryas you pass through a ''wild west '' landscape. After about 45 minutes you come to the will see the second of two low dams , keep an eye out for a cairn on the right and then follow a more defined path on the S. side of the valley. The path brings you to a fuente , however do not expect this to be running, beyond the path zig zags steeply for about 20 minutes to finally reach a track running S - N.

You are now in the heart of the mountains and the views around are fantastic. To the west, close at hand is Butreras and to the north you can easily see the ridge line of the Alayas de Dilar and Travenque beyond. Our route heads N along the track for 15minutes where it crosses a barranco you then follow a vague but waymarked path right up to an acequia line which runs all the way to the head of the valley at La Toma where the water is taken to feed much of the valley below you.

The acequia line is simple to follw and needs little discription. As you follow its very gentle traversing line you pass from dry scrub , through almond groves to finally reach oak woodland as you pass in to the Parque Nacional. Beyond you cross a frighteningly narrow steel bridge. From here the trail becomes less defined however as long as you keep the acequia line in sight you will soon reach the head of the valley and the Rio Durcal.

Unfortunaetly this is a linear walk however the retun is easy and the final walk down the dry river bed is easy on the feet.

Total distance 18km
Time 7-8 hours
Medium with little navigation problem.
No spring water enroute, however you cross a number of streams.