‘The Country of Al Andalus’: two weeks in southern Spain at the end of February, three different centres for variety, excellent company, comfortable hotels, and good food – the ingredients for an enjoyable break from our 2010 British winter.
From our first centre across from the beach at La Herradura we explored both scenic coastal paths and the nearby hills. With the unusual heavy winter rainfall in southern Spain, Lucy, our leader, was concerned about water depths in the rivers we were supposed to cross on one of our inland walks. Undaunted (well maybe just slightly daunted) we left our coach and set out through a deep rocky gorge.
The sound of rushing water as we neared our first crossing point was unnerving, but the river was wide and relatively shallow at that point so we all crossed over – mostly with the aid of plastic bags over our boots.
Feeling confident now, we enjoyed fantastic views as we climbed up to our coffee stop, and on over the hills towards our second crossing.
The deafening roar that greeted us as we descended to our second crossing was worrying, but as intrepid Ramblers we decided to stop on the riverbank to fortify ourselves with lunch. We had all decided that going back was not an option – it was too far to retreat! Joe found a possible crossing point, so we all removed our boots, and with the help of some of our stronger and braver companions we all managed to get across upright.
A long uphill pull rewarded us with more fantastic views, and took us to a track that contoured along a hillside and then downhill and eventually to our waiting coach.
From our second centre in delightful Granada, we explored the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Once again the winter rainfall caused difficulties – this time in the form of a landslide that blocked the mountain road in front of our bus!
This meant changing our starting point, so we had a long steady uphill climb with views opening up as we worked our way toward the distant snowy peaks.
We reached ground with a thin snow cover before returning to a pretty alpine meadow for our lunch. There were spring bulbs emerging everywhere and we had stunning views far across the valley.
It was back downhill then, through a couple of tunnels, past an impromptu waterfall, and alongside the raging river to a welcome riverside pub for well deserved refreshments.
By the time we reached our third centre, Priego de Cordoba, the rains had returned, so some of our walks there were curtailed.
Despite this, I’ll remember Al Andalus for the great company, the raging rivers, the landslides, the coastal scenery at la Herradura, the delights of Granada, and the charm of Priego de Cordoba, as well as the variety of lovely scenery and walks that we enjoyed.