A Walk in the Hills
It certainly won’t be the last, but this was our first major walk of this year of living in Spain.
Trek Sierra Nevada has a range of marked walks across the Sierra Nevada National Park, so that was out first port of call www.treksierranevada.com and routes are available to download. We have been to Monachil on a previous visit, and knew that it was a bit of a hiking centre, so it seemed to be the perfect starting point for today’s little stroll.
The route notes describe this walk, from Monachil to Cahorros as being ‘Easy’. The notes go on to say that ‘kids will love the hanging bridges and the dramatic gorge…’. With hindsight, I am assuming kids here referred to young goats and not children.
Surprisingly, one of the hardest stretches of the walk was near the beginning, when we were guided to take a concrete lane rising steeply to the right. We weren’t sure if this was the right direction and the road we were on was, indeed, steep! However, once we picked up a landmark (a bar as it happens!) we were far more confident about being on the right path.
The day was perfect for a long walk - clear blue skies and sunshine, and temperatures that rose to the mid 20s. The air was fresh and mild and the surrounding scenery breathtaking. It is almost impossible to put int words the magnificence of the scenery. These hills, as they are really the foothills to the main Sierra Nevada mountains, are positively majestic and photos do not do justice to the depth of vision, the gorges, the layers of jagged outcrop rocks.
Leaving the village of Monachil behind, we entered Lord of the Rings territory - the path led into a deep gorge, and the gushing river was crossed using hanging bridges (steel hawsers as opposed to ropes).
Referring back to the guide notes, this stunning section of the walk is justifiably described as being spectacular, but mentioned that it is ‘quite awkward in some sections’. They were not wrong! The sheer rock faces frequently roll out over the path that, in these sections, is about 1’ wide! At times, I had no option but to bum-shuffle along the path to get under the over-hanging rock, and even crawl! Oh the ignominy….This is a well-trodden path, much used by Spanish families at weekends as they seek to escape the city for some fresh air.
Once out of the gorge, and this is the trickiest and slowest section of the walk, the path leads upwards high into the hills. The views again! Andrew and I did have a small competition going to come up with the most appropriate superlative for the spectacle, but they involved too many rude words to be repeatable here.
Everywhere you looked there was nature at its very best - colours of autumn, beehives tucked away in their own little meadow, cherry trees, olive groves, vineyards, poplars and views as far as the eye can see, way beyond Granada itself.
Fortuitously, this circular walk nears its end passing a delightful restaurant, with a vine-covered terrace overlooking the valley below. Beer never tastes as good as it does at the end of a long walk - we managed to do it in around 2.5 hours which was the time estimated in the guide notes. Lunch was delicious, but sitting down was a slight mistake. It was hugely difficult to prise ourselves out of our seats and tear ourselves away from the shaded terrace to get back to the car.
The final treat of this amazing walk was found just off the road back to the car park - a large nanny goat had clearly given birth to two kids within a matter of hours, and these tiny, uncertain little creatures were busy trying to find mother’s teats. Our immediate decision was made: if we bought a place in Spain, the first thing on the shopping list would be a goat, preferably pregnant!