Walking 

The Hills are Alive

The Hills are aliveIn the last issue of Lifetimes, we took to the rolling hills of the Sierra de Aracena and discovered some charming villages, as well as some of the region?s most impressive landscapes. This time though, we?re heading uphill for the Picos de Mijas. Michael North reaches new walking heights.

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Spain is considered by walking fanatics as one of the best countries for rambling in the whole of Europe, with the south of the country (the Andalucia region) winning hands-down for its abundance of dramatic scenery, high mountains and ideal climate, not to mention some of the most interesting flora and fauna to be found anywhere in the world!

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However, it?s not until very recently that marked routes and maps were introduced. Not surprisingly, this made it difficult for ramblers to find their way around Andalucia?s beautiful countryside.

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Fortunately though, times are changing and it?s now easier to get your hands on walk maps and even detailed books, written in English. Nevertheless, many of the walks in the south of Spain are still relatively remote and infrequently used, so it?s always a good idea to take a mobile phone with you, a drink and some snacks, just in case you run into trouble or happen to lose your way.

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Dehydration can be a major problem when walking in hot and humid conditions so make sure you take at least 2 litres of water with you, drinking it little and often. Don?t wait until you?re thirsty. Other drinks, such as Isotar, a rapid re-hydration liquid available in most large supermarkets, are also highly recommended as it refreshes the body and can also prevent painful cramps.

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The benefit of walking in Spain is that for most of the year, you don?t need to wrap up in warm clothing and usually, just a just a short sleeved shirt and pair of shorts will do. However, the sun can be very strong in this part of the country, so always make sure you wear a hat and pack the sun cream. In winter however, it can be a very different story. Contory to what you might think, Spain isn?t warm in winter. It can often get quite cold and wet, especially on high-level walking routes, so always be prepared ? take a fleece and waterproofs.

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Before beginning this 12km walk, which will take roughly about three and a half hours, you need to make sure you?re wearing a pair of sturdy boots, as you?ll be ascending to almost 1000m.

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To find the start of the walk by car, you need to take the A404/A366 from the Coin and Alhaurin Del Grande direction and head towards Alhaurin de la Torre. Soon, you?ll see a road sign which reads ?11km? as well as a sign reading ?Urb. San Jorge. Turn right off the main road and once you reach the top, turn right, and then left into Calle Tomillo. Follow the road up the hill until it turns into a dirt track and you reach a crossroads. This is where the walk begins.

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Taking the right-hand track, you?ll start with a pleasant stroll through the woods. Shortly atfer, you?ll spot the white meteorological sphere of the summit up to your right. After about 80 metres, turn left at the Y junction and keep to the track. Here, you?ll be veering slightly downhill, via a rough path. You?ll soon reach a stone stairway on the right. Climb this until you reach the Fuente de Arabouche ? a pretty stone fountain with a watercourse above it. Keeping this to your left hand side, continue climbing for another 200 metres until you come to a forest hut. There is a path to the left of the smaller hut, just behind the main one, follow this through the woods.

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Now follow the main path upwards but take care, as this can be a little bumpy. Once you?ve been climbing for about an hour and a quarter, you?ll reach a clearing where you?ll see a track which runs from Alhaurin to Coin. You?ll also see a signpost which reads ?El Tomate de la Mata de Arriba?. Cross straight over the larger track to the rougher one. Follow it upwards, then stop to admire the breathtaking views across the bay of Malaga, towards the Sierra Nevada. After this, the track becomes steeper. This is by far the most challenging part of the walk, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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After about thirty minutes, you?ll be able to make out the summit. The track will then widen and join the main service track to the meteorological station. Follow the track to the top and make sure you get a few minutes to enjoy the panaramic views from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, all the way down to Gibraltar (and on a clear day, Africa). This is a truly amazing experience.

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The walk back to the start is less strenuous as it?s mostly all downhill, taking around an hour.


 


 


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