I live in the 'Altiplano de Granada' region of Andalucia, an area of real contrasts. There is a huge and mainly deserted plain in its central part, surrounded by the mountain ranges of Sagra, Castril, Baza and Orce, with some peaks surpassing 2300 meters. There are also 3 large reservoirs, El Portillo, El San Clemente and El Negratín as well as 2 Natural Parks, the Sierra de Baza and the Sierra de Castril.
Basically, this means that we are spoiled for options when it comes to walking.
My favourite day out though has to be the Castril River Walk, it really does have it all and makes for a perfect day out for all the family.
The beautiful white-washed village of Castril is nestled in a valley, surrounded by olive groves as far as the eye can see.
It really is a quinicensial Andalucian village, with narrow cobbled roads, colourful plazas and a beautiful church.
We always park up in the village (before the main Plaza) and then walk down to the river as this allows us to walk the full 2.2 km circuit, arriving back into Castril.
The hardest part of the walk is the last leg back up to the village (although my 70 year old mother made it fine with a few stops along the way). However if you want to avoid it then there is parking down at
the start of the walk, which means you can retrace your steps.
Whatever your preference, upon arriving at the river, you are greeted with a beautiful little weir in a picture perfect setting. The walk starts at the shady tree-lined avenue, which takes you alongside the river until you reach a dramatic gorge. Here a wooden walkway hugs the narrow gorge, through which the river Castril flows.
All too soon you find yourselves down at river level; its shaded here with easy access to a number of small natural pools - a perfect setting to picnic and paddle in the refreshingly cool waters. Once refreshed, you continue over a small suspension bridge and enter a tunnel carved through the mountainside (just enough natural daylight to see your way), there is a viewpoint halfway through the tunnel giving another view of the river.
Exiting the tunnel you cross a bridge and continue on to the “El Molino de la Cerrada” restaurant and another picnic area. I haven't eaten at the restaurant but it gets good reviews on Trip Advisor.
Now you can either choose to retrace your steps or continue up, up, up and back into Castril.
The trail takes you up through a narrow track, passing groves of olives along the way.
Depending on the time of year, there will be either an abundance of wildflowers (Spring) or fruits and vegetables in the small holdings you will pass by.
Reaching a final set of steepish steps you find yourself back in the outskirts of the village.
If you still have some energy then follow the signs for 'Pena del Sagrado Corazon' (Rock of the sacred heart). This natural rock monument raises above Castril and offers amazing panoramic views.
Whatever you decide, I have to recommend ending your visit with a refreshing beer and a tapas dish or two at one of the local bars.
My favourite is “Cafebar Emilio”; it has plenty of outdoor seating, friendly service and a great view across the village.
They also happen to serve the most amazing bacalao rebozado (battered cod).
Now that I've shared my secret, it's only fair that you let me know where your favourite walks are in Andalucia.
Blog by Danny
One half of an English couple who traded the Oceans - he is a boat Captain, whilst his wife is a professional mermaid (no honestly), for a cave house in rural Inland Andalucia.
Find out more about them on their blog at www.onefootinthecave.com