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© 2017 John Kiely        john@purlieu.photography             Phone +447736849388

Frigiliana, second visit.

December 3, 2018

The town of Frigiliana has a fascinating history to it.  The hill it is built on apparently saw the final battle with the Moors, with the remains of a fort above the town.  The towns museum is full of artefacts and remains dating back over four thousand years that were found in the many caves around the town.  My plan for the day was to follow a walk that I had downloaded onto my phone.


The day started ominously, on reaching the river gorge that I intended to follow I met a group of walkers coming the other way.  My Spanish is very poor, but he explained the path was ‘no sólido’ and ‘no páso’.  There had been a lot of rain a couple of days ago so I assumed he meant the river had risen.  I decided to give it a try anyway, partially because the climb back up was very steep and the day was getting hotter.  I decided that as it was going to be a hot day it wouldn’t matter too much if my feet got a bit wet, they did!  I spent a lit of time stepping between rocks, and some time wading through shallow water, but it was well worth it.  At one point the water fell down a steep waterfall, steps had been built alongside the water, winding through openings in the rock.  Towards the end of this section the route went through steep rock walls, a great way to start the day.




The second part of the walk was less enjoyable, it simple followed a wide tack up open hill side past small villas and avocado trees.  The hillside was regularly punctuated with clusters of bee hives, accompanied by warning signs.  Towards the top of the climb I was rewarded with great views of the town.  It all became worthwhile when I reached the top, the view of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park was spectacular.  Photographs just don’t do justice to the spectacle.  A good spot for lunch.



The third section consisted of a mix of light scrambling and ridgewalking, which was not ideal wearing quite heavy motorbike cargo trousers, but at least they protected me from the thorns.  The hillside were covered with mainly pine trees, which provided shade and framed the amazing views across the steep valleys.  I was glad that I had downloaded the walk as I often relied on the GPS to find the almost hidden paths.  If this had been the Lake District the path would have been eroded, but here it still looked natural and provided at times quite challenging walking.  As I approached the highest point of the ridge I could hear a lot of lively ‘chatter’.  I discovered the walking path that I had met first thing, they had decided to follow the route in reverse.  Their first response was to offer me food and drink, this is typical of the generosity of the people in this area.  Between one mans little English, and my very poor Spanish, plus lots of gesturing, I managed to answer their questions about the gorge walk.



The steep descent to the stream that fed the gorge provided a little welcome shade.  This was followed by the most refreshing part of the day.  Nothing is better than icy cold water over the back of your neck from a mountain stream, nothing tastes quite so good either.  If only I had known what came next I would have followed the stream down the hill.  The fourth episode was labelled as ‘zig zags’ on the map.  It consisted of clawing my way up a very steep slope, through gorse and rosemary.  This took about thirty minutes, with very little progress on the map.  At least by the time I reach the top I smelt nice, bit like a roasted lamb.


The final descent was along a concrete waterway for about two kilometres.  This was made up of a channel with running water and a concrete wall about two feet across.  As the drop to the side was sheer at times I glad there was no wind.  About half way along I came across sections that were being rebuilt and discovered the wall enclosed a wide water pipe.  This was obviously feeding part of the town with water from a reservoir.  The rest of this section was a little precarious at times, as wooden planks criss crossed the channel as sections were being rebuilt.  I was impressed by the fact that all of the materials, plus generators and concrete mixers would have had to be moved by wheelbarrows and physical effort as there as no possibility of  getting them there mechanically.


The day ended with a walk down the twisting lanes back to the town.  I stopped at a shop for a very welcome ice cream and was surprised by the woman’s slightly sympathetic look.  I later realised I must have looked like I had been in an accident, my arms were covered with scratches, some bleeding, from the gorse and rosemary.  All in all a great day in a remarkable place, a landscape that it would be easy to fall in love with.
















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