Landscape

Landscape archive

We drove on up beyond the village this morning towards Lubrin, another small town high up on the sierra where olives are pressed into oil and rendered into smoothly sublime soap at the Almazara Fabrica on the edge of the pueblo. Lubrin is where the utterly raucous annual Fiesta de...

There’s a canopy that runs right across the front of the cortijo. That’s the place to enjoy the views, shelter from the breezes and catch the maximum heat available from the winter sun. Today, however, the wind is more easterly than usual so, I’m sitting on an old wooden bench...

We were in Almeria again yesterday, picking up my daughter, Natasha, from the airport there. It’s a shiny new airport where very little happens. Yesterday five arrivals and, I suppose, about the same number of departures, was the total air traffic activity for the day. The mind boggles at the...

Yesterday we went to Almeria. It’s an easy 50-mile journey - the A7 takes you there in about as many minutes. A quiet dual carriageway, no tolls, gentle curves, lofty bridges carrying you across deep barrancas where rivers flowed once upon a (very long) time. After 20 miles you reach...

To reach our cortijo, you turn hard right off the main road that winds up to the village and meander for about a kilometre across the hillside. You pass a couple of fields, one planted with olives, the other with almonds. About 16-20 almond trees in evenly-spaced rows, tended occasionally;...

We walked today, a walk we’ve done at least three times on each visit here, so today we clocked up perhaps number 7 or 8.  It’s a walk with all the right ingredients - spectacular long views and fascinating close-up detail. The Route of the Mines (Ruta de las Minas)...

I did a quick Google search on mistletoe having concocted a story as we drove through France past trees laden with its parasitic pom-poms. Here’s a landscape smothered in mistletoe so, I conjectured, maybe the tradition of kissing underneath it started in France. I was surely onto something. After all...

I was at the local crematorium earlier this month. It's been a season of deaths and, thus, funerals. I didn't know the man well; Jim knew him better but 'knew/ know' are not accurate words. For, as we listened to the several long and often emotional eulogies, we realised that...

On Friday we spent the day walking across three of North Yorkshire's glorious moors. Their names are intriguing: Live Moor, Carlton Moor, Cringle Moor. An Aussie hiker had asked me at breakfast to explain what a moor was. The question had surprised me and my reply, I'm sure, did not...

We were in Keld. All was fine. Monday evening spent happily in Keld Lodge, a former youth hostel, now a simple hotel at the halfway point on the C2C. On Tuesday, a dry, mild day of weather at last and the glorious riverside trail along the Swale. A highlight because...

Day 5 is the last day in the Lakes, with the highest point on the whole journey, Kidsty Pike, the final frontier between the Lake District and the gentler landscape of the Eden and Lune Valleys. It's another hard day: a steep trail for several miles to reach Kidsty and...

Today we reached Grasmere. Chocolate-box Lakeland, a village full of country hotels, letting cottages and, thus, tourists. We never really want to tarry here, but Coast to Coasters, it seems, often take a rest day here especially the ones from Oz or the USA. They have a day off, perhaps...

We were out walking again the other day, returning to the Cabo de Gata Parque Natural to hike a new trail. Come lunchtime, we needed somewhere to shelter out of the strong, cool wind, to hunker down and tuck into our cheese and tomato sandwiches. We found a perfect grassy...

Yesterday we met Raoul and he told us about how the land is dying. It seems counter to all that we’ve seen here while we’ve been out walking, the flowers that have captivated us with their abundance, colour and fragrance. But Raoul knows differently and he showed us how to...

If you take the coast road south from Bedar, you pass the tourist playas of Mojacar and then along a road that sweeps like a silver ribbon around the coastal Sierra Cabrera. The A5106 is a feat of engineering – fantastic views out to sea as you round another dramatic...

Yesterday we went walking. We returned to Los Josefos and Cariatiz where, two years ago, we stayed when we first came to Spain to retreat from winter’s worst. I must admit, though, that this wasn’t the plan when we set out. No, we had planned a new walk to an...

Natasha has been visiting – so lots of blethering and much less blogging since Thursday. A long weekend was all that could be spared – so now back to the routine. But first, the airport run. She flew home from San Javier airport, on the coast about 25km from Murcia and...

I changed my mind about Garrucha. I struggled with it last year (see the blogpost of 5 February - Garrucha: one town, two worlds). From the little rented cortijo where we’re staying, we look at it across the scrubby coastal plain, and beyond it the sea. It’s unattractive this land...

Friends are visiting. Liam and Jilly have dropped in from Hastings for a few days. So we’ve swopped our usual routine of working, walking and reading for a new one of talking, walking and eating. It’s been great! We were headed for Lubrin this lunchtime. Into the hinterland far away from...

Just when you thought I'd gone again for a while, I'm back. Sitting in Teddington musing over my recent musings I discovered that the blog record is incomplete. Lovely Patterdale has been left out thanks, I think, to the vagaries of the Patterdale YHA internet connection and the failure of...

On our last morning we awoke to fog as thick as parsnip soup. It wasn’t raining but it was dull and damp, like a curtain had been drawn low across the land. After 15 days of dry, often sunny weather, this was a shock. It was as if the end...

In the rich lexicon of place names that has guided and amused us, two standout entries sit alongside one another on the way from Blakey to Glaisdale. Our penultimate day, we've covered 170 of the 200 miles so more silly names to add to the already long list (Gobble Hall...

After crossing the heather-clad expanse of Urra the trail meets the disused Rosedale Ironstone Railway at Bloworth Crossing - more fabulous names. Four miles of walking along the cinder-lined track takes you past Farndale Moor to Blakey. Sweeping right and left in long, soft curves and with barely a gradient,...

Another great name - Urra. Earthy, primitive, rolls wonderfully off the tongue. We looked across to Urra when we came down off the hills on Sunday. That night we stayed in the rather dated and drab Wainstone Hotel in Great Broughton, about 2.5 miles off the trail. We discovered (rather too...

We saw the North Sea again today, off in the distance as we looked out from high ground towards Hartlepool and Teeside. Within reach of the eye but still three days away on foot. Distances become times when you're walking - how many days or hours will it take? Yesterday...

On Day 12 we have left the Swale and are heading towards the Cleveland Hills and the North York Moors. It's been the least interesting and enjoyable day despite (or maybe because of?) walking over flat terrain. On top of that, to use the eloquent Scottish vernacular, it was a...

Here we are on Day 11 and for four of those days we've had the burbling company of the River Swale. As we came down off the bleak Pennine ridge, we picked up this sublime river at Keld and we have meandered on or near its banks ever since. Overnighting...

The contrasts could not be greater. 24 hours after walking across the great emptiness up on the Pennines, we spent today following gentle grassy trails through meadows of buttercups and clover along the north bank of the River Swale, following it as it chatters and murmurs its way east through...

Pure white heads attached to fabulously fluffy bodies in a fashionable mocha brown, Herdwick sheep are like horizontal cappuccinos on legs and, by some distance, are the most attractive of the sheep we've encountered on this sheep-strewn journey. The lambs are black from head to toe, making the Herdwick 'en...

They call this the backbone of England, here, just east of Kirkby Stephen, where our C2C route crosses the great watershed of England, the west/east divide, the Pennines. Hmmm - this is one soft, spongy, spine. England's backbone is a great big bog. Believe me, I'm a Scot, and we...

To walk the C2C is to travel through a world of miraculous stone walls. Timeless reminders of man's impact on the landscape, the scale of these incredible structures takes your breath away. Hundreds of years old, they have outlived generation after generation of shepherds, farmers, landowners and labourers. Some have...

Here's what I would have written yesterday had the spirit and the flesh been equal to the task and the atmosphere in the Crown Inn's most raucous of bars been conducive to creative thought! Tranquil Patterdale, tucked away and somehow still untarnished by the tourist mob that regularly colonises its bigger...

Sitting in the Crown Inn in Shap at the end of Day 5 having a taste of Cumbrian life! It's a real 'boozer' filled with locals out for a few on a Saturday night. Two widescreen TVs blare from either corner, one showing football, the other motor racing, and there's...

Sitting by Grisedale Tarn, reflections of sky and hillside, even of sheep moving along one of their trails on the far side of the tarn their movement echoed perfectly in the still surface of the dark water. Some cloud and patches of blue are reflected too, but this bit of...

26 May and Day 3 dawned overcast and cool but dry. A day of adventure when I realised that memory is extremely episodic - well mine is anyway. You see, it's just 9 miles from Rosthwaite to Grasmere, today's destination. Not a breeze but our recollection was of a steady...

Day 2 and it's a welcome surprise, on waking up in the comfy king size at the Fox and Hounds, that all my body's moving parts are still moving. There are some distinctly reluctant limbs here and there and some tetchy reaction from muscles preferring to continue sleeping rather than...

24th May 2016 You forget how tough this is. You forget how sore you feel at the end of each of the first few days. 14 miles is no walk in the park but it's not a marathon either. And being the first day somehow it always feels like much much...

23rd May 2016 We're about to do one of the great walks crossing the north of England from the west coast to the east. Coast to Coast. Shorthand for this is C2C - the only short thing about it, frankly, as it's 200 miles not counting any detours, planned, unplanned or...

Rambling has another connotation here in Spain – in addition to walking and wittering on (and yes, I agree, I have a capacity and a penchant for both). A Spanish rambla is a ravine or watercourse – although as is obvious from other blog posts, the ‘water’ is a misnomer...

Sitting outside Casa Enriqueta for a tiny tapas lunch of cheese and bread with some tomatoes on the side unadorned save for the sprinkling of salt and a drizzling of the most delicious olive oil, bright green and full of fruit. Enriqueta served us herself – an enigmatic woman running...

I think I mentioned Garrucha in an earlier post and I think I said I would write more about it by and by. I’ve been struggling a bit with Garrucha; there’s something odd about the place. From our cortijo we look across to it every day so it’s always ‘there’;...

You didn’t misread that – yesterday we walked to Tenerife! At 394 metres (that’s 1292 feet and towering over Box Hill!), Cerro Tenerife (‘Hill’ Tenerife – ‘Mount’ would be overstating it) is the highest point of the Sierra Almagrera, a rocky spur that runs northeast to southwest close enough to the...

We’re more than half way through our time here, which makes me pause for thought. It takes a while to settle into a rhythm in a strange place. It’s not a holiday, but a transfer of life for a few weeks – well part of life at least – and...

I wanted to write about the flora and fauna hereabouts and came up with a witty title for the post – Aloe Aloe! Well, it would appeal to anyone who watched the classic 1980s BBC sitcom with the incomparable Rene, who would, no doubt, have had some risqué things to...

On fiesta day, Lubrin is full of colour. Every first floor balcony is adorned with a flag in either green and white or red and yellow stripes, alternating in perfect harmony along the main streets, displaying a high degree of neighbourliness or an ironfisted local mayor with an eye for design....

Yesterday, what a day! The Berlingo eased through the low gears in the morning, handling the hairpins like a wannabe rally car - what a motor! We were headed into the back country on a spectacular road, high up in the Sierra de los Filabres, destination Lubrin. The journey was...

Isabel is 26 years old. She’s been weaving for 10 years and now has the skill to make the most exquisite pieces on her crude loom - just a couple of strong vertical poles of wood notched to support two horizontal ones. Isabel’s mother died when she was very young...

I think this was my first hacienda; the next one has a lot to live up to. An earlier hacienda built by the Jesuits had fallen into disrepair and the land into disuse. A few owners bought and sold it over the years, including a rather colourful old rogue who made...

There is so much to say about Candelaria, where it is, what it is, what it meant and all the many trains of thought that it set off in my head. Far too much for a single blogpost, so there will be a few. The communities around Sucre are renowned for...

Today was a ‘big walk’ day. This is to distinguish it from the ‘regular walk’ days that are every day – except on the big walk days – OK clear? So the routine is this. Get up in the morning, have breakfast and then head out onto the sierras and up...

So, salzburgrooms.com, despite its lack of 'soul' was a triumph - clean, comfortable, and with sufficient kit that we could self-cater for dinner. And we both had a fantastic sleep setting us up perfectly for today and the next leg of the journey...