Grazalema

Route: Grazalema Northern Circuit

Area: Andalucia, Spain

Date of walk: 9th May 2018

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly 

Distance: 9.0 miles

Ascent: 2,000 feet

Weather: Sunny intervals, but much low cloud and haze, misty at the end

Grazalema is a beautiful mountain village set in a Natural Park surrounded by rugged limestone mountains, which are famous for being the rainiest place in Spain. These high levels of precipitation account for the lush vegetation in the surrounding countryside. True to form, sunshine and clear skies turned to low cloud as we approached the village but there was still plenty of blue sky around, and some dramatic views as we left the village via a cobbled medieval path that was once the main access to Grazalema

We followed an easy track through pastoral land which took us gently down the Guadalete Valley. After crossing the valley a lovely path took us past several farms before entering the next valley, La Ribera

At the halfway point of the walk we had a wonderful sighting of griffon vultures which inhabit the area. At first we saw the odd one or two, but gradually others appeared and as we watched and waited we had good sightings of three large groups of these huge birds, perhaps 100 individuals in all, soaring the thermals in their eternal quest for food

There followed a long but easy climb to the Grazalema reservoir, and as we gained height the weather took a turn for the worse. Low cloud, which had been hovering around for much of the walk, rolled in and obscured the views so that we were walking in damp mist for the last leg of the walk. A shame, as we knew that the views would have been glorious. Nevertheless it had been a wonderful walk in a new area for us

Lastly I should mention that navigation along the way is not a simple affair. Parts of the route are pathless and there are several turn offs that can easily be missed. If you follow my brief description, even with a print out of the map, you will in all likelihood get lost. Our companion for the walk was ‘Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema‘ by Guy Hunter-Watts, published by Cicerone. The detailed description of the route in the book, and a modicum of good sense, should enable you to complete this wonderful circuit without mishap

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