Walking and hiking in the mountains of Andalucia.

 

Step out of the door at Cortijo La Solana and you are immediately in open countryside. Although Spain in general does not have the extensive network of footpaths found in the UK, here in this part of Andalucia it is recognised that you may walk over the land, provided you obey a few common-sense rules. The best time to go walking is undoubtedly late spring when the weather is not too hot and bird life and wild flowers are prolific.

Mule and goat tracks criss-cross the whole of the landscape - indeed, much of the terrain around Cortijo La Solana is shaped by the daily movements of goats. The landscape is hilly and can be rough underfoot, so strong supportive footwear is recommended, but the challenging walking is amply rewarded by some of the most beautiful scenery, flora and fauna in the whole of Andalucia. Take a hike up the Sierra del Torcal and spot Ibex and Griffon Vultures, plus numerous types of wild orchid.

 

Andalucia is one of the most mountainous regions in the whole of Europe and has a plethora of deep gorges, forests and lakes. In a bid to encourage rural tourism the government has been re-opening overgrown tracks and old drovers' trails, as well as improving way-marked paths especially in protected areas. The route of the long distance footpath GR7 goes past our doorstep at Boca del Asno, so if you are prepared to venture a little further afield you may wish to take advantage of these.

Trevelez in the Alpujarra region on the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada (a two-hour drive from Cortijo La Solana) is the starting point for tackling Mulhacen, Spain's highest mainland mountain at 3482m. Other popular walking areas include the Parque Natural de la Seirra de Aracena in Huelva province, where there is an extensive network of marked walking trails, and Picos de Aroche, particularly between Aracena and Aroche. Pick up maps and leaflets at the tourist office in Aracena.

There is also good hiking in the areas south west of Ronda around Gaucin and Grazalema and in the Axarquia region, especially around the villages of Competa and Frigilliana. The Parque Natural de Cazorla in Jaen province, Spain's largest natural park, is a heavily wooded zone of mountains and limestone crags and if you get away from the main "tourist trail" you will find some excellent walking here.

Although Spring is probably the best time for walking, Winter (despite being officially the rainy season) does allow some superb walking. Autumn (late September/October) can also be a good time. The hot sun during the Summer months means that you will need to ensure you are well-equipped with hat, sun protection and plenty of water, but with care and sensible precautions the outdoor environment around Cortijo La Solana can be enjoyed at any time of the year, each season bringing its own rewards.