Periana - Ventas de Zafarraya - El Canuelo - Periana

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Periana - old railway line - Ventas de Zafarraya - El Canuelo - Periana

El Boquete de Zafarraya is a huge cleft slicing through the mountain spine of the Sierra de Alhama. South of the mountains, the upper slopes are wild garrigue - rock outcrops rising from a carpet of gorse and broom, cistus and lavender, rosemary and thyme and a host of other flowering shrubs and herbs. Lower down, garrigue gives way to a broad, fertile valley, a patchwork of olive and citrus groves, almond orchards and farmland sweeping down to the broad expanse of Lake Vinuela.

In the first half of the 20th Century a railway, abandoned and torn up in the 1950s, connected Periana with Ventas de Zafarraya. Puffing laboriously up the slope above Periana with the help of a rack between the lines, trains that could have come straight from an American Western carried passengers, goods and animals between the two towns.

This walk follows the abandoned railway line in a long curve across the head of the valley. The scenery is splendid: on one side the mountains and wild rocky slopes of the garrigue, on the other the orchards falling away to Lake Vinuela. It's particularly beautiful in early spring, when almond blossom dusts the slopes like snow, the gorse blazes with flames of gold and bright cistus, daisies, bugloss and dainty irises deck the verges. Passing through the old railway tunnel, we emerge from El Boquete into the long, dusty street of Ventas de Zafarraya, itself reminiscent of a Wild West town, where cool bars offer refreshment and old pictures of the railway before the walk back.

Our return route cuts away from the railway through the orchards and olive groves to El Canuelo. Aptly described on its signs as 'Autentica Aldea de la Sierra', it presents a scene of pastoral peace; as I pass, a mare and foal graze at the edge of the village, an old, black-clad woman returns with a bundle of newly gathered firewood and a herd of sheep floods across the hillside, the music of their bells ringing out an Angelus... An attractive-looking bar offers another opportunity for refreshment before we pass on to the next village, La Muela, to end up back at our start point above Periana.

Spain - Southern Spain - Malaga - Axarquia

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Lake/Loch, Mountains, Pub, Restaurant, Toilets
25/02/2013 - Graham Barthorpe

This was a good leg stretch, just put your head down and go for it. It was about 5 C at the start but the wind on the top was so strong it stood us upright several times. I shudder to think what the wind chill factor was. Coffee not beer was welcome at the turn point.

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