Monday, 18 November 2013
Whilst reaching a height of 1,850m the Sierra de Lujar range to the south of the Sierra Nevada is generally overlooked by walkers visiting the area. Perhaps the reason is that with its whale bacl appearance and lack of rocky peaks it just does not appeal. There are routes here however with one of the better ascents forming a hard day out with about 1,200m of ascent. The route starts in the Baranco de Castilejo a steep sided valley due south of Orgiva. The baranco , which holds some single pitch climbs on outcrops , provides an easy route in as there is a mine access track running up it from the main road. The track splits at about 700m with the main branch doubling back to climb the western side of the valley to the mine workings above. Our route climbs the eastern side on a less well used track before reaching a fire break/track which runs south along the crest of a narrow ridge that climbs steeply upward. The track provides a clear route until about 1.000m where it reverts to a path running up the middle of the fire break which still follows the crest. The route now steepens and at 1250m begins to develop a more rocky nature with a number of limestone outcrops along the crest. The first three are by passed to the right (west) though provide short scrambles. After a further 300m of ascent the ridge fades into the main bulk of the mountain. From here you will see the masts at the summit, head due south to and these. Just before the first of the masts you will reach a narrow tarmac road, follow this past the first of the masts to bear right just before the second group to follow a stone path bearing right before the third group of masts. The path now narrows and heads west to cross the head of the Baranco de Castilejo and reaches a minor peak. Now narrower the path crosses open plateau to reach the edge of a one forest. From here head right (north) through the forest. As you emerge cross a distinctive limestone ridge to enter a second narrower band of older pine trees. Leave the second band of trees and head to a clear track still heading north across the hillside. As the track turns west continue north across virgin hillside to reach the head of a broad firebreak which creates the start of the descent route. Cross a number of narrow tracks until at about 1,250m you reach a well used track. There are some large caves off to the left (west).This now heads east to pass the ruins of some mine buildings before zigzagging down the mountainside back to the start of the route.
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
Winter Skills Course – Sierra Nevada, Spain.
Learn the skills to walk confidently in the mountains in winter. A week of winter mountaineering skills training, in Spain’s beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains. Including a winter ascent of Mulhacen 3482m mainland Spain’s highest mountain.
1st February to 8th February, 2014.
The course is being run / directed by Andy Say (MIC, IML) of Mountain Training England and supported by IML’s from Sierra Nevada Guides (Jane Livingstone, Martin Riley and Michael Hunt).
The course will be hotel based in Lanjaron with 2 nights spent in the mountains, Poqueira Refuge and snow shelter. Cost, excluding flights, £795. This includes meeting you at Malaga Airport, full board accommodation and returning you to Malaga at the end of the week.
Sat 1st Feb. Arrive.
Introductions, course outline and equipment brief.
Sun 2nd Feb. Moving on snow and ice.
An introduction to ice axe and crampon use. Simple secure movement; step cutting, self-belay, self-arrest. Movement on snow with crampons and snowshoes.
Mon 3rd Feb. Safer travel in the winter environment.
Snowpack formation and analysis in the field. Route planning from weather/snowfall history. Simple observation and tell-tale signs. Test pits. Following a safer route.
Tue 4th Feb. Looking after others.
The use of the rope in a winter environment.
Snow and ice belays. Retreat using the rope.
Snow and ice belays. Retreat using the rope.
Wed 5th Feb. Journey up the hill.
Putting it all in to practice. Night in Poquera Refuge.
Thur 6th Feb. Emergency procedures.
Snow shelters, bivouac skills. Night out on the hill, either Caldera Bivi Refuge or in snow shelters.
Fri 7th Feb. Ascent of Mulcahen 3482m (highest mountain in mainland Spain) and descent to valley.
Sat 8th Feb. End of course and depart.
Further details can be obtained from either Mike or Jane at Sierra Nevada Guides. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 01433 639 368
Monday, 15 July 2013
It’s normal for us at Sierra Nevada Guides to be guiding people up Mulhacen which at 3482m is the highest mountain in The Sierra Nevada and the whole of mainland Spain. However yesterday, having a day off we decided to climb Mulhacen ourselves for the sheer enjoyment of it. Legend has it that Mully Hasan the deposed and penultimate Arab King of Al Andalus is buried on the mountain.
|Mulhacen's West Ridge from The Caldera Refuge|
Most people tackling Mulhacen take the National Park bus from Capileira up to Alto del Chorrillo at 2700m and ascend and descend Mulhacen’s South Ridge. It’s fine to use the bus and the South Ridge as part of the excursion but to only do a “there and back from the bus” is a short day and will leave you thinking it’s not been a proper day out!
Setting out early in summer is the best tactic. This allows you to get the climbing done before the heat of the day starts to sap your energy. We started from Hoya del Portillo 2160m at 7.30am. It was cold, 10 degrees C and for the first 20 minutes we were in the forest so no sun. Still the motto is: start cold and warm up walking up hill! By the time we had reached the view point of Puerto Molino 2380m (30 minutes) we were warm! Our route continued along the ridge of Prado Llano 2577m to 2622m before joining the old road along to Alto del Chorrillo arriving there for a breakfast break at 9.15am.
The actual ascent of Mulhacen along the south ridge is pleasant, and in summer a well defined path with cairns marking the way through the screes just below the subsidiary summit of Mulhacen II at 3361m. Even though we stopped to take photo’s of plants and beetles, we reached the summit at 11.20am a total time of 3 hours and 50 minutes. A distance of 11.4Km with a total height gained of 1412m. An hour and 20 minutes ahead of Naismith (The rule for calculating the time to walk up mountains – allow 4Km per hour and add a minute for every 10m of ascent).
|Iberian Ibex near Mulhacen's Summit|
We were ahead of the crowd from the bus so the summit was fairly quiet. There was a small group of “Cabra” the Iberian Ibex mooching around not particularly afraid of us, the usual Alpine Accentor and a large squadron of Swifts giving a good display of aerobatics.
After a short break on the summit, it was time to head downwards before the crowds from the bus arrived. There is a zig zag path down the screes of Mulhacen’s West flank which we took heading to the Collado de la Mosca which gives great views of both Mulhacen’s and Alcazaba’s 3371m North Faces. A further 10 minutes and you are down to the Caldera Hut, an unmanned “bivouac” hut with bunks, tables and chairs. From here there is an impressive view back up to Mulhacen’s summit. A spot of lunch was called for at The Caldera!
|Mulhacen's Summit - 3482m|
With clients if we had caught the bus we would continue down to the Poqueira Refuge 2500m to make a circuit back to Hoya del Portillo. However as we had not walked the old road back to Alto del Chorrillo for a few years we though we’d re-acquaint ourselves with this option. It proved as boring as we remembered it though a useful way out if the weather turns nasty. From Alto del Chorrillo we then returned the way we had ascended finally arriving back to Hoya del Portillo at 3.30pm.
All that remained was to drive back to a bar in Capileira for the customary drink and plan for the next outing!
Sierra Nevada Guides are the only British Qualified Guides (International Mountain Leaders) working in Spain’s Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra.
The Sierra Nevada Guides website has a lot of useful information for people wanting to visit the area, especially for walkers and climbers.
We are always happy to respond to emails answering questions about the area.
Saturday, 13 July 2013
Summer in The Sierra Nevada – It’s cool at altitude!
Although summer has been a few weeks late in arriving this year, it has now arrived and is firmly established. Temperatures in the villages have been around 34 degrees C in the afternoons and barely dropping below 20 degrees at night. Two days ago I found it hard to sleep as the bedroom was airless and it was too hot to be comfortable so I decided to check out the conditions on Veleta 3394m the second highest in Spain’s Sierra Nevada.
|The Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula)|
Leaving home at 6am where it was 21 degrees I drove to Hoya de la Mora (2500m) where it was a cool 13 degrees and felt distinctly cooler with a brisk wind blowing. The ascent of Veleta is one of the easiest of all the mountains in the Sierra Nevada. A gentle ridge and fairly good path for all but the final 200m of ascent where there is a steep zig zag path up through scree and boulders. Reaching Posiciones del Veleta at 3100m a Griffon Vulture soared overhead reminding me that I always see them when on Veleta. By the time I got the camera out and switched on it was too far to make a decent picture. In total it took me two hours to reach the summit and although there was snow around, I didn’t have to cross any patches on my ascent. For most of the climb I was just about warm enough in shorts and a t shirt though my hands started to get cold near the summit. Once on the summit and no longer generating heat from the exertion of ascending I needed a windproof fleece hat and gloves. I guess it was around 5 degrees with the windchill. Cool!
|“Blue Dreams” (Chaenorrhinum glareosum).|
I choose to descend towards the Carrihuela refuge 3205m down by the old track that used to cross the Sierra Nevada from Granada to Capileira on the south side of the range. As usual for this time of year the track was buried in snow for about 1Km beyond the refuge. On the way to the refuge there were a number of alpine plants coming into flower as the snow had recently receded. And I managed to get a few photo’s before the battery in my camera gave up! Notable were the Sierra Nevada Violet (Viola crassiuscula) and “Blue Dreams” (Chaenorrhinum glareosum). It was at this point with the camera out of action that I noticed a group of six Grifon Vultures circling above me!
At the Carrihuela refuge I met a cyclist who had wanted to take the old road and cross the snow with his bike heading for Capileira. The snow was still frozen hard and the slope to cross is very steep with a bad run off if you were to slip. Fortunately he had already decided against it though it would be a massive 120Km detour. He said he’d cycled the route a few years ago and I left him considering whether or not to wait until late afternoon when the snow might be safe enough for safe passage without crampons.
|Mulhacen from the Carrihuela Refuge|
The rest of the descent back to Hoya de la Mora was a pleasant stroll though I could feel it warming up! Soon the gloves came off, the fleece hat was replaced by a buff and eventually the windproof came off too. It was a pleasant 22 degrees back at the car and I headed to the “University Albergue” for a cool beer and tappa.
Sierra Nevada Guides are the only qualified British Guides working in Spain's Sierra Nevada Mountains. We are always happy to answer your questions about the area.
|Veleta from Hoya de la Mora|
Saturday, 11 May 2013
Guided Walks in the Sierra Nevada led by qualified British International Mountain Leaders.
Sierra Nevada Guides are pleased to announce their programme of guided walks for 2013 in Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Starting from Monday 17th June through until Friday 2nd August our programme will be:
Veleta 3394m. The 2nd highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada. A fairly straightforward day in the mountains starting from a height of 2500m. Walking time approx 6 hours.
Meeting in Lanjaron at 9am or Hoya de la Mora 10am.
Cost per person: 40 Euro’s
Alcazaba 3371m. Alcazaba is the 3rd highest and most remote of the big 3. Taking the National Park bus to 2800m, this is a long excursion. Meeting in Capileira at 8am. Probably back around 7.30pm!
Walking time approx 8 hours.
Walking time approx 8 hours.
Cost per person: 45 Euro’s + bus fare (currently 10 Euro’s)
|Iberian Ibex near Mulhacen Summit|
Walking time approx 7.5 hours.
Cost per person: 45 Euro’s + bus fare (currently 10 Euro’s)
Cerro del Caballo 3011m. Europe’s most westerly 3000m peak. And a real gem!
Departing from Lanjaron at 8am and returning approx 7pm. Walking time around 8 hours.
Cost per person: 40 Euro’s
To enquire further about these walks or make a booking, please contact Jane or Mike at:
U.K. telephone (forwarded)
01433 639 368
600 692 166
Mountain Skills Course
Sierra Nevada Guides are running their 2013 Mountain Skills Course from 28th September based near Lanjaron in Spain’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Although a fairly active and intense week cramming a lot in, we try to ensure that your course is a holiday too ensuring you have time to relax, enjoy good food, company and the occasional beer or wine!
|Group briefing at 3200m|
The course will be based at a remote mountain farm near Lanjaron though will spend 2 nights at the Poqueira Refuge.
Saturday 28th September to Saturday 5th October, 2013.
£645 or 740 Euro’s
This is a full board course with bunk room accommodation based at a mountain farmhouse and mountain refuge. The price includes a pick up either from Malaga Airport or from Lanjaron.
Our normal 7 night training programme usually runs as follows though we will have to make adjustments according to the group and weather conditions:
Arrive in Lanjaron, settle in, etc.
Evening discussion covering mountain safety and equipment.
Learning map reading and navigation skills for the high mountains
including using a compass, transferring U.K. skills to the bigger mountains.
Involves time in the high mountains looking at route choice off path.
A possible ascent of Caballo 3011m.
Evening session covering mountain weather.
Learn to use a GPS.
Ascend to the Poqueira Refuge (2500m) using the GPS.
Spend night in Refuge.
Rock Scrambling at altitude, Navigation, Route Choice and
Mountain Leader Ropework.
2nd night at the Poqueira Refuge.
An ascent of Mulhacen 3482m, highest mountain in mainland Spain.
|Scrambling at altitude on the Tajos de la Virgin|
Rock Climbing, Abseiling and Learning the Ropes!
Putting it into practice!
An acsent of Alcazaba 3371m the 3rd highest
and most remote of the big 3 in the Sierra
Depart for home.
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
The Best Path in the World!
Spring Walks in The Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada Guides, spring walking season of is in full swing at the moment with several groups on “back to back” holidays in The Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada. The weather in Spain two weeks ago was unseasonably hot which brought the flowers out slightly earlier than usual and making for superb walking holidays which our guests have been enjoying.
Always a favourite is a walking circuit in an area of the Alpujarra known as the Ta Ha. Starting at the pretty white village of Fondales the route we follow takes us through Ferreirola and past a “fizzy” spring of naturally occurring carbonated water before ascending to Busquistar.
At Busquistar we descend into the ravine and take a spectacular medieval path which has been hewn out of the steep craggy hillside. The route now follows a road for a short distance before taking a forest track towards the medieval Arab water tank at Aguila.
The final descent down another medieval cut path is surely one of the best and most spectacular paths in the world! In places the path has been hewn out of the rock whilst in parts it is held in place by ancient stone walls that seem to hang off the steep craggy hillside. And it gets better with a Roman bridge crossing the river at the bottom.
|The Best Path in the World!|
All that remains is the ascent back up to Fondales and a well earned beer at our favourite bar in the village of Mecina.
Although a strenuous walk due to the two steep ascents, it is a relatively short
(12k) walk. We always tell clients that it their holiday and there are no prizes for being first! At a leisurely pace we complete the route in 5 to 6 hours. A Ramblers grade of A2.
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Winter Mountain Skills with Sierra Nevada Guides
There has been plenty of snow this year in the Sierra Nevada so we have not had to travel far to find good venues for winter skills training. We have even enjoyed being snowed in at our mountain house with clients staying so it was a case of putting on snowshoes and snowshoeing from the front door!
|Martin Coaching Sally how to use Snowshoes|
|Approaching the Poqueira Refuge in poor conditions|
We were the only people staying in the Refuge that night and the guardian seeing us approach had the fire lit and was waiting with hot drinks. In fact we were treated like royalty!
|Leaving the Poqueira Refuge on a perfect morning|
|Snowshoeing up to the ridge in perfect snow conditions|
|Following the ridge back to Puerto Molino|
On reaching Hoya del Portillo we found that the snow was melting at 2100m so we took off our snow shoes walking the last 1Km along the dirt track road. Beer was found in the village of Capaleira to celebrate a great trip!
Mike, Jane and Martin who run Sierra Nevada Guides are all qualified International Mountain Leaders and the only British qualified guides working in Spain's Sierra Nevada.
There is much useful information about Spain's Sierra Nevada on the Sierra Nevada Guides website.
Winter Hill Skills Training
Sierra Nevada Guides run a range of hill skills and navigation training throughout the year. For the past two weeks we have been enjoying (?) some snowy conditions which give a different slant to walking and navigating in the hills.
|The group practising some "re-location" techniques|
One of the good points about a day led by two qualified International Mountain Leaders in the snow was the quality of instruction and the range of topics covered. Not only was the day about navigation but discussions ensued about snow, avalanche equipment for winter conditions and a range of other related topics.
Because the day didn’t cover all the topics we have normally hoped to on our standard intermediate course, we’ve offered everyone the opportunity to book back on to another Intermediate Navigation Course once the snow melts!
Some comments about the course have come in already:
Dear Mike and Jane,
Many thanks for an excellent day today. I enjoyed the day, learnt a lot with a very affable group and the scenery was excellent – can’t ask for more really!
Hi Jane and Mike
Just to say thanks again for a great day out yesterday - suffice to say I slept well last night! I will probably try and join the course again sometimes soon in non-Winter conditions, but I did feel like I learned plenty yesterday. Look forward to seeing you in March.
Sierra Nevada Guides are all qualified International Mountain Leaders and provide guiding and training in: mountain walking, navigation, hill skills, scrambling and snowshoeing. In addition we can provide rock climbing tuition on single pitch rock climbs.
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
A Guide to Climbing Mulhacen
Mulhacen is the highest mountain in mainland Spain (3479m or 3482m depending on which map you are using!). It is not a “technical” mountain in good summer conditions. There are paths ascending the mountain from three sides: south, east and west that allow Mulhacen to be climbed in a day. From the north it is not really possible to climb Mulhacen without a night out wild camping. The north face is the domain of climbers and scramblers. This guide is about the non technical ways up the mountain for walkers.
|Mulhacen from Carihuela|
To tackle Mulhacen safely you should be an experienced mountain walker able to navigate safely and make sound judgments about the conditions underfoot, the weather and about those you are with. If in doubt hire a qualified guide from Sierra Nevada Guides.
This brief guide will outline ways up Mulhacen that are possible in a day including:
1 From the south – Hoya del Portillo via Capileira.
2 From the West – Hoya de la Mora (Granada side).
3 A Circuit from the Poqueira Refuge.
4 From the east – Trevelez.
5. A Circuit to The Poqueira Refuge from Hoya del Portillo.
1. From the South
Most people visiting the area for a walking holiday choose to stay in the Alpujarra where there are villages full of character and an abundance of documented walks. The village of Capileira (1400m asl) has a National Park Information Centre and from here it is possible to book a bus in summer months up to Mirador Trevelez (2700m asl) where a lot of people start their ascent of Mulhacen’s South Ridge. It is possible to reach the summit this way in under 2 hours from leaving the bus. It is important to book the bus in advance. This can be done either by calling into the information centre or by telephoning them. Details of the information centre and how to book are on the Sierra Nevada Guides website.
|Paths on Mulhacen, Mirador de Trevelez is at the bottom of this map.|
Personally we prefer a little more exercise than this and drive up the road above Capileira, initially on tarmac that degenerates to “potholes” before becoming a smooth dirt track through the forest to Hoya del Portillo at 2100m. From here a path leads up through the forest to “Puerto Molino” with its interpretation boards and fine glimpses of the mountains. From Puerto Molino there is a path leading up onto a ridge, which you can follow to rejoin the dirt track followed by the bus about 1Km before Mirador Trevelez. To ascend Mulhacen this way takes around 4 hours and you earn your beer!
Although it is possible to descend the same way, if you allow time it is good to make a circuit. Descending the West Ridge to the Caldera Refuge (40 minutes) allows you to get a good glimpse of the North Face. From the Caldera Refuge the old road leads back Mirador Trevelez. Another possibility from the Caldera Refuge (and you’ll need 4 hours) is to take the path down to the Poqueira Refuge where you can buy a beer before taking the path (initially up hill) back to Hoya del Portillo.
|The route from Hoya del Portillo to Mirador Trevelez.|
We sometimes get a single ticket and ride up on the bus from Hoya del Portillo to Mirador Trevelez then complete a circuit back to Hoya via the Poqueira Refuge. The best circuit on the mountain.
2. Mulhacen from the west (Granada)
Useful if you are staying in Granada or its suburbs. It is possible to drive on tarmac up to Hoya de la Mora, 2500m asl. Here there is another National Park information centre in the University Albergue. The National Park operate a bus service from here in the summer months up to Posiciones del Veleta 3100m. From here it is a 3 hour walk along the old road to the Caldera Refuge then a further hour up to the summit of Mulhacen. This is usually a linear, there and back option though if you have been “dropped off” at Hoya de la Mora you might be able to arrange a pick up at Capileira or Trevelez. If making the descent to Trevelez (5 hours), visit Siete Lagunas if you have time, especially in late June or early July when the alpine flowers there will be at their best.
|The paths to Mulhacen from Hoya da Mora and Los Posiciones del Veleta.|
It is quite normal for late snow to obscure the track just east of the Carihuela Refuge until mid July. This will involve crossing a short steep section of snow.
It is important to book the bus in advance. This can be done either by calling into the information centre or by telephoning them. Details of the information centre and how to book are on the Sierra Nevada Guides website.
3. Mulhacen from The Poqueira Refuge
The best circuit on Mulhacen from the Poqueira Refuge is to ascend the Rio Mulhacen up to the Caldera Refuge; Mulhacen’s West Ridge with views over the North Face and then return via Mulhacen’s South Ridge. 6 to 7 hours allowing plenty of time for stops.
|A Circuit of Mulhacen from The Poqueira Refuge.|
The Poqueira Refuge accommodates around 80 people in dormitories of varying sizes on “alpine” bunks. It provides bed, breakfast, evening meal and packed lunches. It has a small shop and serves drinks including alcohol too. It is essential to book in advance. Contact details for the hut can be found on the Sierra Nevada Guides website
The route is fairly obvious and marked with cairns though there are possible variations in the Rio Mulhacen and late snow may obscure some of the paths.
From the hut a path heads initially west and descends down to the Rio Mulhacen.
After a short distance ascending on the east bank I normally cross to the west bank and follow paths that lead to the Caldera Refuge. (It is possible to keep more or less to the river and take a path up Mulhacen’s west flank before reaching the Caldera. By taking this option you’ll miss the opportunity to view across the north face.)
From the Caldera head up paths that lead to the col on the west ridge overlooking the north face before taking a line back to join the other path. It takes around an hour to reach the summit from the Caldera.
In descent there is an obvious path heading south to the lower summit of Mulhacen II. Here leave the line of the old road and take smaller more direct paths down the south ridge to eventually reach the old road from Capileira to Caldera. Just before you reach this point you’ll notice a Red and Yellow stripped pole, which indicates the position of an emergency shelter.
Down at the old dirt track road near Alto del Chorrillo there is a signpost down a track heading north west to The Poqueira Refuge. Although it is possible to follow the track all the way, at the first bend there is a small path that leads more directly via an obvious large cairn. A great day out.
4. Mulhacen from the East (Trevelez)
Trevelez, 1476m asl may be the highest village in Spain but unlike the other options there is no transport to gain height. There are two options that allow for making this a circuit. Ascending Mulhacen via Siete Lagunas and the East Ridge, then descending Mulhacen’s South Ridge to Mirador Trevelez and back to Trevelez. This is a long hard day and in the heat of summer it is advisable to set out early as the lower sections get very hot. 7 hours and a climb 2000m in ascent. Allow 5 hours for the descent.
|A circuit of Mulhacen from Trevelez|
5. A Circuit to the Poqueira Refuge from Hoya del Portillo.
To reach the road head at Hoya del Portillo, follow the road through Capileira and continue without deviation until you can go no further. This is initially a tarmac surface, which becomes dirt track, but is generally passable throughout the year for most vehicles. Alternately book a place on the National Park Interpretation Service bus from Capileira, which runs most weekends between April and October, and mid-week during the summer months.
The road head is ‘guarded’ by the National Park who have a hut on the edge of the car park. At the side of the hut is a path which takes you uphill through the pine trees to a fire-break. Follow this emerging after approximately 30 minutes (as the forest thins, don’t be tempted onto the fire break too soon, as this is much harder walking). Where the path emerges you will see a sign to the Refugio Poqueira – 2 hours and Puerto Molina. Puerto Molina is the outcrop of rocks which can be seen at the top of the firebreak; amongst these are a National Park interpretation boards and a viewpoint detailing the various mountains in the National Park and even beyond to Africa, which can be seen from here on a clear day.
Our way on is to follow the signs to the refuge; cross the firebreak and descend slightly towards more trees. At the edge of the trees, follow the track rightwards and enjoy the views on to both the refuge and mountains beyond. The route is marked by occasional wooden signs.
At a junction of tracks, bear right uphill, soon leaving the broader track to follow a path rising gradually leftwards.
Eventually the Poqueira Refuge can be seen in the distance beneath. A track comes into view leading to a farm and the hut. Another obvious and waymarked path forks left, and leads downhill to join the track. This is the way on to the refuge.
If for any reason you want to cut the walk short, stay on the level path which shortly leads to a higher point on the track. Turn right here and head uphill steeply for a short distance to a junction. Turn right here and follow the dirt track road back to Puerto Molina (1 hour) then descend to the path through the forest re-tracing your steps back to the car park (3.5 hours in total).
Following the track to the Poqueira Refuge, we cross a stream and start an uphill section towards the farm. Fork right just before the farm and a short pull over a col leads to the refuge.
The return journey
Standing on the steps at the front of the Refuge, our way leads downhill. A faint path passes the hut’s septic tank, from where a better path and large cairn can now be seen. This is our route. We descend following many zig zags, down towards the Cortijo de Las Tomas. The Cotijo can be seen for quite a distance before it is reached.
200m befoe the Cortijo, we reach the acequia Alta. Here turn left and follow the water channel for just over 5 km. If the acequia is dry, then walking is quite straight forward, as you can either walk in the bed of the acequia alternatively follow the more exposed path alongside the water. This is particularly enjoyable in spring and early summer, when the water is flowing and flowers cover the ground around the watercourse, but at other times the views down the rio Poqueira more than make up for the lack of water.
If the water is flowing, and you are a bit uncertain about the sometimes exposed path along it’s bank, it is possible to proceed to the Cortijo de Las Tomas and take the undulating path leftwards, signed ‘sendero acequias’ as far as the Cortijo Corrales de Pitres, where the path almost meets the acequia.
Just about 3km along the acequia, a track crosses and the acequia goes through some pipes. After this it passes the Cortijo Corrales de Pitres (see above). A futher 2 km on along the acequia, another track crosses, and the water is piped again.
From the cortijo, continue along the path. After approximately 10 minutes there is a short stiff climb up to cross a ridge. After crossing the ridge, it is necessary to ascend the easiest line back to the acequia. Follow the acequia to where it is piped under a track. Continue along the line of the acequia until it crosses the dirt track road from Capileira to Hoya del Portillo. Turn left and Hoya is reached in about 1Km.