New Year 2019

I spent a few days in the Sierra de Guadarrama over new year, working on Spanish Trails Book Three, “The Mountains of Madrid”. Then I headed south to lead another walking group in the Sierra Almijara.

The weather has been fantastic. Scarcely a cloud in the sky for over three weeks.

Yesterday I explored two routes I have not previously done. Firstly the ascent from Acebuchal to El Fuerte, and then up once more to Cerro Verde. The path to El Fuerte is now a good one, although somebody has put up large ugly signs saying private property. However, the path has been recently cleared and cairned, so at this stage I don’t understand this. I will need to make some enquiries, as this is a fabulous ascent which I would like to use again.

Back to Andalucía

I am on my way back to the Sierra Almijara and Tejeda, to the east of Málaga and inland from Nerja. I am honouring a long-standing commitment to guide some walkers from the wonderful Hotel Finca el Cerrillo, near Canillas de Albaida.

You can see information about the hotel at This is a special place, owned by Sue and Gordon, an English couple who converted a disused olive mill to turn it into a private hotel, with a beautiful Mediterranean garden in the foothills of the mountains and looking down towards the sea.

Picos de Europa, August 2018

I just returned home from a few days in the Picos. Temperatures in much of Spain reached well over 40 degrees (almost 47 in the shade in Granada) but, as always, the heat in the Picos was more temperate. Even so, we made an ascent of the Canal de Trea in almost 30 degrees, and in full sunshine. It was a brilliant but exhausting day. The refreshments, dinner and sleep at the Vega de Ario refuge were more than welcome.

Following such a cold winter there was an unusual amount of snow on the ground at high levels, making some of the traverses difficult or impossible. The Atlantic weather systems make this area’s conditions unpredictable. But there is plenty of great walking without doing the most challenging routes in snow.

I spent a few hours double-checking routes from my Picos de Europa book, because things can constantly change. I built a few new cairns on the route to Tresviso from Sotres, to make the vague path a little easier to find. And I went to Pandebano to look again at the route up to Pena Castil, where I met a strong Spanish walker descending at an early hour out of the mist. I guess he mustn’t have been able to sleep, to be coming down by 10 am!

Walks in the Sierras Almijara and Tejeda

For a contribution of £8 towards my costs, I will send you by email a comprehensive set of directions for 30 walks in this area along with sketch maps.

I will also try to give you tailor-made instructions to meet any specific requirements you may have.

To proceed, email me on and I will tell you how.

These are the walks:







Distance (kms) Ascent (metres)
1 La Maroma from Canillas de Aceituno S 20 1500
2 La Maroma from Llanos de Sedella M 12 650
3 La Maroma circuit and down to Sedella VS 22 1500
4 Almanchares ravine E 8 140
5 Sedella to Canillas de Aceituno M 12 825
6 El Fuerte from Sedella M 12 700
7 Sedella to Los Picaricos M 11 700
8 Canillas de Albaida to Sedella M 13 640
9 Canillas de Albaida to Salares one-way walk

round trip







10 Canillas de Albaida to Cerro Gavilan via Cruz de Canillas M 12 650
11 Canillas de Albaida to Casa de la Mina M 15 710
12 Canillas de Albaida/Archez/Competa circuit M 12 650
13 Cerro Verde and Cerro Atalaya M to S 13 800
14 Malas Camas VS 20 1250
15 El Lucero from La Fábrica VS 22 1400
16 El Lucero circuit from Puerto Blanquillo VS 13 950
17 The Silk Route and La Fábrica M 14 570
18 Puerto Collado and the Silk Route circuit M 14 450
19 Puerto de Frigiliana S 18 1050
20 El Acebuchal and Cerro Verde M to S 17 660
21 El Daire and the southern Lucero ridge – short route

 long route







22 Summit of El Cisne (short and very steep) S 9 915
23 Acebuchal to Nerja via Puerto Umbrales S


18 or


850 or


24 Frigiliana to El Fuerte E 9 730
25 Nerja to Los Galgos via Rio Chillar M 17 950
26 Nerja Caves to Frigiliana or Nerja via el Pinarillo M






27 Navachica summit from Fuente de Esparto VS 17 1350
28 Tajo El Almendron and La Puerta VS 15 1050
29 El Cielo VS 14 1250
30 La Lopera E 9 320



Gradings are: VS – very strenuous; S – strenuous; M – moderate; E – easy. The gradings are subjective, as what one person finds easy another may find difficult.

The distances and ascents are approximate.

Although care has been taken in preparing this information, no guarantees are given as things can change. Walkers undertake these walks entirely at their own risk.

My Winter

I will be returning to the Picos de Europa and to the Sierra de Guadarrama in the autumn, and then I will go south, to lead some walking groups in the Sierra Almijara from the Hotel Finca el Cerrillo. You can see the Finca on

In January I will be back at the Finca to lead a group over “Reyes”, the feast of the three kings (which is, in a manner of speaking, Spanish Christmas).

Normally, each year my wife and I take care of the Hotel Finca whilst the owners take a well-earned break. They organise walking holidays all year except in the heat of high summer and it is a special place to stay for walking or for anything else. We expect to be there sometime in the early part of 2019.

The Snow in Spain

This year saw a long and cold winter in Spain, and it went on in some parts until well into April and even later. In central and northern areas it is normal to have quite deep snow at high levels until well into June, and this year has been no exception.

On a trip to the Sierra de Guadarrama this April, I had to alter some of my walking programme because, even if winter skills are not really necessary, the deep snow can make some of the walks gruelling. Kicking steps into fresh snow can be great fun, but is not something I would want to do all day long!

But there is a lot of great walking below the snow levels, and where the snow is not quite so deep. So, for example, we were able to reach some of the tops in La Pedriza and the summit of La Maliciosa at over 2,000 metres, but did not go up Peñalara, the highest of the Guadarrama peaks. In any case we were warned of severe avalanche risk on Peñalara in April, so I saved it for later in the year.

Now we are into June the snow is no longer a problem, but for the rest of the high summer that problem is surpassed by heat! For me personally, the walking season in central and southern Spain is over until the autumn. I will be moving on to the north, to the Pyrenees, to the Picos de Europa, and/or to Somiedo, where the summer months are in many ways an ideal time. However, my personal choice is normally to go in September, when snow is not a problem, when temperatures remain warm but temperate, and then most Spanish walkers have gone home from their annual holidays.