The start of it

For a long time, whilst out walking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we have come across footpath signs to Sulayr but we were never able to connect the signs to any known path, they always seemed to point to somewhere high in the Sierra Nevada. Then in August 2009 whilst on the Mulhacen mountain bus Paco, the guide, explained that it was a 300 km circular path running around the Sierra Nevada National park.
Slowly my interest in this walk was aroused, but it always looked like it would be a ambition never undertaken. The path runs around the Sierras at about 2000 meters, and the thought of taking our poor little Renault Kangoo up all those access tracks to the start of a new section of the walk filled me with dread, it was our only car.
In 2011 the chance came to buy another car, and the thought of walking the Sulayr path gained momentum. What was needed were some good buddies to share the experience. My wife has always classed the “The A Team” of the Lecrin Valley Limpers as something out of “The Last of the Summer Wine”. A group of old men who go out in to the mountains for the day and come home raggy arsed, tired and dirty. After careful consultation with fellow team members who jumped at the chance of expeditions into the high Sierras I decided to buy a small 4X4.
This is the story as it unfolds.

Friday, June 1, 2012

29 May 2012 Section 2 La Cortijuela - Rinconada de Nigúelas

Rio Dilar

29 May 2012 Section 2 La Cortijuela - Rinconada de Nigúelas

We organised things a little differently this week, we hired a Taxi. A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend, Antonio, and he mentioned that he had a 4x4 9 seater Land Rover and that he ferried groups of walkers on walking trips. This set me wondering how we could utilize his services for our mid week walks. One of the main problems with the Sulayr walk has been access up to the path. Because most of the walk has been in areas new to us, and access to the path is usually aboout 15 km up a forest road, it would be difficult to get someone to drop us off and meet us again 20 km away at a place we didn’t know you can even get a car to. That is why for most of the walk we have walked out and returned back to the car, at least we knew where it was.
The last big section we had left to do, tramo 2 from La Cortijuela to the Rinconada de Nigúelas, was different. We knew both the start and finish point, and we also knew that we could get a car, or specifically a 4X4, to both places. I talked it over with the team and Antonio and agreed a price for his services and as they say the rest was easy.
We met in Nigúelas at 8 a.m. for the journey to La Cortijuela, which is better known as the Botanical gardens above Cumbres Verde, and an hour later he dropped us off at our start point. We have kept putting this walk off either because it was too cold, too hot, too much snow, too windy but today it was perfect, clear blue skies and a little breeze.
The walk starts by following the forest road as climbs up past Trevenque, we have walked part of this road before but after 3km we were into some spectacular virgin territory as the path turned down towards the Rio Dilar. We stopped for a photo at the river crossing before climbing up the steep sided bank onto Loma de Peñamadura. The biggest surprise was the number of abandoned Cortijos, miles from anywhere that could have only been served by mule trails.
Food is always a big consideration on our walks, especially when Graham is about. We don’t normally eat much while we are climbing, preferring to have lunch at the highest point of the walk. Unfortunately the summit was at the finish, and there were 2 descents and 3 climbs before we got there, so a series of little lunches were taken, to keep body and soul together. Graham’s knee was still playing up and, on one occasion, he preferred to keep walking rather than stop for refreshment. In all the years I have known him he has never missed a sandwich stop!
Loma de Peñamadura is a magnificent hillside to walk across, it lies between the rios Dilar and Durcal and there are stunning views over Picacho Alta, Granada and Caballo.
Dropping down into the Rio Durcal we came across the source of the water for the Hydro-electric plant in Durcal. What a tortuous route that must take when you see the terrain it has to travel through.
Over the past few weeks we have noticed a lot of workmen with strimmers working by the side of the forest roads, carefully cutting the vegetation back. Today we came across another 8 on a road to nowhere, miles from anywhere, strimming the hillside, shortly the whole Sierra Nevada will be strimmed and no doubt polished. Surely if it is job creation there are far more productive things that could be done, they could be operating the printing presses, printing all those new Peseta notes which will be needed in the next few weeks.
From the Rio Durcal it is a 7.3 km, 540 metre climb to the end of tramo 2 and, coming at the end of the walk in the heat of the day, you certainly know you have done it.
We arrived at the Rinconada de Nigúelas with about 20 minutes to spare, and in the distance we could see Antonio and his Land Rover making his way up the valley. It was a good feeling as I did not relish the 4 hour walk down to Nigúelas. We just had enough time to polish off what was left of our sandwiches before he arrived to pick us up.
It’s a long, slow and dusty road back to Nigúelas and we rocked and rolled our way back back down the mountain. Antonio delivered us straight to Miguel's bar on the car park where we all enjoyed double drinks and tapas, the best in the area. This was a great day out and it was good that we could do a complete section in one outing.
Antonio’s taxi service worked well, and we will incorporate it again in some of our future walks.
We now have only two short sections left to do, we should be able to complete them in the next couple of weeks.

The walkers; Mike, Kees, Ray, Graham, Rene, Mark,  and myself.

Distance walked on route today,17.5 km. Total distance today 17.5 km. Height climbed today 1087 metres. Total distance walked on the Sulayr path 284.8 km. Distance left to do 15.2 km. Total height climbed 22600 metres. Total distance walked 634.6 km.  

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