Tony, Tim, Betsy & Ray's 2016 Camino

(not forgetting Jane & Ann) A walk along the Camino Mozarabe

A Scent of Olives!

Alcaudete to Baena. 15 miles not a huge amount up and down.
Yesterday we arrived in Alcaudete whose citzens wecomed us and allowed us to use their sports hall to sleep in, many thanks, after they had finished with it. About 11 pm. Since we have a slightly longer day ahead this has somewhat limited sleep. Still it was free not even a box for donativo,and this does not appear to be a wealthy town. Although there is a large AstroTurf football stadium and the usual Moorish citadel is well cared for.
We start early as a bar down the street opens at 5.30 .
There is nothing except 2 lakes between us and our destination today. Oh and a lot of olive trees . The lakes are both dry. The flowers are beautiful much less Rape flower and more varietied of daisy. Wiild Iris. Many more of the purple orchids and loads of poppy and daisy meadows. Eventually after many hectares of olives we see the crushing factory and the spoil heap providing much of the aroma and the hill with our destination. A last cruel twist is thst the alburgue on Tony's Tom tom is only 800m away but up the 45degree streets to virtually the top wnhere the church and convent reside.
The town has s strong Moorish heritage and we get lunch in the main square in a fine porticated building for 10 € each including wine. A sleep is now essential.

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Orchids and olive groves.

Alcala la Real to Acaudete. 14 miles 500m up. 700m down.
A beautiful days walk through the olive groves. Many square miles of it with loads of different flowers iincluding various wild herbs and a slow worm in the road still alive when we put it into the grass.
There is a town half way and Ytony impesses by spotting the bar round the corner from the route, when asked how, he had spotted the empty crates out the back. A pair of hoopoes fly off in front of us, the best view yet althuogh we have heard them around every day. One of the flowers we spot is a rare orchid a Birds nest orchid with a symbiotic fungus.
We pass under the main road that we are following at a distance via a stream tunnel fortunately little more than a trickle is currently flowing though.
Eventually after a lot of rolling olive groves we descend into Acaudete without a view of the everlasting snows. We may have seen the last of the Sierra Nevada. Tony expertly guides us to the sports hall at the back of the football pitch and we get let into the changing rooms where Serge , a kiwi is already in residence. We are admitted to one small room but assured we can spread out after everyone has left.
A short way off from Acaudete we come across a large number of men drilling a hole in the ground for water.

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Extra Extra read all about it.

So we are now wandering round AscalaLaReal and seing the sites. From things flying during the day we move to perching on dogs and then to the torch carrying dog of the Dominican Abbey. Currently outside the Bar Las Catacumbas but have not seen them. There is quite a lot here including a reptile and amphibian sanctuary Betsy would have liked to visit. Also not mentioned was the Asfodel plants in bloom today. We thought we saw them higher in the mountains but thet were much smaller than usual.

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Flying creatures and the everlasting snows.

Moclin to Alcala de Real 14 miles 700m ascent 600m descent.
We say goodbye to the eternal snows of the Sierra a fantastic view from up here and start the long descent into the olive groves along the military route taken by the Reys Catolicos during the cature of Granada. Quite an intimidating route as looking back the pass we ascended through is guarded by the castle and its two outlying watchtowers.
The eternal snows disappear from view and reappear and disappear as we pass up and down through the olive trees and flowers. At one point we end up on the wrong side of the green lane/stream bed that in past was the route and a short retrace is needed for those not foolish enough to climb two fences and the undergrowth between. The route is generally well marked by the usual yellow arrows some faded and some have never been complete but are obvious.
Tony spots probably a Golden Oriole but it is gone before verification. We also see a young Serin at the side of the track unconcerned ny our approach and possibly not destined to pas on its genes.
We climb up into the village of Hermita Nueva or Cequia (two villages combined years ago), one of the more agricuturally aromatic places we have called at due to its chicken farm and goat shed in close proximity. But it has a bar with a nice terrace and a possibly last view of the eternal snows!
An early lunch of bread and cheese, in a memorial for a glider pilot!, gives us enough strength to reach our destination of Alcala la Real but not before a last look at the Sierra Nevada, probably.
 A last note, a Zebra Swallowtail and a set of Painted Ladies completed the journey just outside Alcada la Real, quite a sizeable town.

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Olives and flowers and maybe the last of the snows.

Pinos Puente to Moclin. 10.7 miles 970m of ascent
In the shed that was a forestry headquarters we were visited by Pablo, El Presidente. The head of the section of the Camino Mozarabe from Granada to Cordoba. He has a special interest in this his local alburgue and is keen to up grade it as and when donativos allow.
He confirms our thoughts about today as a short vicious beautiful walk. Like a scorpion with a sting in the tail. Up to the bar in town recommended by Paco and up out of town37.33683   -3.75210 and steadily up through many hectares of olives very well cared for and many venerable old trees. Looking back we can still see the eternal snows of the Sierra floating above the haze of the plain around Granada.
The walk steepens and we are walking once again through a wide variety of flowers at the edge of the olive groves but soon descend steeply into a gorge with the village of Olivares for a beer before our ascent of over 300m to Moclin with its Arab Castle.
We arrive hot and tired after the steep climb up just as the Ajuntamiento with pilgrim info is closing The bar is opposite but the Casa Rural is just at the top of the hill. This is a rather vertical little town clinging under the arab castle on the top of the hill. Visits only on weekends we discover, it would have been worthwhile. Lunch in the bar in town is good and enlivened by two cats one a ginger tom the othe withe same markings but monochrome.

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Left wing sculpture and the long walk.

Granada to Pinos Puente. 12.5miles Flat acros the plain.
Now swollen to six our little band of pilgrims leave Granada and wander out of the outskirts , the outer layers as convoluted as a flamenco dancers skirts so at one point straying off piste for coffee we resort to the electronic assistance so well organised by Tony and soon are back on track. The track becomes a dead straight road alongside the railway line. We can see our probable destination some 4or 5 miles ahead. This is not good pschologically for our new recruits and there is little of interest to distract, except a few Clouded yellows and a Red Admiral.
Shortly ouside Granada is the small townn of Atarfe where we get beer but more impressively a huge sculpture on a roundabout. Ray and Tim agree it is one of the best exampled of official roadside art they have seen . With a decidedly left wing aspect vaguely reminiscent of the hammer and sickle
Eventually, none to soon for Ann we reach Pinos Puente and get to the Bridge of the Virgins and turn up the road to the right to reach the donativo alburge in a shed past the noisy dogs, some of whom are friendly and one, chained, who we are warned about.This is definitely on the primitive side but with a hot shower and toilet in the yard.
We get a good Menu de Dia in Crux de Granada just off the round about on the main road and find an open supermecado to get an evening nibble. Just another day on Camino.

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Alhambra the Moorish citadel.

Rest day Granada.
The two heroes Ray and Tim got up bgefore 6 this morning to join the Alhambra queue for tickets the Internet system for bookings would not allow us to book 3weeks earlier and local knowledge suggested that anyone joining the queue after 6.30 would be unlucky that day. In the event over half the days cash tickets had gone by the time they reached the front. Early birds and worms definitely needed.
By 1500hrs we are fed watered and ready for the Alhambra. A truly great building and site beautifully preserved and presented. A suggested 3 hours turns into 4 and tired feet and beer oclock end the visit.
Feet are quite as tired as after a full 15 miles on The Way. But all six are ready for the off tomorrow on our way to Cordoba.

Tales of Arabian days.

Granada a rest day.
We don't sleep well except Tony who claims his usual 8-9hours unconsciousness. There is a party in the street till 4am. Really must learn to time arrival in Spanish cities for Tuesday or Wednesday. Not weekend.
We have as yesterday a bit of a wander around until Jane and Ann arrive from Malaga on the bus. They are here just in time for lunch and back to our friendly if noisy Pension Hidalgo. An hidalgo is a ancient christian nobleman of Spain, but without any land or money. Mostly very proud but poor.
We find open on Sabado only, some Arab Baths. The first we have been able to see. They are interesting even without the lady reading aloud Cervantes Don Quixote. The water pipes are pottery in about 14 inch sections.
A great place to just wander about and take photos.

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A grand day out

Quentar to Granada. 12 miles of suberb walking.
The somewhat tired status of most members of the party may have led to some omissions in yesterday's account. We certainly failed to menrion the extensive area of collection of pine resin, though we have not discovered what it is used for.
A comfortable night in a "donativo" alburgue for a strongly suggested 10 euros. The town has two good bars, in the first the lads got stuck into tapas and the obligatory beer while Betsy nursed her blisters.
Happily today is a much shorter distance than yesterday and after the inevitable bit up out of town we are on a high ridge of flowers including several species of orchids. After a while during which we go up and down a bit we descend through olive groves into a delightful valley in which a pair of nightingales are singing. So involved are they in their courtship that we even catch a glimps of one.
This is where we idle about no one wishing to leave the area,lunch we have brought with us and half of alof each with cheese and tomato is a bit much for some. Unusually there is a stream in the bottom and we cross and recross it in a haze of blooms. Suddenly we round a corner and we see Granada and the Alhambra ahead only 10 miles since the breakfast bar. Time for a beer. The clouds have cleared and we may catch a last view of the Sierra behind the Alhanbra in a kilometre as we saunter into town.
A kilometre further under the towers of the Alhambra we reach "civilization" the first selfie stick since starting in Almeria. Jane and Ann arrive tomorrow we have a pension and are installed. Two days in Granada await.

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Wot no fleshpots.

Peza to Quenta 16 miles Up 1300m down 1450m max altitude 1450m.
Quite a tough day acroos lovely scenery though multiple different flora zones. A small memorial with our lady of the snows is over the 1300m mark and guide books warn against this route in snow. Happily our weather is perfect. Starting with olives and almonds around 900m and changing to holm oak and then to pine above 1200m there is continual floral interest. The eternal snows are still in the background and a cherry orchard a little way down the main descent evoking thoughts of Terry Pratchets Thief of Time.
Also spotted were a zebra swallowtail Tony's deer, lots of hellebores in shady cold spots a flight of jays noisily overhead but almost no people. Three cyclists and one man in a pick up visiting a very distant casa. There were no bars so it is a caffeine less day.
The final quarter of the marathon was signaled by passage through the claimed largest marble quarry in Andalucsia. The descent into Quentar from there of 300m or so produces a few aches in most and we are relieved as temperatures rise on descentto arrive at a very fine alburgue.

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