Alquife to Hueneja – 13 miles
The night was cold and I was glad for the mound of blankets. Waking up we saw it had snowed several inches! Our host brought breakfast and assured us it was just a dusting and all would be fine.
Road out of Alquife
We set off and passed a huge shuttered iron mine. From there on to breakfast in Callahorra, site of a large renaissance castle. The light rain increased and the sky closed in; soon the distant wind turbines vanished into the clouds.
Shuttered iron mine
Arriving in Ferreira, (a settlement based on iron ore extraction since Roman times), we found the door to the Moorish architecture museum open and a school tour going on. We joined the group and learned how the still standing towers were built.
The rain continued and we went into Dolar to find an open bar with a warm fire and great food.
Forest where children were sledding.
Now we’re at an albergue for pilgrims in Huanaje and for the first time we’re with other people: a man from Spain headed north and a woman from Scotland adding to her other Caminos.
Walking through Huanaje to the albergue.
La Peza to Guadix – 16 miles
We left La Peza early and crunched through frost covered land to climb above the town. Soon we began to see some of the cave houses this region is famous for building.
These cave houses go deep into the hills with chimneys coming out the hill top and elaborate fronts welcoming visitors. We toured a cave museum in Guadix and it was very comfortable and warmer than outdoors. The docent said it’s a fairly constant temperature throughout the year.
At one point we lost our usual trail and saw solar panels ahead. As we walked up to see them a herd of sheep came trotting towards us bleating as the shepherds drove them to pasture. I smiled and said we were lost pilgrims but that all was well.
We continued towards Guadix only to encounter a canyon blocking our way with no clear way down. I looked back and saw one of the shepherds coming towards us. I asked about a path and he offered to lead us to a road into town. We happily acquiesced and had a lively conversation about American and European politics. As with most people we’ve encountered he’s deeply worried about Trump and general trends towards isolationism.
Rejoining our road I saw an English looking woman taking pictures. I greeted her and soon we were having tea and biscuits in the RV she and her husband were driving across Europe. They emigrated to Australia from England 50 years ago and have driven across South Korea, Siberia and Mongolia!
La Peza was a key place along the Muslim Christian trade route and site of a battle with the French in the Peninsular War.
The empty winding road led through a tunnel in the rock.
Red rock and canyons.
A freshly built straw bale house.
Los Baños, home to thermal baths operating since Roman times.
Cave houses in Marchal.
Quentar to La Peza – 18 miles
Today was one of the toughest days so far; lots of miles to the next village and a big climb into the mountains.
It was worth it though! The scenery was filled with sweeping views of the highest mountain in Spain, Mulhacen, nestled in with her sister peaks and blooming rosemary, almond and cherry trees scented the cool air.
We slept at a pilgrimage “refugio” in La Peza, ate dinner at a local bar and shopped at a small store for breakfast and trail food. Once again we were amazed and grateful for how kind people have been on this trip. We have yet to experience anything but warmth, despite our often limited language skills.
Cemetery on the outskirts of Quéntar.
Blooming almonds on the trail up to the pass.
Looking towards the Sierra Nevadas and still going up!
The route is well signed with these placards and yellow arrows; it’s like a treasure hunt.
Near a quarry there’s a danger warning.
Collecting pine tree resin.
Heading down towards La Penza.
Church in La Penza.
The albergue is supported by donations.
One of several rooms. We were the only guests this night.
Day One – Granada to Quentar, 13 miles
We’re continuing the Camino de Mozarabe for about 200 km from Granada to the seaside town of Almeria following Kevin F. O’Brian’s excellent guide and this information from the Almeria-Jacobea Association.
We’re actually doing the route backwards which has definitely been puzzling to people and makes following the myriad yellow arrows a bit challenging at times.
Here’s the route. Each stage is about 12 miles.
I was at last able to get our pilgrimage passports from the diocese in Granada. Once we get to Almeria we’ll visit the coast then go to Salamanca and do the Camino Plata route to Santiago.
Some of the produce we’re seeing in the markets.
Climbing up into the hills above the city a last bit of Granadian graffiti.
Snow covered Sierra Nevadas in the distance. You can also see some of the Moorish terracing done centuries ago. They were amazing with agricultural technology and much is still in use today.
Flowering Agave plant. This area reminds me of Arizona!
Goats near the ruins of a French built aqueduct from the 20’s. This was built to bring water for gold mining to the town of Dudar on the Darro River.
We arrived in Quentar and walked up the hill to the Fundalucia Guesthouse; a cozy spot with a warm fire and good conversation.
Lovely view from the patio.
Here are some photos from around the gorgeous city of Granada. Morning light
Inside the Grand Cathedral
Outside of the Cathedral.
Looking across towards the Alhambra.
View from San Cristobal viewpoint.
Square on road up to Alhambra.
Armor from the Museo de los Tiros.
Arab night market.
Barrio near our apartment.
Moclin to Granada – 15 miles plus a bus ride
Waking up at the church we breakfasted on bread and coffee then walked to a local walking path, Ruta del Golizino, and began a descent to the town of Olivares.
On the the way we met a group of middle school students out for a walk on the path with their teachers. We enthusiastically exchanged Spanish and English phrases then went our separate ways.
Leaving the mountains we hit flat farmland surrounding Granada. Seeing this rich area helped us understand how the Granadian emirate remained independent for another 250 years after the fall of the Muslim capital of Córdoba.
Good morning Moclin.
View towards Olivares.
Alfred checking the route with the Moclin Castle in the background.
Down the trail!
On the way to Pinos Puente.
“Las flechas Amarillas” (yellow arrows), mark the Route of the Caliphate and were well placed to augment our maps.
Church in the hamlet of Bucor.
Horses on the outskirts of Pinos Puente. Arriving here things seemed grittier with more graffiti and abandoned factories.
One image said “this is the graffiti of unemployment”. We walked into town and took a bus to Granada.
Alcalá la Real to Moclin – 19 miles
Today we thought we’d do a quick visit to the Fortaleza then head on to Moclin.
We started with the main museum in town and toured the rooms with artifacts from Neolithic to medieval times.
Some of the many interesting finds.
The Fortaleza and church are well worth a visit; blending original and reconstructed works with a wide array of presentation techniques to teach the visitor what life was like living in a town on the Christian – Muslim frontier.
Walking up the hill.
Through the first gate.
View from the tower.
A copy of a trebuchet used by Catholic attackers to defeat Muslim defenders after 9 months of siege in early 1300’s.
Inside of cathedral destroyed by Napoleon’s army during Peninsular War (per video shown in church).
We left Alcala at 3:30 and started the walk to Moclin through lowland farm country.
Climbing up towards Moclin.
Storm clouds gathered as the steep climb began. Dark settled in and we followed the white roads by the light of the moon.
A loop trail visiting caves and fountains just below Moclin.
Information on Moclin. As we entered the town fog settled in; restaurants were closed and we found no hotels.
We settled in for the night at the church; someone shined a light on Alfred but otherwise we slept through until morning.
Fuente de Viñuela to Alcalá la Real – 13 miles
After walking several days we began to lose track of time and scenes began to merge.
We found a sign all about the E-4 and E-7 trails we plan to take in a few weeks. We are “senderistos”.
Subbeticas to Fuente de Viñuela – 19 miles
Even though sunrise isn’t until 8:20 we still got an early start. We had lunch in Priego del Cordoba and visited the incredible cathedral there.
Olive harvest is in full swing. The sound of tree shakers and pruning shears fills the air.
Each area we’ve passed through has a special sweet. This one was delicious with almonds, butter and sweet wine.
Historic square in Priego del Córdoba. There is a castle under reconstruction to the left and a church in the background.
Here’s the marvelous inside of the main cathedral.
View from “La Balcón”.
A friendly burro alongside the road after Priego.
Couldn’t resist taking a picture of this incredibly old tree; still producing too.
Sunset with the evening star in the upper left corner. Time for bed!
Across the Subbeticas 9 miles
Today we left the lovely town of Zuheros and spent the day hiking through the Subbeticas Nature Reserve. All day we heard the sounds of belled goats and smelled thyme and other herbs.
Limestone caves were everywhere and one cave is enormous with prehistoric remains and cave art. (El Cueva de los Murciélagos)
Much of the land was covered with oak trees and flowers grew in the shady glens.
The amount of work to clear the land must have been incredible.
We saw bones of old houses and lots of animal bones.
Looking over the valley at the edge of the park.
At last we saw goats!
We laid out our bags at the base of a huge cliff filled with calling birds; as the sun set we heard an owl.