Walk the walk
GO SPAIN:A short bus trip up the mountains from the Costa del Sol lies a paradise for ramblers, writes ÉANNA BROPHY
WE’RE ALREADY PLANNING our return. Like many others, we first encountered the Alpujarras in Chris Stewart’s book Driving Over Lemons, but this mountain region of southern Spain seemed too remote for a holiday. Then one day we took a bus tour up from the Costa de Sol – and found ourselves in a different Spain, a different world.
Turning east off the Granada motorway, we began to meet at each bend a vista more breathtaking than the last. That trip terminated in Pampaneira, one of several little white towns whose architecture dates from the Moorish era more than 1,000 years ago.
Little seems to have changed since then. Whether it was the clear mountain air, the friendly locals, the scent of oregano, the birdsong or just the brilliant sunshine – we knew we just had to come back.
Serendipity took a hand when, idly browsing the internet one day, I saw a competition for a place on a writing course in Ferreirola, a tiny village in the Alpujarras. The venue was Casa Ana, a B&B guesthouse. Having checked its website we contacted its English owner Anne Hunt, and booked a short stay. (No, I didn’t enter the competition.)
That’s how we discovered the Tahá Valley, a walker’s paradise where even the faint-hearted need have no fears: just bring adequate boots and clothing. The area, which came under the old caliphate of Granada, has a sprinkling of pretty white villages within walking distance of each other, along tracks used for centuries.
Getting to La Tahá is easy. Pick up a hire car at Malaga airport, take the motorway to Granada, then turn east and head for the spa town of Lanjarón. Several miles, and many twists and turns further on you’ll see the picturesque white towns of Pampaneira, Capileira, Bubión and Pitres – the last being the stopping-off point for the Tahá valley.
We investigated the bus option and found that Spanish buses are great for getting around. In Malaga, we caught the comfortable Alsina Graells coach to Granada’s bus station, then the three-times-a-day bus to Pitres.
Casa Ana proved ideal. Anne Hunt came there in 2003 and fell in love with the place. The 400-year-old stone house has been stylishly converted, and a second house is let out for groups. It’s often used for writing courses or bakery/cookery courses. The terraces, which look out over a ravishing prospect, are perfect for relaxing after a ramble in the hills.