Saturday, June 14, 2014

Semana Santa Part 3: Sierra de Grazalema

     From Arcos de la Frontera we took a bus to the Sierra de Grazalema. We got off at Ubrique, a town nestled into the mountains and famous for its leather products. We bought groceries and the local sweet, called a gañote, and headed for the mountains. 

Roman road (calzada romana)
      From Ubrique there is a Roman road that connects Ubrique with a nearby village, Benaocaz. It's fantastic. The mountains in the sierra are of the same composition (limestone) as those in the Picos de Europa. Their slow decomposition is evident in their jagged peaks grooved by rain over millennia.

Rain grooves

Ubrique in the background 
Ubrique in the background

     As we walked toward the next pueblo, Benaocaz, the sun set and we eventually set up camp outside of town. The next morning we had coffee (chocolate milk for me) in town and continued on toward the next destination, Grazalema, on the Senda de cabreros (Goat herder path). In the bar in town they had told us we wouldn't be able to make it all the way to Grazalema because part of the route went through private property and there had been a dispute that led to the owner's closing his land to walkers. It sounded a bit silly to me, so we went ahead and continued on, despite others telling us along the way that it was closed. 

On the way to Grazalema

Ibérico pigs

Rocks. Outside of Benaocaz.
     The hike was, needless to say, stunning. We saw five people in as many hours. 

Still on the road to Grazalema
     After hours of walking we arrived at the point of contention. There was a fence with a sign saying that no one could pass. But that wasn't true, because it was rather easy to hop the fence and continue on. Turned out, the private land was the most enchanting part of the hike. It is truly a shame they closed it off. We saw a mare and her colt in a pasture with the limestone mountains rising up behind. This might well have been the reason for the closing of the path. Then we came upon a house, which was surely the property owner's, and we had to scramble through two gates and walk a half mile more down the road until we were out of the property—just before a car came rolling down the long driveway.

Mare, colt
This is how a goat drinks from a stream
     After, we ate lunch on a bench before continuing on another 4km (we'd walked 9 already) to Grazalema.

The pueblo of Grazalema

     The town itself was calm and after spending some time there we decided to try to get to our next destination before the end of the day. To be continued...