In high places . . .

capileira 1THE air is cool and scented with spring. Last week’s snow lies in folds on the high peaks. Cowbells clunk in the valley bottom and hay meadows ripple. This could be a quiet corner in the Alps, this steep-cut vale with its clinging villages. But this is the Poqueira gorge in the Sierra Nevada, many leagues to the south and within sight of Africa . . .

I read somewhere that Capileira is the second-highest village in Andalucia (altitude 1,436m), its neighbour, Trevelez, being the highest in Spain. Pleasant place is Capileira. I could wander its alleys and drink in its views until the sun sinks behind dark shoulders.

Mulhacen, at 3,479m, is mainland Spain's highest mountain
Mulhacen, at 3,479m, is mainland Spain’s highest mountain

capileira 3capileira 4 capileira 5 capileira 6 capileira 7 capileira 10Today I watch a man tilling his vegetable patch, gaze at the gleaming snowfields on Mulhacen – mainland Spain’s highest mountain – and make mental sketches of the walkers’ paths and dusty tracks winding to high unseen farmsteads and flowery meadows.

capileira 13capileira 11capileira 12And that’s all I do. Just sit and look. And drink coffee. That’s enough some days.

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13 thoughts on “In high places . . .

    1. Hi Ash. It’s coming together, but it’s a slow process. It’s like chucking the bits of your life up in the air then picking them up again.
      All the best, Alen

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  1. Are these villages lived in by real people or has Spain succumbed to second home syndrome? When I looked at the last few images the thought that struck me was that if it was England all those little houses would be holiday lets and weekend retreats with the true locals long driven out by ‘the market.’

    Tell me that’s the not the case here. It sounds too idyllic to be spoiled.

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    1. Hi Chris. In places like this there is inevitably an influx of people, but these villages are still very much lived in by locals. There are holiday lets (I don’t know about second homes), and a fair proportion of local income comes from the tourist industry, but they certainly don’t become ghost villages during the winter months. There seems to be a healthy balance between traditional village life and the demands of visitors, a fair proportion of whom are hikers on the GR7 long-distance path and hill-walkers heading for Mulhacen and the neighbouring peaks.
      Cheers, Alen

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  2. Stayed at the campsite in the neighbouring village of Trevelez in our campervan back in 2009. I was enjoying a beer when the campsite owner told me Michael Jackson had died. Funny how stuff like that sticks in the old brain. Just wish useful stuff would. Some nice tracks for mountain bikes in that area if I remember correctly. It was a bit hot for too much exercise when we were there so we did like you and watched the world go by most afternoons – very relaxing.

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    1. Blimey, David. We were there that same year – during September – and again the following year. It’s a great area for walking provided the weather isn’t too hot. I’ve explored a few of the tracks, but the area is so vast there are hundreds more to go at.
      Funny how things stick with you. When I was a child we were camping at Crackington Haven, in Cornwall, when Jim Reeves was killed in an air crash. Not in the same league as Michael Jackson, admittedly, but it obviously made an impression on me.
      All the best, Alen

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    1. Hi Hanna. Thanks for the link. I haven’t seen that website before so I’ll take a really good look at it tonight. The more information I can amass the better.
      All the best, Alen

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  3. Alen,
    You are lucky to be on the doorstep of the Alpujarras. I remember sitting on a roof terrace in Trevelez nibbling air cured ham for which the village is famous – ‘the best in Spain’ with a glass of something. But I wish I’d known about the naturally carbonated spring water from Fuente Agria, just outside Pórtugos. as described in Hanna’s link above.
    Hasta luego mi amigo.
    Juan.

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    1. Hi John. Trevelez is famous for its ham, which is great unless you happen to be a pig. Last time I was up there, there were six or seven of them grunting away happily in the riverbed.
      I hadn’t heard about the spring either. I think a visit is called for.
      Cheers, Alen

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