El Cargadero de Mineral de Agua Amarga

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The path to the ruins

This morning we visited the ruins of El Cargadero de Mineral de Agua Amarga. These are easy to find, about 2km from Agua Amarga towards Carboneras. On the left hand side of the road is the Chumbero restaurant and on the right, parking from which a track leads to the ruins. At the end of the 19th Century a railway was constructed to take iron ore from the workings at Lucainena de Las Torres, in the Sierra de Alhamilla behind Nijar, down to the coast by Agua Amarga for exporting by boat. This was quite a feat of engineering. The railway followed a barranco down to the coast where an iron jetty stretched into the sea so the ore could reach the boats.

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The Ruins

On the top of the cliffs are the ruins of what we presume were the administration and residential buildings servicing the site.

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Agua Amarga

From here there are superb views of Agua Amarga and the coast of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata.

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Down the old railway

We then walked down the route of the old railway line alongside the barranco.

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The ruins by the shore

From the path we followed we could not get to the shore but looking down on the ruins gave us a good idea of the scale of the original site.

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Looking back

We walked back up the track ….

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Rock with iron ore

…. and found that there were still small rocks of iron ore littered along it.

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The information board

When we returned to the top of the cliff we studied the information board beside the ruins.
On the board was an old black and white photo of the last boat to leave the Cargadero with iron ore in 1942, after which the line was dismantled and the property abandoned. Unfortunately, it was badly scratched and could not be reproduced.

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An old photo of the steam locomotive

We did, however, find a photo of the old steam locomotive. As well as iron ore this locomotive bought villagers from Lucainena down to the coast at weekends to spend the day on the beach at Agua Amarga. We took some photos of Lucainena and the old iron works a few years ago. Here is the link to the old blog – https://wordpress.com/stats/insights/countryhouseinspain.wordpress.com

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Coast of the Cabo de Gata

We then drove a little further up the road and pulled in to follow another coastal path along the cliffs from which there are more spectacular views of the coast of the Cabo de Gata.

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Agave and ruins

The typical landscape includes the usual agaves and ruins ….

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Centaurium

…. but we did note this lovely wild flower, a large-flowered centaurium, not commonly found in the parque natural.

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On the beach this week

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The beach at Agua Amarga

June has arrived and the beaches of the Parque Natural beckon. One of the finest is the beach at Agua Amarga, the most northerly village on the edge of the Parque Natural. We visited yesterday morning.

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Gardens and trees spill on to the beach

Agua Amarga does not have the mystique of Las Negras but is more refined. Smart apartments with their trees and gardens spill on to the beach together with formal fish restaurants. We would describe it as a pleasant, little, up-market family resort.

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The beach at Las Negras

The beach at Las Negras, by contrast, is mostly covered by pebbles as you can see from these photos taken this morning.

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Las Negras

Most of the sand was carried away by currents last winter but swimming is still possible from many parts of the beach. The attraction of Las Negras is its laid-back lifestyle, colourful people and variety of interesting bars and restaurants.

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The beach at San Pedro

You can walk along the cliffs via the coastal footpath from Las Negras to Agua Amarga. It would take about four hours. On the way, you will dip down into several coves. The first is San Pedro.

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San Pedro

This morning it was perfect. Crystal clear water warm enough for swimming, very few people on the beach and lots of sand.

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Bothnical Gardens of Rodalquilar

Jacaranda trees in the botanical gardens

Jacaranda trees in the botanical gardens

Yesterday morning we visited the Botanical Gardens at Rodalquilar. Although only ten minutes drive away, it seems a while since we last went there and we were quite shocked at how arid the gardens are looking after having had so little rain this year. The jacaranda trees are in flower, though, and they add a splash of colour together with the pomegranate trees which are also in blossom.

The scarecrow

The scarecrow

This lonely scarecrow guards the vegetable patches.
DSC05877aAs one would expect in this arid climate, the cactus section looked good.

Buzzing bees

Buzzing bees

Bees were buzzing around the cactus flowers.

Cacti and palms, light and shade

Cacti and palms, light and shade

The light and the shade cast by the strong sun over the palms and cacti produce interesting photographic compositions.

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Rincones de Bornos

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Rincon de Bornos

This morning we drove up to the estepa above las Negras and took the dogs for a walk around this wild plateau, calling at the retreat Bornos. We rented a cortijo on the estepa, near Fernán Pérez, for twenty months four years ago and the community at Bornos were our nearest neighbours.

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Living room in Bornos

Bornos is a cluster of buildings, including an old mill, which have been restored using original and basic materials. It is owned by two German sisters, Beatriz and Jennifer. Jennifer was home and showed us around.

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Music room

It was interesting to look around Bornos again. Inside we liked the old stone and wood structures.

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Patio

The patios are also very attractive.

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Chickens of Bornos

It was good to see they still kept chickens ….

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Pigs of Bornos

…. and small, black pigs had their own corral.

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Sunshine, Sculptors and Rastrillo

The market by the sea

The market by the sea

Yesterday was warm and sunny. After windy and sometimes unsettled weather over the last week or so it suddenly felt like summer. Ideal for the monthly craft market, el rastrillo, by the sea in Las Negras.

Bric a brac

All sorts of interesting items

Colourful stalls

Colourful stalls

The stalls, selling antiques, arts and crafts, bread and cakes and even real ale are always interesting and colourful.

Beating the drums

Beating the drums

There were also buskers providing musical entertainment.

Sold this painting of Las Negras cats at the market

Sold this painting of Las Negras cats at the market

We took some sketches and small paintings down and were pleased to sell two originals.

This morning on the beach

This morning on the beach

This morning the light was completely different, although again warm and sunny, a soft haze hung over the sea and there was virtually no wind.

Tranquility

Tranquility

Las Negras was very tranquil.

Among the boats

Among the boats

Visitors and locals had started to claim the sandy parts of the beach amongst the fishing boats.

The main beach

The main beach

More were sunbathing and swimming from the main stretch of beach but it was still very peaceful.

Sculptors on the beach

Sculptors on the beach

This time of year a group of sculptors from Holland visit the village under the tutorship of Yvonne.

Sculptors with the Cerro Negro behind

Sculptors with the Cerro Negro behind

Normally they stay in La Paloma at the north end of the beach but this year they are renting apartment on the beach near the centre.

A sculptor on the beach

A sculptor on the beach

It was interesting for us to see them and take photos in a different setting with the Cerro Negro or the village as a backdrop.

The south end of the beach

The south end of the beach

The prevailing winds and currents over the winter seem to have taken a lot of sand from our beach. At the sheltered corner at the south end, where we like to swim from in the summer, the sea bed is usually sandy and there are normally patches of sand on the beach to lie on. As you can see from this photo both the sea bed and beach are stony at the moment but the sand will surely return with the right currents. A couple of local women, sunbathing in the nude, commented that at least it made the beach more peaceful

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The Botanists are here

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Botanists in the rambla

The professors and students from Kew Gardens, London, are here in Las Negras at the moment enjoying their annual field trip. This is the 27th consecutive year the group has come here in the spring to study the flora.

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Studying flora in the rambla

On their first day, last Friday, they walked from Las Negras to Las Hortichuelas via the rambla that passes below our house.

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Caralluma Europaea

Here, the students were able to see rarities such as a pink dianthus, exclusive to the Cabo de Gata, and Caralluma europaea, the latter somewhat shrivelled because of the drought. There is also an attractive white daisy, which is uncommon, found here.

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Rambla Aires de Las Negras

In 1988, Professor Jim Ross from the Department of Botany at the University of Reading, was on holiday in Las Negras. We took him on this walk and he was so impressed with the flora that he decided to bring his students here the following year for their annual field trip which we organized for them. The department of Botany at Reading University closed a few years ago when the professors, Jim Ross and Stephen Jury, retired but the group from Kew Gardens, who joined the Reading group in the early years, continue to come here.

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On the cliff path

On Saturday and Monday the group visited Sorbas and Las Filabres but we caught up with them again yesterday when they walked the cliff path from Las Negras to El Playazo. This route is rich in flora, especially maritime species, and there was much to study.

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On the cliffs

I showed the professors photos of the yellow-wort found in Rambla de Las Negras on Sunday (see previous blog) and was pleased when they confirmed that the flower has not been recorded here before.

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Convolvulus

The students were excited to find an example of a pretty convolvulus which is not uncommon in the Cabo de Gata but, because of the dry winter, is scarce this spring.

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El Playazo

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Beach below the castle

El Playazo and the small beach below the castle looked beautiful yesterday in the dazzling spring sunshine. Here are some photos.

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Rambla de Las Negras

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Walking up the rambla alongside a trickling stream

Yesterday morning we walked up the Rambla de Las Negras, known locally as Los Barrancos, in the Spring sunshine. This rambla leads off the Rambla de Las Aguillas at the edge of the village inland towards the mountains and is the only one in Las Negras which always has water trickling down it all year.

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Yellow – wort

We were looking at the wild flowers and came across a drift of yellow-wort, a plant we haven’t encountered before in the Cabo de Gata.

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Swallowtail on limonium

We mentioned the abundance of butterflies this spring. Here is a swallowtail on a flowering limonium.

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Manfred’d cottage

Eventually the rambla opens out into a beautiful valley hidden by mountains. Here our friend Manfred lives in this little stone casita. The yellow flowers of the aloe vera surround his house.

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Looking back down the rambla

The views are magnificent looking back down the rambla.

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Abandoned cortijo

This abandoned little cortijo would make a great project to restore. Unfortunately, the only access is by a narrow footpath and it is over half-an-hours walk from the edge of the village.

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Daisy in a rock pool

When we walked back down it became quite hot but the dogs were able to cool down in the rock pools.

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