Rambles along Ramblas

Rambla Aires de Las Negras

Rambla Aires de Las Negras

After our 8 course San Valentin dinner on Saturday evening, a long walk was called for on Sunday morning and so we headed up the Rambla Aires de Las Negras which passes below our house. The blossom on the almond trees and the wild flowers in bloom make this a particularly attractive walk this time of year.

Daisy taking a drink

Daisy taking a drink

Instead of following the main path up to Las Hortichuelas, we forked right and followed a barranco which seemed to head up to the top of the mountain ridge and the estepa above. It was quite hard-going as the barranco is little more than a gully and quite steep in places. There are damp places where the vegetation is very dense and in the rocky hollows there are pools of water where the dogs were able to take a drink.

Pink Malva

Pink Malta

Malva maritima is now in flower and bushes of it abound up here. The flowers are normally lilac, but this particular example was a very pretty, dark pink.

As far as we went

As far as we went

We got as far as this spot and decided to turn back as we were afraid that the way would become more difficult and we did not want to get stuck. Digby will explore further on his own one day.

Looking towards Las Negras and the sea

Looking towards Las Negras and the sea

After descending we crossed over a hillock to the main path and enjoyed the wonderful views looking back towards Las Negras and the sea.

Towards Las Hortichuelas Bajas

Towards Las Hortichuelas Bajas

We rejoined the main path and headed up towards Las Hortichuelas Altas. This view is looking down on Las Hortichuelas Bajas.

Las Hortichuelas Altas

Las Hortichuelas Altas

We stopped and Las Hortichuelas Altas to take some refreshment in the village bar before returning back to Las Negras.

From the coastal path

From the coastal path

Yesterday afternoon we walked along the coast from Las Negras to the next cove, Cala del Cuervo, and then up the Rambla del Cuervo which is a gentle circular walk of about 6km.

Barbary Nut

Barbary Nut

We were delighted to see the first Barbary nuts, blue mini-irises in flower.

Silene

Silene

Along the rambla are clumps of attractive Silene.

Another barranco

Another barranco

Las Friday we tried another branch off the Rambla Aires de Las Negras and enjoyed some great views.

Mountain scenery

Mountain scenery

We were hoping to find a circular route over to the Rambla de Las Negras and back down but we found ourselves at a dead end.

Courage on the beach at El Playazo

Courage on the beach at El Playazo

The weather has not been perfect every day. We had some rain and wild weather during the middle of last week and it is raining again today. The photo above was taken at El Playazo last Tuesday. When the sun came out the colours of the sea were beautiful

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San Valentin

Skeleton on the door

Skeleton on the door

Nothing much happens in Las Negras on Valentines Day. It is out of season here and there are few people about. However, Julio and Miguel did offer a San Valentin dinner in their bar/restaurant El Brindi Negro and, as we are in credit there because Margaret has done a couple of pieces of artwork for them recently, we decided to indulge. The first piece of art is this mannequin hanging on the door which  Julio asked us to transform into a skeleton.

Mexican death mask on the bar

Mexican death mask on the bar

The second piece is the Mexican death mask painted on this other mannequin which is placed on the bar.

Menu on a bottle

Menu on a bottle

The menu was very imaginative. The 8 courses were listed on a wine bottle on the tables.

Almejas Perfumadas

Almejas Perfumadas

For example the second course, “almejas perfumadas”, was clam ice cream on a bed of creamed avocado.

Yoko y Jhon

Yoko y Jhon

This course, “Yoko y Jhon” (their spelling not ours), was a spring roll stuffed with smoked salmon.

Diners in El Brindi on San Valentin

Diners in El Brindi on San Valentin

The small restaurant was full and everybody seemed to enjoy the interesting ambience and food. We hope you like the photos. They were taken in candlelight without flash.

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Barranco del Negro

Barranco del Negro

Barranco del Negro

Yesterday a howling gale raged over Southern Spain. We are relatively sheltered from the north west wind in Las Negras but the winds were still strong here and it was a relief to wake up to a calmer day and our customary blue skies. We decided to treck up the Barranco del Negro, walk across the ridge and descend to La Isleta down the Barranco del Poraise. We parked in the space off the road between the Mirador de la Ametista and the village of La Isleta by the track leading down to Cala de Las Roros.

Looking down from the Barranco del Negro

Looking down from the Barranco del Negro

Across the road the track up the barranco is clearly marked. It is a steep ascent but looking back there are good views down to the coast.

Palmettos along the path

Palmettos along the path

As we walked up we did not see much of interest to botanists but many hardy palmettos thrive here.

Narcissi

Narcissi

However, we did find these pretty little narcissi growing beside the path.

Daisy and Blanquita find water

Daisy and Blanquita find water

Below the path, Blanquita and Daisy found pools of fresh water.

Crystals in a rock

Crystals in a rock

The geology is always interesting in the Parque Natural. The quartz crystals were in a rock just by the path.

Through the pines

Through the pines

It is a long, steep climb to the top and just before the summit the path passes through a grove of pine trees.

Almost there

Almost there

After over an hour’s climb we eventually reached the top of the ridge about 350 metres above sea level.

Abandoned cortège and olive tree

Abandoned cortège and olive tree

The first building you will see here is this derelict old cortijo.

Two villas from the roof of the first

Two villas from the roof of the first

We can understand why this would have been abandoned but nearby are three unfinished villas.

Villa Poseidon

Villa Poseidon

Apparently, these were built illegally by a German and consequently the work was stopped and the houses left to rot.

Looking down to Rodalquilar and El Playazo from the terrace of the middle villa

Looking down to Rodalquilar and El Playazo from the terrace of the middle villa

Wonderful views but no services, completely exposed to the elements and so isolated that to reach the nearest village would take over 20 minutes in a 4×4.

Looking down to Los Escullos

Looking down to Los Escullos

From here a track follows along the ridge and then descends down to the coast. From the top there are great views towards Los Escullos.

La Isleta del Moro

La Isleta del Moro

As we descend La Isleta comes into view.

Daisy on the direct route

Daisy on the direct route

We left the main track to take the most direct route across country down to La Isleta.

La Isleta del Moro

La Isleta del Moro

When we arrived at the village we were hoping to take a short break and refresh ourselves with a drink and tapas but our favourite bar was closed and the two restaurants open were only serving lunches.

Beach at La isleta

Beach at La isleta

We had no choice but to head back to the car along the path by the beautiful beaches ….

Grove of palm trees

Grove of palm trees

…. and through this grove of palm trees. We had been going for almost 5 hours.

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The long way to Las Hortichuelas

The ruin with two old olive trees

The ruin with two old olive trees

Yesterday we took full advantage of perfect hiking weather and made a long circular walk from Las Negras through El Valle De Rodalquilar, up the rambla to Las Hortichuelas and back home down the Rambla Aires de Las Negras. Leaving Las Negras we turned left up the track to the converted windmill and these ruins with two old olive trees.

Ruins of an old cemetery

Ruins of an old cemetery

The track forks here. Bear left and you end up in El Valle and the main camino to El Playazo. We took the right fork along a path that leads down past an abandoned cemetery. The track reaches the main road to Rodalquilar, which we crossed, and headed across the valley.

Fascinating geology

Fascinating geology

We walked past a small, white cortijo and through this little barranco with these striking rock formations.

A noria in El Valle de Rodalquilar

A noria in El Valle de Rodalquilar

We walked across the valley down a lane, past this old noria – waterwheel – around which the vegetation was much greener than the surrounding barren countryside.

Life on Mars?

Life on Mars?

Indeed, looking back towards where we had walked from, the landscape looked almost Martian. On the right, in the photo above, you can see the old mill above Las Negras which we had walked down from.

Towards the mountains

Towards the mountains

Past the noria, we turned right and headed up a track towards the mountains and the Rambla del Granadilla, which leads up towards Las Hortichuelas.

Poplars and palmettos

Poplars and palmettos

As we climbed up the path, the vegetation became greener with palmettos, wild herbs and poplar trees. Surprisingly, the poplars here have not shed their leaves – another sign that winter never came here.

Old walls and terraces

Old walls and terraces

We walked up through a large finca which was once well-tended and worked but is now abandoned. Fig, olive and pomegranate trees are in profusion and the land has been cut into terraced fields. Most of the old, dry stone walls are still in good condition and there is spring water here. At one time it must have been a productive farm.

Chumberos

Chumberos

Chumberos, prickly pear cacti, grow alongside the path and these looked healthy. Down in Las Negras most of the chumberos have been affected by insect infestation and are being destroyed.

Las Hortichuelas Altas

Las Hortichuelas Altas

The path eventually reaches the old road above Las Hortichuelas and we crossed over and down into the village for a drink and tapas. So far, we had walked for three hours.

Home via Rambla Aires de Las Negras

Home via Rambla Aires de Las Negras

After refreshments, we returned home down the Rambla Aires de Las Negras which runs from Las Hortichuelas to Las Negras and passes beneath our house. This took us another hour.

Robin on agarve

Robin on agave

On the way we saw this robin perched on an agave. Robins are quite unusual here. Blackcaps and black redstarts, on the other hand, are very common.

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From Autumn into Spring

Las Negras yesterday afternoon

Las Negras yesterday afternoon

This week the weather in Spain has been wintry, even in Andalucia. There have been floods in Cadiz and snow in Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Jaen. Even in Almeria, there has been snow in the north of the province and hailstones have damaged the greenhouses in El Ejido. Here in the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata though, autumn is moving seamlessly into spring without the intrusion of winter. The mountains around shelter us from the worst of the weather.

Poppies in bloom

Poppies in bloom

We have had some overnight rain and it is cooler than it was at the beginning of the month but the sun has still been shining everyday and the countryside is looking pretty with the spring flowers coming out.

The first almond blossom

The first almond blossom

In the ramblas of Las Negras the first almond blossom is in flower.

Leaves and buds on a fig tree

Leaves and buds on a fig tree

Here the fig trees are also showing new buds although they have not discarded their old leaves yet.

Roadside flowers

Roadside flowers

At the roadside, Bermuda buttercups and asphodels are bursting into flower.

Amble de Los Agüillas this afternoon

Rambla de Los Agüillas this afternoon

The sheltered Rambla de Las Agüillas was particularly colourful this afternoon.

Old wall with wild flowers along the rambla

Old wall with wild flowers along the rambla

Blood red poppies share the banks with yellow wild mustard.

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Cala Hernández

Looking down at Las Negras from the cliff path in the soft morning light

Looking down at Las Negras from the cliff path in the soft morning light

Today has been another warm and sunny one and this morning we set off up the cliff path from Las Negras to San Pedro.

The start of the path down to Cala Hernández

The start of the path down to Cala Hernández

After rounding the Cerro Negro headland, we took the rarely used path on the right down to Cala Hernández.

Wild flowers along the path

Wild flowers along the path

This steep and difficult path hugs the north facing slopes of the hillsides and, because condensation is retained longer, the vegetation on the slopes is quite lush with an abundance of wild flowers.

Looking back up towards the path to San Pedro from the rambla

Looking back up towards the path to San Pedro from the rambla

Eventually we reached the sandy rambla which runs into the Cala.

Where the rambla meets the beach

Where the rambla meets the beach

When we reached the Cala, the sandy rambla led us to the pebbly beach backed by fascinating volcanic cliffs.

The pebble beach at Cala Hernández

The pebble beach at Cala Hernández

There was of course no one else here. The difficulty of the walk down and the fact that the beach is pebbly discourages visitors.

At the sea shore the pebbles give way to sand and a clear blue sea.

At the sea shore the pebbles give way to sand and a clear blue sea.

At the sea shore though, the pebbles give way to sand which extends out to sea. In summer the swimming and snorkeling off here should be superb. We spent a couple of very pleasant hours on the beach. It was extremely peaceful, the rock formations were fascinating and because of the lack of visitors, no litter.

Canario and his mother

Canario and his mother

Returning to Las Negras, we called in at the farm of the Garcia family at the edge of the village to meet the latest addition to their family, the donkey foal, Canario.

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Along the Coast – 10th January

Panoramic coastal view including Cala del Cuervo, Las Negras and San Pedro

Panoramic coastal view including Cala del Cuervo, Las Negras and San Pedro

Just some photos for you to look at today as the walk has been described before but it has been such a beautiful day that we would like to share these images.

Mountain path

Mountain path

First we crossed over the mountains …

Kayak on the beach at El Playazo

Kayak on the beach at El Playazo

Cottage at El Playazo

Cottage at El Playazo

Looking across El Playazo

Looking across El Playazo

… and then down to El Playazo

The beach beneath the castle

The beach beneath the castle

Rocks and sparkling sea

Rocks and sparkling sea

Dramatic cliffs and rock formations

Dramatic cliffs and rock formations

Cala del Cuervo

Cala del Cuervo

Then made our way back from El Playazo to Las Negras. The light and colours were brilliant.

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