Blog: El Paraje de las Alpujarras and Sierra Nevada walks · nature · culture · events · publications · weather
blog by: El Paraje
Berchules, Granada, Spain

28 April 2009

Jornadas Etnológicas de Lobras y Tímar 2009

The cultural organization of Lobras and Tímar organizes for the fifth time ethnological days. This year they will take place in the school of Lobras on the 1st and 2nd of May. The theme is wine: ´a paseo por la historia del vino´, translated as a ´stroll through the history of wine´. The programme can be found on the website of the Asociacíon Cultural y Etnológica ´Acequia de los Castaños´.

26 April 2009

Water distribution at the Cima del Tejar

This post is a serial to the articles: Publication on the acequias de careo from the Alpujarra and Walking along the Acequia de Mecina.
In the Guidebook on the Gran Recorrido Sendero Sulayr published by Editorial Penibética, there is a text on the Acequia de Mecina. It says that it is worthwhile to follow the water down on the days that the ´acequiero´ is distributing the water at the different simas. A sima or cima is a flat area where the water finally infiltrates.
We called the acequiero responsible for this careo canal to ask which days the water would run down as far as the Cima del Tejar where the Acequia de Mecina ends. He explained that this is in the spring four days a month, and that the 25th of April would be next day.
So yesterday with the sound of the music and fireworks of the San Marcos festivities coming up from Bérchules, we walked up. About forty metres below the cima, we heard the beautiful sound of water. We couldn´t believe our eyes when we walked further up. The sight of swampy green grass and small waterfalls and streams everywhere was magnificent.
It is amazing to give it a thought that this ingenious system has enabled people to drink water from the fountains in the village of Mecina Bombarón for at least a thousand years. The profession of acequiero has existed from the Muslim period up to the present. These are the persons that are authorised to control the floodgates and that are in charge of distributing the water at the different simas. We did not have the chance to meet the acequiero of the Acequia de Mecina yesterday, but this is a good reason to walk up another day when ´le toca el agua´ again. As we think that the system of this acequia de careo is really something you should see instead of read about, we made a selection of photos. These photos illustrate the system from the beginning – where it starts taking water from the Río Grande de Bérchules – to 7,5 kilometres further down, just below the Cima del Tejar where the water is distributed.

Related links:
-Dina-mar: Galería fotográfica de los Careos de las Alpujarras

24 April 2009

Bonelli´s eagle in the valley of the Río Grande de Bérchules

Yesterday guests told us enthusiastically that they had spotted a pair of Bonelli´s eagles, halfway from Bérchules towards the Junta de los Ríos. As keen bird watchers they knew that this was quite an unique experience as only a thousand odd pairs of this ´Hieraaetus fasciatus´ survive in Europe. The article about the Bonelli´s eagle on Wikipedia explains that it is a large bird of prey. Its population is declining throughout Europe. The strongest populations are in Extremadura, Andalucia, Valencia and Castilla La Mancha, though the bird appears to be in decline everywhere. This bird is classified as ´endangerd´ in the ´Libro Rojo de las Aves de España´ published by SEO/BirdLife. A survey by the Junta de Andalucía in 2005 puts the number of Bonelli's eagle at 650 throughout Andalusia, between 52 and 56 pairs in the Granada province as we can read in the article ´Aguilas perdiceras en el sur de España´ on Waste Magazine. As far as we know, the river valley of the Río Grande de Bérchules is not described as a site in any bird watching book, but is nevertheless interesting. Another bird that was seen on the Junta de los Rios route last week, was a pair of red kites. It was the first time that we heard of an observation of this Milvus Milvus, and we therfore added this red kite to a our bird watching Sierra Nevada check list. Like the Bonelli´s eagle, the red kite is also on the list of 39 ´endangerd´ epecies in the ´Libro Rojo de las Aves de España´.
In general, the Alpujarras offer ornithologists considerable opportunities for exploration of interesting habitats. Three sites in the Alpujarras are described in the ornitholgocial publication ´Where to Watch birds in Southern and Western Spain´ by Ernest García and Andres Paterson: cortijo Dar al Habibi and parque forestal de Soportújar, Capileira to Sierra Nevada and the valley of Trevélez river. On the list of resident Alpujarran birds in this book, figures the Bonelli´s Eagle. We had heard about people seeing the Bonelli´s eagle a number of times, once above ´El Paraje´, but this was the first time a pair was spotted. It could therefor very well be that there´s a nesting place in the river valley of Bérchules, one of the very few in Europe.
Read our bird watching checklist for the Alpujarras - Sierra Nevada here.

22 April 2009

Fiestas de San Marcos Bérchules 2009

Like in many other Alpujarran villages, Bérchules organizes all kind of festivities in honour of San Marcos, the patron saint of the animals. This saint´s day is the 25th of April which is this year on a Saturday and therefor the most important day. In the morning at 10.00 hours ´roscos´ or breadrings are blessed by the priest. At 12.00 hours the Holy Mass starts. After the Holy Mass, at 13.00 hours, the figure of San Marcos is carried out of the church together with the figure of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of the farmers. Children in colourful clothes, youngsters in covered wagons, riders and villagers with their animals join the procession that slowly moves to Alcútar where the blessed ´roscos´ are handed out. There are a lot more activities going on, see programme of the Semana Cultural and Fiestas de San Marcos & San Isidro 2009:

19 April 2009

Adenocarpus Decorticans or ´Rascavieja´

April is the month that the Adenocarpus Decorticans comes into flower. It is an attractive bright yellow leguminous shrub growing up to three metres. It is endemic to mountainous areas in Andalusia and North Africa according to a Spanish text on Wikipedia. There are three other species of Adenocarpus in Spain: Complicatus, Hispanicus and Telonensis. The Decorticans is the only species to be found in the Sierra Nevada and it is one of the protected plants of this Parque Nacional and Natural. We are very pleased to have this ´rascavieja´, as the local people call it, on our own terrain. The dense clusters of rich yellow flowers covering this flatpod are quite spectacular. We have also come across the name ´silver broom´, probably because of its silver-gray foliage.

Adenocarpus Decorticans a plant that flowers in April on our finca - foto: casa rural El Paraje

18 April 2009

Senderos Locales Mecina Bombarón connected

We checked out whether it is possible to combine the two new linear Senderos Locales of Mecina Bombarón, the ´Acequia Alta´ and ´Acequia Baja´.
We started with the ´Acequia Baja´ which begins along the road out of Mecina Bombarón towards Yegen. A sign of this walk you find next to the Ermita de los Remedios. You can do this walk without a description as you can just follow the irrigation channel. Where the acequia takes water from the Río de Mecina there is a sign that says, ´Fin de Sendero Local´. Just before this sign, you see to your left a white paint waymark at the other side of the waterway. Apparently these marks have been painted to walk from one irrigation channel to the other. So following these white marks, you climb steeply up through a beautiful chestnut wood. You can´t really get lost, because at some point you will reach the ´Acequia Alta´. Then you turn left to follow this irrigation channel back to the village. There are very few new wooden posts of the Sendero Local to guide you back, but there are still quite a number of old yellow-and-white waymarks.
It turned out to be quite easy to connect the two new linear Senderos Locales and make it a circular route. In the publication of the Senderos Locales they say that the best time for his walk is in autumn to collect chestnuts. We think this route to be special at many different times of the year. On a spring day like today it is nice to see water running everywhere and the yellow flowers of the Adenocarpus Decorticans that grow abundantly along the ´Acequia Baja´ are beautiful.
Adenocarpus Decorticans along the ´Acequia Baja´ of Mecina Bombarón - foto: casa rural El Paraje

15 April 2009

Senderos Locales Alpujarra de la Sierra newly waymarked

The municipality Alpujarra de la Sierra is formed by the villages Mecina Bombarón, Yegen, Golco and Montenegro. It has four Pequeños Recorridos which we can see on an old map on the official website of the town hall, on the brochure of the municipality and on different maps of the area. Nevertheless, the yellow-and-white paint marks of these routes can no longer be relied upon. Recently the signposting of three of the walks has been done anew with wooden posts with white arrows. One route, PR A 109 or the ´Sendero de las Encinas, has fallen into oblivion.

The PR-A 112 or ´Sendero de Gerald Brenan´ is a short circular walk from Yegen. On the website of Alpujarra Turística information can be found on this ´Sendero de Gerald Brenan´. We wrote about this walk in an earlier post in which we explained that only the direction of the route changed.
The PR-A 110 or ´Sendero de la Salud´ is a short circular walk from Yegen. On the website of Alpujarra Turística information on this walk ´Sendero de la Salud´ can be found. Apart from the new waymarking nothing else about this route changed.
The PR-A 111 or ´Sendero de las Acequias´ was a short circular route that started at the Plaza Vieja of Mecina Bombarón. Now there are two linear Senderos Locales: the ´Acequia Alta´ that starts in the upper part of the village and the ´Acequia Baja´ that starts next to the Ermita de los Remedios along the A-7208. In the publication and on the website of Alpujarra Turística information can be found on these two short walks ´Acequia Alta´ and ´Acequia Baja. Along the water channel of the Acequia Baja some old waymarking can be seen altough it was never officially part of a Pequeño Recorrido. If you would need to choose between these two routes, we personally think the Acequia Baja walk to be more pretty.
PS On the website of Alpujarra Turística the length and duration mentioned for the different walks are incorrect.
Related links:
- Pequeños recorridos Andalucia (wiki)
Mecina Bombarón with Golco in the background - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Related keywords: Alpujarras, Sierra Nevada, wandelen, wandelingen, trektocht, hiking, trekking, Berchules, B&B, hotel, wanderungen

14 April 2009

Club Unesco Alpujarra organizes Jornadas ´El Agua en La Alpujarra´

A new institution ´Club Unesco de la Alpujarra granadina´ has been founded and was presented on the 20th of March in Órgiva. The volunteers will dedicate themselves to different causes that are related to the environment, the natural and cultural heritage, culture and education. This club is under the auspices of the ´Centro Unesco de Andalucía´ and is part of the centres that are supported by the international organization Unesco. The chairman of the Centro Unesco de Andalucía is Miguel Carrasco, born in Órgiva, he is proud that the Alpujarra club is one of the first to be constituted. This is what we can read in the newspaper article ´El Club Unesco de la Alpujara empieza su andadura para trabajar por la comarca´ published in Granada Hoy on the 24th of March 2009. At the end of this article it is said that the first event organized by this local Unesco club, in cooperation with the Asociación Cultural Abuxarra, will be a conference on the water of the Alpujarra. This conference will take place in Pitres on the 17th and 18th of April 2009. The acequias will be one of the important topics of the different speeches as we can see on the programme of these Jornadas ´El Agua en la Alpujarra´.

5 April 2009

Media maratón of Cádiar, an initiative to be encouraged

The first edition of the ´Alpujarras cross country media maratón´ started in Cádiar this morning at ten o´clock at Plaza España. A hundred people took part running or walking. The scenic route was almost all on country tracks and paths and for a great part along the river Guadalfeo. The weather was good, altough for the uphill parts quite warm.
It must be appreciated that Mike and Sue Busby took this initiative in a region where walking and running for fun have little history. Apart from confusion about some parts of the exact track, other apects were well taken care of thanks to a lot of volunteers.
The male winner was Serafín Moreno Manzano in 1:32:06 followed closely by Fernando Godino Crespo in 1:32:07. The female winner Ana Manzano González finished in 2:18:17. Both winners are from Cádiar. The results and photographs will be published on the website of the organization of the Alpujarra experience.
A second edition of this media maratón should be supported. Learning from the experience of today and using the feedback of participants it can become a good tradition. Thanks Mike, Sue and all other people that contributed to the organization of this event.
PS This morning the 10th of April, we´re glad to read on the website of the cross country challenge that there will be a second edition of the Cádiar half marathon next year. We wish the new team good luck with the organization.
PS today 27th of march 2010 there is no sign of any second edition.
Serafin Moreno Manzano (left) won the first edition of the media maratón, second place was for Fernando Godino Crespo (right) foto: Casa Rural El Paraje

3 April 2009

Wineries or ´bodegas´ in the Alpujarras

The Alpujarras is an up-and-coming wine area. Most Alpujarras wines or ´vinos de las Alpujarras´ produced in relatively small bodegas. In the publication of the ADR Alpujarra ´El Sabor the la Alpujarra´ which we mentioned in an earlier post a list of local bodegas can be found. Here we give the complete list of wineries from this publication after having checked and updated the links. This post has a permanent link in the side column.

Bodegas Adela Gualda - Albondón
Bodegas Antonio Manzano Gualda - Albondón
Bodegas Fco. del Castillo Martín - Albondón
Bodegas Felix García Santiago - Albondón
Bodegas Francisco Manzano Santiago - Albondón
Bodegas Hnos. Moreno - Albondón
Bodegas José Rodríguez Lupiañez - Albondón
Bodega los Astacios - Albondón
Bodega Mayla, S.L. - Albondón
Bodega Vinos la Fragua de Albondón - Albondón
Bodegas El Sotillo - Albuñol (La Rábita)
Bodega Lorente - Albuñol
Bodega Alquería de Morayma - Cádiar
Bodega Barranco Oscurro - Cádiar - (video on this blog)
Bodegas García de Verdevique - Cástaras - (video on Youtube: IX Feria del Vino y la Denominación de Origen 2008
Bodega de Maria - Laroles
Bodega Fuentezuelas - Laroles - (video on Youtube : XIV Feria de Turismo, Artesanía y Alimentación "Hecho en la Alpujarra" 2009)
Bodega Maria Carmen Ramos Martín - Laroles
Bodega los Barrancos - Lobras
Bodegas Cuatro Vientos - Murtas
Bodega El Trovador - Murtas
Bodega Piedras Blancas - Torvizcón
Juan de Reyes - Torvizcón (see related article Alpujárride)
Bodega Dominio Buenavista - Ugíjar (vinos ´veleta´)

Bodega El Pintao - Abla
Bodega de Alboloduy - Alboloduy
Bodeja Cortijo La Vieja - Alcolea (vinos ´iniza´)
Bodega Finca Anfora - Enix (vinos ´vega enix´)
Bodega Fuente Victoria - Fondón
Selección de vinos de Fondón - Fondón
Bodega Cortijo El Cura - Laujar de Andarax
Bodegas Valle de Laujar - Laujar de Andarax
Bodega Condado de Ojancos - Laujar de Andarax
Bodegas y Viñedos de Laujar - Laujar de Andarax
Bodega Hacienda Capellanía - Nacimiento
Bodega Antonio Jiménez - Padules
Bodega Barea Granados - Padules

On our website we have a section on the bodegas from which we have wines on our wine list.

Related articles:
Guía de vinos de Granada - Granada wine guide
- All articles with wine index label

related keywords: wines, wijnen, vinos, vins, weine, bodega, wijnmakerij, weingut, wijnproeverij, vineyards, wijngaarden, vignoble,

1 April 2009

Publication on acequias "The ´Careos´ from Alpujarra"

There are two types of acequias to be found in the Alpujarras, there are ´acequias de riego´ irrigation canals and there are ´acequias de careo´. The ´acequias de careo´ fill aquifers so that the springs keep flowing in the dry months. At the same time they generate pastures - ´carear´ means to guide the livestock to graze - which explains the name of this type of canal. The ´Acequia de Mecina´, about which we wrote in our last post, is an ´acequia de careo´.
While looking for more information on acequias we found out that in December 2005 an interesting paper was written on the ´acequias de careo´ or ´careos´ canals as they are called in this essay. In 2006 an abstract of this Spanish thesis was published in the Revista de Ciencia, Tecnolgía y Medio Ambiente, called Technolgi@ y Desarrrollo. An English version of this paper on the ´careos´ can be found on the internet as well. The title of the Englis version is ´The ´careos´ from Alpujarra (Granada, Spain), a historical example of artificial recharge previous to XIII century applicable to the XXI century, characterization and inventory.´ This paper is written by A. Enrique Fernández Escalante, Manuel García Rodríguez and Fermín Villarroya Gil and arose from the Ph.D. thesis of the first author.
In the paper it is explained that these canals are traditionally dug in soils or rock, and are used like a technique for artificial recharge of aquifers in the Alpujarra area, mainly by means of waters of thaw of the Sierra Nevada range. It says that their origin goes back to at least the year 1139, but that its most extensive employment was reached in the last centuries of the Muslim time, XIII to XV centuries, when an intricate canilisation system was developed for the maximum use of the water. ´Careos´ canals facilitate the infiltration of the water. The water of the rivers and streams is diverted by these canals during the winter and the spring, to the flat areas where it infiltrates. Each canal has its areas of recharge called ´simas´ or ´cimas´. The investigators classified and defined a total of 23 ´careos´ canals. They state that the Acequia de Mecina is the largest to be found in the Sierra Nevada, that it is well-developed, well-conserved and that it has twenty ´simas´ were the water is distributed. One of the conclusions in the paper is: "It would be important to preserve and to maintain these systems of careos, given their high historical and environmental value." We think this paper to be very informative and we are glad that local authorities are each time more aware of the importance of these canals that have been operative for at least eight centuries. Since the declaration of Sierra Nevada as Parque Nacional y Natural in 1999, the program to recuperate the canals has been given high priority. "Where would we be without them?" in other words: ¡Si no fuera por ellas!, says the sign along the Acequia de Mecina.Sign along the Acequia de Mecina explains the importance of the canals with the exclamation ¡Si no fuera por ellas! - foto: casa rural El Paraje

Walking along the ´Acequia de Mecina´

In an earlier post, we wrote that the local circular walk ´Junta de los Ríos´ has been changed into a linear walk. This new walk follows the ´Camino a Lanteira´ to the Junta de los Ríos. Instead of following the irrigation channel ´acequia nueva´ back to the village, it continues six kilometres northwards passing numerous ´cortijos´ or farm buildings. The threshing circles are no longer used, but tomatoes and beans are grown here, there are some fruit orchards and there are a few farms for cattle breeding. After having ascended 620 metres over ten kilometres in distance, you arrive at Cortijo de los Pollos. This cortijo is at an altitude of 1,944 metres one of the highest situated farms of Bérchules. Next to this cortijo, you find a sign saying ´Fin de Sendero Local´ , in other words ´End of the Local Walk´.
As we do not like linear walks ourselves, we were challenged to see whether we could continue from here and make a loop. We found out that by following an abandoned water channel behind this farm building, we could connect to the path along the Acequia de Mecina close to where it starts taking water from the Río Grande de Bérchules. Then we knew we had found a possibility to make a circular route. By following this canal down for 7,5 kilometres we could then connect to the GR-7 to get back to the village. We did this route when there was no meltwater running down, and were curious to actually see the system functioning. Today we took the opportunity and saw water running in the first four kilometres. This is the part from where it starts taking water from the river to a branch just above the ´pista alta´ and Cortijo de Fuente Merino. Altough there was no water running from this point to the Cima del Tejar, it is still a pleasure to simply enjoy its beauty. The Acequia de Mecina is well conserved and suplies water to the village of Mecina Bombarón. It is one of the most impressive canals in the Alpujarreas that we know and it is fascinating to imagine that it has been operative from the Muslim period. Our ´Acequia de Mecina´ route has a total length of almost 24 kilometres, four kilometres longer than walking the same way back of the Junta de los Ríos linear walk, but much more interesting.
Close to the beginning of the Acequia de Mecina that takes water from the Río Grande de Bérchules - foto: casa rural El Paraje