Sit back and think of Andalucia and what comes to mind? Maybe rolling hills lined with silvery green olive trees, rivers flowing through deep valleys, craggy mountains, sleepy whitewashed villages with shaded bars and a cool beer and the faint smell of the sea mixed with warm air from Africa? Once safely installed in Almohalla 51, all of the above are on your doorstep. No need for a car, just a good pair of trainers or walking shoes.
There are several beautiful country walks of varying distances and levels of difficulty to enjoy in Archidona and here we’ve chosen a couple of our favourites to whet your appetite.
The Valley walk
Let’s start with what we refer to as “Pilatos”, or “the valley”. A steepish, but manageable decent from the outskirts of town takes you down into a valley rich in pine trees, olive groves, wild flowers (in May and June) and the start of the Guadalhorce river.
It has abundant birdlife (there are more than 90 species of birds here), deer, wild boar and foxes and nothing but the sound of the river and the birds. We like to go and take a picnic (and maybe a bottle of Rose!) and pitch up by the side of the river for an hour when it’s warm.
Later on in the year the olive harvest starts and you can watch (or join in) the “recogida” where olives are shaken out of the trees by using sticks to beat the branches. They fall onto a huge net under the trees, are gathered and taken to the co-operative to be turned into what is known as liquid gold. There’s nothing quite like organic, first harvest cold pressed olive oil. We use the same oil from Archidona at Almohalla 51. Try it at breakfast on the famous “mollete” toast made here.
Approximate walking time: 90 – 120mins
A bit longer is a walk known as “el circular” or “the loop”. El Cerro is the hill into which Archidona is nestled and this 7km walk from the door of Almohalla 51 takes about 2-3 hours. This is more of a flat hike (just a few ups and downs) through the countryside, starting in the olive groves, adjacent to the medieval part of Archidona. Taking in “cueva de las grajas” (crow’s cave), a huge cavern in the rock face which is popular with rock climbers, you walk through rows of almond trees. In spring they are white with blossom, and come September, the branches hang low with the weight of fresh almonds that you can pick off the tree (see below for recipe for Tarta de Santiago).
Continuing around to the other side of the hill you are met with a vast expanse of fields only broken by the dividing range that stretches from the Sierra Nevada in Granada, all the way to near where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet, All the fresh air and fantastic scenery will no doubt give you an appetite, so what better way to finish your walk then stopping at San Isidro Restaurant for a plate of olives, cured cheese and serrano ham before returning to sit by the pool and relax at Almohalla 51.
Approximate walking time: 2hrs
One of our favourite walks is from Almohalla 51 to the top of the hill behind the hotel. It’s not far and can be a bit steep in places, but it’s paved and the views are simply spectacular. Archidona was the capital of Malaga province under Moorish rule and the remains of its Mosque now sit at the very top of the hill inside the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace, the patron saint of Archidona. You can wander up through the pine woods – full of cicadas in the summer when the noise is deafening – to the original fortress walls. From there you have views across to Seville province and the mountains behind Antequera (including El Torcal which is another favourite hiking destination). Locals say from here you can smell the sea on a windy day. Actually you can!
Approximate walking time: 1 hour
There are more. But wherever you go, you’re sure to enjoy beautiful scenery. As we have always said at Almohalla 51, Escape, Explore, Restore………..and sometimes we all need a bit of that!
Oh and that tart recipe can be found online here
Ask for details on our walking weekends, which include guided walks, suppers at Almohalla 51 and extras including touring local olive oil producers.