After settling down and deciding to stay a while to relax and enjoy the area, we made the most of a beautiful, blue sky day with plenty of sunshine and enjoyed walking through the local village, passing beautiful flowers adorning the walls. Eventually the tarmac gave way to the local tracks that were marked as roads on the map, and itemised as such by Google Maps! In reality, they were rough stoned paths with just enough room for vehicles to travel down, but not pass each other. In places it was mostly compacted soil with bits of stone, plenty of weeds and many plastic greenhouses bordering the track. These greenhouses held a variety of crops, mainly tomatoes, chillies, peppers and young mango trees (we think). The nearby fields were full of potatoes, onions and some sort green vegetable, not quite cabbage or spinach but somewhere in between.
There were wild flowers everywhere, predominantly yellow, with many insects buzzing around making the most of the early nectar supply.
We walked down to Torrox Costa following the river beside its stony bed with a noticeable absence of water, what we would call a shallow stream. Birds were everywhere with the best so far being a Sardinian Warbler, a pretty little bird with a jet black head and a conspicuously red eye and eye-ring, and white under the chin and neck. We were also pleased to see our first swallows and crag martins skimming low over the water, swooping over the vegetation that lined the banks to collect insects. So hard to believe it is February.
Another first was one of the finest butterflies I have always wanted to see, a lovely Swallowtail. It is a delightful insect having cream wings with black markings, the hind wings also having blue sections with small bits of red, and its characteristic projections possibly giving rise to the name swallowtail. (This photo is from Google)
The following day the sun was shining and the promised temperature of 18C was most acceptable so we opted for shorts and T-shirts and started a 5 mile walk into Nerja. The old coast road was relatively free of traffic and the views of the sea sparkling in the sunshine made quite a picture. There were wild flowers along the edges and up on the rock faces bordering the road. It took around 2 hours to complete the walk and finally we arrived at the Balcon de Europa, a large rounded balcony jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea, originally a fortification to protect against pirates and smugglers sailing around the coastline.
We met up with friends Jacqui and Malcolm and enjoyed coffee and beers with ‘tosta y tomate’ for brunch while we caught up with each other’s news.
Later that evening Chris and I visited a small Italian restaurant for a wonderful meal and bottle of Rioja as it was Valentine’s Day.
Another much longer walk saw us taking a bus initially into Nerja, then walking as we followed the River Chillar up into the hills behind the town. Again, the river was no more than a stony stream when we walked it, following through a tremendous rocky gorge as it flows through the wooded lower slopes of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park. The River was so shallow in places you can walk in trainers without getting your feet wet on the wide expanse of stone riverbed.
We found a concrete ‘lavada’ carrying water down the valley for irrigation lower down and although I scrambled up a steep stope to it, I couldn’t make myself walk along it’s narrow walls with the precipitous drops on one side. Back down on safe ground we walked on for a while before stopping for a picnic under the eucalyptus trees to enjoyed the peace and tranquillity beside the stream, sorry river! Our walk ended an hour or so later when we could go no further without getting our feet wet which we did not wish to do in February with no towel to dry off. Anyway, when we finally got back to our campsite, we had walked 10.5 miles, a record for me. I felt achy and tired and in need of yet another G&T, great excuse I thought.
We only had two greyish days during our week long stay at El Pino in Torrox Costa, and even then it was warm. Our final walk around Nerja on our last day meant we had walked just over 50 miles in total since we got here. This time we walked from the Balcon, across Burriana Beach where we spotted this huge paella bring cooked on a wood fire.
Then up a hill at the far end taking us along by an old aqueduct which is part of an old hydraulic structure linked to a channel that remains in use today for irrigating the local farmland.
We carried on back around into town, along the old streets and followed tradition by stopping off for a beer and tapas. Pepes bar was full of history and many old household and farming implements adorned the walls, a pigs head looking down on the visitors from its lofty perch high up on the wall. The Jsmon Iberico hanging from the ceiling, from which the bar owner made us two free tapas each with fresh bread, and with two beers altogether it was only 3 euros, around £2.50.
Later we met up again with Jacqui and Malcolm for a late lunch before they kindly took us back to the campsite. It is a lovely area and one to return to, which I know we will as we are planning ahead already …….
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