Richard Hammond describes this 7-day self-guided, single-centre walking holiday through Southern Spain’s beautiful Las Alpujarras hillside with the option to sample the region’s delicious gastronomical delights along the way. This trip is reachable by train from the UK.
In a nutshell:
Bagfuls of scenic and varied walks along ancient paths through traditional villages on this self-guided walking holiday from the central base of the Alpujarran village of Mairena, which flanks the southern slopes of the stunning Sierra Nevada. The beauty of this trip is the flexibility to do as much or as little walking as you wish. Your hosts Emma and David will help you immerse yourself in the gentle rhythms of local life. Car hire is also included.
Price: £680 per person (including car hire, but not train travel or transfers)
What's included: 7 nights at a rural hotel (Casa las Chimeneas); route notes and maps; tour of finca; visit to olive mill; 7 dinners; 3 picnics; 7 breakfasts; 7 days' category B car hire.
Departures: February, March, April, May, June, September, October, November
Nearest station to start of trip: Granada
Nearest station to end of trip: Granada
How to travel by train to Granada: It's possibly to travel by train from London to Granada though it does require stopping off overnight in Barcelona (thankfully it's now reachable in a day from London). Take the Eurostar to Paris then change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon for the connecting train down to Barcelona where you'll stay overnight then catch a train over to Granada. The total journey time from London to Granada is just over 24 hours. The transfer in Paris can take 20-30 minutes on the Paris metro (9 stops), but we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer (see our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris). For more details on the train journey from London to Barcelona, including some suggestions for where to stay near the train stations if you want to break up the journey and spend more time in Paris, see our flight-free journey planner: Train from London to Barcelona.
Optional extra: You can add a two-night tour of Granada City (from £180pp); two night stay in Málaga (from £168pp) or immerse yourself further in traditional Alpujarras village life for another three nights (from £335pp).
What's the trip like:
South-east of Granada and flanking mainland Spain’s highest mountainous region, the Sierra Nevada, is the the Alpujarran village of Mairena, which is the base for your trip. Seemingly untouched by the passage of time, the village gently conforms to a traditional way of life, governed by the terrain and climate.
A huge draw for this trip is the flexibility offered as there’s no fixed itinerary – take the paths you choose, on the day you choose and walk as much or as little as you see fit. This holiday combines unique insights into the local way of life courtesy of your hosts Emma and David Illsley and their neighbours with beautiful walks of up to 15.5km.
Join David and Emma for a tour of their organic farm where traditional farming methods are used to tend to the fruits of the fields, including the ring-fencing of uncultivated land, which allows a variety of flowers, insects and bird-life to flourish. The fruits of the farm can be sampled in the hotel and restaurant courtesy of local cook Sole who lovingly recreates age-old local recipes with a delicious modern twist.
Local olive-oil producer Adolfo will be only too happy to show you around his olive mill where you can see for yourself the process of extracting olive oil – and if you visit December – January, you can have a go at harvesting the fruit yourself.
If this leaves you thirsty to sample more local delicacies, David and Emma can arrange a tour and wine tasting of the award-winning Buena Vista bodega in Ugijar.
When it comes to walking, you’ll be spoilt for choice, there is a huge number of routes from Mairena and the surrounding areas, ranging from 3km to 15.5km. The landscape and lingering aromas change with the season and harvest, which includes figs, medlars, pomegranates, olives, almonds, oranges and grapes.
Walks around the Mairena Valley (choice of routes: 3km to 15km) take in the characteristic whitewashed villages as they tumble down terraced valleys as well as local markets, almond terraces and even a thousand-year-old chestnut tree. Many of the walks pass through other villages and hamlets including: Ugíjar, Júbar, Válor and Laroles.
Walks west of Mairena (choice of routes: 4km to 15.5km) can include hills to the northern side of Yegen, the southern slopes of Yegen, a cubic rock known as Peñon el Fuerte, the Río Grande and an ancient silk-mill.
Walks east of Mairena (choice of routes: 3km or 9km) can include almond and olive terraces, the village of Picena famed for its Mudéjar-style church and ruins of the nearby Castillejo de Picena and the verdant Picena gorge, which offers the chance to spot the rare nettle-tree butterfly.
Given the area’s rich Moorish heritage, you may wish to venture further afield to visit Granada's world-famous palace and fortress complex, Alhambra (a two-hour drive away), which typifies Moorish architecture and design.
As an area of outstanding natural beauty, you won’t be disappointed whichever route you decide to take.
How to enquire/book this holiday:
This holiday is provided by Inntravel, one of the founding tour operator members of Green Traveller. One of the great things about this holiday is its flexibility: you have a choice of start/end dates and you can add additional nights on to the itinerary. If you'd like to know more about this holiday, please see more details on the relevant page given below and if you'd like to book it, do contact them directly or complete their booking form and a member of their team will be in touch with you: