A little further east through the mountains (on very good roads it has to be said) we arrived in Humilladero for visiting Antequera and El Torcal, both situated a little way south of our chosen site (La Sierracilla – which was lovely despite some reviews almost putting us off..)
Humilladero itself appears to be a fairly new town, laid out largely in grids, with lots of plots that have not yet been built upon – great for a run! However, click on the link above to discover a little more about the town (something we failed to do during our visit 😦 )
What we did discover a little of was the recreation area located behind the campsite. We walked a little way in but if we had carried on we would, apparently, have scaled the mountain behind and had a good view of the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra. This was somewhere that we did manage to find 🙂
A couple pitched up next to us had cycled there the previous day but we chose to take the little car for the short (about 4 miles) trip to the lake which is famed for it’s flamingos.
There are miles of walks around the lakes, and we set off to our right, walking about a mile before we got frustrated at our inability to get close to any flamingos… We could certainly hear them. And we could see them in the distance, but there was no way of getting closer to the water. In frustration we turned around and headed back to the visitor centre, at which point Calv refused to walk anymore, so I headed off in the other direction by myself and phoning him 5 mins later to tell him I had found flamingos 🙂
Definitely worth a visit 🙂 On leaving the visitor centre we drove some way further around the lake stopping off at various viewing points along the way (there are lots of these areas). Unfortunately we didn’t come across anywhere where we could see the flamingos any better than we already had. Overall we were a little disappointed if I’m honest.
This area is big on olives and olive harvesting (with lots of factories presumably producing olive oil). We saw a lot of harvesting going on which was fascinating – we watched the process of laying a massive sheet around the trees (using a tractor, you wouldn’t have been able to do it by hand), and the ‘shaking’ machines that clamp the tree and, well, shake it!
On the way home we were in search of a supermarket and google maps was telling us that we would find one in the village of La Fuente de Piedra (The Stone Fountain). This proved to be incorrect, but we did find a lovely little village centre where we sat for lunch in the sun. Again bordered by another olive processing factory (there are so many in the area).
We also visited Antequera and it’s Dolmens. Antequera itself is far bigger than I imagined but, apart from finding a Mercadona (there was more than 1, + Lidls etc.) we only visited the old town. We actually approached from the south having tried to visit El Torcal on our 2nd day. Being a Sunday there was no parking in the visitor centre car park, and we were directed to park at the bottom of the hill and take a bus up (there was, of course, a fee for this). We smelled a scam (it turns out we were wrong, but there are several parking scams operating in Spain) so decided to return another day.
On the way back to Antequera we stopped in a recreation area and headed off for a walk to take in the scenery. Calv was a little reserved and eventually, after about 10 mins, said to me ‘have you left things in the car’? Which I had. He was a bit concerned for some reason so we headed back. All was okay though. We carried on to Antequera, making our way through the old town (I think you could probably say we were lost) and eventually finding somewhere to park on Calle Fresca.
We wandered around finding the minimal remains of the old castle and then eventually finding the main plaza, Mirador Plaza de Santa Maria, on which stands the Colegiata de Santa Maria la Mayor and Alcazaba. After a bit of indecision we decided to visit the alcazaba (we have visited a fair number of alcazabas…) but it was worth it, with lots to see 🙂 The majority of the complex has been pretty much rebuilt, although there is a photo below that includes a small section of wall that appears to be original.
Once again tired and ready for a relaxing evening in the van we headed back to the car. Where we were both surprised to find that we hadn’t locked our doors…. Very strange. When we arrived back at the van and went in the boot for something we found that the parcel shelf had been pulled out. Now we knew that someone had broken into the car (we then realised that they’d used a screwdriver on the passenger door, as we had a little trouble using the key in this side).
However, all’s well that ends well, as we had taken absolutely everything with us when we parked up (after Calv’s ‘feeling’ earlier when we were out for our walk), so the rotten b*****s got nothing 🙂 Small victories and all that!
On our way to El Torcal the next day we went via the Dolmens of Antequera, which are ancient burial mounds which are free to visit (although you must get a ticket first..!) There are 3 to visit – Menga, Viera and El Romeral. These monuments are UNESCO world heritage sites, and will take up maybe 45 minutes of your day (including the drive between them). Still, worth a look 🙂
Finally though we made it the best visit (one of the best of our whole trip to Spain), El Torcal – a landscape of limestone rock formations through which there are several trails to walk. We had done the right thing in wearing our walking boots; the walk, of course, takes you through the formations and there are many areas never touched by the sun and so the mud never dries out! We did see a lady walking barefoot – she’d obviously worn completely inappropriate footwear and was with a much younger man; I thought maybe her son, Calv disagreed…!! Either way seeing here walking through this terrain barefoot made me cringe – it wasn’t always an easy walk and the mud itself (I don’t like mud) would have given me nightmares (yes, I have nightmares about mud 😦 )
We also spotted an ibex on top of one of the formations – it waited patiently whilst we scrabbled for cameras, but moved the minute we had them! Of course 🙂
There were many other trails to walk and we will almost definitely return next time we’re in Spain 🙂
Next stop back to the coast at Cala de Mijas to meet up with Steve and Denise for a couple of days (they were still at Cabopino). I promise to be better at getting this blog up-to-date – please bear with me!!