The Costa del Sol in Spain has associations for many as a concrete jungle for beach goers and those who like to consume alcohol a little too much. however the beach front Costa is a tiny part of the county of Andalucia.
I used to live in Gibraltar for several years during the 19080’s and spent much of my time exploring the ‘ Rock ‘, for there are many walks and superb views to be seen around Gibraltar. In fact I got to know the rock so well, when they filmed part of a James Bond film there, they asked me to be their location guide. I had been recommended by locals as the one who knew the Rock better than most.When the border to spain opened in 1984 a vast new area of walking and exploring opened up for me. Spain !
The town of La Linea del la Concepcion is situated just across the border from Gibraltar and is the ideal touring base for Andalusia. By the way the Costa del Sol stretches from Malaga in the east and all the way to Tarifa in the west and runs far inland.
Walking and exploring in Andalucia is nothing short of breathtaking. Having spent years living in the beautiful county of Pembrokeshire in Wales and also in South Devon I found Andalucia a different delight and on a grander scale. Using La Linea as a base ( I usually stay at the Miramar hotel, because the owner speaks perfect English, like walking and exploring himself and lived in london for 15 years ) Pepe Serrano, the owner also know his home county very well and can be relied upon to give you good information about the area.
I first started discovering the delights of this superb countryside after meeting up with an old school friend in Gibraltar. Ray Murphy. Ray probably knows Andalucia and its best walks better than most Spaniards and used to have anything up to 100 people turn up when he set off on one of his trails. He told me. ” I started out walking with a friend and after a while the word got out, sometimes 20 people might turn up and I have had up to 100 people coming from many parts of the Costa del Sol ” Ray stopped doing his walks a while ago due to family commitments, but is about to start again. He has compiled many maps and intends publishing books and guides on the subject soon.
My first and possibly favorite destination is just 15 kilometres from La Linea and Gibraltar. Castellar de la Fronterra. is a mountain top fairy tale castle with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, complete with lake and you can see the Rock of Gibraltar the Mediterranean sea with the African coast on a clear day.
We first start out by car ( you can use the various wonderful cycle routes if you prefer ) traveling through the cork wood and cork processing farms. The cork comes from Oak trees, of which the bark ( cork ) is carefully removed and the bare tree wood specially treated, for the bark of course re-grows. I refuse to buy any wine that has plastic corks. Plastic is made from oil and helps destroy the environment and also put these age old industries out of business. pointless as as the cork industry is sustainable and employs local people.
On past the cork woods we pass through the modern town of Castellar. modern it may be, but it is a very pleasant town and the architecture is typical Spanish. It is said the town was built as local people moved away from the original castle town because hippies from UK and Germany moved in and took over. Many of the aging hippies do indeed still inhabit the castle town, now respectable of course and the story has become an urban myth.
We then start to climb a steep winding road, lane in reality and eventually the castle appears. Most people drive up to the ample car park and take a tour from there. The castle has some nice restaurants and gift shops, you can even take a donkey ride around the pretty cobbled streets. no Castellar is not very touristy thank god. It is well preserved and original. The narrow walled streets are full of small pretty houses with flowers falling from baskets and window boxes. at the top you can see all around. views of the country side and mountains running down to Gibraltar or the superbly beautiful lake on the other side.
Well we usually have a snack and a beer and then set off back down the hill to the lake and take in more views. then set off on a walk around the lake. If you want to go around the entire lake, set of early its a BIG lake. for those with less gusto you can of course do part of the very beautiful course and take in the supremely beautiful views, wild flowers and the odd wild animal. none dangerous !
After the walk we sometimes return to the castle for some delicious tapas or take the road back to La linea wherev there are several tapas resturants along the way.
La linea and the surrounding areas, La Atunara, campamento have the best tapas bars and restarants in all Spain and Spaniards come from all over to eat here. Its very reasonably priced. three of us ate two lots of tappas each had two beers and two coffees for under 10 euros at a family run retsuarant. the service was very freindly and helpful.
So if you are looking for a walk that is full of intersest, beautiful views and enjoy lovley food this is just one of the superb places to visit. There are many more, Tarifa, Gaucin, Jimena, Casares and Ronda to name a few.
Little white towns on hillside and mountaintops with wonderful walks and friendly people, oh and the sun generally shines too ! sometimes it does not, but unlike northern climes the rain is bearable, but in winter around December and January it can be heavy , though still no where near as cold as UK.
I will make more posts when Ray and I are ready for more walks, in the meantime, you can find your own way or email me for more information.
enjoy the walks, the sunshine, the views and the food.
Avenida de Espana 26, La Linea de la Concepcion, Cadiz, 11300
Tel: 0034 956 17 06 58
my email; firstname.lastname@example.org
My web site with many pictures of Andalucia and Gibraltar;