A roman trail adventure in Andalusia

Ons grote doel met GirlsLove2Travel is om jou net dat extra zetje te geven om je koffer te pakken en richting het grote onbekende te gaan. Op zoek naar avontuur. Als er dan iemand voorbij komt die precies dit doet én daarbij ook jou mee kan nemen willen we niet anders dan dit delen. Sietske doet precies dit. Met Vakanshe, haar in 2015 opgerichte bedrijf, faciliteert ze avontuurlijke reizen voor vrouwen. Ze woont in Spanje, heeft al heel wat avontuurlijke ‘women-only’ reizen achter de rug en inspireert ons in elk geval om het avontuur weer op te zoeken. Vandaag neemt ze ons mee over een oude Roman trail. ♥ Fiek

vakanshe roman trail path 4

In the Alpujarra, the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia, Spain, there is a lush and green valley called La Taha where seven villages lie. The narrow, winding streets and small flat-roofed and box-shaped white houses remind you of mountain villages in North Africa. There is a laid-back atmosphere and while you walk through the peaceful streets of Atalbeitar, Capilerilla, Ferreirola, Fondales, Mecina or Mecinilla you realise they are too narrow for cars to pass. When in the distance you hear the noises of hoofs and bells, you wonder if time stood still here.

Trail of the Romans
Below the small village of Fondales is an old Roman bridge precariously built over a river that churns away in the gorge below. So on a sunny fresh day in spring we decide to explore the area below the villages, cross the bridge and follow the trail the Romans once walked. We park the car and walk the windy paths through the villages and the orchards down to the river. It is a beautiful day, the birds are singing and the sun kisses the many stone walls and the early blossom on the trees.

In places the path is less well indicated, and we stop by a small fruit orchard where an old farmer with weathered hands is working the land. We ask him about the ‘puente romano’, he smiles and indicates which way to go. We weave our way down the steep path, and we pass neatly tended vegetable gardens and less well kept olive orchards where robust looking men are cleaning up branches and clippings from an earlier pruning session.

As we leave the villages and their inhabitants behind us you can hear the sound of silence that is interrupted only by voices of nature. We arrive at the bridge to find a few other people there. Tourists perhaps? Although that sounds wrong, you can hardly call them tourists or speak of tourism here because the area is off the beaten track and ’tourists’ are far and few in between. For me this just adds to the beauty and the tranquility of La Taha and the Alpujarra.

vakanshe roman trail path 3

We cross the bridge, deep down below us the water gushes through the narrow gullies it has carved out of the hard rock. We follow the medieval trail which seems to be in pretty good condition. This was once a connecting route between the coast and the villages more inland that the romans used to transport goods but especially certain metals that were mined in the mountains here. We walk uphill for quite some time over the century old boulders and steps that are carved into the face of this mountain. Every now and then we need to give our legs a break and take a sip of water. Then in the distance we can hear bells, a sound that is fast approaching. Just when we’re ready to move on, we need to make space for a large flock of goats and sheep that are being herded down the steep track. It is a common sight in the Alpujarra but one you do not see very often otherwise. We stand back and take it all in, feeling lucky to experience this. The shepherd waves and smiles and after a friendly ‘buenas’ we continue our walk.

The roman trail ends and we soon connect to a well used forestry track. This is a flatter, more level road that is a welcome change to the steep climb we left behind us. As we cross the mountain horizontally, the views of La Taha bathed in the sun are gorgeous. We sit down on a big rock just below an old farmhouse to sip some coffee and enjoy a homemade sandwich.

The forest track ends and we turn left past some ruins and old cortijos, through abandoned almond orchards and past animal shelters. Then the path down presents itself to us, it is an impossibly steep zig-zag back down to the river. On the way down we see mule or donkey droppings, indicating the path is still used by these tough and hardy animals and their owners. We wonder how they manage the sharp incline, the sudden bends and the loose rocks that we encounter.

vakanshe roman trail path

The crossing of the river is easy and on the other side is an old mill. The skeleton of this stone built structure is still there and it looks eery and lonely on the side of the river. Looking back, the path we just descended from looks incredible and the Z-shapes mark the sharp bends.

The village of Ferreirola lies ahead of us and indicates we are getting close to the end of our wonderful trek. Before we enter this tiny village we pass by a beautiful threshing circle, on a most incredible spot with stunning views. Again we have a rest, sit down on the edge to enjoy the scenery, listen to the bird song, soak up some rays and to connect with nature. We fill up our water bottles at what is known as the fizzy spring and drink the lightly sparkling water.

In Ferreirola, (its name derived from a combination of the Arabic word for ‘blacksmith’ and the word ‘fer’ meaning iron) we hit tarmac and follow the road to Mecina. Finally we arrive at Mora Luna, a local tavern and a hotspot for music and pizzas. We refresh ourselves with a beer and some nice food. Tired and satisfied, we relax on the terrace in the sun and we realise we can see and point out most parts of the walk we just finished.

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