Walking Over Acorns (Lujar: The Third Attempt)

PERCHED on a pinnacle of rock. Sniffing the scents of wild lavender and rosemary drifting through woods of sessile oak and pine on an afternoon breeze. I can also detect something else familiar – perhaps wild mountain thyme, like in the song.

I’m having a Robert Louis Stevenson moment high on the northern ridges of Lujar beneath a hot Spanish sun. For Stevenson it was chestnut woods, orange groves and star-filled nights amid the hills of the Cevennes that awakened the mystic in his soul. For me its acorns, olive groves, herbs and wide blue skies.

I sit on my pinnacle and soak in the views of the Sierra Nevada and the bright town of Orgiva – thousands of feet below – reflecting the sun from its white walls. And the villages clinging to the distant terraced slopes of Pico del Tajo de los Machos and Mulhacen – Cañar, Soportujar, Capileira, Bubion, Pampaneira. And I think to myself: God, isn’t it just wonderful to be alive and wander among these mighty mountains? And to walk along dusty paths that wind beneath stunted oak, and to smell the tangy pine resin and the rosemary that brushes your legs. And to sit here on a rocky pinnacle, as small and as insignificant as a cricket, and gaze out upon distant peaks and dark folds of shadow.

Across the valley, a long, long grey ridge rises from the forests above Capileira to the summit of Mulhacen – the highest mountain in mainland Spain. Up this ridge I shall be striding with sack and trekking poles in a couple of days’ time. It’s a long hike in thin air. Not an inviting prospect.

A view across the valley to the Sierra Nevada and Mulhacen

Somewhere up there, beyond the rocky ridges and the thick belt of trees, is the summit of Lujar. Allegedly.

I’ve just decided to abandon my third attempt at Lujar. I sit on my rock and chew chorizo and dry bread, reflecting on the wisdom of setting off up a 6,000ft mountain at 11.30am. Robert Louis Stevenson would have persevered, I’m sure, and climbed the last few hundred feet of rocky, tree-clad ridge – battling through prickly shrubs – to the very top. But he didn’t have a wife dolling herself up to go out for a meal. Or perhaps he did and that’s why he travelled a lot.

I clamber down from the pinnacle and retrace my steps along mountain tracks, smiling at the irony that Sierra de Lujar, the smallest mountain I have ever attempted to climb in Spain, is the only one that’s beaten me. Not just once, but three times.

  • FOR details of Casita La Luz, the perfect base from which to explore the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarras, click here.

About McFadzean

Alen McFadzean, journalist, formerly of the Northern Echo, in Darlington, and the North-West Evening Mail, Barrow. Former shipyard electrician. Former quarryman and tunneller. Climbs mountains and runs long distances to make life harder. Gravitates to the left in politics just to make life harder still. Now lives in Orgiva, Spain.
This entry was posted in Climbing, Hiking, Mountains, Walking and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Walking Over Acorns (Lujar: The Third Attempt)

  1. Charlie Cain says:

    I set off on my own, on an early Saturday morning in mid August, to climb this mountain. Armed with 2 litres of water a banana and a peach I set off. Two and half hours later I had passed numerous mine entrances, some refurbished buildings and some derelict ones, but false summits kept coming and coming. Eventually I abandoned the zigzag road and went cross-country, only to come across the same road a bit further up, but still no sight of the summit. After 3 hours I decided to take some photos and walk back down. I had been away longer than I had told people I would be, and had no idea how much further I needed to walk. I absolutely loved this walk. I saw only one other person…a local cycling up as I got to the bottom.
    Next time, I’ll allow a whole day, take more water and food, and just keep going. The top is up there somewhere right?


    • McEff says:

      Charlie, I don’t know if the top is up there because I’ve tried three times and not come within sight of it. All I know is that Lujar is a lot bigger and bulkier than it looks from the bottom. One day, perhaps next year, I shall return and have another go. If you get to the top before me, let me know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s