Gateway to the Sierra Nevada with Adagio Holidays – Part 1

Discover Moorish Spain from Lanjaron – Chapter 1

As a combination between the Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Adagio, we were not quite sure what to expect. Would it really be “ambling rather than rambling” as suggested, so would there be enough walking to keep us all happy, or even be too strenuous? We need not have worried as the group included different levels of walking ability and was certainly ideal for the Silver Traveller.

View from our roomThe first day was very tiring, of course, as everyone started off early to get to their respective airports. Mine was 7.35am flight from Gatwick so, as usual, I prefer to stay over the night before (see the review of the Bloc Hotel which is absolutely perfect for an early flight from Gatwick) for a stress-free start. We were all met at the airport by Adagio Specialist Ursula, an enthusiastic devotee of this region of Spain, who gave us a comprehensive history as we travelled along the new motorway to Lanjaron. Admittedly, we didn’t quite believe her when she said it was hotter with bright sunshine up at the edge of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park, rather than the cooler misty coastal area, but she was right.

Typical room at Hotel AcademaWe were met by glorious sunshine, our hotel perfectly situated in the town high above the Castle and the distant wind turbines. After we settled in our rooms, Ursula took us into the town for a tapas lunch, although several of the places she had brought groups to in September were now closed in November. Eventually, we did find a little place where the owner grudgingly agreed to serve us, making it clear that he had planned to close early for the day!

It is a steep climb up to the remains of Lanjaron Castle on the edge of the town, recently renovated to the point where it is safe for visitors rather than a complete restoration. Lanjaron CastleWalk around the battlements for a splendid view across the town, mountains and valley – hard walking but definitely worth it in the bright afternoon sunshine – and the spot where it is said the last Moorish ruler of this area threw himself from the castle rather than surrender. Some of the group returned to the hotel but the rest of us carried on down to the wooded park, along the river and up another long climb to the main road and back to the hotel.

It was a good start to the holiday, and after our walk to the castle we were ready for a drink in the bar before dinner at 8.00pm. This was a regular routine over the week as Ursula explained our itinerary for the next day and agreed meeting times for the morning coach drive to the next attraction. Our tables for the group of 16 were reserved, and there was a good choice of 4 starters and 5 main courses each day plus dessert of course! The food is always cooked and presented well with fish, meat and vegetarian options. They also keep what is left of your personal bottle of wine behind the bar for the next day, so it is all very well organised.

Tils water spoutThe town itself is very interesting, both in architecture and history, and has clearly been a significant centre of the region over the centuries. There are lots of water spouts along the streets, all safe to drink from, often with tiled surrounds and inscribed with poems. Narrow streets between high frontages vie with each other for the most beautiful, brightly-coloured flower and shrub displays, and the fountain in the centre of town boasts some modern sculptured figures watched over by locals sitting on benches for a chat. Just off the centre, there are examples of old linked houses, higgledy-shaped structures where bits were built on as necessary (to avoid capture and confuse raiders apparently). Much of this area is in very poor condition – health and safety people avert your eyes please – although there are a few parts that are still inhabited.

Sculpture in twon centreWe popped into the local cookie shop to try the soft, crumbly biscuits then on to the Water Museum to see film about the building of the levadas, the water channels that follow the curves of the mountains and ensure a ready supply of water, and the medicinal qualities associated with water from this region. Although mostly in Spanish, there was some text available in English, but the modern film presentations were easy to follow whatever the language.

Still in the town, further along the street is a very micro-brewery run by a father and son. Even a non-beer drinker can appreciate the distinctive aromas with hints of honey, marjoram or toasted malt, and I knew my husband would love the herb flavours. After a cured ham roll and very generous portions of two beers to sample, the owner showed us the brewing process in the small back room. As we were now down to just 5 guests as some of the group had wandered back, there was a special treat of a third stronger beer for us to try. The group exploring LanjaronThis is an excellent visit, an impressive family-run business making the most of local conditions and ingredients.

It was easy to be convinced that buying a couple of bottles of this delicious beer to take home was a good idea, although it took a while for me to remember I only had hand-luggage! The same applied to the local Gin and Tonic marmalade – yes, really – which was very tasty but not in small enough containers to take home. The store is on the edge of the town, Fabrica de Quesos y Mermeladas, and has a fascinating collection of different preserves to try.

This is an ideal base for exploring the region, and although some might have wanted a bit more walking, it gave a real insight into the history and way of life in Moorish Spain.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Adagio Holidays

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Jacqueline Jeynes

Silver traveller and award-winning travel writer

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