It’s late summer in La Alpujarra. The kids are back to school. The overwhelming heat of July and August has passed but the sun still shines daily on the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The conditions are perfect for walking.
Looking out over Sierra Lujar from Cáñar | GranadaSpain
We are lucky enough to live very close to the famous GR7* long distance trail where it cuts through sleepy whitewashed Cañar, El Balcon de La Alpujarra, as it makes its way from Lanjarón to Soportújar. Yet, opportunities for the Mister and I to go off on long rambling walks together have been scant in the last few years due to important stuff like pregnancy, childbirth, work, and the more or less total distraction of parenthood.
This Monday morning, after the school drop-off, we found ourselves footloose and child-free in the mountains. We took the GR7 from Cáñar heading east.
Following the GR7 path from Cáñar to Soportújar | GranadaSpain
It was mostly easy walking following golden paths, well signed with red and white waymarkers, to the sound track of the chirruping grillos** and the gurgling acequia***. Butterflies danced in the air around us and grasshoppers sprang out from underfoot to clear our path ahead.
We were momentarily disappointed that the stream was dry above Dique 24, the dam crossing the Rio Chico gorge, as we were hoping to see the waterfall that often flows over the dam and is much talked about locally. It was still a wonderfully cool and shady spot for a snack and a rest and we will go back another day to see the waterfall.
Dique 24 | GranadaSpain
During the walk we encountered only two other souls on the path. The first looked to be a very well traveled and dusty backpacker, who is probably still village hopping along the GR7 as I write, and the other was a local farmer, who may, or may not, have been up there inspecting the acequia***.
One of the great attractions of this stretch of the trail, for anyone planning a visit, is that it links a number of the high Alpujarran villages making it easy to dip in and out when and where it suits you. You can enjoy the feeling of being out in the wild, but you are never too far from the next watering hole.
We were only out for a few hours and we didn’t make it all the way to Soportújar as we had to head back the way we had come to pick up our daughter from school. But it was long enough get a feel for the track and get some air into our lungs and I certainly felt it the next day in my hamstrings and glutes. I guess that I really do need to get out more.
Stage 9 of the GR7 – Lanjarón to Soporjújar | Alpujarratouristica
For those of you with a bit more time, you can take a side trip off the track up to the Buddhist retreat of O Sel Ling. As the trail descends to Soportújar you will come across a track on your left which is clearly signed. Visitors, welcome between 15.00 and 18.00, are respectfully asked to keep noise to a minimum and to follow the signs as some areas are off-limits. When you arrive you you may turn the prayer wheel and then follow the path behind it that will lead you to the Tara – buddha – at the top. This is quite steep but worth it for the peace and tranquillity that you will find when you get there.
Other useful information
The Granada stretch of the GR7, which follows old mules tracks and footpaths, was re-signed in 2007 and is well maintained. Walking boots are definitely recommended, as the path can be uneven, narrow, steep and rocky in places. So too are sun protection, water and snacks.
To complete the walk from Cáñar to Soportújar would take around hours if you allow for a couple of short rests stops.
Walking in the La Alpujarra is possible throughout most of the year but the most pleasant times to visit are springtime and late summer into early autumn.
Lanjarón and Órgiva, in particular, serve as great bases, less than 60 km from Granada, from which to explore the mountains.
If you are travelling by bus Alsa operates a service between Granada and La Alpujarra. The Granada-Lanjaron-Orgiva buses, some of which stop in Lecrín, run several times a day but links to other villages in the area are less frequent.
* The GR7: the Spanish section of the long distance European path E4
** Grillo: cricket
*** Acequia: irrigation channels carrying mountain melt water to the pastures, cropland and ancient olive groves below.