The High and Mighty Mines of Lújar

lujar 1LET’S recap. Five minutes ago I blundered into a herd of wild boar and seriously scared myself. That’s history, but if you’re interested you can read the account here. Now the clock is ticking. It’s 7.20am and a whole day lies ahead. My original excursion disrupted, I opt for Plan B – a long, hot trudge to the ancient mines of Sierra de Lújar, in the south of Spain. It turns out to be a Plan B with knobs on. And more wild animals . . . Continue reading

Posted in Caving, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Geology, Hiking, History, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Potholing, Quarrying, Ruins, Slate quarries, The Romans, Walking, Weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Close Encounter with Wild Boar

boar 1THE sun hasn’t yet risen above the eastern Alpujarras. The air is cool and fresh on the slopes of Sierra de Lujar. I lock the van and clump off up a track that leads, eventually and hopefully, to a high and remote farmstead above the pine forests. Behind me, the Sierra Nevada – the highest peaks in Spain – lift themselves from blue shadows into the dawn sky. They fill me with expectation. It’s going to be a memorable day . . . Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Wild boar, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 35 Comments

Happy Valleys

happy vallies 1THROUGH a settling of plaster dust I snatch glimpses of snow-capped mountains. Above a hammering of nails I hear gusting wind in treetops and the cry of a bird. And when the wind sweeps away the sharp tang of varnish there are traces of pine and wild herbs in the air. I think about the track that runs along a riverbed from our front gate and off into the hills. In the three months we have lived in this place I have failed to venture more than three-hundred metres along its stony course. If I possessed a spark of adventure I’d drop these tools, pick up my rucksack, and set out to explore this new country. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as someone once said in a memorable film. So off I go . . . Continue reading

Posted in Barry Bucknell, Childhood, DIY, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Life, Mountains, Politics, Ranting, Rivers, Ruins, Walking | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

Chasing the Storm

above canar 1I RISE at 6am because the thought of wandering through olive groves by the light of a headlamp and climbing mountains as the sun floods the sky appeals to me. But as I’m getting dressed, silent flashes which momentarily transform a black world into vivid monochrome signal the approach of an autumn thunderstorm. The storm spreads its unseen clouds and the constellations are slowly wiped out. Thwarted, I return to my bed, still wearing my walking gear – though having had the good manners to remove my boots – to await the dawn and a change of fortune . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Footpaths, GR 240, GR 7, Hiking, Mountains, Religion, Walking, Weather | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Autumn and Unfound Paths

THAT feeling has returned – the yearning that has its roots in the depths of the stomach and rises in a flood of warmth and expectation. All I did was raise my eyes towards the hills and behold streams of grey mist hanging from crags like lines of last week’s washing. And a voice inside said: it’s autumn and it’s time to seek out new places. There are strange scents in the air; you must stir; there are places to explore and unfound paths to tread . . . Continue reading

Posted in Climbing, Cycling, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Ruins, Walking | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Forgive Them Their Trespasses?

trespass 1IT’S a perfect spring morning in 1982. Arkengarthdale slumbers green and shadowy beneath a blue sky as we sit in damp grass and drink tea from tartan Thermos flasks. Nothing moves except the wind in the heather and the birds in the sky – and a Land-Rover crawling towards us up a track from a nearby farm . . . Continue reading

Posted in Archaeology, Caving, Climbing, Country Land and Business Association, Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Environment, Footpaths, Highland Clearances, Hiking, History, Hunting, Industrial archaeology, Mountains, Politics, Potholing, Ranting, Rivers, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Days like This, No 22: An August Bank Holiday Secret

hesk fell 1I HAVE resolved to leave my hiking boots in the back of the Mini Estate this August Bank Holiday and avoid the Lake District fells. The reason is simple. The roads will be crammed with Vauxhall Vivas, Morris 1300s, and assorted bangers with mismatched bonnets and coat hangers for aerials. The crags will echo strange voices from Manchester and Newcastle – perhaps even Scotland. The Lake District is a place to avoid at August Bank Holiday, unless you like crowds, bus trips and queuing for ice-cream . . . Continue reading

Posted in Butterflies, Childhood, Climbing, English language, Footpaths, Hiking, History, Life, Mountains, Traditions, Walking, Weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments