A circular walk from Rodalquilar via Cortijo del Fraile

The day started with an al fresco breakfast on the terrace. Our host, Eckhard, pointed out that we wouldn’t be able to do this at home and thought we might like it. It was a little chilly, but he was correct. Today’s walk took us inland through mining and farming country across 14.5 km of dirt tracks and rocky paths. We started with an early detour into Rodalquilar’s Botanic Garden. It is presented as an environmental management centre for the Cabo de Gata – Nijar Natural Park and divides plots into distinct plant groupings and environments. Apart from Palms and grasses not much is happening this time of year so here’s a photo from the hotel garden which is interestingly planted.

Walking out of town we passed an old abandoned gold mine. The area has a long history of mining starting with lead and silver. Gold was discovered in the late 19th century and was mined until 1966 when it became too costly and environmentally destructive. As a result the town population dropped dramatically from 1400 to about 200.

We walked through the valley, following a dry riverbed, before heading up along a pass with glorious views back down to the coast.

We turned a corner and the view changed completely. Suddenly we had views across lush agricultural fields to the Sierra Nevada in the distance.

The route for sensible people was fairly flat, following another dry riverbed and taking us into farming country and the fields we’d seen from the top. Rows of lettuce, fennel, cauliflower and broccoli greeted us and this was the prettiest.

At this point, and after a long climb, we became a little confused. Our holiday is categorised ‘easy walking’ but the route was taking us up yet another steep climb. There was dissent in the ranks so John, heroically, offered to check it out. He scrambled up the mountainside and, by the time the rest of us had read the instructions properly and realised we didn’t need to be up on the ridge, he decided it was too dangerous to scramble back down. We didn’t see him again!

The highlight of the walk was the ruin at Cortijo del Fraile. Not only was this farmstead the inspiration for Garcia Lorca’s ‘Blood Wedding’ but it has featured in many Westerns including The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and a Few Dollars More.

The long walk back took us past more abandoned mines and, if you look carefully, you can see the evidence of mine shafts in the cliff face.

The next stop, accessed through a short tunnel, was the abandoned village of El poblado minero de San Diego before finally arriving back at the top end of Rodalquilar, overlooking the mining buildings we’d seen earlier.

Back in town we met up with John in Crisol’s bar, for a well earned drink in the late afternoon sunshine. Today’s walk was a tough but enjoyable 9 miles, tomorrow’s is longer and steeper……….ouch

2 thoughts on “A circular walk from Rodalquilar via Cortijo del Fraile”

    1. Beef cheeks, prawns, monkfish…. quite a selection from the only restaurant we’ve found open. We’ve been sent off with hefty packed lunches and breakfast has been lovely on the terrace.

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