While it is freezing in London and snowing in Paris here it feels something like spring. Perhaps it is the bright yellow I can see on the fallow terraces and track-sides. They are think with Oxalis or “Mediterranean Buttercups” – a spreading weed that opens a cheery yellow face to the bright sun. It’s cheering to see given that, even in Málaga, January and February bring spells of rain, wind and cold. Continue reading Almonds and Oxalis
In winter on uncertain days when it might be bright or might change it’s mind (done that today as it happens) I like to link up the villages. A January walk going down from Competa to Canillas, then up to the top and back by “the goat path” does just that. And I’ve got the pics, from another January, to prove it.
Cómpeta has a nice plaza, though sadly not car free. There’s several bars, the church with it’s attractive bell tower and a lovely paseo beside it with murals showing local history. I had a hot chocolate to warm up (told you there were bars) and set off.
Going along Calle San Antonio I passed the med centre, the hotel and the charming chapel of San Antón. [“Didn’t you just write about the San Antón fiesta in Canillas? Isn’t that where the chapel is?” Yes. And yes. And there’s one here. And in Árchez, too. Popular chap.]
Just past this, where the road swings right, I took a stony path downhill. I remembered my surprise discovery, one dark evening when I limped down here with new-boot-blisters, and found the low point had turned into a torrent of water – the acequia runs past it, not usually through it.
This time, however, I passed on to the terrace levels with views and light and lovely weedy brambly sides – banks of yellow Oxalis. I strolled on the path while the road wound lazily below until, passing the house with a fringe of tall conifers, we met.
This is the main road to Canillas, bit dull to walk. I crossed to the metal barrier and looked over a dry gully thick with poplars (proof there’s still water). These trees, weather bare or in leaf, are beautiful. Going left to the end of the barrier I found the barely-there footpath that sneaks steeply down: it was quite clear this time but is often overgrown. “There once was a road through the woods…”
At the bottom I followed the path out through avocado groves. I worry about the endless planting of these thirsty trees. Not just greedy for water, they are vulnerable to the cold. Around 2009 a hard frost near killed them; hundreds lost their leaves and stopped fruiting – no joke if it is your living. But farming is an act of hope. With reliable markets for avocados, which are easy to harvest and transport – and the opposite for olives, (which aren’t), you can’t blame farmers for planting them.
Out from the avos and then I came upon almond trees. Oh, the blossom!
They say a Moorish lord whose northern wife missed snow planted a hillside of almonds below her window. White on stark black branches as early as December, they slowly blush pale pink. Could they be more beautiful? Every year I fill up my memory with the sight of these lovely flowers.
One last cross path just below a ruined finca and I was onto an acequia path.
This water channel network is centuries old, going back to the 8th century, because the water channel network then created worked: great engineering.
In the last decade more channels have had black plastic pipes put it. This is right and proper, stopping a terrible waste of water, but its not not half so attractive. Happily for me the acequia here was open, and musk storksbill, wild carrot and periwinkles took advantage of the spray.
I came out onto the Canillas-Árchez road just above the chapel of (you guessed it) San Antón, and turned right then left to get up to the top of (gasp) town, behind Santa Ana’s un-whitewashed back.
Why unwhitewashed? It looks out over a steep, ragged drop: once a great defence, but not good for the painters. From here, a step uphill connected me with the “goat path” (so called by ex-pats to Cómpeta. This goes up a little way till it meets the quarry road and then (after 5 minutes on this) follows the contour. Fancy that! Almost level in the Axarquía?!
In all seasons it is a beautiful route; views over the valley again from a little higher than before; views back to see Canillas framed between olive trees; views over layers of terraced land. In spring and autumn it is rampant with wildflowers; you see farmed and wild well mixed and then pass abandoned olive groves. I’ll show you the full shoot in April when it’s all out. Suffice to say that a brisk 40 minutes saw me back to Competa. The path comes out just a step from the stony path down I started on – near San Anton again. From there I went to the plaza realising it was nearly lunch time. Did I mention that there are bars?
If you want to know more about Cómpeta take a look at this blog from visitacostadelsol:
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