Las Alpujarras is the area of picturesque white villages that cling to the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. It is a nature lover’s delight. Torrents cascading down from the frozen summits of the high Sierra have cut deep ravines into the rock leaving the lower slopes a brilliant green. Olive and almond trees abound and as one travels higher into the Alpujarras, oak, chestnut and pine forests flourish. Every season in the Alpujarras is special – even winter with its orange trees heavy with fruit.
Whole mountainsides are given over to growing things – many hillsides are terraced – a legacy of the Moors who also built irrigation channels – acequias – to bring water from the high Sierra to irrigate the crops. The region contains an abundance of fruit trees, especially grape vines, oranges, lemons, persimmons, figs and almonds.
The whole region is special and one of great natural beauty. The valleys of the western Alpujarras are among the most fertile in Spain, though the steep nature of the terrain means that they can only be cultivated in small fields, so that many modern agricultural techniques are impractical. However, that adds to the charm of the area – at least for us idle buggers who don’t have to work the fields. On a recent walk along the GR7 footpath, near the delightful little town of Válor, I saw a farmer ploughing the side of a hill using a horse and plough!