Bella and I started out from the house at 08h30 and arrived at our walking start point (Puerto Blanquillo, near Cannillas de Albaida) at around 09h45. The track to Puerto Blanquillo from the “main” road is quite arduous for the vehicle and at one point I had difficulty maintaining momentum. This was due to a very steep part of the track with heavy undulation and approaching a sharp bend that I could not see around. I made the mistake of stopping the car and struggled to get going again with the uneven ground, lack of turbo boost and the steepness of the hill. Fortunately, the second attempt worked fine and we were off again.
As I said, we arrived at the start point and prepared for the walk. GPS on (I had previously downloaded a route from the internet, although this turned out to be unnecessary as the track was well defined AND I remembered the various points as I went along from the night walk with the Almachar village group last year), backpack with water, enough for the two of us and food for me, walking staff, phone, hat (needed the hat as it turned out) etc, etc.
There were a couple of groups of Spanish people at the start point and they were also making ready to ascend. I started off first, but then was forced to return to the car after perhaps 250 mtrs as I realised that I had forgotten to clip Bellas folding water bowl to my backpack. This meant that I was now at the rear of the other two groups.
The start is a fairly steep uphill, which passes between large boulders and through deep rain water created gouges / runaways. It is covered in small rocks and loose scree which is difficult to walk on as it moves under you. The path then proceeds into the pine forest for a refreshing uphill with the smell of pine and gorse all around. I passed the other two groups on the way up here, as they were slower, presumably due to mixed walking abilities. At the top of this first climb is the sign for the Puerto de Competa, whereupon we head downhill for a bit (200 mtrs, perhaps) to a trucking road, which I assume was cut for carrying out the marble from the opencast mine (Do you “mine” marble?) nearby. By the look of this, it has not changed at all since I was last there, so I guess it is unused / abandoned.
Following this trucking trail on a gentle downhill slope, I came to the sign I was looking for which is the start of the uphill climb to the Pico del Lucero. It starts easy enough and gets steeper and steeper and more and more arduous and narrow as we ascended to the peak. There is a lot of scree under foot, which makes walking in some parts even harder as the feet slip away as I pushed onwards and upwards. I took a couple of photos of a peak here, that I (at first) believed to be El Lucero. I later came to realise that the peak that I was looking for, was actually higher and further way. I recognised El Lucero, when I actually saw it in the distance. Partly because I could see the steep path winding up towards the summit and partly because it was obvious that we were headed in that general direction.
I have to admit to being a little nervous of the final stages of this climb at this point, as the last time I had been here (during the night walk), I had tripped and nearly fallen over the edge three times on the ascent. Anyway, no such issues this time, having made sure that my hiking stick was always on the outside, near the drop. Just in case 🙂
The track up to the peak is quite exposed to the sun during the day and I imagine that when it is very hot, later in the year, that this exposure will be quite difficult to handle. As it was, I kept losing sight of Bella and it transpired that she was moving ahead in an attempt to find shade. Whereupon, she would lie and wait for me. Such a good girl. I wet her chest and underbelly a couple of times to help her and you can see in the photos where she actually got into the water trough to cool down. She did this on the way up and on the way back down. This water trough is near Fuente Barrera. A very large water deposito near where we joined the trucking trail.
The track up the side of El Lucero is quite an engineering feat in places, with the path being built up with stone in places. I have no idea what sort of annual maintenance is involved, but I found it amazing.
Quite suddenly, we turned a bend and found we were at the top!! I was very surprised as it looks like there is further to go.
I met a group of three Spanish lads who were on their way back down and they asked me if this was my first visit to El Lucero and seemed surprised for some reason when I told them that I had been before.
So it was just Bella and I on the top now. I had an opportunity to take the pictures that I wanted and to have some lunch before we were joined by the groups that I had overtaken earlier and then we headed back down to the car.
We did the trip back down in good time, with a little jogging (where possible) and speed walking, mixture. Care was needed on the way down even more than on the way up, due to the possibility of slipping where the scree was deepest. As it was much later in the day now, we met three or four groups of people headed for the top. They all looked quite hot in the heat of the afternoon.
We arrived at the car in good time and fair fettle and I was looking forward to Sunday lunch in Torrox-Costa. Bella waited in the shade of a pine tree while I stripped off my backpack, lead and other walking accoutrements and had a bit of a leg stretch. I offered her a final drink before we set off, but she had obviously refilled her tank at the water trough and was not interested, this time.
The journey back down the track to Torrox-Costa took 3/4 of an hour and I stopped on the way to take a photo of the Processionary Caterpillar nests in the trees. All empty now, I think. They were everywhere at this (lower) height on the mountain. Funnily enough, I never saw any where we were walking, so perhaps it is too cold for them at the higher altitudes?
We arrived at Masala House Indian restaurant just after 15h30 and I checked that with the lovely young lady (who is reputed to speak a number of languages, including perfect English) and they were still serving lunch. So Bella and I sat out in the conservatory and enjoyed a very tasty Lamb Madras, Pillau rice and Naan Bread and a couple of small beers. Well, Bella actually only had some Naan Bread 🙂 Sunday lunch….. Sorted!!! 😉
All in all a very good walk at around 11.5 km and I would rate at medium to difficult, due to the hard climbs involved and the fact that you are completely exposed to the sun once on the mountain proper.
Some photos taken on the day:-