A Walk in the Olive Groves

Last week I was in the picturesque town of Alhaurin el Grande which is located about 30 Kms from the capital city of Malaga on the Costa del Sol in Spain. Alhaurin is situated 239 meters above sea level and is one of the most picturesque villages in the Guadalhorce river valley, situated between the river Fahala and the stream of Blas González.  Almost all the town streets are narrow and winding which these days causes some traffic congestion. The town is nestled within rolling hills and wide open spaces that give a real feeling of space, the area to the north consists of plains, where agriculture is the main type of farming. To the south and southeast are the mountains.

Late one afternoon I took a walk in the olive groves of Las Lomas and then followed the old railway line down to the river. At this time of the year spring flowers are bursting out all over and it’s the same in the olive groves. As I was walking up the hill I came across these trees with a carpet of buttercups beneath them.

Continuing my walk over the hill I came across this old track lined with olive trees and another great carpet of buttercups.

I’ve heard so many stories about these buttercups. Some Spanish farmers will leave them alone and won’t touch them. They believe that the buttercups provide nourishment for the olive trees and also protect them. Others do take them away and many Brits who live in Spain do not allow them to grow below their trees. As a photographer I suppose I am selfish and hope that they stay because in my opinion they do make for a good photograph.

Right back to this track. Now tracks don’t appear for nothing, they usually go somewhere, so I decided to follow it over the hill. I’m glad I did because I found this old ruin perched on top of the hill.

In the backgroundyou can see the town of Alheurin el Grande….however, it wasn’t always called that.

There is evidence of neolithic settlements in the forests and hills nearby. By the time that the Romans arrived, the tiny Iberians settlement in the Sierra de Mijas was already well established, but if it had a name the Romans chose not to record it. Instead they gave it one of their own. The village became Lauro Nova. It was a spot apparently blessed by the gods: fertile, temperate, and surrounded by hills riddled with valuable mineral deposits. Roman villas popped up around the centre of the village and the hills are still dotted with their remains. Somehow I don’t think my ruin is an old Roman villa, not from what I found inside it. Later when the Moors arrived they built a fortress on a hilltop called Torres de Fahala .The Moors also gave it a new name: Alhaurín (Garden of Allah).  Anyway, I digress….

Coming down off the hill, I started my walk to the river, hoping to pick up a sight of the old railway line and the bridge over the river. It’s a reasonably nice walk at this time of the year, temperature’s not too bad and I was comfortably warm. As I continued my walk down the hill I came across some really nice fincas, including this one called Finca La Motta. If you look really closely you can see two dogs which seems to be a feature of many Spanish houses out in the country.

Talking of dogs, they are really crazy. In the morning you can hear them barking across the valley. It’s like a bush telegraph, with each set of dogs checking in with the others. During the day when it gets hot the quiten down and then in the early evening they’ll start again. It’s not obtrusive and you soon get used to it. They also act as a good warning signal that someone is about as they’ll bark at any passing cars or people on foot…..and they have a handover system as well. Dogs in house one will pass you onto house two further down the road, they’ll  then stop barking, house two will start and then pass you onto house three etc etc.

Right where were we? Oh yeah I remember, walking down towards the river. Where’s the road gone, suddenly I’m walking on a dirt track, which is also typical of many Spanish country roads, One minute you’re on solid tarmac, the next it’s either rough pebble stone (good for the tyres) or dirt track, fine when it’s dry but you better have 4 wheel drive when it’s raining.

Almost there, I can hear the river and see the ruined bridge now. It really is in a bad state of repair since I last saw it. I was hoping to take some landscapes from the bridge but i don’t think it’s too safe.

That bridge really is dangerous and there’s no way I’m climbing up to it to see if it’s good for photographs. I’m now back on solid tarmac but I suppose it has to be to allow the cars to cross the ford across the river. Most of the time it’s quite sedate and it’s easy to cross, but last week due to the heavy rains it was a raging torrent and almost impassible

Well, that’s it. I’m going to follow the river a bit more and see if it has anything more to offer


One thought on “A Walk in the Olive Groves

  1. ian allington April 3, 2010 / 08:11

    Very nice Mike, the shot of the van is unusual.

    Can you email me the link to the main site, I’m interested in signing onto this as sometime the fuji site doesn’t quite do justice to the pictures.





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