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Liquid gold light tumbles through the hot, dry air. Andalucia is a land drenched in tawny yellow hues, amber and ochre blurred in a haze of heat.
This pastoral world follows the undulations of the seasons, and slopes are perfect for growing olives and lemons. They hang from bleached, pale leafed branches, tempting and delicious.
At the Cortijo Rosario, a converted Spanish farmhouse, the warm light drips into pools on the sandy earth. It filters through palm fronds at the poolside, dapples the rich soil of the lemon groves and beams down onto the rough, hot flagstones.
This is our base for ‘Walking in Andalucía’, a welcome return each evening to a world of rustic comfort. The kitchen doors waft the smell of freshly cooked paella onto the terrace.
There is even the chance to participate in the culinary life of the area, with free cookery classes available on some departures. A recipe book lets you bring these flavours home with you.
As the sun rises each morning, the rural village at the bottom of the hill is the first to stir – agricultural workers heading for the fields, women sorting out washing, excitable dogs hoping to be first in line for breakfast.
An early morning dip in the Cortijo pool is an invigorating sensory alarm clock – and the only chance all week to be a little bit too cold. Soon the warmth of the day begins to soak into the ground.
The brilliant white walls of the Cortijo flash brightly, and the sandstone red of the roof tiles and flagstone patio absorb heat, warming bare feet whilst padding back for a buffet breakfast laid out on the terrace. By the time the day begins in earnest – shoes laced, sun cream applied, camera poised – the agricultural hills around the Cortijo are gleaming with ordered greenery.
The walking varies, from a casual saunter around Setenil, one of the picturesque Pueblo Blanco of the region, to a trek through the dramatic limestone scenery of the ‘Pass of the Doves’. By lunchtime, you’re ready to indulge in as wide an array of tapas as any table can hold – and a taste of authentic Andalucían life.
Ingredients are invariably local – although take any advice from your guide to get the best selection the restaurants have to offer.Walking in Andalucia
An evening shower refreshes you for an evening spent reclining on patio chairs, watching the sun sink behind the green tiers of the hillside. This part of the world winds down gently, with a leisurely glass of wine and the company of like-minded people.
The warmth stretches languidly into the evening, like the stretch of a yawning cat. Only a blanket of darkness drawn across the sky reminds you to seek your pillow and duvet, ready to start afresh tomorrow.
Find out more about this trip below and browse other walking trips in Andalucia.