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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Monachil Gorge, Sierra Nevada

The Monachil Gorge is a deservedly popular short walk close to Granada. Reputed to have been used in one of the Indiana Jones movies the gorge is a spectacular cleft through high cliffs. Our route uses suspension bridges to cross the stream running through the gorge and a narrow ‘path’ which is followed with the aid of well placed steel staples fixed into the rock. It sounds scary but it is in fact easy enough if you have a reasonable agility and a head for heights. To get to the start follow signs from the Sierra Nevada motorway east of Granada to Monachil. As you enter the village you follow the one way system and take the first left over the river. Turn right and after about 400m re cross the river, signed, Camino de la Umbria. Turn left to follow a narrow tarmac road uphill for about 1km then left onto a track where a map gives details of the area. Follow the track for about 1km to park at its end near a building used as a mini hydro electric plant. There are other routes to the start of the gorge itself however this one prepares you by taking in three smaller suspension bridges before you reach the main event. The walk starts up a flight of steps to the right of the building and is a well trodden fenced path, after about 10 minutes you reach the first small bridge, if you can’t manage this then turn back. Once you have crossed all the smaller bridges the path goes up a level to a ruin where you turn right to reach the main 30m bridge which spans the gorge. After this the path narrows as you follow a narrow concrete path about a metre above the stream. A description would not do the route justice so just go and enjoy it. After about an hour you emerge from the end of the gorge and having passed the final sting in the tail you reach a field ideal for picnics and recovering. There is a bridge here back across the river however our return route continues upstream for about 2km to a second bridge below a number of finger posts. Cross here and follow the path as it climbs the north side of the valley passing through a very rudimentary field gate at an outcrop of rock. The path levels then drops to meet a track just below an acequia. Ignore the finger posts and go directly across the track to rejoin the path as it contours along the valley side passing below a farm. The path gives you great views down into the gorge and the route you have just done. After a final mirador the path drops to two threshing circles. Once you reach them turn left back into the gorge, at the ruin passed earlier turn right back down to the path we followed at the start of the walk. 8km, 3-4 hours, no water en route.

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