The High Sierras

20160417_124255_resizedI am just about to return to Jerez, after the gloom and doom of London.

Lambeth, where I live, returned the highest percentage ‘Remain’ vote in the whole country, so the atmosphere here is one of mourning. The Tory party, meanwhile, rids itself of its ‘turbulent priests’, but after they have done the damage ( Cameron is among them ). Yet ordinary people pay the emotional and, sometimes, physical price, with a massive leap in reports of ‘hate crime’ and racist attacks (up 500%).  For a campaign headed by two former journalists no-one involved in it seemed to understand the power of words to offer legitimacy to bigotry and hate. Do we learn nothing?

But I am off to the sunshine. It will be hot, as it was this time last year ( my blog post Spain Sizzles ).  I plan to be writing – I have JerezJuly1mapped out the plot and already begun writing ‘In the City‘, the provisional title of Part One of the sequel to ‘Reconquista‘ and I aim to get that down on paper, even if subject to many later revisions, before I return to the UK.  I also plan to start the research for Part Two, provisionally entitled ‘In the Mountains‘.  These titles will not be a surprise to those who have read book one. ‘In the City‘ is also the title of Part One of that book, so there is some symmetry.

Bonellis-Eagle-stephenIt is much too hot to go into the mountains right now, the terrain there is very exposed ( and, in summer, riddled with snakes ) and there is the risk of fire. But I can arrange to do so this autumn.  The, very distinctive, outline of Torreon, the highest point in Cadiz province, can be seen, on a clear day, from Jerez, together with the peak of San Cristobal next to it.  These two form the Sierra del Pinar ( often shown on maps as a single mountain named Pinar ) and they are the favoured haunt of walkers and climbers in cooler months.

Mountaineers seeking more challenging climbs may, however, prefer the Penon Grande and its sheer wall of limestone cliffs at the top of a ridge GargantaVerdewhich reaches over 1300 metres high. There are easier ways up the Penon Grande, but even the Guidebooks describe them as ‘difficult’. I will be purchasing a climbing and mountaineering book ( I know which one I want ), though I don’t plan to do any climbing myself.  That’s something of a hint regarding plot, if ever there was one.

Garganta_verde4The mountains are part of a geological system called the Subbaetic, which runs roughly south-east to north-west across southern Spain.  Being carstic they have plenty of caves and potholes, like the Hundidero cave ( left, yes, those are trees ) which is so large that a visitor can venture about two hundred metres inside without the need for artificial light. Most of these systems are sink holes for rivers or the water from the surrounding mountains and their courses, sometimes over two hundred metres deep, have been plotted by pot-holers, though it is still a mystery where the waters in El Republicano emerge.  Some caves can only be visited accompanied by guides, as they hold ancient cave paintings, which attest to early humanoid habitation.

I aim to do less strenuous things, though I have my writing targets to meet.  I will also be meeting friends and, I hope, enjoying the city in high Summer, Bahiasunsetwhich means becoming at least in part, nocturnal.  Eating, drinking and, possibly, going to the seaside. Thanks to Agustias Gomer for the beautiful photograph, right, taken from El Puerto de Santa Maria on the lagoon behind Cadiz.

If you enjoyed reading this article you can find more, about life in Jerez under the tag ‘From a Foreign Field’ or about writing under the tag ‘Writing & Publishing’.  You might like       Wanted, book researcher              The Journey Continues                  Vendimia                   Verano en Jerez               Advent             Zambomba!

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