Category Archives: Clives Ramblings

Conquering Torreon peak in Grazalema

I have rebublished this wonderful article from 2010 “Conquering Torreon peak in Grazalema”. Fantastic memories of a wonderful person. Yes you Sacha Burton 🙂

It’s been far too long since I viewed the Sierras from our highest peak here in Grazalema and as we have a friend from Canada visiting us I thought it would be a good excuse for me to take a day off the computer to show her the view from the top of our particular world…The walk of Torreon takes about 5 or 6 hours there and back depending, of course, on how long you stay at the top. It is a steep incline to the summit of 1654 metres which can take around 2.5 to 3 hours to trudge.

This article was first published on Wildside Holidays in 2010

Remember that to enter this restricted area you need a permission from the park authorities. Read here about how to obtain permits for restricted areas in the Sierra de Grazalema

Over to Sacia for her thoughts and observations 🙂

Torreon adventure story! by Sacia Burton.

Ooh, STOP! I want to get out and take a picture… please?

Lady birds at the very top!
Lady birds at the very top!

Clive, my friend and nature guide for the day, shrugged and pulled to the shoulder of the road; I had cause to be excited — we had just turned the corner on our way to Torreon and the Puerto de Boyar Mirador, or “golden view“.

Spectacular views of endless mountains dispersed between verdant valleys lay before us. I hopped out of the car, camera in hand, and snapped a few shots of mountain tips peaking up through morning mist.

I am diligently not a morning person, so with such enthusiasm early in the day (early being any time before 11 a.m.) I was surprising even myself. Torreon, the highest peak in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, standing at 1654 metres, was to be my first mountain hiking/climbing experience here.

As it turned out, my early morning enthusiasm wasn’t the only thing that surprised me that day.

Continue reading Conquering Torreon peak in Grazalema

A visit to the botanic garden in the village of El Bosque.

Regular visits to the Botanic Garden in El Bosque village allow us to see the local wild plants as they change through the seasons.

Mid June is the best time to see some of the parks endemics in full flower. Phlomis x margaritae is a hybrid shrub in the Sage family that occurs naturally on a mountain named Margarita – hence the plant name. This is placed in the “rupicola” section (rock gardens) at the highest point of the meandering pathways. It is a plant endemic to the Sierra de Grazalema park area. This meaning that it is not found in the wild anywhere else in the world.

In the same rock gardens and in full flower at this time of year are the orange blooms of the cliff dwelling Grazalema poppy (Papaver rupifragum) which although it was thought that this plant was exclusive to this mountain range it has also been recorded in Morocco.

The delicate lemon flowers of (Sideritis incana subsp occidentalis) are easily overlooked on a mountain side and this again is only from the Grazalema area.

The sky was a beautiful deep blue and I love the combination of dark green trees and fresh white clouds against such a colour. My progress around the gardens was slow as there is so much to see and photograph at this time of year. Even seed pods from plants that flowered earlier are very photogenic.

The shaded areas beneath the mature trees on visits to the Botanic Garden in El Bosque village are always welcome at this time of year!

On my first visits here I used to write the plant names that I wanted to learn onto a note pad, now I cheat and take a photo of the sign along with the plant pictures – so much quicker!

Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

herbicides have been banned in the Sierra de Grazalema

Some absolutely fantastic news this week! Finally, the use of herbicides has been banned in the Sierra de Grazalema. For many, many years the contractors to maintain roads in the area have used various types of herbicides such as “spasor” and “roundup” to control the herbage at the sides of the roads. Most of the herbisides used contain glyphosate.

The quantity of chemical used over the years is quite stunning. So much so that after testing of water suplies in the area such as lakes, streams and sources, amounts of up to EIGHT times the allowed limit (by European law) of glyphosate has been found.

As you can see in the picture at the top a two to 5 metre wide strip is sprayed. I call this “Lazy” land management.

We’ll have to see how the contaractors will manage the road sides in the future but all in all Clive is a happy pixie this week with this fantastic (although very long overdue) news.

¿Que hacer en la Sierra?

The Spanish language part of the Grazalema Guide “What to do in the sierra” is developing very well indeed. With over 10,000 facebook followers it certainly has some promotional clout. 🙂

There are over 40 villages in the area of the Sierra de Grazalema and the Serranía de Ronda. I have the pages on each village written and published and some of the villages are now starting to promote low level events such as concerts and tapas routes etc. The big festivals and ferias are still cancelled until further notice due to the Covid-19 of course.

So if you want to practice your Spanish have a look here… 🙂

Bank holiday weekend in Spain

Last weekend was the big holiday of “Spain” day. A national holiday and quite frankly it was a successful “disaster”. Of course the tourist businesses need all the help that they can get but the amount of people in Grazalema was overwhelming. Footpaths were crowded and any kind of social distancing was forgotton completely. A great shame that people are unable to control themselves an we will find out in the next couple of weeks if the lack of common sense boosts the infection rates of Covid-19 in the area of the Sierra de Grazalema.

Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

Animal Education with Cole Shirk. (The Iberian Lynx)

What a fantastic project created by this young man interested in the conservation and protection of wildlife across the world.

Cole started his virtual interview channel on you tube to share his love of wild animals and over the last four years the project has grown to not only talk about wild animals but also the conservation of those animals.

This is a really good virtual interview with excellent questions and answers about the basics, habits, status and conservation practices for the Iberian Lynx In Spain and Portugal

Rafael from the Jardim Zoologico (Lisbon Zoo) in Portugal answers the questions about the Iberian lynx simply and concisely. Watch the video below. Fascinating stuff! 🙂

More information about the Iberian Lynx can be found over at Wildside Holidays. Click here.

Interview with Rafael from Lisbon Zoo about the Iberian Lynx

Cole continues to talk with Zoos, Researchers, Rescues and Hobbyists that care about wildlife as much as he does.

Enjoy the videos on Animal Education with Cole Shirk.

Check out his channel

Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

Heat of the Summer in Grazalema

Apart from the ongoing coronavirus scares, fears and consequences the heat of the summer in Grazalema continues… It’s mid August and there seems to be no sign of the teperature dropping…. Its hot in the morning, hot in the daytime and yes, you guessed it hot at night.

That said, normally on the 1st of September it’s like someone flips a switch and all of a sudden you are wearing socks with your sandals and wondering if you should have put trousers instead of shorts on for the trip to the shops.

The reservoir at the bottom of my garden is getting very low. (You can just see the hilltop town of Zahara de la Sierra in the distance)

reservoir in the Sierra de Grazalema - Very dry in summer
Reservoir in the Sierra de Grazalema – Very dry in summer

In the small pond left behind in the above photo are around a hundred or so terrapins… (Read about terrapins over at Wildside Holidays) They are pretty much trapped here as the reservoir edge is now almost a kilometre away. I visit each day and the ones I can catch I take them down to the waters edge. A second chance hopefully as they will surely die once the water in this small pond dries out.

Rio Guadalete - Grazalema
Rio Guadalete – Grazalema. The river is almost totally dry now. Its hard to believe that just a few months ago it was a bubbling torrent.

In other “news” a bear was hit by a car up in the north of Spain in the heart of a National park no less. Instead of calling the police or anyone to help the people decided to video the poor creature with its shattered leg and fear obvious to all.. Yay!! Great youtube material guys!

Read about the bear and watch the disgusting video over at Wildside Holidays.

There is a search to find the people so that they can be prosecuted…

Bear hit by car in Somiedo
Bear hit by car in Somiedo. The only thing the car driver could think of to do was to video the badly hurt bear…. Duh! maybe call the police? Get some help for the bear?

Work is continuing at a “rapid” pace at Wildside Holidays. Only 6 articles left to write for the Natural parks of Andalucia. Made a start on the mammals and reptiles pages. I have decided that I am going to turn Wildside into a kind of wildlife news website for spain. Most Importantly I am having fun doing it.

Over at Ronda Today I have added an affiliate to a company producing some really nice printed T.Shirts.

Buy one and support Ronda Today.

Ronda Landmarks T-Shirts. Available in black,white and green
Ronda Landmarks T-Shirts. Available in black,white and green

Happy nature spotting wherever you are! 🙂