If you’re looking for some warm winter sun and crisp blue sky days, but prefer incredible scenery to sun-baking and love walking and a bit of skiing, then this is a great time of year to visit the Lecrin Valley. It’s also a great time to visit the Alhambra and the rest of Granada without all the busloads of tourists.
There isn’t a huge amount of rain over the winter in the Lecrin Valley, not that you need much with the acequias running full pelt most days, but just enough, with plenty of water coming off the mountains to water the orchards and it’s amazing just how much fruit and orchard goings-on there is at this time of year.
You’ll still find a lot of fruit on trees too – plenty of oranges (our grapefruit and navel oranges hung on well into February), and it’s quickly mixed with new blossom for the next lot of fruit – citrus trees are very busy all year round! The Lecrin Valley becomes filled with that amazing sweet pungent scent of the “azahar” (official spanish name for the white flowers of the various citrus fruits).
In January, the whole valley is transformed again with the Almond Blossom. From white to pink, the blossom colours the entire landscape giving it a sort of pinky haze. And despite the sometimes ferocious wind, the little flowers manage to hang on well into February.
It’s an amazing smell and just when you think the trees have lost all their leaves and life for the winter they burst full of pretty pink and white flowers again.
Mostly days are sunny and bright, clear blue skies and really quite warm in the sun, but dropping to low singles or freezing most nights. A lot of the older Spanish locals tend to move into one room over the winter and keep warm with a woodburner (estufa). Central heating is a rare luxury in most valley houses.
When the wind picks up and swooshes down from the Sierra Nevada the wind chill factor makes it seem really cold. But there are generally only a few frosts in the valley, and snow rarely makes it down this far. It’s still a lot warmer than northern Europe.
The scenery becomes all the more dramatic with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada providing a backdrop. This winter it’s been a long time coming, as very little snow has fallen up in the mountains, let alone down on the sierras, which now look almost like they’re dusted with icing.
You really can just go skiing for the day – though if you’re on holidays it’s best to pick during the week to avoid the rest of Granada. Even the local schools have day trips for skiing.
At the end of winter, the farmers get busy clearing their orchards before the spring, which involves chopping all the deadwood and tidying up the trees. There’s a bonfire ban between May and October, so over the winter and particuarly at the end of it, little bonfires and plumes of smoke scatter the countryside.
Winter really goes past with the blink of an eye and by February and March all the flowers will be coming out. If you’re a “guiri” (foreigner) you might even be tempted to get into your shorts come March, but be prepared for strange looks from the locals. Most never get their legs out, certainly not until late June/July!
Find out more about The Lecrin Valley HERE….