The beautiful Sierra Nevada in the Granada Province is one of the best mountain regions in Spain, if not THE best! Not just for winter pursuits, the Sierra Nevada, which is just a short drive from the Lecrin Valley, is also a great place to visit in the summer, with loads of activities from hiking, cycling, snow melt watching, waterfall jumping and much more! Continue reading “Sierra Nevada – not just for winter!”
Not only is Easyjet flying from Gatwick to Granada this year, but the company will also start to fly from Manchester this summer, with twice weekly flights from the end of July. Return flights from Manchester to Granada will operate every Tuesday and Friday from 21 July through to the end of October, then every Monday and Friday from 30 October. Continue reading “Now Easy-er to fly to Granada from Manchester!”
The weather may have turned a bit chilly and autumnal in the UK this week, but not so in the Lecrin Valley, where the sunshine persists to provide lovely late summer weather, well into October and beyond. Continue reading “Make the most of the Lecrin Valley’s extended summer!”
Over the next few weeks temperatures in southern Spain will be in the mid thirties, so with schools off for the summer, many Spanish and visiting families are set to escape the heat of the city for the breezes of the valley and the coast…
The Lecrin Valley has the best of all worlds: It nestles in the heart of the countryside with accessibility to the city, the coast and great links to all sorts of places with the newly completed motorways to Malaga and Almeria.
One of the many attractions of this peaceful and beautiful place is that once it gets to July and August, whilst the valley still gets all the sunshine, the local breezes that come off the sierras take away the searing heat that you can get in the city.
So whereas temperatures will reach the mid thirties, you rarely feel uncomfortably hot or experience the sleepless nights you can get elsewhere, making the Lecrin Valley the perfect place to relax; enjoy the local fiestas, bars and restaurants; the beautiful countryside and scenery; walks, riding, cycling and fishing or simply kick back in a shady spot and snooze your cares away!
PHOTO CREDIT: Danielle Gouwens@At Home in Andalusia.
This time of year has to be the best time in the Lecrin Valley… the spring flowers are all out, the birds are singing, the weather is beautifully warm and sunny and the smell of citrus blossom, or “azahar” is everywhere.
While the majority of this uplifting, sweet and pungent aroma is orange blossom, el Azahar officially includes all white citrus blossom, so the amazing aroma around the Lecrin Valley is made up of all the different types of oranges grown in the area, together with lemon, lime, tangerine and even some grapefruit found in local gardens.
Easily one of nature’s most amazing natural perfumes, it’s no wonder that perfumers all around the world try to capture this scent in their fragrances.
PERFUME DE AZAHAR
Que armoniosa belleza
tiene la flor de azahar
es blanca como las nubes
que en el cielo veo pasear.
Su aroma fuerte intenso
que el viento esparce al pasar
que enamora a las aves
cuando su néctar van a probar.
Hermosa tu que floreces
en un día primaveral
que invades con tu fragancia
de pureza sin igual.
En las ramas del naranjo
y también del limonar
estas pegada esperando
ser frutos para degustar.
February is always a busy time of the year in the valley with the winter citrus harvest. Already 50-60% of the harvest gathered, the cooperativa (the Lecrin Valley’s local farmers’ cooperative) at Melegis is working full pelt with truck loads of local Lecrin Valley oranges being weighed and boxed up every day. Most will be exported overseas for marmalade production.
However on an Andalusian scale and for Spain and northern Africa in general, the harvest is predicted to be down around 25% this year, due to the lack of rain and high temperatures last year. However that has been reported from Cordoba where they have much more extremes than we do in the valley, so hoping the Lecrin Valley harvest is a good one.
The less plentiful harvest means that prices will be driven up… and while some producers will benefit, sadly the local growers won’t, because most of them are tied in to low price contracts with the local ayuntamientos…
If you’re out and about in the Lecrin Valley, don’t think that you can just pick an orange off a tree and eat it. Oranges are not all made equal! Most of the oranges that are grown and harvested at this time of year are naranjas amargas or bitter oranges.
These oranges are great for making marmalade, because they have higher pectin content than sweet oranges, but they’re not for eating whole or putting in salads!
Bitter oranges can be used for making juices, but you’ll need to add sugar. If you’re in shops and supermarkets they’re are generally labeled “zumo” oranges and are the ones you’ll most likely find being sold outside people’s houses and by the roadside.
You can juice these and add sweeter fruit like bananas, mangoes or peaches to make smoothies. The flowers of the bitter orange tree are used for aromatherapy and these days often used in diet products as they’re believed to help weight loss.
If you want to eat fresh oranges in slices, in salads or in other food, look for “naranjas de mesa” or “table oranges”. These are most likely Navel (so-called because of their “tummy button”) or other varieties of sweet oranges.
Andalucia is the second biggest orange producing region (after Valencia) and produces over a million tons of oranges each year.
It’s important to support local growers where we can, so try to buy local and check the labels of oranges in your supermarket.
Winter is an amazing time to get walking in the Lecrin Valley. Whether you consider yourself a walking pro, weekend rambler or Sunday stroller, there’s a walk for you, and there’s no better way to see this amazing part of Spain than to get out amongst it in a comfy pair of trainers or walking boots.
The winter has been so mild, but there is still snow on the sierras, so you can basically walk through snow on the high ground, down to warm blossom filled orchards in the lower parts of the valley.
The almond blossom is now out and will shortly be followed by orange blossom from the hundreds of orchards around the area, so the air is filled with a gorgeous, sweet aroma and the scenery peppered with a light pink haze from the thousands of almond trees.
It’s a truly beautiful time of year and one where you get to really appreciate the beauty and contrasting elements of this amazing corner of Spain.
The following websites have great walks planned out for you that can be downloaded.
Or if you’re a local and want to get into walking regularly, then The Lecrin Valley Limpers has walks every weekend. http://lecrinlimpers.blogspot.co.uk or ask to join the Facebook Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lecrinvalleylimpers. Members only.
If you want to get higher up into the Sierra Nevada, then contact Mike at Sierra Nevada Guides: http://sierranevadaguides.co.uk (based in Lanjaron).
No matter how many years you spend living in, or visiting the Lecrin Valley, you will never tire of the amazing spectacle every year when the almond blossom is in full bloom.
This year it arrived exceptionally early due to the mild weather, but the new blossom usually appears at the end of January, early February, heralding the spring and bringing the Lecrin Valley and surrounding hills to life at the end of the winter.
It’s so incredibly beautiful with the soft pink flowers contrasted against the rugged rockiness of the Andalucian landscape.
Photos by Danielle Gouwens @ At Home in Andalusia
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.
In October and November the Lecrin Valley is a hive of activity, as the locals harvest and shell the almonds, gather fruit and tidy up their orchards. There’s that lovely smell of bonfires now that the fire ban has been lifted until next year.
This area has a great climate for fruit and veg. Most of the locals grow a selection of their own vegetables in their courtyards, on their rooftops or in little pockets of their orchards.
For a pretty small area, the Lecrin Valley has quite a varied climate – subtropical to the south of the area and colder in the higher mountain areas, where you’ll find cherries instead of oranges and lemons.
The temperature is not as hot as Granada, but hot enough; mild in the winter; not as damp as the coast, but with a decent amount of rain and water fed from the mountains via the acequias.
Hidden amongst the obvious oranges, lemons, olives and almonds at this time of year, you’ll find orchards or gardens bursting with avocados, apricots, quinces (membrillos), pomegranates (granadas), apples, nisperos, tangerines and grapefruit. Many of the local residents have a grapevine or two over their roof terrace or balcony and the roadsides are littered with cactus fruit…just don’t try to pick them without protection. You often can’t see the fine prickles, but you’ll definitely feel them!
Really if you go on a decent walk in the campo with a basket, you can just forage enough produce to keep you going for a very long time!
You’ll have plenty to keep you going throughout the autumn and the oranges, lemons, grapefruit and some avocados can pretty much last you through the entire winter if you’re lucky.
Nearer to Christmas you’ll find persimmons aka caquis, kakis or Sharon fruit. Yes they have lots of names – they’re a very confused fruit, which is probably why they’re a bit later than other fruit and don’t really know whether they’re ripe or not. Commercial growers have given up on them – they’re just too temperamental. Now they’re just in gardens – and mainly splattered on the ground! But they make great pies (treat them like pumpkin) and you can cut off the tops and freeze them to make a sticky caqui sorbet!