Anything But Paella

Güéjar Sierra and the Canales Reservoir

Sometimes you discover a place entirely by accident. Güéjar Sierra is a great example of this. How we had never heard of the “Switzerland of Southern Spain” is a mystery! Back in March we had been in the Sierra Nevada mountains and learned about the tram that used to run there from Granada. Some research suggested there may be a tram museum of some sorts in Güéjar Sierra so off we went. There was no museum, but we found a wonderful place to explore, and there is a footpath along the old tram route, so all was not lost.

On the way up from Granada you pass the impressive Embalsa de Canales. There is a very convenient car park where you can stop, then duck under the anti-vehicle barrier and walk along the path admiring the views in both directions. It is spectacular, but you wonder what it was like in this impressive valley prior to 1988 when the reservoir was created.

The road then twists and turns up to the beautiful town of Güéjar Sierra. At the entrance to the town look for the public car park sign as it’s much easier than going through town then making your way back! The lower road goes down to the start of the footpath on the tram route, but more of that later. The upper road leads into the town itself but make sure you stop to admire the views and get a closer look at the intriguing statues of village life and the old water wheel which still functions today. Then it’s time to wander around the narrow streets of this picturesque mountain town. It’s a bit of a labyrinth but it’s quite easy to regain your bearings! Some of the window displays are particularly beautiful. Don’t miss the giant pig outside the butcher’s shop!!

If you are feeling really energetic, and have plenty of time, you can start the “Tranvía de la Sierra” walk from the town. The track is well maintained and steeply descends to the bottom of the valley before following the route of the old tram tracks. We followed this for about fifteen minutes before deciding it was a bad idea in the summer heat. The walk back up at the conclusion of a long walk would have killed us as the temperatures were well into the thirties. Instead we got back in the car and drove down to the La Fabriquilla restaurant. Just follow the road through town and you can’t miss it as you reach the bottom of the valley. A short walk across the bridge spanning the River Genil will give you great views back towards the reservoir. There’s also an uphill cycle route for the masochists out there! From the restaurant you can follow the tram route with far less effort. WikiLoc gives you a breakdown of the route. There are informative boards along the way and a tunnel to negotiate just before you reach the impressive viaduct. Some of the old tracks have been restored too. With such incredible surrounds, it seems a shame that the tram stopped running 40 years ago.

We were so amazed by everything that we saw that an autumn or spring return trip is definitely on the cards. Walking in the summer heat just isn’t as enjoyable in our opinion. If you want to challenge your abilities in Spanish, a more detailed history of the area and the tram route can be found on the blog of Spanish walking group Comando Preston. An intriguing name worthy of further research!

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