Mulhacén – a yearly pilgrimage

Every year in June our itchy feet take us on the higher mountain paths, which over a week draw us up among the soaring peaks of the Sierra Nevada, including the very highest, Mulhacén.  Named after Mulay Abu l-Hasan Ali, the father of the ill-famed Boabdil who lost Granada to Isabella and Ferdinand in 1492, this summit gives us heart-stopping views to the north as well as the wide panorama out over the glittering stretch of the Mediterranean towards North Africa.  At 3478m or 3482m (11,414 ft or 11,423ft in old money) depending on who you believe – this makes the range the second highest in Europe after the Alps: we don’t count Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus, as claiming this is Europe is stretching a point, IOHO.

We’ve guided many walking guests up into the heights over the years and it’s really one of our favourite jobs!  Reactions to this peak experience have run the emotional range one would expect of tiny humans immersed in this vast, beautiful and unique wild space.  It’s one of only three places on our varied planet where one can climb from sub-tropical to alpine climate zones in only 35km/21¾m and the geography, flora and fauna reflect this.

All the above is just a way of introducing the following piece written by one of our walkers who was smitten by our home mountains this year in June.


Crowned with June snow, attended by eagles,

King Hassan’s peak and punto muerto,

stoops over stones struck by ibex hoof,

slants to thin grass, tiny poppies,

gentian jewels and snowstars

scattered over borreguile,

then slopes to a collar of hairy oak

and smoking pine, boar rooting

under mulberry and hazel

plumped by meltwater

bubbling through white-walled Capileira,

Bubion and Pampaneira,

where tropic updrafts whisper alluvial riches:

olive, fig and princely vine,

orange, lemon, bitter lime.

Alan Stanley Prout

July 2019

More about work of the author of this evocative poem here