Just A Gentle Stroll.........

We’ve had the Guardia’s search and rescue helicopter down on the plaza a couple of times this morning. It is, sadly, that time of year again. A 63 year old British holidaymaker went for a walk up the Rio Chillar on Saturday and has not come back You may remember that I blogged about a Dutch woman who did the same thing in June last year, finished up spending 18 days lost in the mountains and was found alive by the merest good luck when a party of highly experienced mountaineers chose to follow a route of the high sierras that took them close by where she was trapped. Will our British walker have similar good fortune? Time will tell. The mountains that rise up behind Nerja and Frigiliana are beautiful and awe-inspiring to look at, but they are not for the amateur - and that includes me. They are so close to the coast that their height is deceptive; they are much higher than they look. But what can go wrong with a simple walk along the bank of a river? A number of things actually. Firstly, there are two rivers not one, though they join just before reaching the outskirts of Nerja. To get to the Rio Higuerón, which offers the prospect of a strenous but relatively safe route up to Frigiliana (though you would be better advised to get the bus up to Frigliana and then follow the river back down to Nerja if you are not a seasoned walker), you have to ford the Rio Chillar, and of course, you have to know where. That’s not easy this summer as we had a pretty dry winter, so there is no water in the Higuerón right now; no opportunity, therefore, to say, “Oh, look, there’s the other river, over there.” So you will keep on walking up the Chillar. Then you have your second problem. There is always water in the Chillar and as the valley narrows so the availability of dry land to walk on dwindles away until you have no choice but to walk in the river itself, which of course is rocky and uneven and many of the rocks are loose and/or slippery, so you may fall. And you may break an arm, a leg, an ankle or a couple of ribs - or a combination of the above. To avoid the river bed, you may choose to follow a path that you see which will take you up to dry ground. Sadly, it may not be a path. It’s much more likely to be a track worn by the mountain goats as they move around their territory. They are far more agile than your average middle-aged, occasional walker, with a better sense of balance, a better head for heights, and two extra legs. But by the time that you suspect that you may have made a mistake, you have the problem of retracing your steps without any clear idea of which choice to make when, as it will, the track forks and forks again. Since you only set out for a simple stroll along a river bank, it’s odds-on that you haven’t any spare clothing, water supply or high energy food, all of which you may now be needing. You have now arrived at the point where your only hope is that sufficient people will leave all the other things which they really ought to be doing, to come out and find you before you need to be brought out in a body bag; if they ever do find you, that is. Alternatively, at the foot of this page is a list of links including to experienced guides who offer walks into the sierras from which you will return under your own steam.

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