Carretera de Gualchos(sh)

The Sierra de Lujar doesn't seem to get very much good press from hikers. This mountain range is shaped like a big lump. But these mountains do have some special characteristics. This group of mountains has a summit at 1850 meters altitude, reachable with a road bike, and it is only about a dozen kilometers from the coast, as the crow flies -that's closer and higher above the sea than any other point that I am aware of. (If you know one please send me an email). But I didn't get there, and the summit shown here is the lowest crossing of the range, not the highest, even though the initial part of the profile from Motril is the same. The Carretera de Gualchos just cuts off part of the coast between Motril and Castell de Fero. There are some great far views of the village Salobrena and the city Motril along the way.

The second interesting peculiarity of this range is its function as a weather divide. It acts as a barrier to the often moister climate on the Atlantic west side. To the east of here the coast and mountains are clearly even drier. The Costa del Sol, east of here, is not only drier but also  quieter for a while - less traffic. This is also the "Costa del Plastico". The plastic coast gets its nick name from the large areas of greenhouses built from plastic tarps (see pictures below). You can smell the vegetables as you ride by, especially the esparagus. Even further east, the dryness climaxes in the area around Almeria, the driest region in entire Europe.  Almeria also lies in the rain shadow of the mighty Sierra Nevada.

1.(00.0km,020m) START-END EAST:a sideroad begins on the west side of Motril
2.(03.4km,050m)route stays left in Rio Guadalquivir
3.(13.0km,550m)TOP: junction with GR5207 to the next higher summit point in Lujar
4.(17.0km,320m)road skirts Gualchos on left
5.(23.9km,020m)Castell de Ferro


Approaches

From West.
Leaving Motril the traffic quickly disappears as the road climbs past the suburbs - so to speak. The road contours around the coastal side with just a few trees. The main traffic connection - 4 lane highway,  uses a tunnel below this summit. Salobrena is a distant white wedge, that juts out into the Mediterranean. The coast directly below is not occupied by resorts and condo mazes, but by a geometrical pattern of cellophane green houses. A strategic row of windmills is located near the top. a turnoff leads to the village Lujar, and several higher summit points in the Sierra de Lujar.


From East. (described downwards) A number of switchbacks lead down through the small village of Gualchos. Below more of the land is packed in cellophane to maximize the heat for the fruits and vegetables packed into them. East of here the coastal resorts have a more laid back quality, and you practically have the ocean for yourself, or at least during April you share them with the vegetables under the greenhouses.

A Day on a Tour with this point as highest Summit:

COMPLETELY PAVED:

( < Mirrador Cabra Montes(sh) | A347Alcolea(sh) > )

Carretera de Gualchos(sh) : above Collado de Itr_abo > Itr_abo > Salobrena sight seeing detour > Mogil > Puntalon > Carretera de Gualchos(sh) > Castell de Ferro > La Rabita > Adra: 56.5miles with 3480ft of climbing in 5:15hrs



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