Sailing into Marbella, it’s hard to miss the towering presence of La Concha. The mountain which looms over the town is so-named because it looks like a sea shell, even though it doesn’t.
Our first day in Marbella was rainy, and the clouds sat low over La Concha. However the second day dawned bright so I set off to climb the peak.
I caught the bus north out of town, which wound it’s way up past the little hillside village of Ojen. The narrow road twisted an turned as it ascended, with the driver hitting the horn as we rounded each blind corner. (He also tapped the steering wheel in time to Rick Astley, who evidently still gets airplay in Spain. I found both of these things disturbing.)
The bus dropped me at the turn off to the Hotel el Refugio de Juanar, and I began the 5km walk up the road to reach the start of the track to the top of La Concha.
After reaching the Refugio, which was closed due to the Corona curse, I made my way through some olive groves and into the forest.
The track – and I – climbed steeply through the pines before popping out into the higher altitude scrub. After a scramble along a rock face, the track rose steeply to a saddle for some ridiculously spectacular views.
I had underestimated the length of the walk, so had to get a wriggle on to make it up to the top of La Concha before the shadows started to lengthen.
The last section of the track was a rocky scramble, with chains installed to help with the tricky bits.
When I reached the top of the ‘shell’, the view was jaw-dropping. Looking down the coast to the south-west I could see Gibraltar, and across the straits to Africa.
I gawped open-mouthed like a child for a while, then remembered the time and started back down the mountain. I missed a turn on the scrambly descent and ended up battling through about 200 metres of gorse scrub to get back to the track. It didn’t take me long to remember how much I hate gorse, having removed hectares of it in Australia (where it is an invasive weed) as part of land protection work. A week after the walk and I’m still finding gorse spines in my skin, socks and shirt.
I can honestly say that the La Concha walk is one of the most spectacular hikes I have done. I had walked back down the road from the Refuge and was nearing the bus stop when I heard a car behind me. To my surprise the Skipper and his mate pulled up! They had just visited a nearby lookout, and the timing couldn’t have been better as I thought I might have missed the last bus back to town. Instead of hitching back to Marbella, I was chauffeured to a cafe, then to the beach where we ate pizza as the last colour of the day faded over the sea.
Now that was a good day.
Post script: I arrived back in Marbella today on a bus from La Linea, and for the first time saw La Concha from the west. And you know what? It did look a little like a shell. Sort of.
For more on La Concha click here
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