Saturday, 16 January 2016

Acebuchal, Andalucia

Shangri-La, Kafiristan, Avalon... All places with misty, mythical auras. You hear about them, you know that to get to them you'll have to endure some sort of challenge that will test your resolve and you're not entirely sure they exist. That's how I'd come to think of Acebuchal, the one-time ghost town in the hills of the Sierras of Tejeda, Almijara and Almara Natural Park above Nerja and Torrox on the Andalusian coast. It's also referred to as 'the ghost village' and 'the lost village', heightening the image of somewhere that's possibly of some mass imagination. Added to these rather fanciful descriptive names is the fact that, of course, for somewhere with this reputation, it's hard to get to. Especially if you're out of shape and not used to hill walking...

However, I'm here to tell you it not only exists, it's become home to a thriving restaurant, which serves local produce prepared to perfection, as well as offering a number of restored village houses to rent for holidaymakers.

What's all the fuss about then? In a nutshell, the 17th-century village was an important pitstop on the old trading routes to Granada. After the Spanish Civil War, the village was caught in the mash up between Franco's regime and the Republican guerrillas who were hiding in the mountains. Its inhabitants were accused of aiding the rebels and, in the summer of 1948, the Guardia Civil ordered them to abandon their homes and leave Acebuchal.

Fast-forward 50 years and one of the original families moved back, set up their restaurant-bar and began restoring the village houses and it now makes a rewarding end to a long, mostly uphill walk (approx 7km) from Frigiliana, which you can get to via local bus from Nerja (but not on Sundays).

After a wander through its pretty streets – I counted two – head back to the restaurant-bar for something to eat and drink while you recover and prepare for the walk back. You'll have a sense of accomplishment, a full belly and be able to tell the world that it really does exist...

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