Day 3 GR 48 - Cala to Almaden de la Plata

Really interesting walk today, three very distinct sections with pretty historic towns at the end of each.

Early morning leaving Cala
Cow Heaven

Struggled to get going at the start of the day, lingered in a noisy little bar, and then couldn't find the route out of town.  Didn't matter though as we were soon into what I thought was the best four or five kilometres of the whole walk.  Classic ancient camino's, wonderful light through the trees illuminating the grazing animals - if bovine reincarnation is to be my fate than send me here.

Lignite mine beyond Cala
Castle at Santa Olalla del Cala
This wonderful stretch finished with a huge abandoned quarry, the bottom of which was full of water, followed by a flat walk along the course of an old railway line into Santa Olalla del Cala.  Nice town with the largest and best preserved castle of the route so far.  Has places to eat and sleep, definitely an alternative place to stop if you wanted to walk shorter days.

Stork on the River Cala
After leaving the town, passing underneath the motorway, the route takes you through another oak forest/pasture down to the River Cala and a lovely four kilometre walk into Real de la Jara. Spent most of the walk trying to get a perfect picture of one the storks or herons in flight, failing of course but it was good fun non-the-less.  Real de la Jara, also with a castle, looks like another splendid town -  we stopped for a beer and tapas in one its many bars and came across my first grumpy Spanish barman.
Castle at Real de la Jara

The last section of the walk is different again.  As we get further east the landscape feels dryer and although there are still grazing animals there are not as many as before.  The dry stone walling has all but disappeared and the we are now walking along forest trails.   You can't help but notice the impact of the drought and even in February there is a burnt out feel to the scenery.

My feet were very sore by the time we arrived at Almaden de la Plata the first of today's four towns not to be festooned with a castle (had a bull fighting rink instead).  We stayed in a nice casa rurales and ate in a very simple but pleasant restaurant.  Due to small navigational diversions today's walk, at 44 kilometres, was three more than planned - despite the cold evening I slept very well.


  1. Hi John,
    Not sure if you remember me - I was Head of ICT at Sheffield City Council for a number of years and our paths crossed on a few occassions!
    Like you I have cut myself free from the full time grind and am a keen walker as well although nothing anywhere near the scale of your exploits which I find amazing.
    Your programme for this year is just as impressive - but how do you manage the logistics of a typical venture and how do you work out the budget. Do you do it all yourself? Be interested to know where to start!

    Cheers and good luck.

    Ken Bellamy

    1. Hi Ken, great to hear from you again after all these years, sorry to be a bit slow in coming back to you, but only just back from my back to back trips in Nepal.

      On trips I tend to go with a tour if I'm going outside Europe, particularly in the Himalayas, but organise everything myself in Europe. You can organise things for yourself in the Himalayas, particularly in Nepal, but I quite like going with a group and having the "expedition" feel of such trips. Will be updating my blog on all this stuff over the next couple of weeks on the recent trips so you might find that interesting.

      In Europe than it's totally self planned and, to be honest, this is part of the pleasure. Despite the fall of the £ against the Euro, accommodation is still generally cheaper in their than the UK, with the possible exception of Switzerland. When I did the E4 last year I was able to get by on about 50 euros a day, less in rural Spain and in Hungary (which is very good very value).

      If you rule out camping, as I did, than the main logistical consideration is finding somewhere to stay. It's just a question of choosing you're route and than planning the stops. In the Alps you should try the mountain huts, which are great fun (worth joining an Alpine club for the discounts if you're going any distance), and in the lower countryside you will be staying at little hotels, pensions etc. A general rule for me was that the cheaper the place, the more fun it was - loved staying in the bars in Spain in particular and enjoyed some weird often cranky "gite d'etapes" in France.

      Great to hear from you, come back to me if you have any more questions or just to let me know how you got on.

      Best wishes


    2. Thanks John - very helpful and I guessed you were away from looking at your packed itinerary!
      Planning to do a walk with friends around October time - probably just a week for starters and think southern Spain might be nice at that time of year? Will let you know when I have worked up a bit more detail - or may even use your route from last year?
      Look forward to the blog update!

      Best wishes