This is a fabulous but a big walk. I will describe three ways to do this walk. Two which need a four wheel drive or a vehicle with high ground clearance and one much more easily accessed but longer of course.
1 – From the observation hut above Cómpeta – 10 hours – 22 km
2 – From Puerto Blanquillo – 6 hours – 10km
3 – From the Fabrica at Canillas – 10 hrs – 20 km
All routes meet at Puerto Blanquillo and are the same from there. The times are approximate as are the distances.
El Lucero itself is a great mountain. A twin peaked mountain which can be see all over the area and from the coast as far away as Torre del mar and Nerja. The views on the top are stunning. Huge sweeps of Granada province, the Costa del Sol from Maro to Gibraltar and many miles of the coast of Africa. You even get the impression of the curvature of the earth along the horizon.
You can have the peak to yourself or you may be joined by 40 spanish walkers as we were when a walking party all reached the top within minutes and took huge quantities of food from rucksacks and started to eat and chat and take pictures of dangerous poses perched on sharp rocks with no obvious support for a hundred metres.
We will start with a description of the routes to Puerto Blanquillo and then the rest.
Starting from the Observation hut. The Yellow track.
This is a white hut used for fire observation in the dry months. It is situated at 1109 mts but you can park at the foot of the hill it stands on either at the bottom of the concrete track (A) or under a pylon on the Cómpeta side of the hill (B). Get to this place by driving along the ring road of Cómpeta which starts at the Mirador by the Venta de Palma. Turn right after about a km up a very steep track and at the top turn left. Follow this around the right and past Cruz del Monte urbanization, then up for a couple of kms to the fine lookout point of Puerto del Collado. Here turn sharp left. A car can get this far but you need something a bit more substantial to go further. Drive or walk up here for about 2 km up zigzags until it levels off. Another km reaches the foot of the observation hut hill marked on the image above.
Park here or drive around the hill to the concrete access road and park just off road around here. Take a photo and then start walking. Around the observation hut hill and along north-easterly for a half a km – then straight on as the road turns into a track and the main road curls off down to your left. This is the old Mule train track from the coast to Granada. Read more about it in Walk 1. Follow this lovely track past two old ruined ventas. At the second the track shoots off to the left or northerly.
Continue to follow this track past another ruined inn and then eventually you get to a joining of the ways. A river bed cuts across the road. Tracks go off downhill and across the riverbed but I suggest you turn left here and climb up sharply along or alongside the riverbed. It is steep. (There is an alternative here which goes across the river bed and follows a good track up through a small gorge. At the top of this it meets another track – turn left here and this winds above Puerto Blanquillo and joins our path a little further on. It is nicer but probably further.) Once at the top of this steep river bed climb you meet a wide dirt road cut into the white limestone. This is Puerto Blanquillo.
Driving up to Puerto Blanquillo. The Blue track.
This takes about 40 minutes driving a 4WD vehicle but it does cut off a lot of climbing and allows the Lucero summit to be reached in easy time. Leave Canillas de Albaida by passing the chapel or Ermita de Santa Ana and going towards the Fabrica de la Luz. It is signed but otherwise turn right as you enter Canillas from Cómpeta go to the top of the village by the chapel and then follow the tarmac road that goes into the mountains. After about a km the road splits. Just after a large sign announcing the Natural Park.
Take the right fork not the one signed to the Fabrica, and drive up the hill for a way. The road turns sharply around to the right. Here take the dirt road that goes off to the left. Now drive and drive and drive twisting slowly uphill always taking the main track if there is a choice. Eventually the road opens out and does a huge long turn around to the left. Here is Puerto Blanquillo. Park wherever you can. We have seen Berlingo type vans here but also a Seat Marbella type car. So you can get cars up here although they may have come from the other direction from the Fogarate area.
Walking up from the Fabrica. The Orange track.
Follow the directions given above to the Fabrica de la luz . When the road splits take the left turn marked to the Fabrica. Follow this for about 2 km past a large quarry on your right. You will know when you get there. There are some old buildings and places to park and picnic tables and evn barbeques. A lovel y place. Park up and walk along the road a few mts to the stream. Actually after rain this is more than a stream and may even be impassable. After this winter (2010) parts of the track may have been washed away. Turn right, cross the river and follow the riverside path up and up in an easterly direction, past a hillside farm and over various bridges. Follow the waymark signs with white arrows.
At one point you come up a hill and met another path running down from the road above , turn left here. At another point you come to a plantation of trees, skirt underneath these. Keep climbing up and after about 2 hours you join the road, turn left and arrive at Puerto Blanquillo.
From Puerto Blanquillo to El Lucero.
From the white pass which marks the pass between what might be called the Torrox valley and the Canillas valley (my names) we climb right off the road following the white arrowed waymark and climb up the tough route which takes us to Puerto Cómpeta. This is an old mule track and weaves its way upwards. At one point it meets a pine wood where it can be unclear where to go – bear around to the right following the apparent track which may be a river bed.
Onwards till you get to the top. Stop here and marvel at how high you are. 1400 mts here. This is higher than any peak in the UK. Great views to the west here. A good place for a drink and a sandwich. We were met by trail bikes coming over an impossible top when we enjoyed the silence(!) there. This marks the border between Malaga province and Granada province and also marks the spot I think where the Sierra Tejeda joins the Sierre Almijara. You wouldn´t want to be up here with 20 mules carrying salted fish during a storm. Least I wouldn’t!
Walk down in Granada province and you are immediately astonished by a huge marble quarry on your right. I will say no more. Down onto the road and go forward bearing around and down to your right, not into the quarry and not uphill away from the quarry, and then to your left under a huge water cistern used by helicopters fighting fires. Follow the road downwards for perhaps a half a km. You meet a wooden sign now with a map of the ascent of El Lucero. Turn here and start a long slow climb up Lucero. You will gain about 500 mts during this climb upto 1779 mts. After maybe 1.5 km the track rises and there is a spot with big boulders and trees for shade. This is another good spot for a stop. You can get a great view of the mountain now for the first time. This is the time when one of your party will say ´ohhh noooo!´. Tell them it is an easy track from now on and they will of course be able to make it.
As you leave this spot you go along a saddle with lovely view to the north and south. Here are your best views of the Med and the African coast if it is clear. Nerja glistens in the distance. You cant get lost from here as the path only goes to the top. However, you can get tired and you can get scared, especially if it is blowy. The path is safe enough with a few difficult clambers. It skirts the lower of the peaks then crosses and open spot between the two peaks and then zigzags up very steeply and on a very narrow path in places to the top. Don´t worry – the precarious climb is worth it at the top.
The top is really rather a small area, with a sort of compass to mark the top. There is also an extra-ordinary remains of a police or Guardia Civil lookout hut at the top. Yes there is! This was used by the Guardia to lookout for opponents of the Franco regime following the civil war. These people lived in the mountains around here as outlaws. If you are interested in this see David Bairds book – Between Two Fires. How this hut helped the forces to actually catch any republicans ´guerillas´ or as they might have called them ´delinquents´ is not clear since it would take two hours to get down to them. This is not so long ago. This action was still taking place in this area in the 1950s. What life must have been like living in these mountains is hard to imagine. There is very little that is edible or even catchable in the mountains.
Anyway enjoy your sandwiches or bowls of pasta or whatever up here. It is quite beautiful. Make your way back the way you came. You will feel the mountain on your feet tonight.
If you want to see a small slide show of one of our climbs – from the Observation hut then click here to see a youtube slide show.