I am busy writing the sequel to ‘Reconquista‘ at the moment – I have mapped out the plot and already begun writing ‘In the City‘, the provisional title of Part One of the sequel. I also plan to start the research for Part Two, provisionally entitled ‘In the Mountains‘. These titles will not be a surprise to those who have read my earlier book. ‘In the City‘ is also the title of Part One of that book, so there is some symmetry.
It is much too hot to go into the mountains to the east of Jerez right now, the terrain there is very exposed (and, in summer, riddled with snakes) and there is the risk of fire. But I can, on a clear day, see the very distinctive outline of Torreon, the highest mountain, together with the peak of San Cristobal next to it, from Jerez town. These two form the Sierra del Pinar (often shown on maps as a single mountain named Pinar) and they are the favoured haunt of walkers and climbers in cooler months.
Mountaineers seeking more challenging climbs may prefer the Penon Grande and its sheer wall of limestone cliffs at the top of a ridge which reaches over 1300 metres high. I don’t plan to do any climbing myself, but I need to know about climbing in these mountains ( plot hint ).
I have been reading a book called ‘Sierras Andaluzas‘ by Manuel Gil Monreal and Enrique A Marin Fernandez, both mountaineers, which has lotsof information about the Sierras, climactic, geological and practical – it contains detailed instructions about various routes up the peaks ( some not to be attempted unless by experienced climbers ).
The mountains are part of a geological system called the Subbaetic, which runs roughly south-east to north-west across southern Spain. Being carstic, that is to say, made of limestone, they have plenty of caves and potholes, like the Hundidero cave ( left, yes, those are trees ) which is so large that a visitor can venture about two hundred metres inside without the need for artificial light. Most of these systems are sink holes for rivers or the water from the surrounding mountains and their courses, sometimes over two hundred metres deep, have been plotted by pot-holers, though it is still a mystery where the waters in El Republicano emerge.
A limestone landscape is mainly white or light grey in colour, from the limestone rock, which would merge into the snow when Winter comes. It is a jagged landscape, with high shard-like rock structures, especially on El Endrinal another group of high peaks which are particularly exposed. Travellers could easily lose their way, especially as, in all but high Summer, mist and cloud are common. The perfect place for a bandit fortress, perhaps.
I will read about this wild landscape while I wait until it is cool enough to go and see it up close. And in the meanwhile I shall walk along the beach at El Puerto and watch the sunset over the lagoon, towards Cadiz.