The problem with many hikes, aside from blisters, is that if you don’t know where you’re walking you rely on the people who paint the little yellow arrows on the rocks. Often, they don’t. On a walk from the beautiful village of Grazalema in Andalusia earlier this week, we happened on the problem. After trekking up a steep hillside the arrows suddenly stopped, leaving us on a rocky mountain top with little idea of where to go next.
After an hour or so of stumbling across sharp rocks and wondering whether we were going in the right direction worry began to set in. Was there a Spanish version of the mountain rescue? Would we be subject to a humiliating lecture about setting off on in preposterous clothing by a serious man wearing head-to-toe Gore-Tex? Why hadn’t we just sat on the beach, just 50km away, for a few days like millions of other Brits?
After another 30 minutes we were lost. The best bet seemed to be to get off the mountainside and so, on hands and knees, we clambered down, twisting ankles and bashing knees.
We were already nearly five hours into a walk that was supposed to take four and a half.
And then, suddenly, salvation. A group of Spanish teenagers we’d passed earlier – who we’d cursed for making too much noise – appeared below us on a path. Within an hour and half we were walking back into the village, in agony, but at least heading straight for the bar.
And the little yellow arrows, they appeared again on the path. Just maybe it was us that took a wrong turning.