Thursday, 21 November 2013

Acequias mean so much to the mountains

I came across a wonderful publication today called Manual del Acequiero; it is a guide to building and maintaining the water channels which criss-cross the mountains of the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra of Southern Spain.

If any of our readers have walked with us, they will be aware that we often walk along acequias; they have paths running alongside to offer access for owners of the farmland beneath, and are a great and often adventurous way to explore mountain terrain.

Acequias are of course much more; they provide essential water to the local communities, and in the Alpujarra keep the mountainside wonderfully green, even in the height of summer.

Walking along the Acequia above Finca Montana

At Finca Montana, our cortijo on the mountainside above Lanjaron, we are very fortunate to have lots of springs which provide our water supply and keep our land irrigated.  These springs are fed by the acequia and without these ancient irrigation channels, the springs would dry up. We had a reall scare earlier this year when our acequia collapsed down the mountainside.  However it was soon restored - demonstrating how important the water is to the local community.

Acequia Nueva above Lanjaron

Acequias are not unique to our part of Spain; originally built by the Moors of north Africa, they can be found in many other countries, including the high Atlas of Morocco, Madeira (where they are called Levadas) and even Switzerland (where they are called Bisse).  The Manual del Acequiero provides guidance for rennovating the acequia with lots of pictures demonstrating how they are built.  Often the acequia would have been lined with massive stone blocks, which can still be seen in the Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada.  The stone and materials would have been brought in by the acequiero and his mule.

Why not come and stay with us at Finca Montana and take a walk along our acequia, or meet Pepe, our very own Acequiero who walks past Finca Montana most days with his goats.