GR130 - Puntallana to Los Sauces

Timeline - Wednesday, 15th December and we were sitting in Bar Halley in Puntallana with backpacks and walking poles at the ready, sipping a short, strong coffee.  We had already left the car in Los Sauces and taken the 20-minute bus journey to Puntallana - all we had to do now was to walk back on a trail which would take us through some, let's say, challenging terrain over a distance of 15.2km and most likely take more than five hours.
In fact, we have already walked this section before but last time we walked north/south and so we were keen to walk it in the opposite direction  Now the ups would become the downs and vice versa - and it's easy to miss what were obvious signs before or quickly spot signs that we struggled to see when walked in the opposite direction.  And with our coffee finished, we would soon be bouncing over those barrancos.
The first part of our walk was an easy route starting at the side of the church and then exiting stage right down a little cobbled street, passing a selection of old and quaint houses and then passing by farmland.
 Briefly hitting the tarmac road which leads to Playa Nogales, we headed off into the open countryside along a natural path.  Up a stone path with a new, well-built handrail, we headed upwards and soon discovered that we had walked 3km already.  Off along another path stepping over the vines of the creeping chayota plant and practically stumbling over the fruits which are  pear-shaped and about the size of a tennis ball.  However, the cactus growing at the side of the path did not look at all enticing. 
Now we were high enough to get a lovely view over Playa Nogales, a beautiful black sand beach.  Apparently, turtles used to come ashore here to lay their eggs but from where we were looking, there were not many applicants for either egg-laying or indeed any form of laying on the beach at all.
Continuing along the path, we ignored the sign to El Granel which we have taken twice before.  It is a Very Long Way up to the main road - once we walked it and the second time we hitched a lift in the back of an old Santana Land Rover. Neither was comfortable.
Gleeful to be carrying on, we were rewarded with some wonderful views looking inland.
Now things were becoming a little tougher as we came to the Barranco de Nogales, just before La Galga.  We had previously viewed this as something of a task, but for some reason it now felt like an easier friend.  But I don't want you to think it was that easy!
As we progressed upwards, there was a junction of paths where we could choose to go to La Galga 1.8km away.  No thanks, we had enough with our own path.  Eventually popping up on the other side of the barranco, we came to an impressive sight looking towards Los Sauces. This was our half-way point.
After a few ooh's and aah's and half a dozen photos, we wondered on down the track and soon became immersed in growing country.  A field of carrots, skinny trees with papayas dangling above us and oranges scattered over the path - this was infinitely better than driving over lemons.  Then another barranco, owww, which takes us down towards the sea but in the end it's a fairly straight-forward affair which doesn't even make us whimper. 
Amongst a myriad of plantation roads we now come to a concrete shed with the number 7 on it.  This is where we know we can 'escape' up to the main road at the church of San Juan only a few minutes away.  But we are fine and carry on.  'Bout time we had another barranco ...
Yep, here we go, back down the side of the ravine on what begins as an exceptionally pretty path.  Soon, we are surrounded by ñame, a root vegetable with enormous, tear-drop shaped leaves.  This plant loves water and it has plenty dripping from the rocks.
Unfortunately, that also means mud and we gloop our way downwards with an occasional slide along the way.  Our eventual destination, rather surprisingly, is the sea.  Yep, the GR130 route actually takes us right down on the rocky beach where the white over red blaze is painted on a large(ish) rock.  Hope nobody moves it or things could get exceptionally wet.
Back up the other side again, we eventually emerge at the crematorium of San Andres.  Still 3.1km to go so not far now and pretty cobbled streets lined with bananas lead us into the village.  But San Andres really does not take long to walk through, unless you stop off to admire the church and its bars.

Before we know it, we are leaving the village heading towards the sea again before our final ascent to Los Sauces.  This is the first time we have used the new footbridge and we are quite impressed with the attractive build of it along with some rather wonderful paved paths.
Just the other side of the bridge, we see a GR130 sign for Los Llanos which tells us that it is now only a further 1.5km.  Yes, but it's all uphill!!!  This is surely the hardest part - or maybe it is just because it's the last part - but we get there, arriving in the plaza with its magnificent church.
The walk took us around 5 hours of actual walking time.  Fairly tough going in some places but we were lucky because it was not a particularly hot day.  We took almost 100 photos and have added a selected 47 of those to our GR130 slide show (please ask for details if you are interested).
We have two more planned walks before the New Year so had better not put those boots too far away.

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