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Witch Cross • BC Sweet • Gonads • Christie

A Tale of Two Festivals – Part Two: The Cazorla Blues Festival

bluescazfestI’d only been home from Italy for a day when me and my partner Miki set off on our Motorhome, The Boomobile, inland towards the Spanish town of Cazorla. This beautiful place has hosted a Blues festival now for nigh on twenty years, and it’s somewhere we’ve been meaning to visit for a while, but my own gigs have often clashed, so this was the first opportunity we’d had.

CIMG4486Next to the Cafe by the Dam on the first day-Great Ice-Cream!

We broke the four hour journey by overnighting by an embalse, or dam, built in the 80’s, resulting in a beautiful vivid green lake in the middle of a hot dry wilderness. A cafe by the shore was a welcome sight, serving ice-cream and beer to die for, and we undertook a huge walk around the dam and surrounding landscapes to assuage our guilt at pigging out!

CIMG4505On top of the Dam.Our walk took us down and across the bridge you see in the background.

The following day we hit the road again, making a stop in a village called Tiscar, which means ‘Mountain Pass’ in the Berber language,  a reminder, like so many in Andalucia, of the Arabic influence of the past.  The winding road, before disappearing into a tunnel in the rock face, passes the Sanctuario de Tiscar, an old monastery, and opposite was a large parking area where we pulled over.

CIMG3221Las Cuevas de Aguas

A steep path and stairway cut through the rock led down to the Cueva de Aguas, an unbelievably beautiful place, where a thirty foot waterfall thundered through the natural caverns into an oasis below. It reminded me of my time on the island of Dominica in the rainforest there. To get to the falls, one had to bend almost double and pass through a fifty foot tunnel to reach it, making it all the more enchanting for that.

CIMG4569Tight Fit: Negotiating the tunnel to the waterfall.

Not content with the punishing journey to and from the caves, we noticed an imposing stone watchtower atop the rocky cliffs that loomed over the Sanctuario. It had been the last Arabian refuge in the area until the Christians took it form the Muslims in the 14th Century. As we climbed the cliffs a little, I noticed, seemingly clinging to the sheer rockface hundreds of feet above, a metal grille staircase disappearing up into the distance. Further exploration revealed an entrance, unmanned, over grown, but passable, that led us to the base of this amazing metal construction.

CIMG3287Stairway to Heaven – The Sanctuario in the distance.

Without a thought, we made our way upwards, on and on, higher and higher until we were within the foundations of the ruined tower itself, with no safety net, but, oh, what a VIEW! Stunning scenery stretching for miles, the rooftop of the monastery far below, the motorhome a speck in the distance. A tough climb, especially on the see-through grill of the staircase, but worth the effort.

CIMG3280

The Watchtower at Tiscar

CIMG4622In Cazorla-La Yedra Castle in the background.

We eventually arrived in Cazorla a full three days before the festival was due to start quite deliberately, as we wanted to explore it as fully as possible before everybody descended on the town later in the week. It turned out to be a great idea, because Cazorla had so much to see and do, and the surrounding countryside was magnificent for exploring and long (and punishing!) walks.

CIMG4773A brief rest before exploring the Castle!

The castle of La Yedra watching over the town was a great visit, and a legend connected with it told to us by the guide has given me a new Witch Cross song, so you’ll have to wait until our third album to hear what it is!

We parked up on the big open space where the Market is usually held at the bottom of the town, and one could follow the river up to the old Plaza through a beautiful riverside walk, the myriad waterfalls and overhanging trees providing a welcome respite from the unrelenting Spanish sun. However, pretty much everywhere we walked was uphill!

CIMG3443Riverside walk through Cazorla town

We had a couple of days before the music started, so we planned a couple of hikes….more about them in Part Three!

Kev Moore

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July 20, 2013 Posted by | blues, Music, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments