This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sometime in winter I decided that it would be a good idea to walk up la Mola, the limestone cliff fringed mountain that rises towards the sea from Mother’s Garden. Of course these kinds of expeditions are always more fun with a friend, and so I invited Joe to come along. He had done it before, and even camped on the windswept top, but was reasonably keen to go again (after a bit of begging).

Our preparations involved some serious sandwich making and an amusing debate between Joe and his mother concerning the necessity of taking a warm jacket with one, when attempting to hike up a mountain in the middle of winter. I’ll let you guess who prevailed.

I think you could summit the mountain walking directly from the farm, although in the shorter days of winter you’d want to be walking by day break and expect to be getting home by torch light. During the rest of the year you’d be more or less confident of doing it all in daylight. In our case, not wanting to make too epic an outing of the experience, we were very grateful when Maggie offered to drop us halfway up the mountain. There is a convenient stopping place where the trail crosses the road, and so we got out there.

Maggie fussed over us, double checking our lunch supplies, and I suspect she was starting to wonder what on earth had possessed her to entrust her baby boy to the flighty Australian with no know aptitude for navigation. I think he was starting to wonder the same thing.

So off we set, up the tree covered slope. There were the usual holm oaks, rosemary bushes, and a very well defined path underfoot. It was reasonably easy going, made more so by frequent stops to admire the scenery. Joe showed me a rocky outcrop with a particularly fine view out across the mountains.

The path eventually rose out from the trees to steep grassland. Which is when the howling wind hit us. We had been so well protected in the forest that we didn’t even notice the wind, and it had evidently decided to make up for this by blowing us sideways as soon as we were exposed. And it was cold, seriously chilly. We pushed our way through the wind until I shouted that we could stop for a snack in a protected hollow. ‘Protected’ is probably over-stating the matter, it was still uncomfortably windy but at least it didn’t feel like we were about to take off.

Refreshed by a bit of fruit we made the final windy and rocky ascent to the summit, and popped up into an airy golden meadow (albeit a cold and windswept one). The summit is a long and gently rolling field, dotted with stunted trees and occasional hardy bushes hiding behind rocks. It is crested by the remains of a castle, or probably more accurately, an overgrown observation post. There is a stunning 360 degree view, taking in the wide blue sea and the blue grey hinterland. We played among the cold stones and reflected on how pleasant it was not to be a medieval soldier stationed up here for the winter.

Exploring a little, Joe managed to find some extremely cute goats and we watched them meandering and grazing. We wandered to the very far end of the summit and there seemed to be a difficult scramble down that way. I wasn’t convinced – the walk up had been extremely well marked and very easy and it seemed very odd that the way down should be an unmarked scramble. So we investigated further…and further…and further. Eventually I decided that we’d have a better chance of finding the path without grumbling tummies, and so we picnicked and enjoyed our sandwiches. Sure enough, while we were munching them, a middle aged man, a little girl and two discontented and fashionably attired teenaged girls walked past us on one of the goat trails. Ah ha! The path. We finished our lunch and took their trail, soon passing a few comforting markers.

The descent is quite gentle and pretty, twisting back and forth against the south side of the mountain. At what feels like the foot of the hill there is a little car park, which would make a good pick up spot if you wanted a shorter walk. We however descended on the fire trail out towards Mother’s Garden. This was actually a rather boring and ugly stretch and if I did at again I’d perhaps try to find an alternate route to avoid it. Nevertheless, following the interminable four wheel drive trail we eventually returned to our valley. The last of the walk home was through farmland on paths hedged by bramble bushes alternating with stone walls and almond and olive groves. It was very sweet returning to the old farmhouse in the warm pink glow of the late afternoon. It was even sweeter having a hot shower and then snuggling into bed for a little nap.