Comfortable walking in Andalucia
No Andalucian sheep exporters were harmed in the manufacture of these merino wool socks!
According to walk experts, to be really comfortable in hot weather whilst trekking you should purchase some merino wool base layers. Whatever you do, avoid wearing cotton close to the skin. Cotton base layers will not wick away moisture and you will end up walking for hours in wet underwear and damp holiday spirits. I hadn’t given the base layers much thought, but after my recent walking holiday in Las Alpujarras that was going to change. I have spent hours researching waterproofs and footwear and it has often struck me that you can get never really stay dry until you have addressed the issue of non-breathable clothing. To give you some idea of how much moisture you need to wick away, just your feet alone can give off a pint of moisture when walking for around twelve hours.
You can buy all kinds of synthetic base layers but what you should know is that wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture and still leave you feeling warm and dry. The quality of wool can make a bid difference, so why should you choose merino wool? Well, this is the softest and longest wool fibre so it won’t feel abrasive or prickly against the skin: in fact it can feel quite luxurious. It is also the most durable type of wool and won’t smell bad when used in socks that have been worn for days without washing. Thankfully there is an increasing number of outdoor clothing companies which recognise the benefits of using merino wool, so merino wool clothing is not too difficult to locate.
We have the Moors to thank for introducing the Merino sheep to the Alpujarras region of Andalucía in southern Spain back in the 12th century. It was from the 12th to the 16th century that Spain dominated the wool market and up to the 18th century the export of Merinos from Spain was a crime that carried the death penalty. Fortunately, this law has been lifted and we can now enjoy walking holidays in Andalucía in the secure knowledge that no sheep exporter has been executed recently for our comfort. Today, most merino wool comes from Australia and New Zealand.
The main purpose of base layers is to keep you dry. If the layer next to you skin remains wet then no matter how much you have invested in superb outer layers they are not going to be effective in keeping you warm. Once you stop walking, wet base layers will cause you to cool rapidly and that’s just the moment you want to generate heat to dry them out. This is certainly what I experienced whilst walking on the beautiful mountain sides of Las Alpujarras when the temperatures were a pleasant 20 to 22 degrees Celsius. However, I was lucky enough to have discovered the perfect antidote to having ignored effective base layers - and that was choosing to stay at the Hotel Los Bérchules.
Set on the edge of the white village of Bérchules in the heart of Las Alpujarras, a region in Andalucía, southern Spain, is the Hotel Los Bérchules: the perfect base for walking holidays in Andalucía. The hotel owner, Alejandro, has considered walkers’ needs and has produced a menu of walks that would take you over a month to complete. After a day trekking you can return to the hotel and have a massage, a swim in the pool, or a relaxing bath followed by a sumptuous meal from the hotel’s restaurant. So after purchasing some merino wool base layers jump on the internet and book yourself a walking holiday in Andalucía at Hotel Los Bérchules.