N (323) for Nostalgia

Here we are just over a week away for the long-awaited A-7 inauguration and I’m going point out how nice the old roads are. No, I’ve not flipped my lid.

It must have been about a year or so ago that the Ed and I made our way over to Málaga Port using solely the N-340 – the Royal Naval Association had arranged a visit to a RN Minesweeper ‘parked’ there… that should annoy the Fish-Heads; bless their cotton socks!

Excu N323 Cementera OnLAnyway, as we hurtled along on our respective 250’s – in all their glory – we remarked how long it had been since either of us had used the old road and had knuckled back manly tears upon seeing the cement factory; you knew that you were close to Málaga when you reached the cement factory.

The point is that as we now skim along the Costa del Sol from the Costa Tropical, thanks to the efficient A-7 autovía, the unpleasant memories of N-340 traffic jams and traffic lights, and trying to be on time for a flight, recedes.

Now you drive along the N-340 and find roundabouts where traffic lights once drove you bonkers. Bottom line: it’s a nice drive.

For the last three weeks, more or less, I have been driving up and down from Granada, along the A-44, either on a bike or in the car – you get on the autovía virtually on the coast and before you know it, you’re driving along the by-pass stretch of the A-44 looking for a suitable Granada City exit ramp.

It’s boring after the first dozen trips and as the heat increases, you find your mind wandering along the long, gracefully curving, double lanes. Sometimes when I feel drowsiness encroaching, I take the mountain road (La Cabra) direct to Almuñécar because there’s not much chance of nodding off at the wheel (or handlebars).

Excu N323 start OnLHowever, right on that Malahá junction, where you turn off for the Cabra, on your way down from Granada, there is the old N-323, right in front of the Restaurante Suspiro del Moro – this time I decided to take it. I had a grin on my face most of the way down.

There were all the old landmarks, junctions, bends etc, that I had long since forgotten. The N-323 wasn’t a bad road; it’s just that apart from the occasional overtaking lane on the hills, it’s single land traffic… but there is no traffic now!

From the Suspiro del Moro, the Caraterra Bailén-Motril (N-323) takes you to Padul, keeping above it and then past the large wildlife reserve ponds (humedales).

Excu N323 humedalBefore you come to Dúrcal, you see a sign on the right for Dúrcal/Cozvíjar – take it, because it will take you down below the N-340, past the old Iron railway bridge and over the old stone bridge on a bend where there is a bar (El Puente) where you can eat.

Excu N323 Puenta Bar OnLThere is also a hotel restaurant (Bío Durcal) well worth a look, which you have to walk down to along a tree-shaded lane – it’s an old converted mill complete with a mill pond and swans!

Finally, before you move off, there is also a fountain, dedicated to cyclists and the water is excellent.

You climb back out of the valley, pass under the N-323 bridge and come across a turning on the left, signposted for Motril, which will put you back on the N-323, thus avoiding having to go through the centre of Dúrcal.

You’ll come to a sign saying “Dúrcal/Nigüelas (cambio de sentido)” on the right, opposite a yard with lots of cement pipes etc. This is the moment of truth – the moment to wimp out or not.

You can ignore this junction, carry on down to the roundabout and access ramps to the A-44 for Motril, or take the junction, following the signs for Nigüelas and then sail on past the Nigüelas turn off on the left and continue down to Lecrín, enjoying the bends of the old road.

You go through Lecrín, carry on down to and through Béznar with its reservoir and soldier with the blackberry hat & musket…

Excu N323 LanjaronFaced again with an imminent A-44 junction, you take the overpass in the Lanjáron direction, but just as soon as you over the autovía and coming up to the metal bridge, turn sharp right where their is a red signpost just before saying, “Puenta Nazarí, paisaje pintoresco.”

This section takes you over the old bridge, past the shrine – it’s worth pulling over and taking in the very old (Muslim era) bridge with a footpath leading across it. And then on, past the old half-way house on the right, where the Granada bus used to stop so that everybody could stretch their legs and have a coffee or beer – long since closed, and then, following the Motril signs you pass over the A-44 again before coming to the Acebuches/Izbor roundabout.

Excu N323 NazariAnd from there you’re back on the more-used N-323 that takes you through the Azud de Vélez canyon and Vélez Benaudalla.

In the old days, this was the main road to Granada, folks, taking two and a half hours on the bus… if you didn’t get stuck behind a lorry. Now, it is a nice drive on a day out. Take the Cabra from Almuñécar to the Suspiro del Moro to make it a complete round trip, of you like, or just do the route if you happen to be in Granada and heading back down to the coast.

Note: Three of the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

(Where to/Excursion: N-322)

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