Grazalema is one of the classic ‘white villages‘ with its spotless white houses, cobbled streets and iron balconies. Famous for its little wool factories which export their blankets around the globe, and also for its microclimate which gives it the rather dubious distinction of being one of the wettest villages in Spain (but don’t worry, it gets more than 3,000 hours of sunshine each year too), it’s as pretty as a postcard and its setting, in the heart of the Grazalema National Park, is dramatic.

All around are calcareous sierras of jagged peaks, gorges, chasms, faults and caves, underground rivers and deep canyons. The flora is enormously diverse, with thick forests of cork oak and Spanish fir (pinsapo) which is only found in the wild here and in the Ronda Mountains. In the skies, griffon vultures and golden, booted and short-toed eagles soar. The forests are the habitat of mountain goat, red deer and wild boar.

From Grazalema, a dramatic little mountain road winds and twists its way up through this terrain, finally descending to Zahara de la Sierra, another of the white villages of particular charm, crowned by a Moorish castle on the rocky crest above it, an impregnable fortress in days gone by. Below the village are the wide, blue waters of the Embalse de Zahara (it’s a reservoir but you would never know), where there you can swim or just enjoy the beautiful views all around from one of the little bars which open up in summer on the lake shore.