Balancing on the wet rock, I watch the river of gold run past. I’m high in the Alpujarras Mountains, a part of Andalucia that snuck beneath the radar, hauled itself to snowy heights and escaped the sun, sea and sand stereotypes of the coast. At road level behind me, someone sells “herbal remedies” of varying degrees of legality, while a lady with plaited silver hair trades glass earrings that look like gemstones.
I needed a local to help me find this place, down a flight of rocky steps and into a leafy gathering.
A soft waterfall spatters onto stone to form this ankle-deep river of gold.
It’s not actually gold, of course. It comes from the Fuente Agria, which translates both in words and deeds to mean sour source. This flaming metal isn’t gold, but iron.
Yet when the phrase “river of iron” ran through my mind, I thought of railway tracks and grid-like precision. Of inner city pollution and industrial constraints, not wild and natural beauty.
These deposits blaze so much more than that. So I hope you’ll forgive the artistic license and simply enjoy this river of iron.
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com