In the Spring issue of The Great Outdoors, on sale 29 March, David Lintern traverses the Spanish Sierra Nevada. This photo essay documents his journey – and shows how you can join him for a photographic trek in June 2019.

By David Lintern

Los Tres Miles translates literally as ‘the three thousand’. There are three main variants of this trek, all of which include up to thirty 3,000m peaks. The traditional route traverses the Sierra Nevada range north-east to south-west, using shepherds’ and hunters tracks to bridge the watershed. You can read the full story of this high-level backpacking route in our upcoming Spring issue.

For more information about David Lintern’s upcoming guided photographic trek, please visit

Day two in the high-altitude desert.
© David Lintern

The eastern plateau, aka ‘the thirst traverse’!
© David Lintern

Dusty Saharan light from the first 3000m top.
© David Lintern

More technical ground on day 3, just before the weather turned.
© David Lintern

Under Alcazaba’s headwall – a damp and intimidating place to be.
© David Lintern

Surreal passage on the Paso de las Zetas.
© David Lintern

Mick taking in the superb position on the Vasar de Mulhacen.
© David Lintern

Posing young Ibex.
© David Lintern

About the trek

Los Tres Miles is usually undertaken between May-September, as a five- to seven-day trek.


Regular services to Malaga from Ryanair and the other usual suspects, from London, Manchester and Edinburgh. From there, hire car is probably the cheapest option to get into the Alpujarra foothills. It’s an A-B traverse – arrange transfers locally or through the guiding company Spanish Highs.

Where to stay

Lanjaron is a good base, with plenty of local hotels to choose from and supermarkets to stock up on perishables before you leave. The local food and wine is great.

The Raspones de Rio Seco under dramatic light.
© David Lintern

How hard?

In summer conditions, Los Tres Miles is a high alpine trek. We found the full Integrale to be physically strenuous and sometimes vertiginous, but not technically difficult – scrambling sits at around Grade 1. It’s not the Alps; paths can be faint or non-existent and there’s almost no signage. Mountain huts are more like bothies, so you need to carry all your food.

Guides and guidebooks

Spanish Highs is the local, English-speaking guiding company who know the area intimately. Richard Hartley and his partner Kiersten have lived in the Sierra Nevada since 2003, and run guided traverses of Los Tres Miles, employing local Spanish, English and German speaking guides.

We used Richard’s Cicerone guidebook, Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada, which covers the seven-day ‘Integrale’ as well as the shorter, five-day route from Trevelez.


The map to get is the 1:40,000 Sierra Nevada Parque National by Editorial Penibetica, which covers the entire range (double sided). The level of detail is fairly good, but the paper it’s printed on will not survive your trip intact!

Last light at camp, after the trek from Mulhacen.
© David Lintern

Dawn on the Raspones de Rio Seco.
© David Lintern

Mick on the Tajos de Virgens (grade 1).
© David Lintern

Long, hot and beautiful – the Tajos Altos.
© David Lintern

Join David Lintern in the Sierra Nevada

If this sounds exciting, you can join David in June 2019, when he plans to return to the Sierra Nevada to lead a 6-day photographic trek following the Los Tres Miles route. Accompanied by local guide Richard Hartley, the aim is to return at a time of year when the weather is more stable and focus on the photographic potential. The route will avoid the more vertiginous sections, visiting snow tunnels, alpine lakes and meadows and plenty of summits. Highlights to include Alcazaba for sunset, and a traverse of the north face of Mulhacen (as described in the feature).

It’s a six-day trek (plus two days travel at either end), from 8th – 15th June, 2019. The cost is £750 per person which includes 6 days trek in a small group (minimum 4, maximum 6), 2 guides, transfers to and from Malaga airport, 2 nights in a historic hotel (at the start and finish – sharing, but a comfortable place with a good restaurant), transport to the start and from the finish in the foothills, and an (optional) photo sharing session on the last night.

For more information and to book a place, please visit:

Looking back from Cerro del Caballo.
© David Lintern

Header image: At the col below Mulhacen.