"Above Aledo, - in loco fragoso
et quasi inhabitabile - on the right hand side between
that and Alhama there is a notable sierra (mountainrange)
called Aspuña; it´s the tallest in this
land and was first discovered by those sailing from
Barbary or Lebante for Spain and as such I understand
that it has been called Aspuña from Spain,
as then the sailors on seeing land give it the name
of DSpain; There are in the flat of this land,
impressive sights of buildings and antiquities and nearby
populations as well as many good and abundant fountains
of which the nearby town take advantage.."
was the description of the 'Sierra de Espuña'
which 'Jerónimo Hurtado' made in 1584,
natural space of great scenic beauty and enormous
turistic interest, situated in the very centre of
the region of Murcia, with something more than 25,000
hectares forming part of the Andalusian ranges and
stretching between the regions of Mula and the Guadalentín
valley. It takes up land from Alhama, Aledo, Totana,
Mula and Pliego. Its great natural richness is so
important that in 1978 10,000 hectares were declared
as a Natural Park and nowadays they are considering
the possible extension of its parametres and its reclassification.
In addition, since 1973 more than 14,000 hectares
have been declared as a Natural Hunting Reserve.
Sierra Espuña was one of the first great forestial
repopulations in Spain. At the beginning of the century,
under the direction of the engineer 'Don Ricardo
Cordorníu Starico', a large part of the
Sierra surface was repopulated. Nowadays, it´s
ICONA (Instituto para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza
- Institute for the Conservation of Nature) who are
continuing with this work.
Orography and Places
From an orographic point of view its made up of a
heightened massif of deep interior vallies. Its geological
materials, the oldest of the Precambrica era were
affected by the jack knifing Alpine and are mainly
made up of sandstone, dolomite, marl and limestone
which have allowed the characteristic formation known
as "Karst", giving place to the "Karstico"
countryside; produced by the disolving of the carbonites
of the limestone rocks eroded by rainwater and snow,
like "El Gigante" where the erosion has
created very sophisticated shapes in the rocks. Other
places of interest are: 'El Purgatorio, Las Alquerías,
La Arboleja, El Cerro de las Cabras, La Fuente del
Sol, Las Cunas' - from where you can enjoy a
beautiful view of the mountainous countryside-; 'La
Umbría' or 'Pozos de la Nieve'
- which we will talk about in more detail in the Places
of Interest. The heights above sea level vary from
200 metres in the areas closest to the Gaudalentín
Valley and 1,585 metres at its highest point, the
famous 'Pico Morrón' of Totana or
Espuña. To the South of this peak you can find
one of the other most interesting areas called Collao
Bermejo at 1,200 metres, it is a traditional area
for hiking. The western area is taken up by 'LLano
de la Cabras'. Another point of orographic interest
is the region called 'Morrón Largo'.
Its climate is Mediterranean with mild temperatures.
Cold, but short winters and warm, dry summers.
Although Espuña enjoys a microclimate somewhat
more humid than the rest of the region, with average
annual temperatures ranging between 13,5 ºc and
in the cold periods temperatures lower than 7ºc;
these temperatures vary with altitude, including reaching
below 0ºc at 1,000 metres altitude some days
of the year.
The average rainfall is around 5000mm, with October
and April being the rainiest months. Occasionally,
in Spring and Autumn this rain takes the form of hailstones
and, although in scarse proportion, in Jaunary and
February it takes the form of snow, these months enjoying
the snowiest days. The summer months are referred
to as the dry period.
Hydrography and Vegetation
rivers do not flow through the Sierra although some
scattered springs run throughout the Sierra: La Carrasca
Malvariche, Los Algarrobos, Casa Rosa, streams and
ravines which flow into the rivers Pliego and Guadalentín.
The former recieves water from la Hoz and Malvariche
and the latter collects those from Molinos, Arcos,
Algeciras, Lebor and Espuña. These streams
are the cause of great erosion and drag materials
in times of torrential rain, but the erosive action
is less serious in the Sierra due to the blanket of
vegetation which covers it, as shouold be the case
for high mediterranean mountains, but man´s
actions and the successive repopulations have transformed
it and nowadays the mountainous countryside is dominated
by three types of pine groves of repopulation; The
Carrasco pine grove - Pinus halepensis - an example
of the Rodeno pine grove - Pinus pinaster - and the
Negral pine grove - Pinus nigra salzmanni.
highest areas of the 'Sierra Espuña',
'Macizo de Gigante' and 'Carache',
their peaks continuosly punished by the wind, exhibit
a prickly scrub whose plants are stuck down to the
floor, looking like small prickly pillows of little
height (they barely reach a few inches) which mix
plants known as the "culo de Monja"
- Ennama anthyllis ; you can also see black sabina
- Juniperus phoenicea - and small dwarf pine scrubs
- Quercus rotundifolia. The undergrowth formed by
the scrub species like Juniper - Juniperus oxycedrus
- , negral espino - Rhamnus lycioides - Kermes Oak
- Quercus coccifera - a genista variety - Genista
The small sources of water which are found in some
spots of the Sierra form actual small streams with
elm trees - Ulmus minosr - black poplars - Populusnigra
- or honeysuckle - Lonicera implexa. Small springs
also flow to the Espuña riverbed where its
easy to recognise some plants such as the maidenhair
well - Adiantus capillus veneris - and ferns which
live around the springs and fountain sources and which
are still used as a way to decorate houses; poplar
trees - Populus alba -, willow trees - Salix pedicellata
- and the poplar reeds appear on the riverbed of the
The vegetation is always more exuberant in these
areas that have stream beds than in the slopes of
As the vegetation is varied, so is the fauna. In
Sierra Espuña there are squirrels, as the pine
cones scattered at the foot of the pine trees demonstrate;
although they are not usually spotted on first glance,
in Spring and Autumn its easy to spot them due to
the greater activity, given that at this time of year
they collect their food: acorns and pine nuts in order
to survive during the winter and in the spring to
feed their young. The squirrel which inhabits the
Sierra is the grey squirrel - Sciurusvulgaris hoffmanni-.
Alongside this species we can find: hares - lepus
capensis - rabbits - Oryctolagus curuculus - wild
boar - Sus Scrofa - jays - Garrulus glandarius - and
snakes - Malpolon monspesularius - . Also, preditors
such as foxes - Vulpes vulpes - wild cats - Felix
Silvestris - genet - Genetta genetta - which are very
adept at hunting.
As you go up the masses of the Espuña you
can make out birds of prey such as the Golden Eagle
- Aquila chrysaetos - the sparrowhawk - Accipiter
nisus, kestrel - Falco tinonculus - goshawk - accipiter
gentillis - and others like choughs - Pyrrhocarax
pyrrhocorax - rock martins - Ptyonoprogne rapestris
- . At dusk you can see nocturnal birds of prey like
owls - Athene noctua.
In addition, there are also sedentary birds like the
magpie - Pica pica - and jackdaw - Corvus monedula.
In winter migratory birds appear which nest in the
Sierra, like the Thrush - Turdus philomelos –
and blackbirds- Turdus menila.
the brooks and fountain springs you can find green
frogs - Rana perezi - Salamanders - Salamandra salamandra
- and, giving beauty and colour to the countryside,
butterflies - Aricia morronensis - and reptiles like
the angry viper - Vipera latasti - and lots of other
small animals which vary according to the habitat
that the Sierra provides, whether its forest, rocky
places, mountainous slopes, brooks or springs.
In 1970 ICONA incorporated the "muflon del Atlas
o arrui" - Ammotragus lervia - (similar to mountain
goat with twisted horns) to the area, an animal easily
acclimatised to the Sierra and which breeds easily.
Nowadays more than 500 inhabit the Sierra.
Access to Sierra Espuña, in which Totana shares
jurisdiction with Alhama, means you have to go inside
a natural park, with its high mountainous land, where
you find nature intimately intertwined with man.
Access from Totana
The main access is via the Aledo road. Leaving behind
the 'Santa Eulalia' Hermitage, some 3km from
the town, a tarmaced forest road on the right leads
you to the Southern side of the Sierra towards 'Las
Alquerías' and 'Collao Bermejo'.