There is a stark beauty in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Andalucia, but also a grimness in their visage that I haven't experienced in other mountain ranges. Driving through the first pass from Motril to Granada on the old road the sheer cliffs on either side of the road rise up vertically into the sky, bleak and massive, and lean over as if to say, 'Here we are, you puny mortal, ready to clash together when we feel we need to crush you.' I search vainly for some green vegetation to break the broad expanse of grey, but there is none: only black pits of half-caves too high to be of any use to man or beast, though perhaps the birds use them. I see so very few birds in those dark avenues between the shoulders of the mountains that I wonder if they have ever seen any life. True, the higher one gets the more open the range becomes, terminating in the snow-capped peaks of Mulhacen, the highest of them. I have to say I'm always in the grip of tension driving the narrow winding roads, some of them without any barriers between their outer edge and a vertical drop of hundreds of feet and my stomach knots every time we journey up to one of the Moorish villages that perch on lofty ledges. However, at the end of the climb is a rustic meal in a rural restaurant - hardly a restaurant really, since most of them are the living rooms of a local family - of the highest quality. Potatoes cooked in olive oil (poor man's patates), rabbit or goat stew and home-made wine. Absolutely delicious if you're a meat-eater and enjoy an old-fashioned meal. Braving the big-shouldered mountains, with their immense, threatening drops, has its rewards. Going down the twisty roads doesn't quite hold the same terrors.