When we moved to Málaga we were excited about enjoying the food and discovering the culture, the beaches, the people and the weather. We knew we’d be able to ski during the day and dine on the beach in the evening. But hiking hadn’t really been on our minds.

As a keen trail runner I discovered a lot of the countryside local to us in the Rincón de la Victoria area. But I did this mostly alone. Family joining me? You’ve got to be kidding!

And then lockdown happened, and the children experienced weeks inside not being allowed to leave our (small but much appreciated) garden. As the restrictions were lifted we all suddenly got the urge to stretch our legs.

Not that there weren’t tears from some members of the family on those first couple of exploratory hikes. We set out to Canillas de Albaida and the fabrica de luz. A lot of complaining was heard at the back, and then as we reached the top the children felt a great appreciation for what they’d accomplished as they looked down on the world below them. It was the start of a new family pastime.

We roped in friends and headed to Alcaucin. As any parent knows children who would previously grumble over walking 500m suddenly find boundless energy when friends are involved. A 15km midday hike one surprisingly hot weekend last October had our dog wondering what on earth had got into us but the children raced on ahead. The beauty of the Ruta Botanica, although we may have taken some slight detours after “discussions” on which way to turn, means that it’s a firm favourite to return to again and again.

In groups and by ourselves we walked and hiked around the Axarquía and beyond, staying mostly in Málaga province with the odd detour into Granada when restrictions allowed. Intently studying Wikiloc (a great app if you don’t know it) to find the best route.

Our children are part of the Jóvenes Exploradores run by the Club Montaña Rincón which has also added to our hikes as they point out things they’ve learnt at camp.

Recently a new favourite, and definitely more challenging, hike around Ardales where the only way of knowing we were on a tried and tested route was to make sure we followed the mini cairns (stone stacks) placed by those who’d braved it before us led me to wonder what our next challenge could be.

So my sights are set on a trek up Maroma, I think I’ll go without children at first to get my bearings, but whereas a year ago I’d never have imagined them being able to complete it, now I know they can.

As someone who looks for the positives in everything, this is definitely something we can take as something good that came from the last year of Covid restrictions.

Now with the weather warming up it’s even more important to prepare before you head out. Plan a route, set off as early as you can in the morning, take double the amount of water you think you need, pack a hat and sun protection, bring high energy snacks like dried fruit and make sure your phone is charged. You don’t want to become a local news story!

When we now introduce holiday makers to our rentals and buyers to our properties in the area I make sure to rave not only about the food, beaches, towns, forts and museums but the wonderful hiking on offer too.