Mid-life crisis? I had mine at 45, so that must mean I’m going to reach 90! Yes, at 45, I walked out of the well-paid Financial Directors role and turned to that great passion of mine, the mountains. I had been training as a mountain guide on a part time basis since 1983 so it was a logical move. Now for the dream?

We ran trips to Scotland and the Alps. I always thought I would buy a place on the west coast of Scotland. Then in 2000 I was forced to go on a group holiday to Mallorca. I was expecting lager louts and tatoos, but found and discovered……sunshine! What a difference to the grey drizzle of a scottish morning. Instead I was able to walk in t-shirt and shorts amid glorious mountain scenery, the constant smell of fresh herbs around me, and in warm weather. Bliss! That was a turning point, as my love affair with Spain began.

A chance reading of an article in a magazine lead me to organise a “boys trip” to the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain. There I discovered high mountains, wonderful snow and of course the sun again. Even more bliss! Not only that but the people were friendly, the food was good and it was cheap. Free tapas with every beer meant that we spent nothing on food for a week!

Separating from my wife (she married a accountant who became a mountain guide!) late in 2002 gave me the opportunity to totally redirect my life. In December of that year I packed my pickup truck with my worldly possessions, my dog and headed south. I never looked back. The first place I arrived at was Lanjaron in the Alpujarras and funnily enough, I’m still here. I love the people, the culture, the tradition, the history, the weather and of course the wonderful mountains. I’m still living the dream.

During my early years here I wrote many emails back home to friends and family. They give a flavour as to what you may expect, if you should ever follow in my footsteps, or indeed make some footsteps of your own! There are also links to family related websites in particular the research done by my father, Duncan Hartley, into his Cameron Clan ansestory.

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada