In Britain they are known as lanes but here in this area East of Málaga they are known by English residents as tracks or by the Spanish as un carril.
At all events they are the way to connect your country house to a proper tarmac roadway and these tracks vary considerably in length and ease of use.
Some country properties may be quite some way from the highway but, if you are lucky, your house may be within 500 metres or so of the roadway.
What you need to consider when buying a house in the countryside is how easy it will be to drive along your track all year round. Some of these rural access tracks are quite steep or have very sharp bends, while others have a more gradual slope. Bear in mind that most of this area to the east of Málaga is hilly countryside, so straight and flat access will be rare indeed.
What of the surface? The best of all is well-made reinforced concrete, about 4 metres wide and substantial enough to carry large lorries should deliveries or work be needed.
A commonly found, but not as good as a concrete track, is one made from a mixture of stone, gravel and soil, although this surface should be adequate for fairly level tracks.
It is worth being aware that in this region, known for long, hot and sunny weather during much of the year, winter rains can be quite ferocious and can quickly ruin the stone and gravel surface just described, if there is a substantial slope. The greater the incline, the faster the water flows and it is not uncommon to see storm water forming meandering channels 10 to 30 centimetres deep, cutting away any loose earth, making access for cars very difficult.
For this reason many people living in the countryside opt for a 4-wheel drive vehicle and this includes most of the Spanish rural crop growers. These tough vehicles give added confidence for those who must traverse difficult terrain, but it is important to remember that 98 percent of all your driving will be on normal roads, so only think about a heavy 4-wheel drive vehicle if it seems necessary, or you are inclined to have a liking for them anyway.
Heavy winter rain can also bring down earth and stones in the form of a landslip from ground above the track, especially if the access has been cut into a hillside by a JCB-type digging machine, which is usually the case here in the Axarquía.
Until you get used to this sort of thing, it can seem quite daunting at first to drive on some country tracks that may have a near vertical cliff above you on one side and a hair-raising drop of many metres on the other side. Fear not! Your confidence will grow and soon it will be second nature dealing with the track to your house.
Among other considerations, always remember that good access that will remain open for use all year round is a valuable asset.
Where is the worse/best track you have driven down?
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