Walking tour in Benarrabá

The village of Benarraba, beautifully nestled in the Serrania de Ronda © Michelle Chaplow
The village of Benarraba, beautifully nestled in the Serrania de Ronda

Benarrabá | Hotels | Festivals | History | Walking Tour | Video

Benarraba - Walking tour

Before heading down the winding lane at the junction of the Gaucin road, take a look at the hill that the road curves around, which the locals call Monte Poron. This is meant to be the site of the local seat of power, whose castle dominated the area. However looking at it today it has been heavily terraced in the last century and no other clues adorn the landscape.

The best way to understand this village is to stop before you get to the timber yard, on the way down the mountainside. Standing there and looking straight down, the first impression you gain is how small the village must have been a few hundred years ago. The old village would have clustered around the church in a sly valley side 522 metres above sea level, hiding itself from prying eyes of the valley below and the surrounding mountains. As the village grew in the 17th century along a small ridge, so a new piazza was laid out around the hermitage church. This development has continued today, with the construction of the sports field and the rural hotel.

As usual, it is always best to park on the outskirts of the village, before entering the pueblo, as the streets are tight. You can head for the church on foot. This is one pueblo that still has a feel of antiquity as the houses are roughly built and some of the streets have the original cobbled surface. Before reaching the church, the Plazoleta del Cabildo has a number of contrasts, including a disco pub, a shop and an interesting building dating from 1776. This latter edifice is one of the few in the town and serves as a public building. It has been recently restored, containing reddish mural designs of red stars, fans and circles. The building blocks of the structure seem cosmetic but the small windows seem original.

The parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion can’t be missed, is was reconstructed in the 17th century and heavily restored 100 years later, on almost certainly an earlier church destroyed during the Morisco uprisings. The church has its normal three naves and an interesting tower, with a ceramic blue roof of a Morisco style. Though partially redundant due to the falling population, the church is well maintained, having received some further attention in 1980. Walking down to the left of the church, substantial buildings can be seen underneath it, which until recently seem to have housed livestock. From this point the track to Genalgacil can be seen leading off into the valley.

Keeping your bearings, follow the ribbon development, which gradually climbs towards the large Plaza containing the hermitage church. Recent investment into the village is noticeable, with new pavements and the older buildings being replaced with more modern construction.

The walk finishes up in a simple rectangular square dominated at one end by the 17th century hermitage church of La Ermita Cristo de la Vera Cruz. The buildings around the open space are of a later period, suggesting that this church was originally built out of town. The town’s walled cemetery is just behind the church, which due to superstition, is always located well away from the centre of the population. Continuing past the cemetery the pueblo finishes at a modern two star rural hotel, appropriately called Hotel Banu Rabbat. This is bringing some life back into the village and organises walking and painting holidays. From the car park, the Ruta el Penon takes you on a 45 minute walk down to the river Genal. Looking back from this point, the village is dominated by the hills behind and a large TV antenna. This explains why so many homes are tuned into TV 1.

Back towards the entrance to the village and a small square that is used as a car park, a track way leads down due south to a spring, that was until recently used as the Lavadera. The track winds down to the Rio Genal.   There is an estate further on, that has been building up a hunting zone for some years and now blocks the track. 

Ventorro de Las Corchas

This building is well known today just south of the road junction, heading towards Gaucín. Today it sells antiques but in the 18th & 19th century, this was a major watering hole and venta on the way to Ronda. Many a British officer from Gibraltar used it as a pit stop, before the coming of the railway line. It was also a key point in the distribution chain of smuggling contraband from the Rock.   It is here in the 19th century that the celebrated artist G Dore developed his taste for drawing horse images, that later became known as Goyesco Riding. These typical Andaluz images are published around the world and portray something that originated from an observation from this place.


Walking guide books by Guy Hunter Watts

Buy walking guide books by Guy Hunter Watts

"Walking in Andalucia" by Guy Hunter Watts

Cicerone Walking in Andalucía is a 260 page full colour guide to some of the very best walks in southern Spain, taking the walker on 34 routes - all starting and most finishing in beautiful villages - in the Natural Parks of Grazalema, La Alpujarra, Cazorla, Los Alcornocales, Aracena, and La Axarquia. Many of the full and half day walks are virtually unknown even though they are a short drive from the Costa del Sol. Even though more and more people are beginning to walk Spain's southern sierras, most of the routes remain blissfully undiscovered. Guy says, 'If you decide to head for the hills with my guide you can be sure of two things: you will be walking through areas of great natural beauty and you will meet with other walkers.'  
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"Coastal walks in Andalucia" by Guy Hunter Watts

Coastal walks  in Andalucia 45 great coastal walks close to Andalucia's Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Discover the best hiking trails close to Vejer, Caños de Meca, Conil, Tarifa, Bolonia, Gibraltar, Casares, Estepona, Marbella, Istán, Mijas, Benalmádena, Alhaurín, Cómpeta, Fuengirola, Nerja, Maro and Almuñecar. Talk to most people about the coast of Andalucía and they’ll picture the small swathe of seaboard that runs from Torremolinos to Estepona, the heartland of what is commonly sold as the Costa del Sol. First associations are of crowded beaches, busy coastal roads and blocks of holiday apartments. Few amongst them will conjure up visions of the mighty chain of mountains, the tail end of the Sierra Subbética, which rises up a few kilometres back from the sea. Nor do they tend to evoke the wilder beaches of the Costa de la Luz or the footpaths that run just a few metres from the Atlantic surf.
Buy a printed or eBook copy online direct from publishers Coastal Walks in Andalucia.


"The Andalucian coast to coast walk " by Guy Hunter Watts

coast to coast walk A stunning 21 day, 435 kilometre trail that links the Mediterranean with the Atlantic. The walk passes through six of Andalucia's Natural Parks and protected areas via its most beautiful mountain villages. Far more than a long walk, this on-foot odyssey can lead you to the heart of southern Spain's magnificent sierras and on a life-changing journey of discovery. One of the best things about the simple act of walking is the sense of reconnecting with Nature and the Big Wide World. We've been moving around on two feet for a very long time yet still, in the simple act of putting one foot in front of the next and moving across landscape, it seems that we reassert our identity. Day to day worries fall into insignificance, or rather true significance, when we get out into the mountains and walking is about a lot more than taking exercise.
Buy a printed or eBook copy online direct from publishers The Andalucian Coast-to-coast Walk.


"Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema" by Guy Hunter Watts

Cicerone The dramatically situated town of Ronda can make a great base for a walking holiday in the mountains of Andalucía, as can any one of the picturesque 'pueblos blancos' (white villages) that nestle among the surrounding hills. This guidebook presents 32 mainly circular walks in the Ronda region, covering the town and its environs, the Natural Parks of La Sierra de Grazalema and La Sierra de las Nieves (both UNESCO biosphere reserves), and the Genal and Guadiaro Valleys. Clear route description is illustrated with mapping, and the route summary table and 'at a glance' information boxes make it easy to choose the right walk.
Buy a printed or eBook copy online direct from publishers Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema.