THE WALK OF MELANIE & THE TIGER
Time Required: 3/3.5 hours
Map: IGN 1:50000 Cortes de la Frontera (1064/14-46)
Water: no springs along the way so take plenty
This easy half-day walk skirts round the mountain beneath the beautiful village of Gaucín then cuts down into the Genal valley to the Ermita de Juan de Dios, a mountain chapel where a colourful annual pilgrimage is held. There are lovely sections of ancient path, a fair amount of track and even a short section of what is reputedly Roman road. Throughout the walk you're treated to soaring views out across the Genal valley and back to the hilltop chapel and the castle above Gaucín. This is a great walk for the variety of wildflowers and you have a good chance of spotting eagles hunting down in the valley and will certainly see bee-eaters during the summer months. Be prepared for a stiff final pull back up to the village and be sure to take plenty of water. I owe special thanks to my friends Melanie and Tiger for sharing one of their favourite walks with me.
|LOS ALCORNOCALES The Walk of Melanie & the Tiger
The walk begins at the petrol station (la gasolinera) on the outskirts of Gaucin on the main road, leading through the village from Ronda to Algeciras. There is plenty of parking space immediately opposite. From here head into the village centre, first passing bar La Bodeguita Chaparro then cafeteria La Cruz. At the zebra crossing swing left along a narrow street. Pass the Molino del Carmen, and continue on through the village, passing between the Unicaja bank and the Mercado de Abastos.
Turn left just past the Cajamar bank and head along in Calle Queipo de Llano. At the end of the street, just past Bar Portisuelo, turn right and climb for 30m then swing left on a track that immediately begins to descend. The track drops down through groves of almonds and carobs, skirting round beneath the village. At the next fork by a white building, just to the left of the track, bear right (25 mins).
The track continues to descend and passes beneath a white building where you'll be greeted by barking dogs. When you reach a grove of carob and olive trees, ignore a left turn leading to a gate but rather continue straight on. You reach a more open area of meadow. A fence now runs to either side of the track. The track runs towards a ruined farm then angles right then passes to the right of a gate where it narrows to become a path. This pretty path soon drops down to meet with another track. Here, continuing on the same course, you meet with another track by a green transformer mast (50 mins).
Bear right here, following a line of cypresses uphill for 300m. When you reach a junction where there's a carob tree to your left and pine trees straight ahead turn left. You immediately reach a large red gate. Squeeze by to the right of the gate. Big views open out across the Genal valley to the mountain of La Crestelina and you'll now spot green and white waymarking. The track soon passes by a sandy area where bee-eaters nest. Shortly after passing beneath electricity lines you reach a fork. (8) Here bear sharply right on a track (marked by a cairn) which heads up towards the mountain of El Hacho before looping back round to the left. Soon you meet with a better-surfaced track.
Continue up on your same course, climbing gently up between oak and pine trees towards a pylon. After crossing over a rocky scree slope the track passes just to the left of the pylon. When you reach a second pylon swing left and drop steeply downhill: soon you'll spot the barrel-vaulted ermita beneath you. The track drops down to the picnic area in front of the Chapel of Juan de Dios (1 hour 15 mins). The chapel is the destination of a summer romería when the villagers bring the Santo Niño (the Christ Child) down from Gaucín. It's a nice place to break for a picnic.
When you come to leave, with your back to the main entrance of the chapel, up ahead you'll see tracks to both left and right. Take the left hand option and head up a wonderful old section of track which climbs up between ancient groves of almonds. Soon you pass by an odd group of modern buildings to the left of the track. Continue on up the track which is now cobbled in parts. As it levels the Gaucín to Casares road comes into sight down beneath you.
Shortly before the track drops down to meet with this road you reach a three way junction. Here take the middle option (being sure not to take the track which angles hard right: the owner of the farm doesn't appreciate visitors). Climbing up and over a ridge
Gaucín comes into sight once again. You're now following a section of ancient road which locals referred to as the 'la calzada romana': (Roman road) it has recently been resurfaced all the way up to the village. Continue straight on up towards Gaucín following a line of pylons.
Prepare yourself for a steep climb. Soon you pass by Finca El Alborrán then a little further up go past the track cutting in to El Nobo. Continue straight up to the first houses of the village where the track becomes paved. Angling right you pass by the oddly numbered houses 5, 3, 7 then 35 where you should cut left and head up a narrow, paved street. When you reach the top turn left along a one way street past the Cuartel of the Guardia Civil to return to your point of departure (2 hours 20 mins).
Walking guide books by Guy Hunter Watts
Buy walking guide books by Guy Hunter Watts
"Walking in Andalucia" by Guy Hunter Watts
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.'
Buy a printed or eBook copy online direct from publishers Walking in Andalucia.
"Coastal walks in Andalucia" by Guy Hunter Watts
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
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
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.