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|
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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 in Andalucia
This is an extract of one of the many walks featured in Guy Hunter Watts' book "Walking in Andalucia". 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. Buy a copy online of Walking in Andalucia.