Sunday, February 20, 2011

Circular walk in the Serranía de Ronda: Júzcar – Alpandeire – Júzcar

Time: 4/5 hours
Ascent: approx. 350 meters - Descent: approx. 450 meters
Distance: approx. 15 km
Walking level: medium
Time of the year: avoid in hot weather as there is no shade
Starting point: village centre of Júzcar, from bar/restaurant Torricheli
Description: 1st half of the walk takes you to the base of the dramatic limestone crags Los Riscos, with great views over the Genal Valley and its white villages and Morocco on clear days. The return takes you down to the river on the old Moorish path, then uphill more gently through cork oak woods and Sweet Chestnut woodland interspersed with short sections of road.

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Turn right on the steep concrete road climbing behind the bar/restaurant Torricheli. At the top, where it meets the main road, take the track on the left signposted “Los Riscos”.

This dirt track soon becomes concreted (in order to avoid the track being washed away by the torrential rain we get in winter to keep these limestone hills accessible to the local shepherds and now walkers since the Junta has just opened a brand new circular path*). The path is lined with Sweet Chestnut trees (the main agriculture in the Genal valley) and a few Cork Oak (the bark is still being harvested for the cork industry). You will also see two other white villages: Pujerra (behind you as you are climbing up and Cartajima in front of you).

After a short climb, you will reach a path and a small white building on your right, and a parking area with an information board and an ancient threshing stone circle (or “era” in Spanish) on your left.

*To start the newly created circular walk called “the path of the 5 threshing stone circles”, take the path on your right hand side sign-posted “Sendero”. This will add another 1 to 1 ½ hour to your walk. For more information on this cute little walk, click on Short circular walk in the Serranía de Ronda.

To proceed with the circular Júzcar – Alpandeire – Júzcar walk, continue straight on on the main dirt track between the car park area and the white building (you can see it disappearing in the distance in front of you), following the base of the limestone crags called Los Riscos and the fence that runs along on the right hand side. Ignore any paths on the left.

This track meanders through olive and almond groves, very pretty in January/February when the almond blossom and the Wide-leaved Irises are out. In spring, watch out for Love-in-the-mist and different varieties of Orchids among the myriad of wild flowers that grow on the edges of the track. If you love birds, you might see Blue Rock Thrushes, Black Wheatears or Griffon Vultures to name just a few.

After another short climb, you will come to a meadow with a small white building and a restored, raised era on the right hand side. Continue straight on, through a makeshift gate (please leave it as you find it – used when livestock is left to graze unattended).

Keep on the main track, still following the base of Los Riscos and the fence on the right hand side, ignoring any paths on the left. After the second makeshift gate, you will have great views opening on the left hand side over Alpandeire (bellow you), the Bajo Genal villages in the distance (Benadalid, Benalauria, Algatocin, Benarrabá) and Morocco on clear days.

Follow the path until you join a tarmac road (MA-7307 continuation of the MA-7302/7301/7303). At this junction, turn left and walk on the road for about 500 meters (in Spring, watch out for Peonies and Blue Bells nestled in the limestone rocks on the left hand edge of the road and in January/February, enjoy the almond blossom on the right hand side of the road). Even though this road is very quiet, do take all the usual necessary road safety precautions.

When you reach a small building on the left hand side of the road, go through the makeshift gate opposite on the right hand side of the road. Then follow the path to the left of the gate, leading away from the field and following the fence round to the left. Follow the track up for about 15 meters keeping an eye on the fence on the left hand side to spot a small makeshift gate. Open the “gate” very carefully so as not to hurt yourself with the barbwire.

Great views again over the Bajo Genal Valley and over another white village, Atajate, the smallest village in Malaga Province, right in front of you. At this makeshift gate, turn immediately left and follow this ancient Moorish footpath down. This path, still cobbled in places, meanders down through thyme, lavender and curry plants, making it a very pleasantly scented path. In spring, watch out for different varieties of Orchids.

Follow the path downhill, crossing 2 makeshift gates until you join a wider dirt track. At this junction, turn left and follow the track up, past ruins and a cute little shrine painted in yellow on the left hand side. When the track joins onto another track, turn left again and follow this main track up, until the village of Alpandeire opens up in front of you.

If instead of a packed lunch, you would rather enjoy delicious Spanish cuisine, you can either eat at La Casa Grande (situated opposite the Chemist or Pharmacia, on the caraterra de Ronda), a gourmet Hotel/Restaurant, which serves fantastic cuisine and also caters for vegetarians (no doubt that their salads are the best in the area!), or El Tapeo if you prefer tapas (they offer a great selection of freshly made tapas – situated on the Avenida de Andalucía). Both are closed on a Monday.

Follow the track down, past a house on the right hand side. At the bottom, you reach a T-junction. Turn right and take the first street on the left to enter the village. Where the streets fork, walk up the street on the left called Calle Posito. Then turn left and walk up round the church to get to the Restaurant La Casa Grande. Or turn left and then take the first street on the right, past a little water feature with gold fish and the village bakery on the left, and turn right onto Avenida de Andalucía to go to El Tapeo which is before the Fray Leopoldo view point.

To get to the start of the walk heading towards Júzcar, go to the Fray Leopoldo view point at the bottom of Avenida de Andalucía and take the first path on the left, behind the view point and right by the house no 35, and keep Left at the house no 53. (Do not go down the path of the Stations of the Cross which bears right). In about 50 m, the path becomes a grassy track and then a steeper cobbled downhill path (the old Moorish Camino). About 5 minutes from the village take the right fork past 2 pillars of an old gate. Continue downhill to the river.
Cross the river and continue following the wide track for about 2 km. There are good views along the ridge of the village of Farajan on the right and Alpandeire on the left.

At the tarmac road, turn right and follow the road for about 500 meters until you see a dirt track on the left hand side. Take this dirt track and continue straight on until you reach a makeshift gate in front of you. Go through the gate and follow the footpath downhill until you reach the tarmac road again. This path is signposted with yellow and white lines on posts by the side of the trail. You will have lovely views over the white village of Júzcar.

At the road, turn left and follow the road for about 100 meters. Watch out carefully for a footpath cutting through the Sweet Chestnut trees on the left hand side. Follow the path downhill until you meet the road again. At the road, turn left and follow the road back to Júzcar for about 1 km.

Description of this circular walk in the Serrania de Ronda provided by Butterfly Adventures. As sometimes waymarks disappear or footpaths change or get fenced off, do bring a map with you to complement this walk description.

1 comment:

  1. is looking awesome. What a lovely experience. I can't wait more to go there. I will surely make some of plan of this place. Cheers Man!
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