GR 249. Stage 25: Estación de Benaoján - Jimera de Líbar
Las Ventas of the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar
The exit to the east from the Station in Benaoján requires walking across a level crossing with barriers and then a bridge over the Guadiaro. These two obstacles, one of them natural and the other one carrying a long history, will be accompanying the hiker for much of the stage. On the other side of the river a path offers the possibility to go to the Cueva del Gato along the nearby Charco de la Barranca, or following the opposite direction, to the right, which is the GR selected option. Pass by olive grove on the left and then on the right the restored mill Molino de Cecilio.
The half-hidden stone paving of the path gives you an idea of the importance of the path for livestock transit, which is corroborated by the next house, Venta de María Joaquina, one of the former service stations where food and shelter was offered to the travellers of the drover´s road.
A dirt track leads up to a wide area where you ignore a path to your right. This is the Erilla Blanca rest stop, at a slope populated with Holm and Portuguese oaks of Monte de las Viñas estate. A little further on there is a good general view of Benaoján and surroundings, facing north. From the first high point you can make out the white houses of Cortijo de la Fresnedilla and the drinking water pumping station on the other side of the tracks. A steep descent ends at the bridge over the Arroyo del Agua and the Venta built on travertine rock; the rock is a result of an old waterfall existing here at another time and in another climate. Among the vegetation that surrounds the Venta there are some fi g trees, still surviving, and even a laurel bush; the silent witnesses to the catering business in a building that had remained standing until the early 1990.
Las Angosturas del Guadiaro
Now the path really welcomes the walker, it rises again to a hill of pink marlstone, which is also an excellent viewpoint over the Guadiaro and the fi rst railroad tunnel, a little over two kilometres into the walk. Passing on the left the Camino de Alpandeirethe walk descends back to the level of the river in the area where it sometimes overflows. This is the best place to admire the aquatic fauna, particularly when walking quietly. Here the short stream coming from Fuente Enrique (also rich in travertine) flows into the river. At the narrowest part of the watercourse there had been a bridge, now only the two supports remain.
Another climb to the grove of Cortijo del Quejigal farmhouse gives the path a privileged position to see one of the most expensive railway construction areas. Along a very short section there had to be build two tunnels and a large trench plus a new bridge to cross to the other side of the river, (the side you are walking on).
Always following south-west direction, walk downhill again, skirting the hill which rises above the train line. The vegetation is more typical of sunny areas but soon the Portuguese gall oaks make another appearance. You will easily find gorse, white cistus, mastic, spiny broom, terebinth, wild roses, hawthorn, and soon.
There are a couple of pink marlstone rocks which make a potential shelter from the rain. Having passed the guardrails you arrive (at km 4.5) at Arroyo Seco or Aguila; usually the first name is used. La Cancha de Conio Mountain with its steep cliff closes the valley off to the east, and then the valley is spanned by another railway bridge.
Another walk uphill lets you observe the road Benaoján-Cortes de la Frontera aheadleading along the gray limestone where the famous Cueva de la Pileta is located. At the level of the walk but across the river there are the ruins of Cortijo del Parral. This means that you will soon be at the Cortijo del Palmero, hidden from the walk by another farm in the front. This section of narrow path witnessed an accident which resulted in several wounded when an escaped bull charged two groups of walkers in 2003. And so you arrive at the Roza de María where there was a fi re and its remains can still be seen, for example a few dead fruit trees.
Next, you will be passing the site where an express train derailed in 1979, fortunately there were no fatalities but a very complicated and expensive rescue of the train engine submerged in the water followed the dangerous accident, which has been registered and described on nthe Internet.
Jimera Líbar and its farmland
La Cuesta de Recoveros (beware of the embankment of the train on the right) and the drainage ditch lead to where the valley opens up again, having to cross the road on a spectacular iron bridge painted in green, built in 2013 to facilitate the transit of the drover’s road. The river Guadiaro envelo the path again in its dense riparian wood and walnut trees which give way to the almost completely gone chapel Ermita de la Virgen de Salud. The canoe pier is at the foot of the path.
Then you reach the train stop itself where three train cars have been converted into offices and storage for the white-water descents in canoes.
A newly built junction on the road leads to the roundabout where you fi nd the path paved with locally sourced sandstone slabs that the town hall built along one of the roadsof the Station; it is the the Cañada del Olivar.m The cañada repeatedly cuts across the road between Jimera Station and Jimera village, amongst olives, almonds and dry farmed crops.
The entrance to the village is past the public swimming pool and at the source Fuente de Jimera with its inscription dating back to 1789, in the middle of the MA-8307, where stage 25 ends.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: There is a short stretch of road linking the MA-7401 access road from Ronda to Benaoján, very close
to the village. It can also be reached by train, using the Bobadilla-Algeciras line.
Starting point: The small square in Benaoján Station.
Enjoy the walk safely: Just at start there is the level crossing with barriers over the railway. You have to follow the signs and use the pedestrian crossing section. Towards km 2.5 the walk gets very close to the Guadiaro riverbed. Although it isn´t common, when there is major flooding water can reach an area of about 100 meters. In these circumstances it is best to retrace your steps, and do not expose yourself to potentially violent waters.
The embankments created during construction of the railway line have been secured with metal nets and guardrails have been provided for the dangerous sections. However, there are some places where this hasn´t happened, particularly at the Cuesta
de los Recoveros, where there is a concrete channel running on the side. In addition, the terrain along that stretch of the walk is very rocky and there is a possibility you could slip. At Jimera Líbar station you have to cross the road twice, and of course, this must be done at the designated pedestrian crossings.
Finally, to go up to Jimera de Líbar village you will walk along a paved path, however there are some sections along the road. Take precautions, but the traffic is not too heavy here.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: Jimera Líbar is reached using MA-8307 road Ronda to Algeciras (A-369) that connects with
the Cortes de la Frontera-Benaoján road (MA-8401).
Finish point: Southern part of Jimera de Líbar at the junction of the MA-8307, where the Fuente de Jimera and the old wash house are located.
Possible "escape routes":It is impossible to get out of Las Angosturas, keep going until the Jimera station or go back to Benaoján station.
No return point: It’s hard to pin-point, but a good benchmark is Arroyo Seco, recognizable because of the location at the second railway bridge. This watercourse is halfway between the two stations and it is recommended to keep going from this point as going back would mean a steep climb.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: Once you cross the River Guadiaro at Benaoján Station you are on the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar, which is the main right of way in the area. This drover´s road is used by two PR paths of Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, namely the SL A-139 to the Cueva del Gato (linear, 2.2 km one way) and A-139 SL Guadiaro River (with the length of 7.3 km).
The Cordel del Monte de las Viñas joins the Cañada Real at the Descansadero (livestock rest area) de la Erilla Blanca (800 meters from the start) and it used to be an important link with Gibraltar from Ronda without having to go via the Benaoján tation. It has no current use and is barely recognizable, although it is way-marked.
Past the Mirador del Charco de Tunél there is a junction with a path going off to the left, barely visible, which is a locally signifi cant path to Alpandeire, leading through the most important property of Las Angosturas, the Cortijo del Quejigal, which is not visible from the GR.
Jimera Líbar and its station are connected by numerous walks that fan out towards the fertile fl uvial plains (vegas) from the village entrance. The most commonly used were those from Huertas Nuevas and the paths chosen for the Great Path of Malaga, known as the Colada del Olivar. There are three or four other paths as options, advertised by the village and in perfect condition.
Finally, the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar continues downward and parallel to Guadiaro River without crossing the railroad except once, over the green bridge. It is perfectly passable, and has been approved and designated the number PR A-255 and it joins the GR -249 again in next stage at Laguna Honda.