GR 141. Etappe 03: El Colmenar - Benarrabá
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1. El Colmenar – km 0
Situated at the village crossing, we go south to the road of Gaucín (MA-9300). Then we get to the iron bridge over the Guadiaro river. From the other end we go down to the bank and move to cross over the gate that takes us away through a small path that happens to meet the Cañada Real of El Colmenar. This first street slope ends to the right, the lane is cut off by a gate that separates it from the road. It is unusual, and at the same time exemplary, to find here a large container installed by the hunting society of Las Lomillas, where hunters deposit their cartridges; we applaud the idea, because this measure helps to avoid contaminating the soil and prevents the poisoning of wildlife, especially birds. The trail crosses over the gate and continues straight ahead. The height gained adds mastic shrubs to the vegetation and displays an extraordinary landscape from west to north. During the summer, the fragrance of the pennyroyal will waft through the air, as it is very abundant in the Bujeo.
After about a hundred meters from the last intersection, we stumble across a high step besides the gate when accessing a nearby cortijo, a sort of ‘farmhouse’. We walk up another little slope and then we access the public hill of La Herriza, in the municipality of Gaucín.
2. Monte público La Herriza (La Herriza public hill) – km 2,4
We leave the clayey meadows behind and we access the hill through the next gate. Here the holm oak is accompanied by plenty of Jerusalem sage, rockrose and mastic. After so much walking uphill, we finally walk on a flat surface for a while, although the pattern changes when we have to jump over another fence. Finally, after a short climb, we reach the path to access this area. After walking around 125 meters we find the track is cut off at the entrance of a sharp curve; it forces us to carry on ahead along a tire track, towards a plain surrounded by old kermes oaks.
The Cañada Real of Benarrabá appears in our path and we will walk through it. The walk takes us to the top of the hill of La Mora, exactly at the point where there is a lamppost. To the north, the landscape is beautiful on the rounded hill of La Mora; also to the southeast, where the steep Puerto del Negro stands out, covered with oaks. Then we continue along the path that runs parallel to the power line and reach a path that leads us to a beautiful forest of holm oaks, pines, heather and Portuguese oaks. Soon we will have to turn down a path on the right, in an area of wild olive trees, blackberry bushes, fan palms and flax-leaved daphnes. We later pass by a natural spring and the remains of a limestone quarry, and enjoy the beauty of the forest environment: we are in the creek of La Mora. In parallel to its course, we walk up towards a gate, a milestone displaying the proximity of the intersection where the route will continue through a new livestock track.
3. Colada del Camino del Molino al Peso (track of Camino del Molino al Peso)– km 4,8
At this crossroads we leave the Cañada Real of Benarrabá. This entire area is known as El Peso, because history says that it is the place where the mountain-dwellers weighed the fan palm, which was collected between June and August. The process required leaving it to dry in the sun for a month; then it was bleached in a container with burning sulfur. Subsequently they cut it into strips from which the tough wiry grass was extracted. Being easier to shape than esparto, it was used to make hats, fans to stoke the fire and large baskets for figs. These and other crafts are not very common nowadays.
At the crossroads of the ancient cortijo of El Peso, we take the left strand and go up towards a nearby green gate; then we arrive at a main route from near the Puerto del Negro, on the MA-9300 road. If you want to get some water, the fountain of El Peso is next to the track, a short distance towards the road. The GR splits off upwards from the main track. A chain prevents vehicles from entering, but not people from passing through. On the side, a mosaic indicates the access to the Hacho mountain range via ferrata. From the forest house, where the lane ends, 250 meters separate us from a steep rise.
4. Monte público Zahara (Zahara public hill) – km 5,6
We are next to the forest house, in the Zahara public hill, belonging, as the previous one, to the municipality of Gaucín. Our path crosses a gate into the mountain. Henceforth, we will discover some old educational boards that point out where the different species of the Mediterranean forest grow. After crossing a new gate, we will walk another 350 meters slightly upwards until we reach Puerto Blanquillo, which seems like a perfect viewpoint with it being 746 meters high.
We have barely walked 150 meters from the port, when we have to go to the right-hand side of the fence through a gate. To the south we can perfectly see the hillside of the Hacho and a detached and unique stone hillock called Tajo Bermejo. We soon discover the hollow of a limestone quarry on one side, surrounded by Jerusalem sage, heather, hawthorn and wild roses. The limekiln is in a hollow circle of about two meters deep and with stone on the inside. We continue walking, circling the hillside of the Hacho, with its summit full of holm oaks, even though it can’t be seen from here. If it was not visible before, now, from a hillock with an electric pole, we can see the north, the town of Cortes de la Frontera lying in the foothills of the Sierra de los Pinos. We have finally reached the port of Los Hinojales.
5. Puerto de los Hinojales (Port of Los Hinojales) – km 7,1
We can consider this panoramic view as something spectacular, looming over the jumbled rooftops of the old town of Gaucín with the Sierra Bermeja closing the horizon. Above the hamlet stands the castle of Águila on a high crag, with Roman origins. One of the most famous events of its long history dates back to 1309, when Christians tried to conquer this strategic square while Castile was under the reign of Sancho IV. According to the legend, Alfonso Perez de Guzman, known as Guzmán el Bueno, was famous for sacrificing his son to the enemy before succumbing to extortion during the Marinid siege in Tarifa in 1294.
The path, paved in some sections, descends accompanied by stone walls and widens as we approach smallholdings and country houses. This new position allows us to see the wind farm near Sierra Crestellina. Finally, the trail becomes a path that goes through olive trees, almond trees and cherry trees. Leaving behind a communications antenna, it flows into the Camino del Montoro street and through Gaucín, next to the gas station.
6. Gaucín – km 8
The route we have to follow is easy: the crossing of the A-369 road heading east, through the area where Gaucín faces the Guadiaro. We have to walk very carefully because there is not always enough roadside or sidewalks. After the Antonio Godino public park, we will find an information panel with short distance trails (PR-A) of the Ronda region. We follow the trail signposted as Route VI-La Umbria. The PR-A 243 Gaucín-Benarrabá continues along the road about 400 meters and ends up joining the GR-141 in the spot called Asalto del Cura.
We move forward along the road of Umbria, among holm oaks, olive trees and some vines, enjoying the view of the Hacho hillside. Soon we arrive at the entrance to a country house. Finally we turn right onto a path that goes between cork oaks and parallel to a fence, with a hidden view of the Líbar massif and the Guadiaro valley. The area we are passing through is called La Lobería, referring to the presence of wolves in the Serranía de Ronda until relatively recently. The route is wonderful to trudge through, almost flat, leaving some paths to access the adjoining country houses on either side, always under the cool shade provided by Portuguese oaks, carob trees and cork oaks. And we can see a rustic gate worked the old fashioned way, with wire and wooden logs. After wading through a creek, we reach a little slope and take a wider path that emerges on the right. We keep circling the hill of La Lobería when, on the northwest corner of it, the path turns east and runs into the access gate to the Quejigo hill.
7. Monte público Quejigo (Quejigo public hill) – km 11,4
As in previous milestones, we find some blue paint marks, but what most interests us is the roughness of this municipal hill of Gaucín, where vigorous Portuguese oaks, cork oaks, cluster and radiata pines grow, along with a dense thicket of blackberry bushes, rockrose, ferns and broom. From the trail, we glimpse the ornithological viewpoint of Africa on the northeast, located on top of a hill near the crossing of the A-369 with the road that goes down Benarrabá. This installation allows us to enjoy the flight of vultures and other birds that use the valley corridors of the Genal and the Guadiaro in migratory periods to or from the neighboring continent.
Good observers will already have noticed the presence of chestnut trees. From now on, lovers of photography, get ready, for you will not only enjoy watching the chestnut trees, elderly Portuguese oaks and cork oaks scattered through the area.
Another 500 meters of hiking places us at an important crossing with a wide track from the nearby A-369. We turn abruptly to the right, and then, after completing the slope, we come to the spot of Asalto del Cura.
8. Asalto del Cura – km 13,5
The location is idyllic because of the beauty of its chestnut trees, pines and oaks. There are several stories surrounding Asalto del Cura. The most widespread one refers to the accost the local parish priest suffered at the hands of bandits. The truth is that it is the place where residents of Gaucín usually celebrate St. John’s Eve. From here several roads lead into the mountains. Once we pass the gate, we reach the A-369. In the plain, to the right, lies the PR-A 243 Gaucín-Benarrabá path, which we will run into later. Not far away, towards the villaje lies the viewpoint of Asalto del Cura, on the roadside.
We must cross the A-369 and position ourselves on the opposite lane. After passing a gate to the left, we leave the path the PR-A 243 goes through, which we will be joining later. We continue moving slightly uphill, almost parallel to the road and we climb a hill where the landscape changes. This is where the access to the Montes de Propios de Benarrabá appears, and it starts near the Corchas inn.
9. Montes de propios de Benarrabá – km 15,3
Now we can already say we are on the slope of Genal, more specifically, on the border of the municipalities of Benarrabá and Gaucín. Precious is the image of Alpandeire lying north at the foot of the Riscos, a spot where the karst modeling suggests prodigious rock formations; Faraján can also be watched from above. To the east, Jubrique and Genalguacil. Closer and in the same direction, the hill of Poron rises, and at its feet lies Benarrabá, not yet visible. We have to run along the knoll of the Coto, towards the east, always in parallel or near the wide track.
The Montes de Propios de Benarrabá, although they were tithes of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, became municipal property from the 18th century. They are mainly used for the cork extracted from the cork oak or kermes oak, as they are known in the Serranía. Goat farming and pig fattening are also important economic activities in these places, as well as hunting: there are places for wild boar and roe deer hunting, a small species of deer found in these lands in one of its favorite spots in the Serranía de Ronda.
There comes a moment when the hill is equal in height to the path and we find the entrance to the Bellavista country house. Further on, the GR-141 turns right and begins a descent that offers the view of the Rock of Gibraltar and Jebel Musa, both considered in Greek mythology as the Pillars of Hercules, which at the time marked the limits to the known world. We also catch a glimpse of the two peaks of the Sierra Crestellina natural park and veering west appears the natural area of Reales de Sierra Bermeja and three Spanish firs rise skyward.
Shortly before passing the entrance gate to La Corchuela, on the southwest we have a nice view of Gaucín and its castle. We have traveled 1.3 km since we entered the municipality of Benarrabá when we arrive at an important crossroads. The main trail downwards branches out to reach the region of Los Lobos, Los Pepes and Prado de la Escribana, all on the bank of the river Genal. Our path turns sharply to the left and meets the PR-243 further down. Near the house of El Guarda, a couple of red and white posts indicate the point where we leave the track to follow a narrower one that veers off to the left. Once again we separate from the PR-A 243. This new section is extremely beautiful, because the elderly kermes oaks, known in the area as grandfathers, join beautiful Portuguese oaks and dense fern, forming a mixed forest of great beauty. We end up running into another track and connecting to the PR-A 243. We move towards the creek of las Veguetas, protected by a large tangle of vegetation, and we have to head up towards the marked trail between a pure kermes oak until we cross over the gate and wade across the stream.
10. Arroyo de las Veguetas (Las Veguetas creek) – km 17
From the other side of the creek there is an uphill path with a steep slope until it reaches a smoother track. The oak forest gives way to plots of land and citrus, fig trees, olive trees and almond trees. Unfortunately, the prickly pears that mark the way suffer from the cochineal carmine, a plague that ravages the valley of Genal.
11. Benarrabá – km 18,7
After entering the area of La Gaspara, we connect with the paved road of Benarrabá that goes down to the Prado de la Escribana and goes up the road of Genalguacil. Then we have to climb towards Benarrabá and the stage ends at Plaza del Cerro.
1. Beginn der Etappe:
Am Anfang des Viertels. Kreuzung der Buitreras Schlucht mit der MA-9300.
2. Ende der Etappe:
Platz ElCerro, an der Ecke des Weges ElLavadero en Benarrabá.