Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 10. Riogordo - Alfarnate
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: The road that connects with the A-6100 to Alfarnatejo.
Starting point: Alto Pulgarin road MA-157.
Enjoy the walk safely: There are no excessive risks at this Stage, except the 3 kilometres of road that must be walked, both at the beginning and between the river and the Puerto de Sabar, and a section out of Alfarnatejo. There, as always, you have to take extra precautions. There is mud and some sections of the trail are covered in loose stones and surface is in poor condition. There will be no wading across major streams
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: From Málaga on the A-6118 direction Periana and taking the MA-155. From Granada, exit 187 of the A-92 direction Zafarraya and take the MA-4102, which leads to the village by the Puerto de Alazores.
Finish point: La Plaza Puente de Alfarnate.
Possible "escape routes": The road up to the Puerto de Sabar and the village of Alfarnatejo.
No return point: As you reach the Cortijo de Auta it is quite difficult to make a decision at this point however it would be recommended to continue forward once you´ve started climbing the hill. However, the most sensible thing to do in case of any problems would be not following the GR any further and taking the main track south-west and then south which takes you to Río Gordo, relatively close from the farmhouse.
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
The GR-7 E-4, Tarifa – Athens – Partial overlap at the start, then up to km 7.6. The trail coincide in its Southern Branch or Granada Branch with the Great Path of Málaga, but in the opposite direction, from Pulgarin Alto up to the farmhouse Cortijo de Auta. The farmhouse had been mentioned as the “escape route”, since it passes close to the village of Riogordo.
That sector is advertised by the village of Riogordo as route of the cliffs to the Puerto de Sabar (Ruta de Tajos) and the GR-249 is suggested to follow that route. It also proposes another walk Ruta de la Sierra from the Cortijo de Auta. They are not marked as legalised public paths but there are nice information panels showing their locations.
The Vereda de la Costa path follows the course of the Sabar River to Pulgarin Alto and follows a dirt track by centuries-old olive groves. Final part of this Sage coincides in part with a circular path of Alfarnate, the PR 268-A Bosque de Las Morillas Alfarnate. It is 5.3 kilometres long and climbs to the Morrón del Águila connecting with the Great Path of Málaga in the ascent to the Puerto and Mirador de Malinfierno. There is a somewhat longer variant that leads to the Venta de Alfarnate.
Links with other paths:
- GR 7 E4 Tarifa Atenas – partial overlap at the start
- SL-A 329 Venta de San Juan - partial overlap
- SL-A 327 Asomadilla & Navazo – links up at Alfarnate
- PR-A 267 y PR-A 266, links up at the end of the Stage.
- Road traffic circulating around the towns and on the mountain roads
- Crossing a watercourse without a bridge
- Agricultural and forestry vehicles circulating
The rivers of Riogordo (Up to km 6.7)
The Central Limestone Arc of Malaga acts as a barrier against the northern winds, providing La Axarquia with an excellent climate. It also serves as a catchment area for rainwater, which drains off to the south and into the Mediterranean thanks to various springs. One of these water sources is Las Cuevas stream, which the route crosses at the start of this stage. The actual start is right at the confluence of the two main streams, and the route begins by following Las Zorreras stream, heading north-west. After turning left onto a dirt track, there is a slight descent, with the stream flowing down through an area of caves and cliffs; there are more olive groves and farmhouses on this bank than the other, and you soon pass a large threshing floor. Now level with the stream, just where the stream meets another called La Santa, it continues north-west, passing under the A-356 with a ford that can on occasion carry a fair quantity of water.
It then comes to a couple of bends and steep slopes, partly concreted over, with farmhouses and olive groves. After the 2.4km mark, you take a minor track to the right, which will take a long curve to the east and cut through successive gullies climbing up and down. The fords are usually concrete based, and the track has a light gravel surface. After passing the country estate of La Santa, the path crosses the main streambed, from which the property took its name, among high limestone towers and centuries-old olive groves.
At the 4.2 km mark, the route comes to the main track which was overlooked at the start and drops down a little. At the next junction, Stage 1 of the GR 7’s southern variant parts and heads off to the north bet¬ween Villanueva de Cauche and the village of Riogordo. The Path takes an easterly course, on a larger track than before the watershed divide, between country houses, each with their access roads. The multiple streams that can be forded without difficulty are tributaries of La Cueva stream, seen at the bottom of the valley heading towards the village at the start of the stage. A slightly steeper downhill section brings us to the Auta country estate, with the rocky outcrops beyond.
The cliffs and flatlands (Up to km 8.5)
A sign here, tells us that the country house was the birthplace of Omar Ibn Hafsum, based on toponymic study. The river flowing nearby is a permanent watercourse, a wide green belt between the cereal fields of the hilly terrain, known for its rich biodiversity. From the road you can see the travertine rock formed from the calcium carbonate in the water, and its small waterfall formed from the platform created. At this hamlet built on this tufa limestone rock, which is in clear decline and has an enormous threshing floor, the path turns sharply northwards and begins another climb. You soon reach the source of the river Borbollón (km 7.6), at the foot of a small hill marked as an archaeological site and formed by greenish siliceous rocks of plutonic origin.
There is a sharp change in scenery when you enter the woodland of Holm and Portuguese oaks and Wild Olive trees. This occupies the whole southern side of the limestone outcrop situated between the Sierrecilla del Rey and the giant rocky masses of Los Tajos. On the far side of the valley to the right, in an area of limestone and clay are the ruins of the Farriñas and El Cuartillo Estates, both home to tragic historical events. There is also a well-known fountain, found among a patch of Elm trees and which usually has water flowing, even in summer.
Once at the crest of the pass, the route turns slightly to the north-east close to some electrical towers. A large field of very fertile red earth, product of the erosion of the limestone rock softens the landscape. On your right you pass limestone ridges covered in Holm oak forest and many Turpentine trees. Just further up, on the same side is the Tajo del Fraile.
From Alfarnatejo to Alfarnate (To the end of the Stage)
On the plain, you arrive at a crossroads next to some unfinished residential buildings. Smaller paths lead off on both sides and you must go down the one clearly leading to the nearby town. With farmland and properties on both sides, soon you come to the fountain of El Conejo (km11.8) on your right, a multi-adventure park and the municipal swimming pool. You then cross the road from Pulgarin and continue north through the whitewashed hamlet of Alfarnatejo (km 12.4)
The two villages at the end of the stage occupy the areas of the plains with poorer soils, on the banks of the Sabar River and climbing the rocky slopes. Between the two is the Morrón de Malinfierno, the rocky spur of the Sierra de Enmedio to the north-west, where the path now climbs. These slopes are also covered by relatively young Holm oak forest, especially towards the bottom. El Morrón itself has sparse vegetation and Mediterranean Brome grasses, Gorse and White Rockroses cover the rocky crags with scattered Common Hawthorn bushes.
The Sabar River, known as the Arroyo de Palancar stream at this point, meanders around the mountains and comes to the ruins of an old olive mill and the well-known Charco del Aceite natural pool. Below the path is the old quarry which was converted into a refuse tip. Hereby begins a stretch of very mountainous pathway equipped with safety railings. The peak of Cerro de la Venta comes into view up ahead when you reach the river, with its northern slopes covered in dense vegetation. The footpath runs parallel to the river and gradually turns to the east. It then passes through an area with benches and turns sharply to the right to avoid the road through an area of old terraces, bordered by cobblestone pavement and dry-stone walls.
This shaded area is home to very interes¬ting woodland and numerous almond trees. Meanwhile, the route enters the southern streets and heads towards the centre of the village, led by the omnipresent river, that is the backbone of life in Alfarnate, and so the end of the stage.
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