Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 25. Estación de Benaoján - Jimera de Líbar
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:
PR-A 253, Ronda - Benaoján, GR 141, Great Path of the Serranía de Ronda, SL-A 139, El Gato cave, PR-A 255, Jimera de Líbar - Cortes de la Fra., SL-A 138, River Guadiaro, and PR-A 258, Jimera de Líbar - Atajate.
The Inns of La Cañada Real & El Campo de Gibraltar (Up to km 1.5)
To the east of Benaoján Station and after the railway crossing, was the bridge over the Guadiaro, which was the start of this Stage before the flood. You set off to the south with a gentle uphill gradient. The opposite direction would take you back past the Cueva del Gato cave and the Charco de la Barranca pools.You then pass an Olive grove on your left and on the right, the Molino de Cecilio mill. When you come to a cobbled section of pathway, look out for La Venta de María Joaquina, one of the inns with accommodation and food for travellers along the region of Campo de Gibraltar’s Cañada Real.
The country track leads on to a space which opens out in the wooded hills of Las Viñas, which is the stopping-off point of La Erilla Blanca. Further on there is a decent panoramic view north, over Benaoján and its hamlet. On the other side of the river, you can then make out the white houses of El Cortijo de la Fresnedilla and the buildings housing the drinking water pump.
A steep descent ends at the little bridge over the Arroyo del Agua stream and the ruins of an inn. It was built on a flattened area of limestone deposit, or tuff and which remained standing until the 1990s. Among the vegetation surrounding this inn, named Venta de Toribio, there are Fig trees and a Bay tree.
The narrow sections of the Guadiaro (Up to km 6.3)
From here, the trail narrows and turns into a footpath that climbs up to a small hill in an area of pink marly limestone. About two kilometres from the start, there is a viewpoint overlooking the first railway tunnel and the River Guadiaro as it forms the pool of El Moro. This is where some elements of the battle of October 1869 took place, known here as La Reyerta. You pass the almost hidden Alpandeire Way on your left, then go down to the riverside, an area liable to flooding. This is an ideal spot to view the aquatic life, especially if you can avoid making any noise. The short stream from the source of Fuente Enrique also joins the main watercourse here. The remains of an old bridge that once took advantage of the narrower channel between its two rocky riverbanks, lie up ahead.
An uphill section, this time through the woodland of El Cortijo del Quejigal country estate, brings one of the most complex stretches in the construction of the railway line into view. In just a very short distance, the railway line required two tunnels, a large ditch and a bridge to cross the river over to the same side as the path.
Continuing in a south-westerly direction, you drop down again after going around the same hill the railway line runs underneath. The vegetation shifts to varieties accustomed to more sunlight, but the Gall oaks soon return. Among the vegetation which is easy to spot, are Scorpion brooms, White rock roses, Mastics, Spiny brooms, Turpentines, Wild roses and Common hawthorns. On your left, you then pass a couple of boulders that are sometimes used as a shelter from the rain. After some wooden safety railings, you arrive at kilometre 4.5, at the Arroyo Seco (or El Águila), which normally lives up to its first name of Dry Stream. The Cancha del Conio and its high cliff faces round off this little valley to the east, spanned by another railway bridge.
The subsequent climb brings the road between Benaoján and Cortes de la Frontera into view, higher up on the far side. It runs over the greyish limestone where the well-known cave of Cueva de la Pileta is found. Level with the path on the other side of the river, are the ruins of Cortijo del Parral country house. The aptly named El Palmarejo (Palm Grove) is on the same side as the path and so does not come into view. This woodland, in the process of regeneration is known as Las Carboneras, and is another fine example of mixed Mediterranean woodland. It is accompanied by a wide strip of riverside wood land along the Guadiaro. You then come to the Roza de María, recognisable by some dry Almond trees among thicket of White and Spiny brooms. A little further on is where an express train derailed in 1979, fortunately without fatalities. The event led to the making of a documentary, owing to the peculiar nature of the rescue of the submerged locomotive.
Jimera de Líbar and its farmland (To the end of the stage)
The slope of Los Recoveros, along with the steep embankment and drainage ditch of the railway line on the right lead on to an area where the valley opens out again. You cross the track over a wide iron bridge, built in 2013 to allow local farmers to drive their livestock along the Cañada Real. The path returns alongside the River Guadiaro, with its dense woodland and Walnut trees followed by the almost vanished Chapel to the Virgen de la Salud. Just below the footpath here, is a jetty at the bottom of some rapids, which is also the village’s river bathing area.
You soon arrive at the Jimera de Líbar railway platform, where some carriages have been converted in to a bar during summer time. To reach the other side of the track, go through the underpass and then take the pavement along the tarmacked section that goes up in a southerly direction. From the roundabout, take the path way of slabs of stone with wooden safety barriers. You cross several Caminos or routes to the station, which have been signposted with orchid panels, serving as alternative routes. The entrance to the village is among Olive and Almond trees and passes the municipal swimming pool on the right. This ends at the Fountain in Jimera with a plaque from 1789, in the middle of the MA-8307 road, where the stage comes to an end.
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