GR 249.6. Alternative Route. Stage 1. Ronda (La Indiana) - Montejaque
1 The Beginning of the Stage: La Indiana (Ronda).
Start: La Indiana (Ronda).
2 The End of the Stage: Montejaque
Access to the end: Montejaque.
Connection with other paths and livestock tracks:
This Alternative Route links with PR-A 253, Ronda-Benaoján, GR 249, Great Malaga Path, and GR 141, Great Path of Serranía de Ronda, link up at start; PR-A 251, Ronda-Montejaque, and GR-7, entire overlap.
• Road traffic circulating towards the end
• Crossing a level crossing without barriers
The farmland of the Guadiaro (hasta el km 2.3)
The route enters the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park at the start, and leaves the Guadiaro River behind. This is formed a short way back, at the confluence of the Guadalevín, which rises in the Sierra de las Nieves National Park, and the Guadalcobacín, which passes through Arriate. While the main Great Path route continues on to the south-west, parallel to the railway line, this Alternative Route begins its climb along an earth track that soon becomes concreted, due to the steep gradients and the terrain dominated by clay. Among arable crops and the occasional isolated Holm oak, it passes through the land of Cortijo Grande, on your left, and then turns south-west at the top, just where the concrete ends.
The path descends slightly and crosses some small streams, some of which have been concreted over, making this part of the route occasionally quite muddy. Below you is another of the most important country estates through which the GR 249 passes, named La Fresneda. The hills of the Sierra get ever closer and some Almond trees and Gorse bushes line the path. The change of scenery can be noticed when you reach the centuries-old Olive grove of La Estacá, in an area with many springs due to the presence of the
limestone and clay.
The treeless plains of La Escarihuela (To the end of the stage)
The abundance of water comes in the form of two consecutive streams that are easily crossed. These are found at the bottom of a very steep slope, which in barely 600 metres overcomes an elevation gain of 125 metres. The surroundings are perfectly mixed here, as abandoned Olive and Almond groves intermingle with patches of younger woodland. You can even recognise the old path because of the dry-stone walls and the traditional row of Century plants.
When you reach the highest point of the stage, you have covered about 3.4 kilometres, where there is a farmhouse and the chapel of the Cruz del Milagro (the Miracle Cross). It has an information panel about an interesting event that took place during an epidemic in Ronda. This is precisely the route that the group took, albeit in the opposite direction, along this very old Camino de Ronda, being the most direct and flattest route. Up ahead, an impressive panorama of grey limestone mountain ranges comes into view. However, the rugged outlines are interrupted by an extensive and sometimes very wide and cultivated plain. To the south you can see a narrow gorge, which is crossed by the aerial zip line of the Montejaque via ferrata, on the other side.
On a rise at the western end is the next landmark, the Hermitage of La Escarihuela, dedicated to the Virgin de la Conception, to whom the miracle referred to above alludes. From here it is all downhill, using one of the pathways that serve as a reference point for hikers. Despite some restoration work undertaken to the former stone paving, there is still a long stretch where the extraordinary workmanship of the traditional path is visible. The name La Escarihuela refers to the water gutters and steps that line the descent, especially noticeable on each of the fan-like bends.
A famous sporting event traditionally uses this same route and in the same direction as described. This section is one of the most famous images of the traditional route between Montejaque and Ronda.
The descent ends near the cemetery of Montejaque, and the stage ends on the access road to the village, which lies to the south-west.
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