GR 249. Stage 03. Vélez-Málaga - Torrox
El Camino Viejo de Algarrobo
At the Francisco Aguilar roundabout, beside the sports complex dedicated to the soccer player Fernando Hierro, leads south-east at the third stage of the GR-249. The track immediately enters semi-abandoned olive groves on a gentle slope. It is a good option for walking as it runs alongside the asphalted road separated from it by wooden logs. There are a few outdoor gyms along the road, but the fi rst thing that draws one´s attention is an ancient building in ruins on the opposite side of the track, with stone arches, stone skirting boards and walls made of rammed-earth. To the east there is the imposing bulk of Sierra Tejeda, with its multiple shades of grey, and the distinctive peak of La Maroma, the highest peak in Málaga.
Passing on the left El Camino a la Loma de Bentomiz and its fort, you will soon reach the course of Arroyo Seco (km 1.7). Walk south along the normally dry riverbed until you have to cross over to the eastern bank and make a 90 degree turn passing through Los Bambúes, which is a gardening nursery Now you start climbing and heading for an underpass of the A-7 E-15. Then walk by a housing estate which has a golf course and asphalted streets. Again, terraced fruit tree fields appear at the Cerro Era hill with their watering ponds. The asphalted track ends, the Camino Viejo de Algarrobo continues straight ahead but the GR 249 swerves to the south. The ancient well, described before, is on your right and still stores plenty of water, it is the fi rst sign that you have arrived to the settlement known as La Caleta de Vélez in the area of La Montosa. at Fuente El Pilar cross the N- 340, then head for the beach, leaving the port to the west.
The Coast of Vélez Málaga, Algarrobo and Torrox
The walk swerves again heading southeast along the beach promenade Paseo Marítimo de la Caleta de Vélez, but very soon, at km 5.7, it enters the Algarrobo Costa. The walk coincides here with pavements separated from the sand by a low wall and a line of houses and leads along a one-way paved road. Perhaps unexpectedly, the traditional neighbourhood shops go hand in hand here with single family houses with two fl oors, a neighbourhood model which has almost disappeared on the coast of
Málaga province. Then blocks of fl ats with landscaped gardens and boardwalks start coming into view. In the housing estate on the left, before crossing the river Algarrobo (Sayalonga) it is recommended to go for a little stroll to fi nd the Torre Ladeada (also known as el mar o del Portichuelo) dating back to the 16th century; a watchtower which was left unused back in its time due to insuffi cient foundations and the wind and sea damage. On the other side of the N-340, direction north, is the tower´s replacement, the spectacular Torre Depeche or Nueva (18th century), which, as a novelty, boasts a northern stairway that leads directly to the window entrance and which was added as an innovative accessory. It is of the few that can be visited, however it requires a permit from Algarrobo town hall. The wide riverbed of Río Algarrobo, scene of a rich past, has a delicate pedestrian bridge with access ramps and stairs. On both sides of the river, but well separated from it, used to be the Phoenician buildings.
Between tall buildings after passing by gardens and sports areas, exactly at the km 7 mark, pay attention to fi nd the elongated nave of the chapel of our Lady of Fatima, of the westernmost neighbourhood of Algarrobo known as Mezquitilla. The highlight here is the small dry dock reserved for repairing fishing boats, with metal winches right on the sand and fi shing nets hung out in the sun.
Entering again Vélez Málaga city limits, in the small settlement of Lagos, you will notice how the coastal strip narrows considerably, with breakwaters built in an attempt to stop the crashing waves. After that, walk along the N-340, and once you´ve passed by the Arroyo de Mamelucos stream, walk along the wider shoulder that passes through the Punta de las Ballenas (also known as Morro or de Mezquitilla). There are vast views of Mezquitilla and Lagos ahead of you, the walk leads along the top of chalky cliffs populated with Sea Daisies, poppies and a few thorny bushes. The walk takes you by the earlier described archaeological site of Morro de Mezquitilla and Chorreras, before reaching the town of Lagos.
Here a majestic row of tall araucaria trees welcome the visitor. In Lagos there are such highlights as the traditional sailor´s houses a few meters from the beach, the delta of the top of an escarpment on the other side of the road, almost 50 metres above sea level. This 16th-century watchtower has a break in its fl ank but preserves part of the plaster with linear decorations. After another stretch of the walk between the coastal cliff and the road you arrive at Playa de Cachin where you continue walking on its sands and cobbles until you reach the river Gui (km 11.1), which marks the end of the city limits in Vélez Málaga and the
beginning of the area of Torrox in El Morche, with the white Gui or Huit tower located on a 40 m high rocky vantage point. It is similar in style to the previous tower, and neither tower is easy to access. This part of the beach is quite constrained by buildings and various equipment, both public and private.
Having passed by a few traditional houses at the foot of the beach, you will reach the seafront in El Morche, where you leave the sand behind. Before crossing Arroyo Manzano stream, fi nd to the right two winches which are rebuilt and signposted. These were used during the 20th century to drag nets from the sea instead of using oxen. After passing through remains of a dune system you arrive at the main urbanized area of Torrox, the long Playa Ferrara. The walk takes you to El Faro de Torrox located on Punta de Torrox (km 15.5) along a paved promenade. Las Dunas de la Carraca are important because they are the last bastion of a dune systems from Málaga to the east. Its vegetation and wildlife species deserve special treatment.
El Río Torrox
Sheltered by the Balcón Mirador del Faro which resembles the prow of a boat, the Roman necropolis is easily identifi ed and is found a few metres from the dominating Faro de Torrox located on a rock which cuts further into the Mediterranean. At the foot flows the Torrox river. Instead of crossing it, walk along its western bank on an opportune little path with a grove of poplar trees and casuarina trees. After this new twist in the walk the valley becomes very open and the terraced crops begin to flank the Great Path of Málaga.
You must cross the river twice and the river normally doesn´t dry out. The usual reeds preside over the river banks, but frequently there is also watercress and algae. You may have to avoid passing underneath the N-340 in the case of the water level rising, but the pass underneath the motorway is easier. This bridge is frequented by climbers who have improvised a climbing wall here. The last ascent is quite steep and besides making a bit of an effort here, you must pay attention and walk slowly not to miss the long walls of Convento de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, on a slope of shale to your left and the citrus trees, loquats and subtropical species. These dry stone walls with large drain channels are the sign marking your arrival in Torrox, at the southern part of the village, where Stage 3 ends? under the balconies of? Calle Almedina street.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: Vélez Málaga can be reached from the autovía del Mediterráneo (A-7S), which runs very close to the town centre. The A-356 which connects the high Axarquía and the region of Antequera, is found to the west of Vélez and runs in the direction north-south.
Starting point: In the south-eastern part of Vélez Málaga, where the city is expanding, at the intersection of the Avenida Pablo Iglesias with the Camino de Algarrobo. The starting point is next to the sports complex Polideportivo Municipal Fernando Ruiz Hierro and is known as the roundabout of Francisco Aguilar.
Enjoy the walk safely: Rivers and streams that cross stage 3 are quite short. Additionally, the characteristics of the terrain and the fact that the rainfall is not too abundant here, converts the rivers into narrow streambeds which usually end up being dry. However, on the way down to the beach and walking up the subsequent rise you must cross the riverbeds of Río Torrox and Río Seco. In between the two, there are four smaller riverbeds you need to wade through and, although none should pose any danger, you should remember that they do serve as the natural drainage of the nearby hills and that specifi c weather conditions of the Mediterranean climate can result in torrential downpours which could complicate the crossings. Some sections of the walk follow an asphalted road which lacks a hard shoulder, fortunately these sections do not have much traffic. This happens, for example, between the nursery Vivero Los Bambúes and the housing estate Urbanización Baviera. There is a long section where you will be using the hard shoulder of the N-340 road and this, at times, offers little space for walking by the narrow breakwater and close to the crashing waves. In case of a storm you should take extreme caution and use common sense.
A similar situation occurs on some very unstable slate cliffs, made worse by the “invasion” of industrial buildings and equipment in this marine environment. It is recommended to use the dedicated path exclusively and to be well informed on the conditions of the sea and weather. It is possible to stock up on most supplies at this stage in the successive populated areas. Also, you will be passing by a couple of drinking water sources.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: Torrox has direct connection with Cómpeta and the Autovía del Mediterráneo (A-7S) through the A-7207.
Finish point: under the row of balconies along Almedina street, in the southern extension of Torrox. Nearby is the little square where the church and the convent of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves are located.
Possible "escape routes": possible exits for the walk are focused around the N-340 which runs beside the walk at all times and bus services are available. It is the artery that can be found even at the beginning (after the golf club, km 3) and at the end.
No return point: the middle point of the tour is the nucleus of the population of Lagos. From there it is more convenient to complete the course.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: The old road called Camino Viejo de Algarrobo is used at the beginning of the stage to go down to the beach. The fi rst section of it has been asphalted as part of the Puerta Verde de Vélez programme. There is a bicycle lane, two rest areas and various so-called Bio-Health stations (Estaciones Biosaludables). In 2013 the Puerta Verde de Vélez programme created four facilities in the province of Málaga, three of which have direct access to The Great Path of Málaga.
They aim at the recovery of the traditional footpaths and rights of way and re-unite the inhabitants of towns and cities with their immediate natural environment. La Puerta Verde de Vélez Málaga has a length of 1.4 km and entirely coincides with the beginning of the walk in Stage 3.
Camino Viejo de Algarrobo and the GR go separate ways at km 3.8, where the fi rst one keeps heading east and the latter swerves southwards. The Cerro de Bentomiz hill is considered by the surrounding town inhabitants (the nearest one being Sayalonga, Arenas in the north, Algarrobo and Vélez Málaga in the West) to be a superb destination for walking.
From any of these towns there are footpaths which climb its 709 meters. They are excellent for unparalleled views of the Axarquía and also to see the ruins of the Castillo of Bentomiz which sit on top of the hill. The walls of the castle have been built using stone socles, and using so called rammed-earth as the base. The footpath leading up this hill from Vélez Málaga is 800 metres from the start of this stage, well sign-posted as it branches off to the left.
La Diputación de Málaga, the province council, has designed the Topographical Guide of Walks in the Axarquía, thanks to the Plan de Dinamización del Producto Turístico Axarquía, designed to stimulate the tourist offers of the area. Our Stage 3 contains one of the walks described in that book, it is called Lagos Algarrobo and it connects villages along the Río de Algarrobo for about 14 kilometres and then reaches its highest point on the Cerro de Carraspite hill in Sayalonga. At the fi nish point of Stage 3 there is a starting point of another Puerta Verde footpath, from Torrox to Frigiliana and Almijara. It starts in Torrox
village and after about 19 kilometres and 1,000 m of ascent it reaches the Natural Park of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama. It branches off to connect with the white village of Frigiliana. Finally, GR-249 and GR-92 continue to run together as before sharing itinerary, however as mentioned, they are waymarked in opposite directions.