GR 249. Stage 09. Periana - Alfarnatejo (Pulgarín Alto)
Attention please, there are some changes regarding this stage
Project in progress. The way across some plots is removed from the route due to disagreement with the owners, as well as the road from Pulgarín to the Sabar Pass.
The Zafarraya Train
The first steps of the stage take the traveller to a historic site, the layout of the railway line from Málaga to Ventas of Zafarraya, which was dismantled and the only preserved part is the pavement and the adjoining buildings.
The train project was started by the commuter railroads company of Málaga in 1905, using Belgian capital to manage local narrow-gauge line trains. Already in 1908 the stretch to Vélez Málaga was working, crossing the rolling hills of the Axarquía coast. This stretch was also the last one to close in 1968. In the area covered by Stage 9, the train arrived in Periana in 1921 and connected the village with Las Ventas de Zafarraya in 1922, but due to the steep slopes which had to be conquered and despite the layout following wide curves, the trains had to be aided by a of cog wheels, becoming the well known rack railway. In 1960 the railroad closed and it never did manage to join the province of Málaga with that of Granada.
In Stage 8 you passed through Estación de Periana, this Stage gets you close to the train line, still recognizable by the numerous bridges either for vehicles or connecting ravines and streambeds. The walking surface is quite good and the dirt track climbs gently. You will pass by a quarry converted into a landfi ll and little by little the path will enter limestone area which has been cut by the road construction and formed trenches fi lled with young pines.
EIn the vicinity of the Cortijo de los Peñones the views over to all of Axarquía are impressive, dominating the whole landscapes of the region, as mentioned in the previous Stage. A little further up, the track veers gently to the right and on your right you can see the origin of the name of the farmhouse (Rock Farm), a limestone rock face of considerable height, facing north. It harbours a tall scrub of Holm oaks, broom, gorse and Kermes Oak, a promise of a future mature forest. Here and there, limestone cliffs make up a maze filled with shrub vegetation. Ignore junctions to Fuerte and mezquita and climb a slope between the hills Cerro de los Mosquitos and Cerro de López, where you also abandon the old railway line. There are remarkable views towards the west and east of the Limestone Central Arch and splendid specimens of pine trees that pepper the embankments.
The Hamlets of Periana and Alfarnatejo districts
At the beginning of this new stretch which takes you downhill and westward, ignore the immediate junction to Marchamona, a village which dominates the basin of the river Guaro from its rocky hillock. Guaro village consists of a small group of houses and is inhabited by about 80 people dedicated to extensive animal husbandry and dry land and irrigated farming. The number of groups of houses, from the seasonally inhabited farms to established nuggets of population is remarkable here. The walk leads along the foot of the mountain, so the landscapes are typically mountainous, with outcrops of 700 metres rising behind the houses. While strolling between olive and almond trees, note frequent signs of erosion, cliffs of gray limestone and the steep treeless slopes.
In the Cortijo de Zapata landscape changes, the south flank of the Sierra de Enmedio is covered by a striking dense grove of wild olive trees. As you pass a farmstead the road becomes a forestry path, branching off to the left, which leads through a real jungle covering the ancient olive groves with all the Mediterranean species so well-adapted to the heat, with special mention to the enormous mastic trees and climbing plants. This area is dedicated to controlled hunting.
After the penultimate hill the walk descends among olive trees with a drip irrigation system towards the Cortijo de la Cueva (named after the small cave at the of the house) with good views of the Colmenar Periana corridor, a peculiar geological area. The last ascent is undertaken at the threshing circle at the farm, in mixed terrain between mountains and olive groves, some of these crops growing along dry-stone “albarradas”.
The last descend takes you by a centenary olive grove, some of the trees areenormous with gnarled trunks. The road ends in a series of winding curves and you can admire some of the cliffs which form part of the celebrated Ruta de los Tajos, namely the Bermejo and Doña Ana. Pulgarín Bajo and, on the other side of the road, Pulgarín Alto, two hamlets of Alfarnatejo, welcome the walkers as they finish this Stag.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: The access road is the A-6118, or from the A-7 A-335 or by the A-3100 from Colmenar.
Starting point: Eastern area of Periana, follow the Torre del Mar Avenue and leave the village along Algarrobo Street.
Enjoy the walk safely: Caution is needed at the intersection of the road from Alfarnate and in through the Alfarnatejo. Tracks which this stage crosses are heavily used by two-wheeled vehicles, which, if theytravel downhill, can carry enough speed.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: MA-4102 road, which climbs to Alfarnatejo.
Finish point: Hamlet of higher Pulgarin, road MA-4102, close to lower Pulgarin.
Possible "escape routes": The village of Guaro is a good point of reference as a place to look for help if necessary
No return point: At the highest point of travel, where it is connected with the GR-7 E4, it is better to go to Guaro. Then, from the viewpoint Mirador del Tramo onwards it is preferable to continue to Lower Pulgarin.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: The GR7 E4 Tarifa-Athens, from Villanueva de Gauche, has two branches. Southern Branch goes to the province of Granada, the other one heads to Córdoba, and could be an alternative to discover in later stages of the Great Málaga Path. The Southern Branch in Málaga consists of three phases. In regards to this stage two phases are relevant: of Riogordo to Guaro and to Zafarraya.
The ones called “end of the railway” (km 4.5) and high Pulgarin coincide with the GR geographically, although not in the sense of the description that appears in the panels. From Periana to km 4.5 the surface of the route is that of the old railway which used to run between Periana and Zafarraya, the line westward following the GR from here.
Between the Marchamona junction and the Cortijo de la Cueva the trail coincides with the Royal Path of Málaga to Granada coming up the hill from the west, from the village of Riogordo. Finally el Sendero de Diputación Provincial de Málaga known as Boquete de Zafarraya-Mondrón can also be undertaken in the Cerro López.