GR 249. Stage 22. Ardales - El Burgo
Los Jiménez and the Castillo of Turón
From Ardales you must find the bridge of la Molina, of Roman origin, with three of its five original arches and in good condition. The Río Turón and then the Guadalteba in the north constituted two water barriers to cross on the road to Roman-time Málaga to Acinipo or Antequera, and Ardales was in a strategic position. Considering its 21 centuries of antiquity it is a privilege to be able to use this bridge on the Great Path of Málaga, with its embankments and arches of Ashlar sandstone. You ascend gently by the bank of Río Turón and pass on the right a track used by the E-4 GR-7 coming from Serrato. Cross a stream in the area of Aguar and begin an ascent along a paved lane that leaves aside a few low industrial buildings and allows us to admire to the east the village of Ardales. Notice northwards a solar farm at the farmhouse of la Aguada. When you come to a vantage point you have the Umbria de Fuente Techada on your left, and the Loma de Castillo, crowned by an Arabic fortress.
The Castillo of the Río Turón has a privileged location over the river valley, with craggy grey limestone cliffs which made the construction of walls to the east quite unnecessary. On the other side, which can be seen from the walk, walls had to be built, the Barbican and several towers among which stands out the Alcazar of military commanders, facing the Peña of Ardales. This fortress aimed to provide support to another castle, the Ardales, during the Nasrid border wars, when the nearby Castillo de Teba was Christian.
At this point, at kilometre 4, pass a major track on your left that goes to the Cortijo de la Laja and the Turón river, an area where a reservoir was attempted to be built. You can also follow a twist of that track northwards towards Cortijo de los Jiménez. This property, which is on the left, was in its times large enough to lend its name to the entire area and through which you have been walking so far, between the working fields and livestock.
Monte Público de la Laja, Los Romerales and El Cerro del Rey
The entire area of pine forest which you walk through climbing towards Los Márquez and during the subsequent descent is managed as public forest land. Pine trees that top the hills of pink limestone are there to settle the land prone to erosion, with the consequent danger of silt settling in the reservoirs. The three areas of public forests are named after three places which you pass by on your left. Laja is a climbing area which is at the western end of the Cerro del Castillo, El Cerro del Rey is west of Jiménez farm and the Romerales is the high area. The 400 hectares are privately owned but the forest use syndicated.
From the Jiménez farm the toughest ascent begins but it allows good views over the reservoirs of the Guadalhorce, with Río Turón in the foreground, and the Paraje Natural reserve Desfi ladero de los Gaitanes eastward. Looking south, notice the mountain contours of Sierra de Alcaparaín and the Valley of the Río Turón. And to the northwest, the grey flat profi le of the Sierra de Ortegicar where the GR is headed. Next you cross another mountain, area, the Sierra del Burgo, which belongs to the autonomous community of Andalucía and has more than 2,000 hectares.
Having seen the sign Monte Público at a major intersection you will arrive at Cerro Redondo (km 7) and continue skirting the hillside follow a fi rebreak until km 10 you will reach a new junction where you veer left. So far the Aleppo Pine has had very low undergrowth, mainly Esparto grass. However, in the shady parts there are junipers, savins and Terebinth. There are copses of Holm Oaks in some parts mixed with Kermes Oak, Mastic trees and Mediterranean Dwarf Palm.
Los Márquez and the Cortijo de la Herradura
The landscape changes dramatically at the maximum altitude of the route. There is a wide strip occupied by olives, almonds and fields that separates the previous pine wood from another, quite extensive one another fairly extensive, called the Rompedizos and the Madroño, with thousand hectares belonging to the old Andalucían water agency. A sign indicates that this fi eld is also a hunting reserve due to the presence of the Spanish Ibex which roam the slopes of the Cerro Almorchón de Gutiérrez that stands out in the middle of the forest like a rocky tower to the west. In general the walk is headed for that mountain, with the road Serrato-El Burgo at its base, but it gradually turns right towards the south before reaching the mountain. From km 15 onwards you will start noticing signs of the bike route Espinazo del Perro, which will keep you company to the end of this stage.
When you reach the Puerto de la Herradura that cycling route comes to a junction (km 17.5), where it can be made a t circular, following direction left to the farmhouse of la Herradura and a place that gives the striking name to the bike route Espinazo de Perro meaning Dog´s Backbone.
The GR-249, all that is left to do is to keep walking downhill southward on a steep slope, to the Prado de Aguila (km 19), following the incipient Arroyo de los Niños up to the eucalyptus trees around Fuente Cepero, passing by the country houses Farol and La Viña Calderon and arriving to the area of Tejar. Here you need to turn south-west at the Molino Polo amongst pretty gardens on the right bank of the Río Turón, pass by the Fuente Nueva and arrive at the town of El Burgo.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: Ardales is accessed by the A-357 Málaga- Campillos. The area is also reached by the MA-5402, which can be linked with Casarabonela (by the A-7275) and El Burgo (the MA-5401) which is also linked to the previous points).
Starting point: Junction of the street Calle Mancerilla with the Calle Huelva, in the northwest area of Ardales.
Enjoy the walk safely: The trail does not pass through any permanently inhabited places, although it is common to see people passing by at the beginning and at the end of the stage, coinciding with the work areas. Since there are no water supply points, it is necessary to plan this long and physically demanding route very well. Although this stage follows tarmac surfaces, it’s not roads we are talking about rather than paved lanes on the steepest slopes. The circulation of vehicles is very scarce in the area.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: MA-5401 or Ardales road. El Burgo is connected to the Serranía de Ronda and the Guadalhorce Valley via the A-366 (Ronda-Alozaina).
Finish point: Calle Fuente Nueva Street, in the northern part of the town of El Burgo, right on the road to Ardales.
Possible "escape routes": MA-5400 motorway links the towns of Serrato and El Burgo. Although it is not visible from the walk, it is very close, always to the right, starting from the highest point of the stage at Los Márquez.
No return point: From Los Márquez, it is best to follow the GR and go down to El Burgo. It is an easily found point in the field: the highest part of the walk as you are leaving pine forest before entering another one.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: Stage 5 of the GR-7 E-4 (Serrato-Ardales), 13.6 km long, coincides with our GR from the beginning up to the bridge of la Molina, but veers northwest at the fi rst major intersection just as you cross the Río Turón. Ardales Town Council has prepared fi ve walks to promote a healthy lifestyle; the walks depart from the town. They are the routes of Cortijo Simon, Carretera EL Burgo, Los Llanos de Belén, Carretera de Badén and a climb called Subida al Calvario; all are between 2 and 8 km long.
The fi rst part of our walk in known in the village as El Camino de los Jiménez, an area named for the huge land belonging to the farm of the same name. The same happens in the higher area which is called Los Márquez and there are roads with that very name lading through it.
Within the cycling network in the Sierra de las Nieves there is an adapted route El Burgo to Espinazo del Perro, a 19.3 kilometre circular which coincides with The Great Path of Málaga in the fi nal section. At the Puerto de Herradura pass an alternative branches off to the left, towards the farmhouse of la Herradura (250 metres from the junction), and that is the traditional path of Puerto del Cumbre. Another old road is the one to Teba, which leads through the Arroyo de los Niños in north direction coinciding with the path at the end of the stage. Finally, in the area of village gardens there is a tarmac lane to the left is known as the Camino de los Membrillos.