GR 249. Stage 02. Rincón de la Victoria - Vélez-Málaga
El Cantal Tunnels (Up to km 2)
The stage starts on the eastern edge of the municipality of Rincón de la Victoria, indicated by the Arroyo Totalán watercourse. To the west of El Cantal is the town of La Cala del Moral, located on a kilometre long bay, with a boathouse at the near end. You then come to the seafront boulevard however, one option is to walk along the pavements of Paseo Blas Infante or another, highly recommended option along the compacted sand. This latter surface type is an excellent solution to many sporting needs and has been widely used throughout the town. Off to one side is the train station with its redbrick and stonework front.
The beach ends at a long groyne and from here, there is a slight incline up to the limestone hill of El Cantal. You can choose between the tunnels of Malaga’s Suburban Railway Line, opened in 1908 and in use for 60 years, or alternatively the pedestrian walkways which, being slightly more elevated have excellent views of the Alborán Sea. A combination of both is also possible, however it is necessary to go through the longest and well-illuminated tunnel for the final leg, also having a separate lane for cyclists, roller-bladers and alike.
Along the beaches of Benagalbón, Chilches and Benajarafe (Up to km 12)
Just above the entrance to the tunnel, perched on the rock is the medieval beacon of El Cantal. This tunnel brings you out at El Rincón beach, perhaps La Axarquía’s longest and widest stretches of sand. This section’s outline is very similar to that at the start of the stage, with a sandy but firm track adjacent to the rows of houses with gardens. The streams are fairly insignificant here and hence are integrated into the landscape using wooden channelling. Cross the road just after the stage’s second railway station, at kilometre 3.5, to visit the Bezmiliana Fortress House, dating back to the 18th century.
A little further on, you cross a slightly wider river bed without difficulty, named Arroyo Granadilla. The potential for foliage on the now non-existent dune system is shown by the large variety of plant species, and is protected from damage underfoot thanks to a small fence. After another station platform, almost at kilometre 6, look out for the medieval beacon on a roundabout 100 metres from the trail, from which the town of Torre de Benagalbón takes its name.
The Arroyo Benagalbón waterway is succeeded by that of Santillán, where the pedestrian bridge of the Great Path has replaced the old railway bridge. The municipality changes to Vélez-Malaga and you pass the Chilches platform of the coastal railway (km 7.7), which despite the graffiti is architecturally well preserved.
The route then joins the track running parallel to the N-340 and with it comes a change in the surface type, though there is also a section through the dunes with African tamarisk shrubs. The first town in this new region is Chilches, with its own medieval beacon, easier to spot on this occasion. Before you reach the slightly longer beaches of Benajarafe, you pass some surprisingly traditional arable land and hamlets. The route’s origins as a railway line become apparent once again by way of another station platform, well integrated into its surroundings and alongside the medieval beacon.
The half way point of the stage is clearly marked by the Moya Tower, an 18th century fortification (wider in size, km 11.8) from an era when the seaside development was merely a figment of the imagination and pirate raids were more typical. It sits upon a mound and next to it is an industrial chimney, a remnant of an old factory.
Towards the Rock of Almayate (Up to km 19)
The path now heads towards the beach and its characteristically greyish sands, passing through some African tamarisk shrubs on the way and passing, an old house made from sandstone dimension stone on your left. There are a few interesting dune systems with reed beds, separated by a housing development, before coming to the Arroyo de los Íberos waterway. Here it is necessary to walk north along the dried up river bed, pass under the highway, then head east again along the jetty and continue along the Cajiz road (MA-3203). Once you reach the curve in the road, take the footpath that has orchards and subtropical plantations on both sides.
After crossing the Arroyo Almayate, there is a campsite and an exporter of avocado products, however the most important stop is El Marqués Castle. It has been reconverted into Malaga’s School of Hospitality after various uses over the years. Constructed as a fort in 1766 to defend against attacks from the sea, it counted on four canons. Returning to the old railway line, you later come to the unsuccessful beachside development of Niza Beach, which has left a large deserted area, except for roadways and gardens. From here, you follow a track in between slate hills which climbs up to the Jaral Tower at the top. The landscape is dominated by aromatic plants and thorn bushes, with some abandoned olive trees and a secluded Aleppo pine tree forest. Access to the 12-metre high, square-shaped watchtower is at kilometre 16.
The track now descends, passing over a bridge from the same era as the Moya Tower and the two forts passed earlier in the stage. A house made of sandstone blocks leads on to a steeply descending tarmacked road to a hamlet (Casas del Cabo). Leaving these behind, you return to the old railway line. This now runs through the market gardens of Tajo del Pinto, through the development of Monte Azul before entering a large clearing with deserted citrus groves and where rabbits thrive. After crossing the Arroyo del Búho waterway, you arrive at Almayate Bajo and its station platform. This small town, belonging to the Vélez-Málaga district is famous for its market gardens and fisheries, its recently-discovered cave shrine and the so-called Seguro de Almayate, a privilege granted to inhabitants soon after the Christian reconquest, to settle within a league of the coast.
The most famous of the hills that surround the town is reached by crossing the MA- 3120. The rocky outcrop, named El Peñón de Almayate or del Toro, after the black metal panel in the shape of a bull that sits on its summit, a relic from a pardoned advertisement campaign. The ridge is formed of sandstone & seashells, and has witnessed the lively coastal processes over the ages. It is this stone that was extracted to construct many of the ruined buildings nearby and more importantly, Malaga Cathedral between the 16th and 18th centuries. The relative ease of working with this stone was discovered in the 8th century BCE and continued almost up to the present day. Besides being a showcase of coastal fauna (above all molluscs), the Rock was well placed as a defensive stronghold above the now vanished bay of the River Vélez. The Phoenicians took advantage of this to construct the settlement of Los Toscanos, which can be seen to your left.
The Old Malaga Road (To the end of the stage)
The upper slopes of the Rock cast their shadow over one of the drainage channels that used to irrigate the ancient fertile lands in what was the bay in Phoenician times. The plains of the River Vélez are among the most extensive and productive agricultural land in Malaga’s coastal region. The subtropical Mediterranean climate owes itself to the shelter from the northerly winds that the mountain range of the Sierra Tejada &Almijara provide along with the Central Limestone Arc (el Arco Calizo Central), visible on the horizon. On a separate note, at the crossroads of Los Toscanos you can take the main road south, cross over the road and there, surrounded by the fields of fruit and vegetables is the 16th century Manganeta Tower, albeit not in as good a condition nor the most spectacular of those already seen. The difference in height and distance from the sea between this tower and the Phoenician city illustrate the change in sea level and the sedimentation of the basin.
The trail takes a more northerly course from its previous north-easterly, as soon as the trail crosses the river Vélez, over the slightly mistreated railway bridge. To the right and in the break is the town of Torre del Mar and the access to the rivermouth of the river Vélez. Surrounded by irrigated farming plots and with the river bed to the left, from the hamlet of La Barranca, the capital of La Axarquía comes into sight up ahead. The view of Vélez-Malaga and its fortress’ commanding position in the rolling hills, combined with the summits of the Sierra Tejada &Almijara are your reference point from now on.
When you approach the riverbed once again, keep the waterworks on your right, before passing underneath the A-7. The land use alternates between farmland and industrial estates owing to the proximity to the city. Ending up at Constitution Roundabout (Rotonda de Nuestra Constitución), the GR-249 passes over the A-356 turning progressively north-east.
1. Initiation Stage :
Access Starting point: La Cala del Moral can be accessed comfortably from Autovía del Mediterráneo. There is a traffi c hub close to the starting point where access roads intersect: the A-7S, MA-24 from Rincón de la Victoria and the coastal N-340.
Starting point: Arroyo de Totalán, where you enter the city limits of Rincón de la Victoria direction east.
Enjoy the walk safely: This long and linear journey, with the beginning and the end of the stage being so far apart, should be well planned. There should be no problems with accommodation or in case you need to return, however these things should not be subject to improvising. There are possibilities to stock up on food or water almost all along the way. This becomes more difficult from Almayate onwards as the path moves away from the road, that great vertebra of the coast. On this last section of Stage 2 there is a certain amount of traffic related to the comings and goings of farm vehicles and you should take care walking on the side of the road.
The only troublesome stream crossing is over the Santillán, due to the collapse of the old railway bridge, but normally the strea´s waters do not pose any danger except for major storms, which are not frequent. The little climb along the streambed in the Arroyo de Iberos should not present any difficulty under normal conditions. The cliffs of El Cantal have protective railings, but be careful standing close to the breakers when the weather is rough. The same rule should be followed in places where a narrow jetty of rocks separates the path from the crashing waves. At the moment the railway bridge over the river Vélez has no protective railings, but it is wide enough to pass through quite safely. Be careful not to trip over the nuts and bolts which pepper the concrete.
Finally, and as a general rule on the coast of Málaga, the west to east direction of the path suggests that you will be facing the sun during the first hours of the day and having the sun directly behind you during the rest of the day. It is necessary to protect yourself from the sun´s effects.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: The A-356 road mentioned above. It connects the Autovía del Mediterráneo by two intersections with the A-45 in Casabermeja and the Puerto de las Pedrizas.
Finish point: Nuestra Constitución roundabout, at the western entrance to Vélez Málaga off the A-356 road
3. Alternatives :
Possible "escape routes": Practically any point of the journey is near the N-340, with all the services of the long stretched city which is what the eastern Costa del Sol actually is. At the beginning the N-340 is inland, to the north, and from km 13.2 (Arroyo de Iberos) it runs toward the coast, to the south.
No return point: From the Peñon de Almayate onwards (the Almayate rock has an image of a bull at the top, approximately at km 19.5) it is more suitable to finish the stage than undertaking another alternative.
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
From Stage 1, the GR 92 E12 continues meandering along the coast of Málaga, sharing itinerary with our GR but in the opposite direction. There are not many public paths along the coast and the existing ones seem to concentrate all in the same area, north of Rincón de la Victoria centre. There are three consecutive local “senderos” departing from Arroyo de Granadilla. As can be expected in this environment, they end up climbing hills and heights with spectacular views towards the south and the coast.
The SL A 82 Arroyo Granadilla - Cerro Capitana is a circular 8.5 km walk that has the access to Albenda Tower as one of its attractions. The interesting ramble through the bottom of the valley is shared by the SL- A 83, Arroyo Granadilla - Tío Caña Hill. The two paths meet again at the highest point, offering more alternatives. The first path, Arroyo de Granadilla (or Granadillas on other signs) follows a loop to the west. The 7 kilometre circular called Cerro del Tío Caña takes you to the east.
Finally, the SL-A 84 Benagalbón Hill is a linear, the two walks coincide along the last few metres but in this case the walk starts from the centre of the village of Benagalbón and reaches Rincón de la Victoria as it descends. The three footpaths offer flexibility and allow planning a personalised walk. It is also possible to visit the Cueva del Tesoro (before El Higuerón) as a guided tour. It is located on the upper cliffs above Los Cantales and with very easy access from the GR. Prehistoric human occupation and the legends and anecdotes surrounding it are combined with the attractiveness of its formation process, linked to the elevation of the land and changes in the level of the sea in successive geological times, together with the erosive action of the Mediterranean.
Also, there are three areas at Stage 2 which have drawn the attention of scientists and teachers resulting in different studies which sometimes are accompanied by detailed routes. These are Los Cantales, Peñon de Almayate (also called the Bull Rock or Cerro del Toro) and the delta of the Vélez river. In these three places, because of geology, flora and fauna, different groups of people have designed their own interpretive itineraries that are accessible in various formats, also as publications sponsored by CEDER Axarquía.
The same occurs with the obvious historical and heritage values reflected in the routes and suitable focus on the times of the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, the industrial era, etc. The coast line and the abrupt terrain have caused the traditional foot paths, animal paths and roads to be laid out along more or less the same route throughout the centuries. The Camino de Vélez (or the Camino Viejo de Málaga, its name changes depending where you start), has been known forever, in fact it is still possible to make out the surface of the old path at the end of it. Other than that, only spoken or written testimonies to this millennial passage way exist, and it can be traced to Roman times.
• Use of roadside of the N-340 between Chilches & Benajarafe
• Road traffic circulating on final stretch
• Wading through a small stream on the beach
• 300m stretch along the river bed of the Arroyo de los Íberos