GR 249. Stage 07. Cómpeta - Canillas de Aceituno
From Cómpeta to Canillas de Albaida
In the north-west part of Cómpeta you can easily locate the Ermita de San Antonio Abad Extramuros, a smaller equivalent of San Sebastián, this you can access easily from the long Calle San Antonio street.
You will be following 2 kilometres of a walk joining Cómpeta and Canillas de Albaida, practically level as it runs parallel to an old irrigation channel, which is now piped, and which supplies water to the terraces of traditional orchards mixed with avocados and other subtropical fruit trees.
In the abandoned areas, or those less productive for crop growing, there are good specimens of Small-leaved Elms, European Nettle trees and White Poplars. At the beginning, the track has been improved using albero (a crushed yellow sedimentary rock) and lined with wooden railings, but in the Arroyo de las Jurisdictions it changes to a dirt track surrounded by dolomite; a prelude to the mountains.
Above the track there are olive groves which are sometimes colonized by Juniper, Rosemary, Gorse and White Rockrose, and soon they give way to planted pine woods. A little further along you will cross the road which leads to the quarry of Canillas de Albaida and the mountains, but your walk continues below.
Los Caminos de la Puente, Cruz del Muerto and the Umbría de Salares
Bypass the village of Canillas de Albaida to the north, at the foot of the Ermita de Santa Ana (in the urban area we can also locate the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Expectación and the Ermita de San Antón) and you will arrive at a transformer. Behind it, the Cuesta de la Puente begins, a stone paved track with wooden rails which goes down to the Puente Romano and then ascends in a westerly direction. Close to the Molino, two sign-posted paths begin.
You will be climbing a recently restored historic road, until you connect with the asphalted road in the area of Fogarate, where there is a dirt track to the north offering the possibility of fine views over the village and a tour of the vineyards and olive groves in the hills, passing by some “paseros” (raisin driers). At the Cerro Cuevas the ascent leads into a pine forest and into the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama. The climb follows a line marking the boundary between the replanted Maritime Pine forests and the crops of figs and grapes on the southern slope of the Cortijo del Bailarín. The mountain shelters a scrubland of Montpelier Cistus, with Purple Phlomis, Grey-leaved Cistus, Genista umbellata and Gorse. They reach their best at the pass of Cruz del Muerto, where you start walking on a track again.
Next, leave this excellent forest track after about two kilometres, changing to a less-preserved track to the left, and leading down to Solana de la Casa Haro or Jaro.
Notice a small helipad and a mini reservoir used for fire fighting as soon as you begin the descent. The Cortijo is a very important landmark for hiking in this part of the Parque Natural. It retains some non-irrigated cultivated terraces and dispersed fruit trees.
The path which appears to the west of the ruin leads to a forest of Holm oaks, with Cork oaks and Portuguese oaks, a refreshing change from the previous pine woods. Finally the track fords, without difficulty, the Arroyo de los Álamos, a tributary of the nearby Río Salares. La Umbría de la Casa de Haro, as it is known, is a well-preserved forest on the eroding slopes of the limestone Cerro de Peñas Blancas. Once at the valley´s base, the road maintains its height between the trees to the Cortijo Fofa and it heads to the village across the very interesting Puente Árabe, excellently restored, used formerly for the workers to travel to Barranco de la Mina and to transport the salt which lent its name to the village.
From Salares to Sedella through Marchena and La Herriza
Climb through the El Encinar on a good dirt track leading to Cruz del Muerto, up to Benescalera where, after passing Fuente de Ocaña and a huge threshing circle, turn towards Cerro Marchena on a steep incline.
Leave the track in search of a concrete canal following it until you reach a small wood of Maritime Pines. You will come across some streams with rushes and a small pool at the side whilst walking up to the hill with views of the Hoya de Salamanca.
Then, walk along the hill a few meters westwards (km 15) until you start descending, and head for Cortijo de la Herriza. From there, walking through slate and a sparse scrubland of Grey-leaved Cistus and Gorse, zigzag down to La Puente bridge and stream. In this area there is a rare fern on the rocks and the path’s retaining walls, Cosentinia vellea. In the final section, in front of the track which leads to the area east of Sedella, you will find pine woods and, above all, Holm oaks, growing on the steep slopes of the Arroyo de la Puente and the Barranco Blanco respectively, whilst the track that the GR follows is completely devoid of trees.
From Sedella to Canillas de Aceituno via the Área Recreativa and El Almanchares
At Sedella pass through the higher part of the village from the town hall, “Ayuntamiento”, towards a few well manicured orchards above the village. Their location has been chosen because of an irrigation channel, which accompanies the path next. On the top of the hill called Hundidero, overlooking the village, you can see the ruins of a small castle, or a watchtower, of Arab origin. Follow the canal, which leads to a restored hydraulic mill on a rise, the Molino de Montosa, from which the water is taken to the village and there are excellent views west of the Cerro del Tablón hill, which blocks the view of Sedella village.
A forest track takes you by a source in a streambed, where willows and Redoul grow, and to the Área Recreativa de Sedella, to the west of the village, where there are tall pine trees. The picnic/rest area has good facilities.
Walk up to the sculpture of a Griffon Vulture, descending along an asphalted road which the GR follows. There is a spectacular Holm oak, its branches arching over the road, where we approach the bottom of the valley. When you have walked 20 kilometres, it is necessary to do another two and a half along the road before reaching Puerto de Sedella, ignoring the intersections to Rubite and Los Valverdes. When the hamlet of Canillas de Aceituno comes into view, at the pass where, to your left, there is a hill curiously named Rompealbardas (Saddle Breaker), you have to make a steep descent to the Almanchares riverbed, while the motorway follows a wide curve and crosses the river upstream, then connects with the GR again, almost in the village. The GR now follows the La Cuesta del Molinillo which is very steep; it leads to a ford which generally does not pose any danger, and passes between semi-abandoned vineyards and ancient terraces of almond trees. The mill referred to in the name “molinillo” can be seen whilst climbing the dirt track uphill.
There are also terraces of old citrus fruits and subtropical trees, growing very close to the Almanchares riverbed. Here it is sheltered by Oleanders although further down it opens up. The track ascends. Ignore the many farm and fi eld accesses to the left while opposite, to the south, on the slope of the hill with a house on top; you can see the densely wooded La Hoya del Alcornocal. The dry farmland at the end of this stage has numerous Olive trees and is packed with country houses that end at the public swimming pool and the roundabout at the entrance to Canillas de Aceituno.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: The MA-112 road to Cómpeta and then following the long Calle San Antonio.
Starting point: The Ermita de San Antonio chapel in the north-west area of Cómpeta.
Enjoy the walk safely: This is a long stage with a signifi cant cumulative elevation gain, as you pass through three populated areas you can stock up on suffi cient supplies and water, or, be able to stop walking in bad weather. Bear in mind that you will climb up to 850 metres twice in this mountainous area. In the confl uence of the Arroyo de los Álamos with the Río Salares, close to the Casa de Haro, there should be no problems in wading across. The Almanchares River can have high water in times of fl ooding, but you do have the option to continue on the road from the Puerto de Sedella. It is worth a special mention that there are stretches where you will be walking along the road, above all during the long section from the Área Recreativa de Sedella to the Puerto de Sedella. In addition, there are stretches of asphalt or concrete where vehicles can drive at high speed.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: From the A-7205 to the MA-4106.
Finish point: The south-east entrance to Canillas de Aceituno, by the roundabout with a sculpture devoted to “Labrador de la vid”, a vineyard worker.
Possible "escape routes": At each of the villages that you cross (Canillas de Albaida, Salares y Sedella) but also via
the MA-4105 close to Sedella along a few kilometres of asphalt.
No return point: The only somewhat difficult area is after the Cruz del Muerto, elsewhere is relatively well connected. It is advisable to follow the better quality road towards Salares, which is the closest, or otherwise to Canillas de Albaida which also has good vehicle access.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: The seventh Stage of the Gran Senda de Málaga is also the second of the GR-242 Periana Nerja, but in the opposite direction. Between Cómpeta y Canillas de Albaida there is a lovely path, neither marked nor offi cially approved, that serves as a promenade for both villages.
As you leave La Puente de Canillas de Albaida you will fi nd a couple of itineraries designed by the workshop school “La Aceitera” starting from El Molino, to the Hoya de la Virgen and to the Cruz del Muerto. The latter joins the GR at the Cerro Cuevas.
Arriving at Salares the GR connects with
the SLA-64 footpath Sendero del Monte de
Salares, a circular path which is ideal for