GR 249. Stage 04: Torrox - Nerja
El Río Torrox
The Great Málaga Path starts in Calle Almedina, at the southern tip of Torrox, and leads south towards the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves and the centre for the social services which is housed in the former Convento de Franciscanos Mínimos. Before you reach the small square next to the convent you will notice on your left a steep path down, which, up to km marker 0.3, coincides with the end of Stage 3.
The footpath twists and turns along the shale slopes in a steep descent (60 metres of elevation along the 300 m long path). Walking beside Oleanders, Narrow-leaved Mock Privet, Prickly Pear and Yellow Woody Thistle (Carthamus arborescens) pass by a terraced avocado plantation on your right and then arrive at the bridge El Puente de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (or Puente de las Animas). Only the base of the original medieval construction survives as it was later refurbished using slate and an abundance of mortar. The bridge has two arches and is turned on its axis; it narrows just as you cross the river on the path known as Camino de Zamora, direction Nerja. The bridge´s popular name, Las Animas (Bridge of Souls) comes from a Torrox legend about the souls of Christian warriors who had perished in a battle in this very spot and now they cross the river on their way to the Convent on All Saints night.
The long journey of Torrox river starts very high in the mountains of Axarquía, but when it arrives at Stage 4, its water level is very low, especially in summer. Boxed in the shale rocks which surround the village and covered in dense cane the river offers little botanical diversity, apart from some willow trees. The path, also known as Camino Viejo de Torrox a Nerja, uses a fork formed by the river and Arroyo del Puerto to cross both watercourses. The stream can be crossed simply by wading through. The rock face ahead harbours a few specimens of Ephedra and Nettle Tree. Next, the walk starts climbing and keeps zigzagging south through an area rich in streaks of quartz, to end up under the huge road bridge of Autovía del Mediterráneo. This dual carriage way is now behind on your left and you start following a service road through more stretches of sub -tropical plantations. The road starts veering east and climbs up to the point where there are superb views of Torrox; the white village over the cliff and surrounded by terraces of fruit trees.
El Arroyo del Puerto
Having climbed the small hill mentioned above, the walk takes you to a cliff, quite transformed by the motorway construction, where, surprisingly, there are a few Holm Oaks (at km 1.7), one or two Carob Trees and an enormous Buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus), together with some Lavender and Spiny Broom. As you pass two tracks to your right, the walk starts descending. Following the forest track you will have good views to the Túneles de Torrox, the Torrox tunnels, until you reach an underground water drain. The very steep embankment to your right is covered by a very dense colony of broom and cistus species, myrtle and a wooded area of rugged Holm Oak. This is a very inviting environment for birds, especially thrushes. There
are remains of an old dry wall visible next to a spring, blanketed with rushes and oleander; the path now enters a long and steep climb.
At kilometre 2.7 on top of an escarpment on the right side of the path you will fi nd a great specimen of myrtle. Its presence, together with the cistus species you passed before, proves that this area could potentially be appropriate for planting Cork Oaks.
The dirt track is what was used during the construction of the motorway to accommodate lorries carrying loads of sand from the nearby quarry. The area is being restored by protecting the newly-planted trees, installing retention walls and drainage systems. At km 3.1 you will fi nd the Puerto viewpoint and a 350 m high hill, also called Puerto, to its right, towards the south. At this point the walk is crossed by an electricity line with its high towers.
Over the Cerro Pastora
The scrub along the path consists mainly of Retama, Spiny Broom and other shrubs resistant to the dry and lonely environment of this long 442 metres high ridge. El Barranco del Puerto gorge starts here; it´s been named after the same hill as the Arroyo del Puerto described before. It is a ubiquitous name in the area. The gully which the walk follows, now cut by the motorway, has been turned into an extensive and productive subtropical fruit tree plantation. The result can be overwhelming, however as you go a little further, you will see remains of the traditional tree species which were cultivated not long ago.
It is possible that the impact on the environment then was very similar to the present fruit tree impact. On the side of the path, at km 4.1, having passed by an intersection leading to some beehives, there is a ruin on a rise surrounded by abandoned dry stone walls and olive trees. Just on the very edge of the path, there is the only specimen of a tree which should be dominating the landscape of Cerro Pastora, the Holm Oak. It is here at this point that you are reminded of the old and forgotten identity of this land and its quite recent traditional exploitation. Not far from the olives and the low dry stone walls, a few turns of the path away, the walk is lined with low-hanging avocados. The path takes you to a new mirador (km 5) with views to Vélez Málaga with the Mediterranean to the south and Sierra Almijara in the north. However, any photos of the panoramic view are made difficult by the same power line seen before over the Puerto hill.
La Autovía del Mediterráneo
The walk starts descending and there is a good specimen of a Nettle Tree with two trunks next to a fl at parking area on the side of the track. Here onwards smaller plots of land appear, with farms and houses along the track, which is now asphalted and leads steeply downhill.
Before arriving at Melí, note the specimens of the rare Yellow Wooded Thistle, old and up to two metres tall, just beside the track. Its distribution reaches only southern Mediterranean Spain and North Africa. The motorway is now ever-present and has many escarpments which at least are useful to the walker by showing the beautiful streaks of colours of the shale which forms the hills. The walk leads along service roads parallel to the main road and arrives at Río Seco (km 7), which you need to wade through, and then continue climbing. The escarpments found along the GR-249, as it leads up and down from the locally known plant nursery, are very interesting; they show the diverse textures of very recent sediments, from compacted sands to looser gravel of various sizes.
Having left an area of pine and herbs behind on your left, with its enormous Aleppo pine tree, find a crossing underneath the A-7 E-12, through the Imaroga area, which takes you to the Góndola de Nerja roundabout at kilometre 9.1, at La Loma de Las Vacas, where you must cross the MA-5105 close to an industrial area. Another descent leads to a crossing over the stream Arroyo de las Exóticas; its name comes from an old garden centre. Here, again, orchards and fruit trees appear. The walk passes by water channels of the Chíllar river and the downhill slope ends further on at a river crossing. In order to reach your destination walk uphill again, passing through the part of Nerja which has been built on top of caves and escarpments of travertine limestone, its sediments accumulated here by the river. Kilometre 10.5 marks the end of Stage 4 at Calle Julio Romero, close to a sports complex.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: From the N-340 the best option is to use the A-7207 road which takes you to Torrox directly from the coast. However, the Autovía A-7S crosses the river next to Torrox and you can access the village there.
Starting point: Calle Almedina in Torrox, in the north, on a turn. The starting point is south of the centre.
Enjoy the walk safely: Crossing Río de Torrox, the stream that follows it and Río Seco, should pose no problems. Río Chillar is another story as it tends to have water all year round except for times of long droughts. Being so close to Nerja it is possible to try and find a nearby bridge if the water level is too high. In order to do so it is recommended to head south to find the N-340.
Sections of the path especially at the beginning can be quite steep and covered in loose gravel. Traffic along the tracks gets heavier as you get closer to Nerja, where farm vehicles add to people travelling between the villages and housing estates. Asphalted sections lack hard shoulders so you need to pay attention to the traffic. Service roads along the motorway follow the same pattern.
In the vicinity of the Góndola de Nerja roundabout you must use pedestrian crossings as the number of cars here and their average speed are much higher. There are no drinking water sources along Stage 4.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: As mentioned above, crossing the N-340 is a good option, west of a sports complex Enrique López Cuenca.
Finish point: Intersection of the Julio Romero and Picasso streets, close to the Avenida de la Constitución and the Avenida de Pescia, crossing the N-340. There is a car park just at the end of the walk. This is in the northern part of Nerja which looks over to Río Chíllar.
Possible "escape routes": The fact that you are walking in the vicinity of a motorway, does not mean that there are many exit points for the walk. In reality this becomes possible around km 5 in the area where there are asphalted tracks. All of the housing estates have exits to the motorway and connections to Nerja, towards the south and then east No return point: It is understood that having climbed el Puerto (km 3.1) the smartest thing to do would be descending towards Nerja, not because it is closer to the starting point but because the possibilities to find and exit from the walk are greater.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: The star public right of way road is the aforementioned Cañada Real de Motril a Málaga, which leads to Torrox from the Puente de las Animas. The Gran Senda de Málaga had to abandon the Cañada Real as the Autovía de Mediterráneo had been built on top of it in places.
In the Torrox area other traditional paths mainly head north to connect with Cómpeta or Periana and south to the coast. Frigiliana
has its own public paths heading for Málaga which cross the GR-249 at the entrance to Nerja. The GR-92 E-12 Senda del
Mediterráneo which coincides with our GR from the finish point of this stage pairs up with GR-242 Sierra Tejeda y Almijara (from Periana to Nerja) and both GR´s are way marked in the opposite direction to the GR-249.
Nerja is famous for the guided tour of its caves and also for its water itinerary through the Cahorros del Higuerón (in Frigiliana area) and, above all, Río Chíllar. Hundreds of people undertake a descent along these beautiful river canyons taking the adventure up to various points along the river apt for different ability levels, deeper and deeper into the Sierra de Almijara.La Puerta Verde de Torrox, Frigiliana and Sierra Almijara connects two villages and the sierra to the north of this Stage,creating a good alternative to design a circular walk of various days around the east part of Málaga province.
Two protected nature reserves nearby, very significant for the walker, are Parade Natural Acantilados de Maro y Cerro Gordo
(on the coast towards the east) and Parque Natural de las Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama, to the north east. In the Nerja area the highlights are the ascent of Alto del Cielo and the footpaths which will be used in the 5th Stage of the Gran Senda de Málaga.
Nerja Town hall advertises and recommends five walks through Sierra de Almijara (to the Río Chíllar dam, to the Fuente del
esparto, to Nava Chica, to Almendrón and to the Cuesta del Cielo via la Civila) and one walk along Arroyo de la Miel (to Peñon
de los Castillejos). The town hall website offers descriptions of the itineraries and quite clear plans of each walk.