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GR 249. Stage 09. Periana - Alfarnatejo (Pulgarín Alto)

Diputación de Málaga

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 railway line to Zafarraya (Up to km 4.5)

The route begins winding through the whitewashed houses of Periana, before taking a right-hand turn up a steep slope, off the main street of Calle Torre del Mar. It is part of an old livestock path which goes from the town to Boquete de Zafarraya and later connects to a wider track. Close to Periana and La Muela station, the path links up with the old suburban railway line, which it follows until km 4.5. This is the line that once ran from Malaga to Ventas de Zafarraya, however only a few sections of track and its infrastructure remain intact, such as viaducts and bridges.

The project came to fruition through the Malaga Suburban Railway Company in 1905, a company founded with Belgian capital to manage metropolitan narrow-gauge railways. In the area around Stage 9, the train first arrived in Periana in 1921 and Las Ventas de Zafarraya in 1922. The track had gentle bends since it had to overcome many steep gradients, and so the trains needed to run on cog wheels, coupled with notches in the rails, known as a Rack railway. The line eventually closed in 1960, never managing to link the province with the city of Granada.

The surface underfoot is fairly decent here and the unsurfaced track gently goes uphill. Further on, you pass by a quarry that has been converted into a landfill. Little by little, the pathway makes its way around the limestone slopes and cuts a channel through a young oak forest, which covers the hillside.

Around the country estate of Los Peñones (the Outcrops) (km 3.2), there are some excellent views of the lower Axarquía region, which the earlier stages of the Great Path pass through. A little further up, the track curves gradually round to the right and the reason for the estate’s name just earlier, becomes apparent. A jagged limestone ridge juts out relatively high up, lined up to the north and sheltering shrubland to its right. Oak trees intermingle with Weaver’s, White and Scorpion broom and Kermes oaks, giving it a good chance of becoming mature woodland in the future. Large limestone boulders are dotted around, creating a maze of rocky passages through the shrubland.

Going straight over the Fuerte and Mezquita crossroads, you climb up to a hilltop between the Mosquitos and Lopez Peaks. At this point, you leave the old railway line and join up with the GR 7. There are fantastic views here, both to the east and west along the Central Limestone Arc. These are improved by some fine Aleppo pines which are dotted along the way and help to secure the slopes.

The villages around Periana and Alfarnatejo (To the end of the stage)

Immediately after starting this new section, you pass the turn off to Marchamona (km 5.1), which looks over the basin of the River Guaro from its rocky lookout point. The route then drifts to the west while dropping down. Almost 2 kilometres later, the village of Guaro has a handful of dwellings and some 80 inhabitants who tend to both rainfed and irrigated fields and extensive livestock farmland. You may well notice the number of settlements in this area, from small clusters of houses to more established towns. The pathway goes along the base of the peaks, which tower 700 metres over the houses, and so create some very highland scenery all around. You continue through olive groves and almonds orchards while up above you, are numerous examples of rocky slope deposits, grey limestone crags and steep, treeless slopes.

The scenery changes at the Cortijo de Zapata. The southern side of the Sierra de Enmedio hills is covered in dense woodland of Wild Olive trees, a truly impressive sight. After the small cluster of houses, the pathway becomes a makeshift track to extract timber and cork, with several paths branching off to the left. Continue along this main track, and you soon enter a genuine jungle with all the Mediterranean species that are adapted to the sun’s rays, smothering ancient olive trees. Enormous Mastic bushes and climbing plants stand out most here. This area is also under strict wildlife management.

Just past the penultimate rise in the route, you drop down through young olive trees, looking for the Cortijo de la Cueva (the Estate of the Cave). It gained its name thanks to the large cavity in the rock just behind the building itself. It has excellent views over the renowned and geologically unique Colmenar-Periana Corridor. There is one last climb to tackle, from the estate’s threshing circle and crossing land of hills and olive groves with dry stone terracing.

Some of the centuries-old olive trees you pass by on the final descent, are considerably large and have amazingly sinuous trunks. The track draws the Stage to a close, tracinging gentle curves, from which you can appreciate some of the pathway cuttings that have been made for the notorious Ruta de los Tajos (The Gorges Route). These include those of Bermejo and of Doña Ana. The small hamlets of Pulgarín Bajo and on the other side of the motorway, Pulgarín Alto, both belonging to Alfarnatejo usher you in on this new final section.

Routes
Routes On foot On a bicycle
Access -

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.

3. Alternatives:

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 GR-7 E-4 Tarifa-Athens, overlap from km ,5 from Villanueva de Cauche, 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.

Hazards:

• Agricultural vehicles circulating
• Crossing the MA-4103 road at km 7.9

Duration - 3:30 horas
Length - 13500 Km