GR 249. Stage 10: Alfarnatejo (Pulgarín Alto) - Alfarnate
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.
Up to el Puerto del Sabar
The walk starts climbing along a stretch of road veering left onto the mentioned Vereda de la Costa, under the Tajo de Doña Ana with its recent landslide. The Sabar River runs parallel to the trail and separates it from the Sierra de Sabar, a limestone promontory its true size dwarfed by the grand environment. Note several large olive trees with thick trunks, visibly repeatedly pruned.
When you arrive at A-7204 between Riogordo and Periana, bear right, and cross the bridge over the river Sabar. Walk up to the Puerto de Sabar where you leave the road. Find a track which is partly concrete and partly dirt.
Towards Cortijo de Auta
The concrete track gives access to a reservoir of water atop a small hill and continues until km 5.5 where a deserted track leads westwards, overtaken by ruderal plants and some broom, between crops of dry land, olive groves and almond trees. When you pass by the source of Arroyo de las Morenas there is a striking-looking fallen oak tree on an isolated sandstone rock.
Here and there arboreal witnesses of the past splendour of the oaks in the area appear. You have a wide panoramic view towards the southwest; however Riogordo is not visible, stuck as it is in a depression. To the north, ever closer, you can see the profile of the Gomer´s more accessible side.
The descent towards Auta and the river Borbollón, after wading the Auta stream, harbours only typical riparian vegetation, a wide green belt between fields of cereal crops, and the plants growing on rock piles scattered throughout the hilly ground. A sign explains the unconfirmed hypothesis of this being the birthplace of Omar Ibn Hafsum, the leader of the revolt against the Umayyads and the Caliphate of Cordoba, who placed his royal leaders in the fortress of Bobastro (described and seen later). In fact, written records indicate that he was born “in the hamlet of Torrichela, near the Castillo de Autha”, and the similarity of the name makes it worth taking into account. As it happens so many times, his origins are disputed today by several towns.
In the hamlet, in complete decline and with a huge threshing circle that welcomes the walker, the walk turns northward and begins the ascent. Once one gets to the source of the river Borbollón, at the foot of a hill marked as archaeological site, made up of siliceous rocks of plutonic origin and with nice green colour.
El camino de la sierra
The contrast with the previous sector is evident when one enters the forest of Holm oaks and Portuguese oaks that occupies the entire southern slope of the limestone cliff between the Sierrecilla del Rey and the Tajos. The ruins of the farmhouses of Farrinas and El Cuartillo are on your right. The acebuche, wild olive tree, thrives everywhere. When you climb the mountain pass, near electricity towers, the walk turns eastwards and the landscape softens. There is a flat area with reddish soil, known as polje resulting from the erosion of the limestone, suitable for cultivation. Pass on your right the limestone cliffs, with the increasingly obvious Tajo del Fraile. In the north Holm oak wood is mixed with large Terebinth, spectacular in autumn when they turn red.
Between Alfarnatejo y Alfarnate
The two pueblos occupy areas of the plains not as suitable for cultivation, on the banks of the river Sabar and between the crags. El Morrón de Malinfi erno (the northwest rocky spur of the Sierra de Enmedio) stretches from Alfarnate to Alfarnatejo blocking the view between the villages. These foothills are also occupied by a Holm oak forest, in this case younger, especially along the initial climb. The Tajo de Malinfi erno is much more tree-less and covered with laston grass, gorse and white cistus carpeting the rocky outcrop with a dispersed Hawthorn here and there.
The Sabar River (or Arroyo del Palancar) meanders around the mountains and leaves the ruins of an old olive mill on your right where, as it seems, the remains of squeezed olives used to be thrown into the so-called Charca de Aceite, “oil puddle”. The proximity of the old quarry converted into a landfill casts a shadow over the landscape. On the other side of the Cerro de la Venta, atop whichthe mill used to sit, is the famous Venta of Alfarnate restaurant. The hillock has dense vegetation on its northern slope, which is visible as the walk takes the hiker to the foot of the river again. The trail runs parallel to the river, passes through a rest area and turns off to the right suddenly in order to avoid the road, leading through an area of ancient terraces, with paved fl ooring and dry stone walls bordering it. Alfarnate is accessed via Calle Pozo Rincón and continuing along the river which flows under the Plaza del Puente.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: The road that connects with the A-6100 to Alfarnatejo.
Starting point: Alto Pulgarin road MA-157.
Enjoy the walk safely: There are no excessive risks at this Stage, except the 3 kilometres of road that must be walked, both at the beginning and between the river and the Puerto de Sabar, and a section out of Alfarnatejo. There, as always, you have to take extra precautions. There is mud and some sections of the trail are covered in loose stones and surface is in poor condition. There will be no wading across major streams
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: From Málaga on the A-6118 direction Periana and taking the MA-155. From Granada, exit 187 of the A-92 direction Zafarraya and take the MA-4102, which leads to the village by the Puerto de Alazores.
Finish point: La Plaza Puente de Alfarnate.
Possible "escape routes": The road up to the Puerto de Sabar and the village of Alfarnatejo.
No return point: As you reach the Cortijo de Auta it is quite difficult to make a decision at this point however it would be recommended to continue forward once you´ve started climbing the hill. However, the most sensible thing to do in case of any problems would be not following the GR any further and taking the main track south-west and then south which takes you to Río Gordo, relatively close from the farmhouse.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: The GR-7 E4 in its Southern Branch or Granada Branch coincides with the Great Path of Málaga, but in the opposite direction, from Pulgarin Alto up to the farmhouse Cortijo de Auta. The farmhouse had been
mentioned as the “escape route”, since it passes close to the village of Riogordo.
That sector is advertised by the village of Riogordo as route of the cliffs to the Puerto de Sabar (Ruta de Tajos) and the GR-249 is suggested to follow that route. It also proposes another walk Ruta de la Sierra from the Cortijo de Auta. They are not marked as legalised public paths but there are nice information panels showing their locations.
The Vereda de la Costa path follows the course of the Sabar River to Pulgarin Alto and follows a dirt track by centuries-old olive groves. Final part of this Sage coincides in part with a circular path of Alfarnate, the PR 268-A Bosque de Las Morillas Alfarnate. It is 5.3 kilometres long and climbs to the Morrón del Águila connecting with the Great Path of Málaga in the ascent to the Puerto and Mirador de Malinfierno. There is a somewhat longer variant that leads to the Venta de Alfarnate