GR 249. Stage 14: Villanueva de Tapia - Villanueva de Algaidas
La Sierra del Pedregoso y la dehesa de encinas
The climb from Villanueva de Tapia, through the Colada de Entredicho, overcomes a steep rise among ancient olive groves through terrain that has suffered recent episodes of erosion, causing huge gullies on both sides of the track. When you reach the first sections of the sierra, on the left, you pass by a cluster of houses in ruins known as the Los Curros and then La Casilla de Sierra, situated in a strategic location with good views of la Nava and the shady slopes of the Sierra of el Pedroso. Here you will find a young Holm oak wood interspersed with numerous Kermes Oaks, forming an extremely thicket on the sharp limestone pavement, which makes for very tough walking for hunters, who mainly ue this spot. Interestingly, the oaks that grow down from the sierra to the path are small specimens, but the ones on the right side of the walk, tucked among olive groves, are much larger, which makes them a benchmark of past splendors. However as human-influenced the area is, a certain balance can be observed.
Interesting when natural forests are allowed to colonizes in the environment and occupy ravines field edges, slopes, rocky areas and to secure the soil. The north corner of the sierra, an emblematic point, is occupied by the Cortijo de las Morenas at the beginning of the Barranco del Infi erno (km 3). The Cortijo is an example of traditional construction with the inner courtyard and the front pavement, to avoid the transfer of abundant mud from the fields into the house. There is still a meagre garden with some fruit: quince, walnuts, apricots, fi gs, pear and persimmons.
The farmsteads between olive groves
From here, with according change in vegetation, olive production becomes a monoculture, but only occupying slopes of certain height. The walk, which leads to the south now, has been used since time immemorial to climb up to the area of sierra and properties scattered in it, so the walk is escorted by many houses and cottages. Beside the track, in order, you will see the Cortijo de las Cascabeles, and then de los Isabelicos. Further up beside the junction to Villarto there is a group of houses: casa Blanca, Cortijo Armanda, de Moreno and la Casella, now very close to the MA-5100 road, which you will walk on for a kilometre and a half towards north-east until you leave it at km marker 7.2 of the GR. Take a downhill track, in the area of Rebollo, to the west and then turn left along a paved track which you abandon soon to get to the bottom of the Valley.
El Arroyo Bebedero
There is no doubt that, given where the traveller is, the diversity of landscapes acts like a calming tonic during this stage. Now the path is accompanied by the dense natural vegetation of Holm oak forest and Portuguese (or Gall) Oaks which on both sides of the watercourse come down from the galleried woods, as already described. The area is known as Rondán and Malabrigo, between km 10 and 11.5.
When the valley widens new houses appear, Mateos, the Castillo de los Peláez, the Ventorro, lo de Prieto, increasingly separated from the watercourse, until you reach the Albaicin. So far you walked predominantly in the north direction, at km 13.4 turn west onto an asphalted road, which climes to a small pass Cerro de Peña ahead as you cross the Arroyo de Bebedero. A new twist of the path to the left reveals the village of Villanueva de Algaidas, down at the Arroyo Burriana, where Stage 14 of the Great Málaga Path ends.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: From the A-92 take the A-333 Archidona Alcaudete. From Malaga, the A-333 direction Granada and then A-359.
Starting point: Villanueva de Tapia, at the roundabout near Constitution Avenue, in the south of the village, passing below the road A-333.
Enjoy the walk safely: The stretch that may worry you a bit more is the long way from the Sierra of el Pedroso to the Arroyo of Bebedero. There is a real maze of tracks, a few asphalted and others not, and the advice is not leave the waymarked way. There is no drinking water throughout the tour.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: There are two connections from the A-92 Seville-Granada, A-7201 from Archidona and the A-7221 from Antequera.
Finish point: Villanueva de Algaidas via the Almeria Street, ending the stage at the junction of the MA-6416 with MA-7203 to Cuevas Bajas.
Possible "escape routes": From the road that you cross at the km 6, before descending to the Arroyo de Bebedero you can continue and reach Archidona train station.
No return point: When you reach the road MA 5100 it is not worth going back, continue down and reach the next village on the GR.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: An important livestock right-of-way, La Colada de los Alamillos, starts at the same point as the GR. It was used by the neighbouring village to bring their animals to the royal cattle fair, in Villanueva de Tapia, the last chance to make deals of the season. The authorities of Villanueva de Tapia have signposted the walk, which has been renamed as El Encinar, it is a circular 5.5 kilometres long and up at the Cortijo de la Morena it coincides with the GR. There are some information panels along the route that explain this infrastructure. La Colada de Entredicho (Debatable) is the camino that leaves from Villanueva de Tapia. The name comes from a process of assigning the village to the nearest town and this one, as we mentioned, is a stone´s throw both from Granada and Córdoba.
The surrounds of la Sierra del Pedroso (Stony Mountains) are, obviously, the least appropriate to walk and so there are no approved paths except for the GR-7 E4. The itinerary of this walk practically coincides with the GR except for the section downhill to Arroyo de Bebedero. (which flows around on the left) and arriving to Villanueva de Algaidas where it follows Camino del Albaicín.
The GR-249 the Cañada de los Puertos uses to reach the destination of the stage, passing by northward through houses of
the Albaicin, and turns to the west by the Camino de las Peñas.