GR 249. Stage 23: El Burgo - Ronda
The Dams over Turón River
From the roundabout where three roads of El Burgo intersect, beside the monument to Juan José Gallardo Mingolla (known as Pasos Largos) and the fuel station, take the shady road towards Yunquera for 250 meters and after crossing the Turón river bear right taking a dirt track towards Puerto de la Mujer and Los Diques.
At the beginning there are signs for a circular walk, then a side-road to the left towards the trails of Fuensanta and the Puerto de la Mujer (which share the fi rst stretch of the path). The track continues as the river valley becomes denser with more species of plants; tall poplars, and an abundance of ash trees; however the deep pool banks are perfect places for willows.
Often you will see fish in the clean waters. At kilometre 1.2 there is a water source on the right and at km 2.7 you come to an outcrop of pink marly limestone at a vantage point. From here you can see the dam De la Presa, there is a track that descends to the prepared swimming area at the Azud largo dam, a recommended short stroll.
At kilometre 4.5, with the Nacimiento dam across a river bend, on the other side you can see the huge escarpment of the Viewpoint of the Forest Guard with the Ronda road above. You are already in the Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves. The pine forest is now much more dense, you passed by a spring and the only house in this part of the walk, Cortijo de la Hierbabuena farmhouse, dedicated to goat and sheep farming (km 6.3). The track ascends a little more decisively until km 8.6, very close to Puerto de la Mujer, and here you must leave it and fi nd a path which goes down steeply towards Río del Burgo riverbed, just where its tributaries unite. In the wedge between the river tributaries there is a ruin of the Cortijo de la Troncha where the path used to lead originally.
Cornicabral or Terebinth Forest of Lifa
Rising along the banks of the Arroyo de Lifa, which is on the left, the pine wood is Olive trees, Mastic, Terebinth, Roses and other shrubs of the Mediterranean maquis, especially near the watercourse. The path ascends through an area conquered by the native vegetation not long ago. Still can see the piles of boulders and cleared fields of ancient dry farming crops and some olive trees, although the path does not pass through the ruins of the Cortijo de Buenavista, nerve centre of this agricultural activity. Next to park limit signs of the Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves, the Terebinth is gaining prominence to become a forest. Specimens growing along the fi rst steep climb are especially large at the foot of a limestone pit (km 10.3).
Pass on your right the steep gully of the Cañada de Sopalmito, which witnessed the final bloody episodes of the bandit, Paso Largo´s life. The path crosses the slope of Sierra Blanquilla in the middle. The rocky landslides on the slope, sometimes compacted into limestone breccias, and cliffs with visible strata are on the right, while on the left of the path there is in all its splendour the Lifa Cornicabral, Terebinth wood, (truly superb when it turns red in the fall), at its western end topped by the rocky mass on which the Atalaya de Lifa tower sits, a structure which has been quite badly affected by the passage of time. Looking south you will note against the horizon the contours of the Sierra de las Nieves (Peñon de Ronda Rock, Peñon de los Enamorados as well as some Spanish Fir trees) while in front, on an imposing hill, stands out the tree that gives its name to the Puerto del Pinsapo. Even higher you will notice the “torcal” limestone formations blanketed with maples growing in the Riscos de Lirios crags.
El Cortijo y el Puerto de Lifa
As the Lifa Tower gets close and suddenly the terrain becomes easier. The path leads through the area infl uenced by Cortijo Lifa, which is located on a large clay fl atland sheltered by high mountains that surround it, there even is a well. The walk passes through working fields and pastures. All gates must be closed after you pass through, to help manage the livestock. The houses fall behind on your left (km 12.3), while the GR uses the track that begins to rise again, slightly to the southwest. The vegetation changes substantially due to human activity, but also due to the altitude.
There is a scrub here of Hawthorn, Gorse and Wide-leaved Daphne with some specimens of Montpelier Maple. In the limestone cliffs to the south some dark solitary fi r survives in the rugged slopes of the Carramolo de Queso. After some bends you reach a hillock (km 14.3), from which it is worth look back at how far you have walked and admire the fl at Cortijo de Lifa, Sierra Blanquilla behind and the Sierras Cabrilla and Alcaparaín completing the landscape. The two GRs arrive at the Puerto de Lifa from different directions at the altitude of 1,160 meters and there are some hedgehog brooms in the surrounding area. So far the track constitute the limit of the protected natural area, here the Natural Park is passed by on the left.
The Great Path of Malaga comes to kilometre 14.9 where it starts to go down. The valley is squeezed between the Puerto Frío pass to the south and Los Peñoncillos to the north while the path again twists to the west again. There is a lime kiln at the foot of the path and at km 17, before going through ruins and corrals; it is the best place to see the fl at landscape ahead of the walk, with the backdrop of Ronda and Cadiz limestone sierras.
Los Llanos de Aguaya
The imposing mountain to the south is the Sierra Hidalga. Also note some dark, very high trees in the distance, which are centuries-old firs left over from the primeval forests. The Oaks of the northern slope of the sierra stand out against the gray of the limestone in a dense wood where young specimens of firs are scattered. Across the valley the terrain is being colonized by the Oaks little by little, also since the introduction of managed hunting, especially for deer. This is also why getting in and out of the area you cross some cattle grids. The ruins of the Cortijo del Lirio and Peñon Verde ahead tell a recent story of a very different lifestyle, more closely related to agriculture and animal husbandry.
Passing through the second gate with a cattle grid, now closer to the Arroyo del Lancero, the descent becomes easier (km 18.8) and you enter the Llanos de Aguaya plains, which are vast working fi elds with numerous cottages. The major junction in this area is also where the tarmac starts.
Here the Venta Ramirón restaurant is located at the crossroads of Yunquera road (the GR) with the Cordel de los Pescadores. Following this right-of-way track brings you to the already mentioned Pilar de Coca. To the left there is an airfi eld and the Guadalevín river on its way toward the Fuenfría and the Costa del Sol.
The GR, on the other hand, continues straight and climbs a small vantage point known as the Puerto Bilbao (km 22), from which you can see once again the small town of Ronda. A downhill stroll and a few turns take the walker to a bridge across the Arroyo de la Toma which lends its name to the nearby building material shops. After a short walk that passes the fairground enclosure of Ronda on your left you arrive at the end of Stage 23 at the so-called Pasarela de la Libertad.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: From Alozaina and the Valle del Guadalhorce A-366, also from Ronda, Serrato or Ardales, as mentioned above.
Starting point: The square with the monument to Pasos Largos, at the intersection of the A-366 with roads to Serrato (MA - 5400) and Ardales (MA-5401).
Enjoy the walk safely: During the short section of road, beware of the traffi c, above all to cross the bridge over the river. Upstream, when you need to ford the Río Turón, it is normally a dry riverbed.
However, this river course comes from the Sierra de las Nieves, and a storm can turn the ford into very dangerous one, although this happens rarely. The stage is hard because of its length, the steep slopes and the solitude of landscapes that it spans. As there are no water supply points, the advance planning of all the details of the trip is essential. The Lifa pass is a place with enough altitude where weather conditions can be extreme. It is not uncommon for it to snow here. The good news is that you walking along a track in good condition where there is no possibility of getting lost.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: The end of route coincides with the intersection of the A-397 to the Costa del Sol, A-374 to Seville, the A-367 to Malaga and the A-366 to Alozaina.
Finish point: Ronda fairground, next to Pasarela de Libertad, in the north-eastern part of the town.
Possible "escape routes": There is no possibility of leaving the path other than on the tracks of the beginning or the end of the stage route, following them or retracing your steps.
No return point: As soon as you reach the Cornicabral and you see Cortijo de Lifa which is inhabited, it is a better idea to
keep going. In case of very bad weather it is not advisable to continue uphill as weather conditions in Puerto de Lifa can be even more dire.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: The GR-243 Sierra de las Nieves, with a length of 94.28 km and adapted in 2009
by the Walking Association Pasos Largos and the Malaga Provincial Council, coincides with this stage of our GR. The description of its first stage (Ronda - El Burgo, of 23.49 km) is done in opposite direction to the itinerary of The Great Malaga Path. From El Burgo it heads south passing through Yunquera, with two alternative sections and ending in Istán.
In the same area where the stage starts, there are two well-advertised urban walks, the promenade El Paseo de la Acequia del Molino and El Puente Romano.
Once you are on the track leading to the dams, there are some options in the Natural Park. The Park likes the marly limestone hills that separate the Turón River from its tributary, Arroyo de la Fuensanta, running parallel in the s. Public Footpath of Puerto
de la Mujer (5.8 km) is on the dividing line of the mentioned watersheds. The Fuensanta walk (2.2 km) shares the same path with the previous walk up to the Puerto del Lobo and the third walk, which is also the longest (18 km), uses the track leading from the Puerto de la Mujer, coinciding with the GR-249 for almost 9 km, and leads down the track to la Fuensanta and to El Burgo again.The latter is highly recommended for mountain biking.
Moreover, the trail is one of the two old roads that connected El Burgo with Ronda, both leading through mountain passes well above 1,000 meters in height. Our road used to lead to Yunquera through El Puerto de la Mujer.
Finally, close to your destination point, Ronda inhabitants use roads which lead through the plains of Aguaya for long walks
towards the Pilar of Coca from the Venta Ramirón, to the area of the Guadalevín River. In fact, the famous race of the 101 kilometres organised by the Legion always passes through the Puerto Bilbao pass. In addition, it is described as PR-A71 (Ronda-Pilar de Coca), a trail of 9.1 kilometres certifi ed by the Andalucían Mountain Federation.
The last element in this network of routes is the Puerta Verde de Marbella, a walk equal in length to a marathon, which leads to Marbella from Ronda by the Pilar de Coca and crosses our GR at the Venta of Ramirón restaurant.