GR 249. Stage 07. Cómpeta - Canillas de Aceituno
From Cómpeta to Canillas de Albaida (Up to km 2.1)
The start point is to the north-west of Cómpeta at the easily-found Chapel of San Antonio Abad Extramuros. From the centre of town, walk down the long street of Calle San Antonio.
The roughly two kilometres of fairly level pathway links up Cómpeta and Canillas de Albaida, either parallel to or on top of an old now covered over drainage channel. This provides water to the terraces of traditional farmland interspersed with plantations of avocado and other subtropical fruits. In areas free from agriculture, there are fine examples of White Poplar, Elm and European Hackberry trees.
The initial section of pathway has an albero (an ochre-coloured earth) surfacing beside a sturdy wooden fence. Further on at the Arroyo de las Jurisdicciones or del Limon, this changes to an unpaved footpath with Olive trees over the top. It is an area of dolomite, almost as a lead-in to the Sierra. Scattered around the area are Juniper, Rosemary, Scorpion broom and Grey-leaved Cistus shrubs and replanted Pine trees. You then come to a 250-metre stretch on the road that heads to the quarry at Canillas de Albaida and eventually to the Sierra. You leave the road, then pass underneath, continuing on to the town, while surrounded by agricultural land.
From Canillas de Albaida to Salares (Up to km 11)
Within Canillas de Albaida’s perimeter, the Path bypasses the town itself to the north, passing by the Chapel of Santa Ana. After a steep descent, you come to a distribution transformer, which marks the start of the Cuesta de la Puente (La Puente Hill), to then join up with the SL-A 277 route which winds its ways between the watermills of the River Turvilla. Together, they go down a cobbled road bordered by wooden fences until El Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) at km 2.8. Close to the watermill where the Rivers Turvilla and Cájula converge, you head south on the Sendero Local, with a walkway running on top of the old drainage channel.
A historic track which has recently been improved, takes you up a steep slope to the west from the riverside, where it joins a tarmacked track. For a few kilometres, it takes you through what was unirrigated land, and now reconverted into subtropical farmland. You then reach Fogarate mountain pass at 850 metres above sea level. Two tracks used by livestock merge here on their way to the Sierra, while you weave in and out of the municipal territories. You return to unsurfaced tracks when you make a sharp turn from east to west at a junction of multiple tracks.
After a short way along the top of the ridge, you enter the Natural Park of the Sierras Tejada, Almijara & Alhama, precisely at the mountain pass of Cruz del Muerto (km 6.6). The main unsurfaced track gradually turns to the east again and represents a boundary between plantations of Maritime pines and the ancient farmland on the sunny slopes of Sierra Tejada. The mountains shelter undergrowth consisting of Montpellier & Laurel-leaved Cistuses and various species of Broom, which are quite exceptional at the mountain pass.
After around two kilometres along a high-quality forest track, you join another in not as good a condition, going off to the left. This proceeds down the suntrap of Casa Haro or Jaro. Just as you begin the descent, there is a large pool of water for forest fires and a helipad. At kilometre 8.4, you pass a country house which is an important reference point for hikers in this part of the Natural Park. It maintains its terraces of rain-fed crops and intermittent fruit trees.
The footpath heading off to the west from the ruins, leads to a Holm oak forest with Cork and Portuguese oaks, which offers some variation to the pine forests earlier in the route. Continuing on, it wades through the Arroyo de los Álamos, a tributary to the nearby River Salares, without any difficulty. The shaded land, La Umbría of the Casa de Haro sustains Mediterranean woodland in good condition on the limestone slopes of Peñas Blancas. Once at the bottom of the valley, the trail stays roughly on the same level on its way south-west, facing the Fofa estate and finally heads towards the town. Cross over the Puente Árabe (Arabic Bridge) at km 10.3. This was a vital crossing point for workers to reach the Barranco de la Mina and to transport the salt, from which the town takes its name.
From Salares to Sedella (Up to km 15.6)
Departing Salares to the north, on the far side of the same valley that the route descended, you pass through a Holm oak forest on a decent track which continues eventually to Casa Jaro. Near Benescalera, after passing the Fuente de Ocaña and an enormous threshing circle on your right, the route heads west up a steep incline towards Cerro Marchena. Turn off this track, (which continues up to the ridge) to join a concrete drainage channel. You follow this until the small forest of Maritime pines and you now enter the Natural Park. Cross over a small stream with rushes and passing a small pool, you come to a hill with no trees and views out over the Hoya de Salamanca (km 13.6).
Continue a short distance along the ridge in a westerly direction and you join the old Cuascuadra road, but you turn south & downhill in search of the Herriza estate. In surroundings of slate rock and sparse shrubland of Grey-leave Cistus and Scorpion broom, you zigzag your way down to the Puente River, at the km 14.7 mark, the waterway which traces the Park’s border.
In the final part, you come across pine forests and, most notably, Holm oak forests on the steep valley sides of the Arroyo de la Puente and the Blanco gorge. The trail now takes you to the south into a less wooded area, dotted with farmhouses.
From Sedella to Saltillo (Up to km 19.8)
Passing the Ayuntamiento (Town Council), you walk east along the high stretch of Sedella and shortly arrive at some well-cared for fields perched above the houses. These are well irrigated thanks to the irrigation channel that runs parallel to the Great Path’s track. It now turns to the north, up to the top of a small hillock, El Hundidero, which looks over the town. From here, you can also see the ruins of a small medieval castle or defensive tower with superb views of the upper Axarquía region. At the restored Molino de Montosa watermill, the water channel divides into two. At the same time, the hill you have just climbed, Cerro del Tablón obscures the view back to the town.
You now climb up to the west and enter the Natural Park, passing the pool by the watermill and the town’s water supply storage units. The forest track takes you past a spring in a small stream bed with White Willow trees and Redoul shrubs (Emborrachacabra in Spanish meaning, ‘makes goats drunk’). You soon enter the Recreational Area of Sedella, an area with tall pines at km 17.6. It is wellmaintained and especially well-equipped for disabled users, with a paved road access from kilometre 5.3 on the MA-4105, hence a possible escape route.
To keep going, you begin an ascent to the north along a wide track to then meet a fork where there are Willow and Poplar trees. Take the left fork here, where the right, a wide track would take you to the Collado de la Monticara hill and the guard’s hut. The first climb ends where you see a birdwatching hut made with local materials, primarily to view species of necrophagous birds at the nearby carrion feeding site. To reach the hut, you first need to go down another gorge with Walnuts, Chestnuts and a sizeable Yew tree. You continue climbing up to the highest point of the day, 950 metres above sea level, where you leave the track (km 19.8), which carries on to the Vulture’s nesting area of the gorges of the Tajos del Saltillo.
You now start to descend an easy-tofollow footpath running along the edge of a fire-break. To your left is a thin covering of thicket of Grey-leaved Cistus, Rosemary and Bowline shrubs. This gradually changes to Esparto grasses nearer the widening of the gully and edge of the territory of Sedella. There are excellent views of the peaks of the Sierra Tejada, with the gorge of Almanchares just below. The footpath now drops down a steep section to the gorge floor.
From Saltillo to Canillas de Aceituno (To the end of the stage)
The Path becomes considerably more demanding from here on and there are numerous dangers associated with the steep and rocky sides. An old stone flight of stairs has been reconditioned with a chain handrail. This leads down to an area of ravines where the path weaves its way around a large rock spire. There is a shallow cave between the next two sections of steps, with the necessary handholds and other safety measures. Extreme caution is advised here. After a section of metal walkway over a rushing stream you reach El Saltillo Footbridge (km 21.0). To give you an idea of how challenging this section is, you have descended 250 metres in little over a kilometre.
You will now climb 180 metres in elevation along the El Saltillo Walkways, in around 300 metres along a bridge of metal grills and up quite a few steps. There is a viewpoint accessed from the right-hand walkway, but you follow the old irrigation channel to the left, now underground and protected by metal bars.
Once you are out of the gorge, you come to the control point for the irrigation channel. The Path changes in appearance here, carrying on to the west but now with a gentler descent. The black piping that runs alongside the path, soon breaks off to the right before re-joining near the pool at the bottom of a slightly steeper descent (km 23.3). From here the stream recovers its original form, just as the destination town comes into view. The slabs of rock cause the stream to narrow and make the passage through this section slightly more difficult. A walkway of metal grills within the channel is there for your safety, but the option is dropping down to walk underneath for a while. Approaching Canillas de Aceituno, you pass through farmland and olive groves just above the town, as well as the occasional abandoned country house. The final stretch of this stage is shared with a Local Path, the famous trail that climbs up to the summit of La Maroma.
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: The MA-112 road to Cómpeta and then following the long Calle San Antonio.
Starting point: The Ermita de San Antonio chapel in the north-west area of Cómpeta.
Enjoy the walk safely: This is a long stage with a signifi cant cumulative elevation gain, as you pass through three populated areas you can stock up on suffi cient supplies and water, or, be able to stop walking in bad weather. Bear in mind that you will climb up to 850 metres twice in this mountainous area. In the confl uence of the Arroyo de los Álamos with the Río Salares, close to the Casa de Haro, there should be no problems in wading across. The Almanchares River can have high water in times of fl ooding, but you do have the option to continue on the road from the Puerto de Sedella. It is worth a special mention that there are stretches where you will be walking along the road, above all during the long section from the Área Recreativa de Sedella to the Puerto de Sedella. In addition, there are stretches of asphalt or concrete where vehicles can drive at high speed.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: From the A-7205 to the MA-4106.
Finish point: The south-east entrance to Canillas de Aceituno, by the roundabout with a sculpture devoted to “Labrador de la vid”, a vineyard worker.
Possible "escape routes": At each of the villages that you cross (Canillas de Albaida, Salares y Sedella) but also via the MA-4105 close to Sedella along a few kilometres of asphalt.
No return point: The only somewhat difficult area is after the Cruz del Muerto, elsewhere is relatively well connected. It is advisable to follow the better quality road towards Salares, which is the closest, or otherwise to Canillas de Albaida which also has good vehicle access.
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
The seventh Stage of the Gran Senda de Málaga is also the second of the GR-242 Sierras de Tejeda y Almijara (partly coinciding), but in the opposite direction. Between Cómpeta y Canillas de Albaida there is a lovely path, neither marked nor offi cially approved, that serves as a promenade for both villages.
As you leave La Puente de Canillas de Albaida you will fi nd a couple of itineraries designed by the workshop school “La Aceitera” starting from El Molino, to the Hoya de la Virgen and to the Cruz del Muerto.
This trail links with SL-A 277, Tuvilla River (partly coinciding) and SL-A 142, Canillas de Aceituno - Casa de la Nieve, links up.
• Road traffic circulating on some tracks
• Crossing the Arroyo de los Álamos
• Vertical sections when accessing El Saltillo bridge.