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Grande Randonnée Serranía de Ronda (GR 141). Étape 02 . Jimera de Líbar - El Colmenar

Diputación de Málaga
Panoramica Pg 66 Quejigal de Siete Pilas. Miguel A. Mateos

Grande Randonnée Serranía de Ronda (GR 141). Étape 02 . Jimera de Líbar - El Colmenar

Texte original extrait de la version en anglais.

1. Jimera de Líbar – km 0

We start by the MA-8307, at the exit of Jimera and in direction to Atajate. Near the fountain we will see a public washing place, now fallen into disuse but well preserved, and behind it, a trough for the cattle. Hear you will also see several markers that belong to the PR-A258 Jimera de Líbar-Atajate (although the sign wrongly reads PR-A 257) and to the great tracks GR-249 and GR-141. The last two overlap up until the Laguna Honda (Deep Lake in English).

We start our walk down the road to Atajate and later we turn to the asphalt lane to the right. This path will take us though several smallholdings of olive trees, almond trees and farmlands. At that same crossroad you will see a sign of the GR-249. It is worthwhile to stop here for a moment to look at the spectacular view of the Blanquilla, del Palo and Benaoján mountain ranges, all part of the Grazalema Natural Park. On these steep mountainsides and under the highest escarpments, natural habitat of the mountain goat, there are small patches of holm oaks that are home to several species, like the ginet.

We will walk under the shade of the holm oaks and surrounded by retamas (a type of broom bush), thorny brooms, fan palms and mastics. We follow the trail towards the arroyo de Atajate (stream of Atajate, also known as del Molinillo). Further down the river, some black poplars indicate the location of of the abandoned mill of Cecilio. The following ford will grant us access to the public mount Dehesa. We follow the road not paying attention to the diversions to the right, as they would take us to the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar and to the river bank of the Guadiaro. 


2. Monte Municipal Dehesa (public mount Dehesa)– km 2,1

The Dehesa is a property of the town of Jimera de Líbar and it has a surface area of 257 hectares. It is an important cork oak forest, where holm oaks and gall-oaks also grow. The underbrush is formed by retamas, rockroses and matagallos (a type of nettle). Forest resources like cork are exploited, but also the montanera pig rearing is practised (pigs are left to roam freely and graze on acorns and wild grass). Other livestock is also bred here, such as goats and sheep. There is also a warehouse that is used as seedbed by different companies.

After a couple of hundred metres we will have to have to cross a wooden gate as we enter a different property. From here we can see to the South-west some houses of Cortes de la Frontera scattered under the sierra de los Pinos, one of the locations with the highest rainfall rate of the Iberian Peninsula. Its proximity to the river allows us to hear the murmur of the Guadiaro, protected by a dense river bank vegetation. As we wander down the path, we can enjoy the view of several old cork oaks and gall-oaks. Charcoal used to be made out of these, when wood was the main energy resource. Soon, we will arrive at the ford of the Arroyo Judío.


3. Vado de Arroyo Judío (ford of the Arroyo Judío)– km 3,5

Under normal circumstances, we should be able to cross the stream easily, but be careful if it has rained heavily. To the right we can see a facility for retinta cows, the most important type of cow of the area. However we have also seen other Andalusian species that are being recovered, such as the pajuna, the berrenda or the cárdena. A bit further on, to the right, we find the cortijo de Arroyo Judío (country house of Arroyo Judío) and a road going down that connects with the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar, which runs almost parallel to the GR-141.

We continue straight through the Vereda de Gaucín until we reach a hight that allows us to see a great panoramic view of the Guadiaro valley. We will soon pass by the cortijo de Bernardito, easily recognisable for its beautiful eucalyptus. As many other cortijos of the area, this country house is in ruins, and only the best preserved part is still used as a stable. Here we will see two different paths: ours continues straight forward and the ascends to meet again with the first path.

We leave the municipality of Jimera de Líbar and we enter that of Benadalid. The vegetation also changes, as this piece of land is a pure plantation of walnut trees. This may be the most difficult part of the journey: there are many forks on the road to prevent the overcrowding of the path. This may cause us to miss the ruins of the old inn of the Alfacara. However, we will know we are following the correct path if we come across a battered threshing floor surrounded by a stone wall. After crossing a gate we arrive at the Alfacara stream.


4. Arroyo Alfacara (Alfacara stream)– km 5,2

Both the fig trees and the rosebays, tied by climbing plants, almost cover the Alfacara stream. Usually, we will be able to cross it easily, but a rise in the level of the river may cause the pontoons to disappear, which can cause some difficulties. After we cross the stream we will walk by a water tank and the old path. Here, the track turns into a paved lane that ends at a larger road. We follow the Vereda de Gaucín, bordered by boundary mounds during a great part of the way. The next landmark of our journey is the vado del arroyo de la Fuensanta (ford of the Fuensanta stream). Next to it we can see the majestic Cortijo Nuevo. From here we will discover wide farmlands and grazing lands.

We ascend in between scattered hawthorns as we gain sight of the Benalauría mountain range. To the South-east we can see the motley historical centre of Cortes de la Frontera on the eastern mountainside. The next gate gives us access to the estate of the cortijo de los Capitanes, where the ground is quite muddy. We should pay attention, because at some points the path can be hardly seen. However, the following gate is seen from afar. From a small hill we will be able to see the location of Siete Pilas, easily recognisable for some tall black poplars that tower over the mountainside. We descend parallel to the arroyo de la Vega, which practically covered with mastics, until we cross its ford and the following gate. Shortly after, we will find the Laguna Honda.


5. Laguna Honda – km 7,5

The Laguna Honda (Deep Lake in English), also known as Laguna Florida or Laguna del Quemado, is in truth a small endorheic pool that is totally dry during summer. A few meters onwards, the trail overlaps a part of the track from Cordel del Guadiaro to puerto del Espino. This is also part of the PR-255 Jimera de Líbar-Cortes de la Frontera, which covers both that livestock trail and the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar. We continue to the left until we find a fork on the road that has some signs belonging to the GR-141 and the GR-249. One points to the 7.5km we have already walked from Jimera; another to the 17.4km left to finish our journey at El Colmenar. Here we find the diversion to the GR-141-1 that will allow us to reach the Cañada Real del Tesoro, also known as Estación de Cortes (Cortes Station). We can continue our itinerary after we have passed that town and once we have supplied ourselves with food at the Pasada del Bujeo del Álamo.

To resume our journey down the GR-141, we take the detour to the left until we reach the municipality of Almargen, that meets the trail from Ronda to Gaucín at the old inn of San Isidoro. We are on the public mount Dehesa. After the Reconquista (“reconquest”, historical period from 722 to 1492 during which the Christian kingdoms of the Peninsula sought to conquer the land controlled by Muslims), these and other surrounding lands were given to the towns of Benadalid and Benalauría. These in turn, belonged to the feudal estate of Benadalid, controlled by the Duke of Ferias. After the Moorish were driven out, some pieces of land were given to settlers so they could farm them, while the trees themselves remained as property of the towns. The mount was run collectively between the two towns until 1931. Nowadays, although the Dehesa is still property of the town, its is run by the Regional Government of Andalusia.

We resume our journey walking down the road that goes from Cordel del Guadiaro to puerto del Espino. Further onwards, near the hidden fountain of los Garbanzos, we enter the municipality of Benalauría. After one last steep slope, we Sierra de Líbar arrive at the scattered houses of Siete Pilas.


6. Siete Pilas – km 8,9

On the higher part of the trail, where the road from Benalauría to Cortes begins, we find the troughs that give name to this location: Siete Pilas (Seven Troughs in English). This settlement has one of the best panoramic views of the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. These mangers figure on official documents as Abrevadero-Descansadero de las Pilas de Calabrina (Trough-Stopping place of Pilas de Calabrina), and they belong to the road from Cordel del Guadiaro to puerto del Espino (pass of el Espino). If we take into account the disputes over these rich lands, we can understand the strange arrangement of the towns of Benadalid, Benalauría, Algatocín and Gaucín which, although belonging to the Valle del Genal, they expand their borders to the river banks of the Guadiaro.

The road form Benalauría to Cortes runs by the troughs. This road is also part of both the GR-249 (Gran Senda de Málaga) and the PR-A 237 (Cañada del Real Tesoro-Benalauría). We find the western exit next to a multisport court and a few houses. A dense holm oak forest surrounds the road, which on some parts still conserves its stone pavement and gutters. After less than a kilometre down this path, we have to cross the A-373 road and continue following well-trodden trail. Soon, we will leave the PR-A 237 through another gate. This part of the itinerary is wonderful to walk thanks to its flat course. It will lead us to the municipality of Cañada del Real Tesoro. From here, we will get to a small trail near the Fuente de la Pasá house.

We turn to the left and, after a small ascent, we will pass near the cortijo of Siete Puertas. We will walk near a wide meadow that encloses the river Guadiaro, next to the end of the mountain, and surrounded by a magnificent forest of holm oaks, cork oaks and gall-oaks. The next landmark of our journey is the crossroads between the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar (which we are walking) and the Cañada Real del Llano de las Cruces.


7. Venta del Tío Casas (Tío Casas Inn)– km 11,2

We are on the location of the Venta del Tío Casas (Tío Casas Inn). Also near the crossroads, we see the house of el Cerrillo. The Cañada Real del Llano de las Cruces, through which the PR-A 244 Gaucín-Cañada del Real Tesoro runs, then turns right and crosses the Guadiaro over a beautiful bridge at the Pasada del Bujeo del Álamo. We continue straight ahead through a meadow roamed by retinta cows and Iberian pigs until we reach the bridge that crosses the Salitre stream. This bridge is both pedestrian and for vehicles. From here, to the left, and belonging to the municipality of Algatocín, we find the Cañada Real del Campo de Gibraltar which goes to the pass of las Eras. This part of the track also belongs to the PR-A 244 to Gaucín. The road to the Puertos (mountain passes),our road, turns to the right and ascends up to a small resting place by two decrepit elms. After another ascent, we arrive at the Puerto de la Fresneda (Ash Forest Pass).


8. Puerto de La Fresneda (Ash Forest Pass)– km 14,6

This last slope is quite steep, so you might want to stop for a while before continuing our journey. From here onwards, the view of the landscape changes completely thanks to the altitude. Unfortunately, these lands have been consumed by the fire and there are numerous dead gall-oaks and holm oaks. However, the underbrush gives a note of hope. Soon, we will cross the de la Abejera stream, dry during most of the year. Further on, when we find a fork on the road, we take the path to the right, which ascends to the cortijo del Conde.

Near this country house we find a sign that points towards the cañón de las Buitreras (canyon of the Buitreras). From this lookout we can see how the railroad enters one of the many tunnels that go through the mountain. Particularly remarkable is the proliferation of the turbinata subspecies of Phoenician juniper, which normally grows near the coast, showing that this area was once near the sea. Nearly at the end of the track, we find the ruins of the cortijo del Conde. This ranch, now abandoned, is also known as the cortijo de las Buitreras and it stands as proof of the crisis that the traditional agricultural model suffers since some decades ago. Te trail descends, surrounded by fig trees, towards a visible threshing floor. We will then walk through the retamas and down some steps and walkways carved into the stone. We are now on the Puente de los Alemanes (Bridge of the Germans).


9. Puente de Los Alemanes (Bridge of the Germans) – km 20,1

Built in 1918, the puente de los Alemanes is part of a 6km conduit that supplies water to the Buitreras hydro-electric power plant. This place is simply spectacular: it is both majestic and intimidating. At the bottom of the canyon, the waters of the Guadiaro run as if they crossed an open cave. On the other side, there is a small tunnel we must go through to get to the foot of a steep mountainside. A hard ascent awaits us, but it is highly worthwhile. When we get to the top a natural balcony will offer us a great panoramic view. After that, we will have to descend to return to the riverbanks of the Guadiaro. We must be very careful, the gradient is steep and the terrain is quite slippery. From this sheer mountainside we can see the amazing railroad track. We will then arrive at the Charco del Moro.


10. Charco del Moro (Pool of the Moor)– km 21,3

The charco del Moro is a long pool of cold water embedded in between to walls. If we look closely, in the middle of the pool and near the left edge, we will see small waves on the surface of the water; this is where the emergence point of the subterranean waters is located.  From here on, we will walk along the Guadiaro, either over its river bank or on the western mountainside. We would like to highlight the suspension bridge that crosses adit 9, an outlet of the hydro-electric complex that can be quite impressive when it carries a lot of water, creating a wonderful waterfall. Equally impressive are the wild mountains of the sierra del Hacho, almost completely covered by a beautiful forest and packed with all the types of flower that are typical of the Mediterranean mountain vegetation.


11. Central Hidroeléctrica Buitreras (Buitreras hydro-electric power plant)– km 24

We finally arrive at the great pipe of the Buitreras hydroelectric power plant. The main building has the same taste as other buildings from the beginning of the 20th century, and has a great architectural value. Since 1918, the Hydro-electric company of the Guadiaro has worked at full operating level with two other groups, that were joined by a third seven years later. In between all of them, they generated 7200 kW of power. In 1949, the station management changed hands, and has been run since then by Sevillana de Electricidad, nowadays known as Endesa. We continue down the path and among the abandoned houses of former workers of the station. We then exit the complex through a great gate. The next stretch of the road is an asphalt lane that runs among tall eucalyptuses and will take us to the town of El Colmenar.


12. El Colmenar – km 24,9

This town was settled during 1892, when the Algeciras-Bobadilla railway was built by the English company The railway Algeciras-Gibraltar. The British influence in the architecture is easily noticeable in the station and other surrounding buildings. Since the 1st October 1913 the Compañía de los Ferrocarriles Andaluces ran the railway, but in 1941 the service was nationalised and RENFE took over the management.

A point of botanic interest is the eucalyptus arboretum of El Colmenar, located in the outskirts of the town, near the forest trail of Cortes de la Frontera. The history of this place goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. Its original purpose was to experiment with the species of trees that better adapted to the local terrain. With this aim, the work team of engineer Eladio Caro introduces more than 60 different species in a this previously delimited piece of land.

The abundance of game in the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, which can be hunted in the Reserva Andaluza de Caza de Cortes de la Frontera (Andalusian Game Reserve of Cortes de la Frontera), has influenced the traditional culinary recipes of the town, as many include venison. In the same manner, the local fondness for fungi picking has caused the presence of many tapas and dishes with ceps and chanterelles in the restaurants and bars of El Colmenar. The Estación de Gaucín (as the town is also known), is one of the Andalusian towns that still conserves a wide mule driving tradition, specially used in the cork extraction.

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