Gran Senda de Malaga

LA GRAN SENDA DE MALAGA: GR 249. 13/14th MAY COMPETA TO CANILLAS de ACEITUNO (22km) to PERIANA AND BEYOND(29 km)

Continuing my circulation of Malaga province for a few days Sally and I spent a night in a Competa townhouse with views over a jumble of interconnecting roof terraces.

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Leaving the village in the morning past the Ermita de San Antonio, we were startled by the surreal sight of an ostrich beside the log railed path.

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The way was lined by the thrusting stalks of agave flowers.

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Canillas de Albaida came into view with the Maroma mountain range towering to over 2000m in the background.

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This area is renowned for the grapes grown between the olive trees and dried on netted sloping pens.

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We entered the wild and forested Naturel Parque de Sierra Tejeda, passed the deserted Casa de Haro and down to the old Roman bridge at the start of a long steep climb up to Puerto de la Cruz del Muerto.

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The wild flowers were a glory to us and the multitude of bees feeding on their nectar and gathering their pollen.

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A long drop down to the hidden village of Salares over another Roman bridge and a quick coffee break was followed by another steep climb past an old threshing circle or “era”.

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The grain winnowed here for generations was still growing feral in the deserted fields.

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Another descent, another ancient bridge and we climbed into the flower bedecked streets of Sedella.

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Our last big climb of the day led us past a series of narrow terraces of neat vegetable ridges and grain crops surrounded by more wild flowers.

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The lushness was enabled by irrigation channels emerging from a water mill on the hill above the village.

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As we climbed the views opened up eastwards passed the irrigation canals to the mountains and firebreaks

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and south towards the sea.

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At the summit was the well equipped recreation area with camping spots, showers, toilets , water taps, barbecue pits etc and Sally rested briefly on the designated bench.

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From there a long descent past impressive holm oaks took us finally to our accommodation for the night and a very welcome but chilly dip in a pool.

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The next morning we started by climbing down a steep path into the Rio Almanchares, up into the village and down again on a woodland path to the caves of La Fajara which have tunnels and passageways of 1500m.

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A 3km climb on a track with the forested Natural Park on one side and clumps of waving grasses on the other was followed by a steep clamber down through an olive grove into Alcaucin.

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Passing the traditional graveyard and a very untraditional housing block we found a bar for cafe con leche.

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From there a concrete track took us down down to the riverbed and up again to cross the road leading to the Boquete de Zafarraya, the gap in the mountains that led towards Granada.

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From the mirador del Pilarejo there were views back over the Maroma range and westwards over Vinuela reservoir.

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The concrete track continued for another 5km or so through olive groves and an amusing chameleon juddered across our path.

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On the outskirts of Periana was an area of unfinished development the bubble had burst over. Plazas and plots empty and waiting.

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We were soon climbing away from the town on the bed of the old railway which ran from Malaga to Zafarraya till 1960. Steep enough to need a cog system to draw the trains up the slopes the track makes for a fine walk under bridges and through cuttings to the high point at 875m and fine vistas westwards across the yellow rape fields.

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We stopped at the spot we had reached from the other direction last year and after relaxing in the shade from our efforts and soaking up the views we returned the 5km to Periana and a lift to dinner, beer and bed.

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LA SENDA DE MALAGA : GR249. 18th Feb La Capeta de Velez to Nerja

I managed to get 2 stages completed today, a total of 28 km altogether which according to my computations was the same as yesterday, the difference being that today involved my first real climbs and first contact with the wilder side of the Costa.
I started from our quiet seaside street and continued along a paved beachside promenade.
I’m always impressed by the facilities provided on the Spanish beaches with changing rooms and showers every 100m or so.

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The early morning sun shone through the palms as dog walkers and joggers fulfilled their daily routine.

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The high rise apartment buildings and tourist bars and restaurants ran out as I came into Lagos, a small scale traditional settlement without the sandy beaches that fuelled the development elsewhere. The simple seaside dwellings around there continued through the busier town of El Morche, sometimes with large tower blocks behind them.

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There were a series of fortified watch towers keeping an eye out for pirates and privateers along the coast and the route led me through patches of flowers and cactus past the winches used for hauling the boats out of the sea.

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As I approached Torrox Costa the hulks of unfinished developments again reared their ugly heads above the beach.

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But back on the prom of the town proper I admired the exotic plantings and the creative pruning.

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Just before the lighthouse was a strange construction with a glass floor built out over the ancient ruins of a necropolis and fish salting factory where they also made the unappetising sounding ” Garum sauce” whose chief ingredient was “guts”.

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This was the point where I finally left the Costa behind and headed for the hills. I started up a track beside the dryish river bed with irrigated fields to one side.

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Before long I had to make my first river crossing, described in my translated guide as wading.

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I climbed up and up, the track getting smaller and smaller towards the humming edifice of the A7 motorway that strode across the valley on giant concrete legs.

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Strangely some youth had decided that the undercarriage of this alien environment was a good place to have a good time and declare so in graffiti.

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Incongruously, as I passed under the most modern transport route I started down the days oldest, a mule and walkers track that wound down to the valley bottom and over a tiny old stone bridge.

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The vegetation was lush and small little subsistence farms plots were still tended in the shadow of the gigantic motorway structure, the slow movements of the gardener in contrast to the rushing traffic above.

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Climbing back under the A7 on the other side of the valley I rose up on higher ground until I was looking down across it, to another huge area of unfulfilled property speculation. We’d seen the signs for years as we sped down the motorway, advertising houses that never got built, but now I could see the extent of infrastructure that had been put in. Roads to nowhere.

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I’d been hearing the noise of the motorway for too long and was relived when the traffic was swallowed up by the gaping mouths of tunnels that I climbed high above.

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Passing by a hill seemingly held together by lines of plastic webbing

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IMG_3074.JPG I finally came to the peak of El Puerto at 265m where I sat by an ants nest and had my lunch gazing at my destination , Nerja , a long way below me.

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The landscape changed again as I started down the long descent with a vista of avocados before me.

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A little later I came across a grove of the most radically pruned olive trees I’ve ever seen.

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There were some spectacular villas on the hills here with sea views and very wealthy inhabitants but alongside that , a simpler lifestyle continued.

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As I walked through a tunnel under the motorway for the last time I found more graffiti evidence of youth seeking freedom in unlikely places

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Just before I emerged into the town proper with its roundabouts, shops , bars, and general busy 21st century life I passed another reminder of simpler times, one that is still managing to co exist with the present.

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