Alcaucín to Valle de Abdalajís

Wednesday 04 March 2020: Alcaucín to Ventas de Zafarraya

Distance: 18.8 km Time: 5:30 Ascent: 800m Descent: 390mWikiloc

This was a fairly easy day climbing, mainly on wide dirt roads, from 500m at Alcaucín 10 km up through forest to 1070m then descending to 900m at Ventas de Zafarraya.

Ventas de Zafarraya is a small (pop 1100) farming village settled since the 6th century A.D. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1884 and rebuilt with funds from Cuba, for a while it was called Nueva Habana.

Climbing out of Alcaucín
Easy walking on a wide forest road
We spotted a few wild deer on the way
Some of today’s flowers
Cork forest
Patchwork of farms below
The old Ventas de Zafarraya Railway Station
A narrow guage rack railway ran to Malaga from 1922 till 1960 taking fruit and vegetables to the coast

Thursday 05 March 2020: Ventas de Zafarraya to Riogordo

Distance: 23.1 km Time: 5:30 Ascent: 320m Descent: 830mWikiloc

We left at dawn for the longest day so far, a cold wind blowing.

There’s a rare 5 km of level ground following the old Ventas de Zafarraya to Malaga railway line. After that more down than up mostly on farm roads and paths avoiding the car roads. We found the 23 km day tiring.

The old Ventas de Zafarraya to Malaga railway line…
…. passes through a hand cut tunnel
Embalse (Dam) de Viñuela
The path passes ancient olive trees
We were glad this giant Spanish Sheep Dog was tied up

Friday 06 March 2020: Riogordo to Villanueva de Cauche

Distance: 18.4 km Time: 4:45 Ascent: 700m Descent: 360mWikiloc

Howling, blustering winds strong enough that we had to stop and brace against the gusts kept us in our jackets all day. There are two 300m climbs.

Villanueva de Cauche is a classic small (pop 65) Spanish village favoured by television advertisers as a background. Since the 17th century the tenants of these homes paid a tithe of their production of fruits, eggs, or laying hens to the Marques who owned the village. Only in 2005 did this system cease.

The Church Our Lady of Grace of Riogordo was built in the year 1490
Climbing out of Riogordo early in the morning
Colmenar, a kilometer off track, was established after the Catholic reconquest from the Moors 
Olive trees on the hillsides
Still more wildflowers
The path, almost invisible, goes through a field
Villanueva de Cauche, 17th century hamlet
Church of Villanueva de Cauche
A roaring fire on a cold day at Hotel Las Pedrizas
We had to get a bottle of the local unfiltered olive oil, a small one

Saturday 07 March 2020: Villanueva de Cauche to Villanueva de la Concepción

Distance: 13.8 km Time: 3:30 Ascent: 290m Descent: 430mWikiloc

About 2.5 km climb, 2 km rolling hills then mostly down, the walk follows the old Cañada Real (Royal Drovers’ Path) that went from Málaga to Madrid. It was a beautiful sunny day with light cool breezes.

First glimpse of Villanueva de la Concepción
Different flowers
 El Torcal, Andalucia’s Uluru
Isolated farm house
Along the old Cañada Real (Drovers Path) that ran from Malaga to Madrid
18th century El puente del Paraíso, brick bridge supported by stones from El Torcal, on the Cañada Real
A glass of wine on the rooftop terrace of Apartamentos Villa Torcal with El Torcal behind

Sunday 08 March 2020: Villanueva de la Concepción to Valle de Abdalajís

Distance: 20.8 km Time: 5:30 Ascent: 500m Descent: 750mWikiloc

Today started with a climb of about 450m in 8 km following the Camino Mozarabe. Climbs are best first thing in the morning!

Valle de Abdalajís (pop 2500) at 350m is lower than the other villages we walked through and the vegetation is changing. Prehistoric people passed through here. It has been settled by Romans, Vandals and Visigoths.

Sign for the Camino Mozarabe
Dawn on El Torcal
Sheep grazing on the hillside
Three trees leaning
Wildflowers enroute to Valle de Abdalajís
Five stone troughs of the Fuenfría (cold spring)
Valle de Abdalajís was an important Roman town, the church tower is 16th century
A street in the village
Rincón del Tapeíto in Valle de Abdalajis has the best homemade tapas