Jimena de la Frontera to Bolonia

Monday 17 October 2022: Jimena de la Frontera to Castillo de Castellar

Distance: 22.1 km Time: 5:30 Ascent: 270m Descent: 160m – Wikiloc

An easier walk, more or less level beside the railway line until the last 5 kilometers climb to the Castle.

Walking through an ancient cork forest
Mr Henderson’s Railway from Algeciras to Ronda opened in 1892, this sign looks like it’s been there since then but the meaning is clear
Just as we were crossing the railway line to head up into the hills
The path up to Castillo de Castellar

Castillo de Castellar de la Frontera (pop 102, altitude 250) is a 13th century fortress-village built on a rocky promontory in order control of the Straits of Gibraltar and forms part of The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain. For a different look at Castellar, click here, a drone video by Iván Álvarez.

In the 1970s, a new village was created in the valley below, Castellar Nuevo de la Frontera and the population transferred. The original mountain village became a hippie refuge; a few still remain.

I said to Pam “Here’s our hotel”….. “No, not the white building, the castle behind!”
The hotel was formerly the Alcazar (Palace of Moorish origin)
Entering the fortress-village
The village inside the walls: white houses and narrow, winding streets
Flowers and plants decorate the streets
From our balcony – the Castillo has a commanding view of the area
On a clear day you can see Gibraltar and North Africa

Tuesday 18 October 2022: Castillo de Castellar to Los Barrios

Distance: 25.5 km Time: 5:30 Ascent: 320m Descent: 550m – Wikiloc

Our longest day, after the initial descent from Castillo de Castellar, 2k on a Roman footpath, it levelled for about 10 kilometers then a couple of climbs and descents. Most of the day was on road surface, hard on the feet but at least allowed for a rhythmic 5 kph pace.

Over the years the village has grown outside the walls
We start with a 2 kilometer, 200m descent on Calzada Romana
Piles of cork waiting to be shipped
Updates to the route said a new road was being developed and the cycle path would be easier so we went that way, lots of bikes but separated from the traffic
Luckily we took the cycle path as there was an area with hundreds of storks
Finally off the bitumen for the last climb
Pam running from a herd of goats

Los Barrios (pop 24,000 altitude 14m): After the capture of Gibraltar in 1704 by the Anglo-Dutch troops, a number of Gibraltarian exiles established the town of Los Barrios but the area has been populated since prehistoric times.

Church of San Isidro Labrador, built 1733 – 1765

Wednesday 19 October 2022: Los Barrios to El Pelayo

Distance: 16.5 km Time: 4:00 Ascent: 370m Descent: 160m – Wikiloc

Day 19 of the Andalucian Coast to Coast book is 25.5 kilometers, Graded Medium/Difficult with over 900 vertical meters. We didn’t feel up to another day like the previous one so we found a short way to El Pelayo.

It worked out well. We picked up the Puerta Verde de Algeciras trail from Los Barrios to El Cobre, through the Los Alcornocales Natural Park. After a halfway coffee break at El Cobre we followed the Senda de los Prisioneros, a forced labour road built by political prisoners from 1940-43, up for about 3 kilometers then continued on an unmarked but obvious track to the N-340 highway which led to El Pelayo – the whole way only 10 minutes of road walking.

Rather than stay in the small El Pelayo we caught a bus to Tarifa for the night.

Along the Puerta Verde de Algeciras trail
The trail has well constructed wooden bridges over wet areas
Flowers brighten the way
Senda de los Prisioneros built by WW2 political prisoners, now restricted to hikers
An unmarked but pleasant track leads down to the highway from Algeciras to Tarifa

Thursday 20 October 2022: El Pelayo to Tarifa

Distance: 18.3 km Time: 4:40 Ascent: 190m Descent: 430m – Wikiloc

This morning we took the bus back to El Pelayo and walked to Tarifa. First on the high road, Sendero Cerro del Tambor then dropping down close to the coast on the Colada de la Costa (original drovers’ track) all the time North Africa visible across the Straits of Gibraltar.

The day started out, surprisingly, through thick forest with stream crossings
Before opening to bracken
A hazy day with low cloud along the Sendero Cerro del Tambor
Torre de Guadalmesí, 15m tall, built in 1588 to prevent enemy ships from collecting water in the nearby Guadalmesí stream
Colada de la Costa (original drovers’ track) to Tarifa with its lighthouse
An old barrel-roofed building
Former military installation facing North Africa
Sendero Colada de la Costa looked flat on the profile!
Sentry boxes along the coast have been replaced by a radar system
Tarifa lighthouse, one of the oldest in Spain, from the 18th century
Tarifa’s old customs house with Jebel Musa in North Africa across the Straits

Tarifa (pop 18,500), the southern most part of Europe is 30 minutes from Tangier in Morocco by fast ferry. Tarifa was given its name by Tarif ibn Malik in 710. In 1292 it was conquered by Castile and its formidable defences resisted invasions by Islamic and later French troops. Today it’s the windsurfing capital of Europe.

We were pleasantly impressed by the old city and enjoyed our stay.

13th century city walls served to defend Tarifa until the end of the 19th century
Tarifa Castle dates from 960, Moorish, built on the ruins of a Roman military camp
Jerez Gate, the only entrance through the old Moorish city walls remaining
Church of San Mateo built in 1506 on the remains of an old Mosque
Tarifa’s first source of running water from 1831
Cervantes School, 20th century in neo-Mudejar style
Plaza de la Ranita (Little Frog Square) used to have 8 frogs now 6 remain
Castle of Santa Catalina, built in 1933 on the site of a 16th century heritage
Local speciality seafood – Cazón en Adobo (Spiced Monkfish)
Known as the poor man’s lobster, the Monkfish is super ugly but tasty

Friday 21 October 2022: Tarifa to Bolonia

Distance: 22.7 km Time: 6:00 Ascent: 120m Descent: 130m – Wikiloc

Our final day of the Andalucian Coast to Coast walk was challenging instead of the leisurely stroll along the beach we anticipated. High tide and soft sand forced us onto the Camino de Santiago del Estrecho which was mostly well marked but sometimes not.

On arrival at Bolonia we stopped at the first Chiringuito (beach shack) for a beer and lunch of fresh tuna and prawns. That was good.

Looking back at Tarifa Fort on Isla de Las Palomas ad we start the beach walk
A Chiringuito, restaurant beach shack style
Boardwalk across the Lagoon de los Lances protects the habitat
All that remains of the old bridge across the Jara River
The 12th century Peña Watchtower is the oldest in the Estrecho de Gibraltar
At high tide there is no beach
So we took to the coastal dunes tracks
Until the beach became wide enough to walk along
This sand dune is 60m high and at times covers the road
The last 4 kilometers was slow going, hard on the legs
Until we arrived at the end of the Coast to Coast walk – Bolonia beach

Bolonia developed from Baelo Claudia, one of Andalucia´s most significant and well-preserved Roman archeological sites. The former city, a strategic point for trade routes between Europe and North Africa, dates back to the 2nd century BC. We wanted to be fresh when we visited the site so we saved it for the next morning.

The Basilica, intended primarily for the administration of justice, also a place of imperial worship
Presiding over the Basilica the colossal statue of Emperor Trajan
This street was the commercial axis of the city
Fish salting factories in use from 2nd century BC to 4th century AD
Dated 2nd century, urban baths fulfilled a hygienic function but they were also a space for leisure and social recreation
The theater, built in the 1st century, abandoned at the end of the 2nd century
Fresh water used for drinking, bathing and fish salting was brought via a 5.2 kilometer long aqueduct

We started walking from Maro on the Mediterranean on 28 February 2020. COVID intervened. Two and a half years later we were able to return. Now over 400 kilometers and thousands of vertical meters later we reached the Atlantic coast.