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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.