Maro to Alcaucin

Thursday 27 February 2020: Nerja

We travelled by train from Galicia to Madrid and Malaga and then bus to Nerja where we spent the night before starting the Andalucian Coast to Coast walk – 420 km from Maro on the Mediterranean to Bolonia on the Atlantic traversing the region’s mountainous interior.

We’d been here 5 years ago and were looking forward to a paella at El Chiringuito de Ayo, a beach shack on Burriana beach. The same men have been making the same paella over a wood fire for years and it was exactly as we remembered. Same price – 8€ ($13) for as many plates as you can eat (there are no half plate refills).

Cooking paella at El Chiringuito de Ayo

Friday 28 February 2020: Maro to Frigiliana

Distance: 16.4 km Time: 6:30 Ascent: 1000m Descent: 680mWikiloc

It’s about a 10 minute taxi ride from Neja to Maro Beach where the Coast to Coast walk begins. We left at 8am in cool (12C) perfect walking conditions.

Easy going for the first half, there’s a steady 500m climb along a wide dirt forest road. Following the GR249 it then descends, zigzaging down a narrow gravel track to cross a small stream before climbing steeply to the first pass. The next two passes are a little easier, nevertheless a hard day.

Frigiliana (pop 3000), recognized as “Spain’s most beautiful and well-preserved village”, was occupied by the Moors before and after the Reconquest. Today was the Dia de Andalucia long weekend holiday with the town full of excited Spanish tourists. We were here in 2015 – photos.

An early start from Maro Beach – 420km to go
17th century Our Lady of the Wonders Church in Maro
An old threshing platform at the El Pinarillo picnic area, about 7km along
Soon after the track descends steeply, slow going
The Moors brought irrigation to these mountains
Crossing a small stream
We were delighted to see the wildflowers out so early in the year
The White Village of Frigiliana
The old town fountain (1640) shows wear from animal use over centuries

Saturday 29 February 2020: Frigiliana to Competa

Distance: 18.9 km Time: 5:40 Ascent: 950m Descent: 640mWikiloc

Rather than following a narrow overgrown path up the hill, we took the “easy” way to Acebuchal using the Gran Senda de Malaga – GR 249 which did involve about 3km of road walking but without much traffic at 8am on Saturday morning.

After Acebuchal there’s a massive climb of 500 meters in 4km. It’s all on a dirt road though so not as hard as yesterday. Competa is then about 5km and 300 meters downhill from the Puerto Collado. Our Competa photos from 2015 are here.

These hillsides were originally terraced by the Romans
El Acebuchal – a 17th century hamlet within the mountains and natural park of Sierra Tejeda
In 1948 the Guardia Civil cleared it of its 200 inhabitants and it became the “Lost Village
 In 1998 the son of one of the original villagers returned to restore the village
We met a local man making a rope catapult from pine needles
He explained his ancestors used it to throw rocks at goats but he justs makes it for fun
More wildflowers
A small goat followed us up the hill
Fuente La Teja with Mozarabe decoration
Looking down at where we had walked – Puerto Collado, about 900 meters
Hanging houses in Competa
Main Plaza – taken from our room in Salamandra Plaza
The Church was built in 1505
The famous moscatel wines of Competa
We developed a taste for the dry and fruity seco after a few sips
One of Competa’s Ceramic Murals
This one shows Moriscos (converted Moors) selling raisins and wine in the 13th century

Sunday 01 March 2020: Sedella to Competa

Distance: 19.5 km Time: 6:45 Ascent: 980m Descent: 1020m

The Andalucian Coast to Coast walk would go from Competa to Sedella but we decided to stay in Competa, take a taxi to Sedella and walk back via the Ruta Mudejar. We like the villages of Sedella, Salares, Canillas de Albaida and Árchez with their Moorish history and architecture.  2015 photos here.

This route could probably be walked in less than 15km but we made it up as we went and took a few “short cuts” so it turned into almost 20km but without packs fairly easy on a beautiful day.

Casa-Torreón in Sedella: a magnificent example of 16th century civil Mudejar architecture
The bunting is for Andalucia Day
Roman bridge just outside Sedella
After the bridge we walked along a lovely hillside path – pity it was the wrong one!
La Maroma at 2069 meters is the highest peak of the Sierra de Tejeda
Looking back at Sedella with the Mediterranean coastline behind
Salares tower – 13th century, was the minaret for the mosque, now the bell tower for the Church
The Arab Bridge at Salares
The old path leading down to …
… the Roman Bridge on the way into Canillas de Albaida
The red brick Mudejar tower stands out in the white town of Canillas de Albaida
Hermitage of Santa Ana in Canillas de Albaida
16th-century Mudejar, built by the Arabs at the time of the reconquest serving them as a fort
Mudéjar Tower of Árchez, one of the most important historical monuments in the region

Monday 02 March 2020: Sedella to Alcaucin

Distance: 16.3 km Time: 4:30 Ascent: 480m Descent: 650mWikiloc

We woke to rain, wind, cloud obscuring the 2,069m peak of La Maroma and a forecast for storms in the mountains. In any case we wanted to go via the Mudejar village of Canillas de Aceituno. The footpath, GR249, was temporarily closed for maintenance so we walked on the road after taking a taxi back to Sedella.

This turned out for the best as although the rain stopped as we started walking the wind got stronger as the cloud built up. We had a fine view in clear weather below the cloud, almost no traffic and easier walking.

Mudejar style in Sedella
Orzas (giant olive oil jars) outside a restaurant in Canillas de Aceituno
In Canillas de Aceituno, typical Mudéjar building Casa de la Reina Mora
The place from which the Moors oversaw the silk worm and mulberry leaf trade (Aceituno is derived from the Arab word “Azeytuni” – woven and dyed silks)
With dark clouds building up over Canillas de Aceituno …
… we decided not to follow the attractive looking GR 249 up into the mountains
Grape vines growing on steep hillsides
Fountain of the five pipes in Alcaucin dates from Moorish times and never dries up
According to tradition, if you drink from the middle pipe, you will marry a young person from the village

Tuesday 03 March 2020: Alcaucin

A rest day in Alcaucin (pop 2300) at an altitude of 500m, a town with a typical Moorish layout, steep narrow streets and white houses.

The Postman of Alcaucin walks around town, finds each recipient and hand delivers their mail
Alcaucin’s tiny Plaza de Toros
Nuestra Señora del Rosario Parish Church, 17th century
Zalia Castle, about 4 km from Alcaucin, one of the oldest known fortifications – could have been built by the Phoenicians but later rebuilt by the Arabs