In September 2007, the Jura, Haute Savoie, Maritime Alps and Corsica were visited. Three guidebooks were used: Summits For All by Edouard Prevost, published by Cordee; Walking in the Haute Savoie South by Jeanette Norton, published by Cicerone; and Mont Blanc Walks by Hilary Sharp, published by Cicerone.
Some route descriptions that are not covered by any of the guidebooks are given below
Crete de la Neige, 1717m, Jura
At the small ski resort of Lelex, in the Valserine valley, park opposite a metalled road that leads steeply up to Gite Vachery. A nearby noticeboard has a useful map showing the walking trails on the mountain. Go up the road and, just before the Gite, go left and follow well-signposted forest tracks until a short traverse left leads to the Tatou Hut. From here one can follow a ski service road that goes left past buildings and ski facilities, eventually to join a route leading to the crest of the Jura. Alternatively, go right through woods to a bulldozed track that contours round to Brulat d'en Haut. From this bergerie, a track winds up the steep flank of the Jura, approaching the summit from the South. From the summit, it is possibe to walk North along the crest as far as Montoisey, 1669m. Just before this summit, the path noted above leads back down to the ski area. The entire circuit can be accomplished in 3 to 4 hours.
Les Grandes Autannes, 2680m, Mont Blanc
Les Grandes Autannes is the culmination of a fine and varied day out from the ski station of Le Tour. The 1:50000 Mont Blanc Beaufortain map is adequate.
The day starts with the straighforward ascent of the Aiguilette de Posettes, 2201m, followed by a gentle walk over Tete de La Balme to Croix de Fer, 2343m, with its spectacular views of the Rhone valley. These walks are described in Mont Blanc Walks by Hilary Sharp. From the Col de la Balme, a faint path goes up the steep ridge to the summit cairn of Les Grandes Autunnes. Parts of the ridge are loose, with moves of II+. From the cairn, the ridge to Pte de Bron, 2954m, provides an interesting traverse, with only one awkward move. There are fine views of the Aiguilles du Tour and Chardonnet. The onward route to Pointe des Grandes, 3102m appears chossy but feasible without crampons and rope. Its summit would bring one to the edge of very remote and wild country.
Grun de St Maurice, 2775m, Ecrins
This rocky peak is located near the N85 south of Grenoble. The 1:50000 Hiking Map of the Ecrins shows a path as far as the Col de Grun.
Leave the N85 near St Firmin and head for Les Preaux. Take the road to the left out of the village. Pass the top station of a ski tow and continue along a dirt track towards Les Vachers. The main path starts from here but a feeder path 1/2km earlier is just as good, although there are no signs for the mountain. Follow the track, which is also a nature trail, up through the forest to its confluence with the main track from Les Vachers. Go right here, ascending the Vallon de Prentia in big zig-zags. The path steepens below the Col de Grun. Above the Col follow steep grass, then rocks, avoiding the loose gully on the left. There are occasional moves of II, depending on the route chosen. The best way is indicated by cairns and faded red paint marks. Once on the main ridge, a delicate, airy traverse leads round a pinnacle to the summit.
Descend by the same way. 4 to 5 hours.
Paglia Orba, 2525m, Corsica
There are numerous routes to the top of Paglia Orba. The voie normale is approached from the path to Col des Maures, between Paglia Orba and Tafonatu and threads the walls and chimneys of the SW flank with moves of II, Grade PD inf. A fine circuit goes up by the Foggiale Chimneys (Grade PD sup, moves of III) and descends by the Cheminee d'Hiver.
Approach the Ciottulu di u Mori Hut from the Col de Vergio, 1477m. Although the route is slightly longer than from the Fer de Lance loop in the main road to the east, it is safer to leave cars at the Col de Vergio. A good path goes past a bergerie, where it joins the GR20. Shortly afterwards, the path crosses the river and ascends past the Cascade de Radule. It re-crosses the river at some pleasant, deep pools. Later, where the GR20 deviates to ascend to the ridge on the left, take a direct route up to the Ciottulu Hut (2 hours). There is water available from a tap near the Hut.
From the Hut the Epaule Foggiale, a shoulder on the S side of the peak, can be seen. Make for an obvious path snaking through the screes. There are cairns higher up. From the shoulder, follow cairns to a break in the cliff face. Climb a crack for 10m then traverse right along a ledge. Above is a short corner. Climb the right wall (crux - some parties use a rope here) to easier ground (cairn). At a cave topped by a large block, climb the wall on the left. Scramble up easy rocks to the summit plateau. The summit cairn is a short distance to the NE.
In descent, follow the plateau SW past the exit of the Foggiale Chimneys. At an obvious break, just before the reascent to the SW top, go left down easy rocks. These lead to steep slabs with a deep crack or chimney slanting from right to left. This is the Cheminee d'Hiver, Grade PD. Fortunately, ropes have been left in place, making for a simple descent to the screes. Follow cairns back to the GR20 path and the Hut.
Pelat, 3050m, Mercantour NP
This fine peak is located in the NW corner of the Mercantour National Park, due south of Barcelonnette.
Ibex, chamois and mouflon can be seen grazing among the many small lakes dotted around the area.
The D902 goes up to the Col de la Payolle at 2326m. There is a car park and information board here. Take the path that contours around the hillside to the west. It passes a tarn just before rising up to the Col de la Petite Cayolle at 2640m. The trail then drops down 150m, passing the Lac de la Petyite Cayolle, heading SW toward the Meouille river system. At a signposted junction, follow a good track NW around the precipitous base of Le Trou de l'Aigle. It crosses the Barre du Pelat before rising up the steep scree slopes of Mont Pelat in a series of huge zig-zags. The rocky summit can be easily reached in 2 1/2 to 3 hours from the road and provides wonderful views of the surrounding lake district.
A variation on the return is to visit the Lac des Garrets by a fair path that branches from the main path at the Lac de la Petite Cayolle. The Sommet des Garrets, 2822m may be climbed easily from the lake. To continue the descent, go down a steep, loose couloir from the eastern end of the lake. The faint trail then meets a good path from the Lac d'Allois, which leads back to the Col de la Cayolle.
Costa del Sol
In winter and spring 2008 to 2014, parts of the Malaga region of southern Spain were explored.
Finding suitable maps proved difficult, so the following descriptions are given to assist other mapless individuals.
The following guidebooks contain sketches or poor copies of Spanish maps: Andalucia South by Bernd Plikat, published by
Rother Walking Guide; Walk the Axarquia by Charles Davis, published by Discovery Walking Guides; Walking in Andalucia by
Guy Hunter-Watts, published by Santana.
Wikiloc at http://es.wikiloc.com/rutas/senderismo/espana/andalucia
has route descriptions and extracts from the 1:50000 map of the region. The maps
are a little out of date and tend to be sparse on detail.
summits in the region seem to be accessed by a path, usually
with cairns. In general it is better
to follow such paths. To do
otherwise is to risk being torn to ribbons by the various
species of thorn bush that are common in the mountains, even at
quite high altitudes.
Sierra Blanca traverse
I had no map for this, but found the route-finding straightforward. A map can now be purchased at the Refugio de Juanar. Good extracts can be found at
La Concha, 1215m, is the summit at the end of the Sierra Blanca ridge overlooking Marbella. There are fine views north to Torrecilla, south-west to Gibraltar and N Africa, and north-east to the Sierra Nevada.
From Marbella, take the good road that passes the white village of Ojen. Just beyond the Puerto de Ojen is a road signposted to Refugio de Juanar. The Refugio is actually a Parador that can provide a surprisingly cheap lunch on a pleasant terrace.
Continue on the dirt road signposted to a mirador. After 1km park in front of a locked gate.
Follow the broad dirt road through olive groves to a junction on the right with a sign for La Concha. Turn off then immediately take an unmarked path on the right that descends towards a pine forest. At a junction in the forest (15 mins from the car), take the left fork (signposted). The path now follows a double fence up the far (west) side of Cruz de Juanar to a col. To climb the Cruz, 1164m, go up the steep, but safe, path to the east. From the cross on the summit the path to the main crest can be clearly seen. To return to the car, a good path descends the steep east face and emerges on the broad access road 5 minutes above the Park building. To continue the traverse, return to the col and follow the path easily to the main crest. Here, at a marker pole, the path drops down the north side and traverses easily under the spectacular north face of Salto del Lobo, 1225m. This subsidiary top can be climbed direct from the col. The crest to the west of the summit is pathless and onward progress is blocked by a cliff. At the edge of this cliff, descend about 50m over rough ground and scree towards the sea. Once below the cliff, make an ascending traverse across difficult-looking ground, avoiding the worst of the vegetation by keeping high. This leads without much difficulty to the col, where the main path reappears.
It is also possible to descend directly to the col by keeping to the extreme (N) edge of the ridge. As the ridge steepens, two short (2m) undercut walls must be negotiated before easier ground is reached.
Unaccountably, the path now skirts the summit of Lastonar, which at 1275m is the highest point on the ridge. At a yellow and white waymark, follow a faint path directly up rough ground to the cairn. Continue along the crest towards La Concha to rejoin the path. There are a signpost (La Concha 15mins) and a marker pole nearby. Continue along the crest, with some interesting scrambling. Difficulties can be avoided by following green arrows and paint splashes. The last top on the ridge, La Concha, is reached in about 3 hours from the car, including the ascent of Cruz de Juanar.
The return trip should not take more than 2 hours.
Picacho de Castillejos, 1238m
North of the Refugio de Juanar, the Pozuelo Loop provides a pleasant walk, circumnavigating a small massif. It is possible to climb 2 peaks from this loop.
A suitable entry point to the Loop is about 1km N of the Refugio on the MA 469 approach
road (parking bay). The path traverses north before turning west to the
Puerto de Pozuelo, 1094m, reached in 45 minutes. From the cairn, a good path cuts through the maquis to the summit, with spectacular views of the north-west ridge.
As yet there is no path south of the Puerto but the south-west ridge
can be easily gained without much interference from the vegetation. The ridge
continues from the
unnamed summit at 1229m to another top at 1197m. This provides a sensational route, including an à cheval section,
but is followed by an uncomfortable descent to the track near
El Guralpalo. This takes you back down to the Refugio de Juanar.
Pico Mijas, 1151m
This is the massif that dominates Fuengirola. I had no map, but found several easy routes to the summit from the north.
Make for the town of Alhaurin el Grande. Here there are no signs to the mountain or any obvious places to get information
on the correct route of ascent. If approaching from the south-west (from Fuengirola), do not go into the centre - it is a
nightmare of narrow, twisting, precipitous streets. Instead, turn right and head uphill to the high level ring road.
Route 1 - near its high point, just east of a roundabout, a narrow road branches diagonally off heading east. Follow this road
past small, fenced estates. At a bend and a junction, where a paved road heads downhill, a path goes up beside a dry river bed.
There are no fences as the valley lies between two estates. A car can be parked here. Follow the path. It enters a small gorge
and comes out at a forest road that encircles the mountain (20 mins). Cross the road and look for a small track that continues up
the hill, passing a ruined stone building on the left. In 5 minutes, at the track end, go steeply up through thorn scrub for a few
metres to a broad firebreak between the pines. Ascend this easily for 600 to 700 metres. At the top there is another forest road.
Follow this eastward for 15 - 20 minutes. Just before it heads downhill, a waymarked footpath branches off and zig-zags up to the
crest. The summit, dominated by meteorological paraphernalia, can be seen nearby.
Route 2 - from the shopping area on the ring road take the second turning on the right after the bend - a narrow residential street
heads directly uphill. Bear left then go right up a steep concrete road to the forest edge. Park near the junction of 3 forest roads.
The left-most road goes up past a water services building then contours the north side of the mountain from
west to east. After 5 minutes turn right up a fire break and follow an unmarked path. After 30 minutes cross a forest road by a chain barrier.
The path - still unmarked - continues up the ridge beyond. After an hour and 20 minutes it becomes a much clearer path that leaves the ridge
and traverses its flank before joining a broader track that leads to the main forest road (see Route 3 below) and to the summit.
The middle road passes a row of lock-up kennels, where dogs bark incessantly. At a fork just beyond the buildings go straight on
following a track paved with white stones.
The track passes a small quarry and becomes an indistinct path for about 15 minutes before joining a better path that zig-zags up the flank
of a ridge and eventually joins the broader track mentioned above. From this junction, the summit is reached in about 15 minutes.
Route 3 - from the fork near the kennels mentioned above, take the rightmost forest road. Go up past a chain barrier and
follow the road as it zig-zags up the NW flank. From its high point, it begins a long traverse east, ending up at the summit
El Castillejo, 972m, the radio mast festooned summit above
Benalmadena, can be reached in about 2 hours from Pico Mijas.
Go north from the summit and find the marked track mentioned in Route 1 above. It drops down to the forest road that traverses
the north side of the mountain. After about an hour, go right at a sign: "Camino de Cortado 450 mts". The track becomes a waymarked path
that goes over Cerro de la Barcaza, 897m, before joining the paved access road to the transmitter station.
The probable high point is about 500m N of the masts.
Cerro Calamorro, 771m
(picture taken from Mijas ridge)
A cable car runs from Arroya de la Miel Benalmadena to just below the summit of Cerro Calamorro.
The walk takes about 1 hour 30 minutes.
From Junction 222 on the A7 between Malaga and Fuengirola, drive up the new road to the gates of the Cerro del Viento development.
At the top roundabout take the second exit (the highest road, going SW). After about 200m, just beyond a barrier, is a
yellow substation. Go up the steps beside it to gain a good path / mountain bike track that heads towards La Ermita, a shrine
marked by a prominent white cross, reached in 20 to 30 minutes. There are now two options:
A good path heads north to meet the access road on the north ridge - the cable car station is about 15 minutes to the south.
Alternatively, take a good path contouring west across the south ridge, then along the west flank of the mountain to Puerto Viejo,
from where the cable car station and summit can be reached in 10 minutes. An excellent variation when the south ridge is crossed is
to ascend the ridge. There is no path but the going is straightforward with minimal scrambling.
There is an interesting aviary by the
cable car station. It contains a number of eagles, vultures
and other raptors in cramped cages. Falconry displays are held
at intervals during the day.
There is a good path - marked as route R-6 - from Puerto
Viejo to the summit of El Castillejo, 972m.
(picture taken from Siera Blanca)
This is the highest point of the Sierra de Alpujata, a coastal massif that lies between the Sierra Blanca and the Sierra de Mijas. In August 2012 a huge fire destroyed all the vegetation
on the mountain. There are telecommunications masts on three of the summits, including the highest point, Castillejos.
This is easily ascended from the Puerto de Ojen on the Marbella to Monda road. One can drive to the top of a concrete road and then proceed along broad access tracks
to the summit, passing to the left of the lowest mast and to the right of the biggest mast complex.
Torrecilla, the highest point of the limestone massif known as the Sierra Nieves is also
Malagan Andalucia's highest point. In winter, expect snow on the trails.
This is a popular hill on sunny days; the path being well-marked by posts, route finding
should not present a problem to the mapless.
If coming from Marbella on the A397, take an unmarked road just north of KP14,
signposted to Los Quejigales. After 1km it becomes a well-graded dirt road with a
short paved section. There is ample parking and water at Los Quejigales, 10km from the
road. A barrier may be in place 2.7 kms from Los Quejigales, in which case park in the
area provided and walk the rest (30 minutes).
150 metres from the Los Quejigales car park, cross a stream by a new footbridge. This is the start of a good path that climbs steeply through the pine
and Pinsapo forest. The entire route is marked by wayposts at irregular intervals. After 15 minutes, the path traverses into a deep valley.
In 45 minutes, it crosses the (dry) stream and, shortly afterwards at a bend with a marker post and a cairn, a doubtful path bears off to the left.
This may be the path noted by the Rother Walking Guide as an alternative access to the Puerto del Oso, 1756m.
Well above the tree line, the voie normale arrives at a junction with a vehicle track from Los Quejigales in 60 minutes.
This is the Puerto de los Pilones. Follow the track towards a look-out tower and communications mast as far as a notice board.
Here a path descends gently to the north east through Portuguese Oak woodland.
To the south, a prominent carbuncle on the end of a blunt ridge is visible. This is Cerro de la Alcazaba, 1689m and a side trip to it takes about an hour:
5 minutes along the path, at a cairn and marker post, go down right and follow the dry watercourse to an area of flat pasture.
When cliffs block progress, go up right. A faint path heads directly for the Alcazaba, keeping well below the crest.
Alternatively, the crest is an easy walk, with sections of fine limestone pavement.
The Alcazaba is easily ascended by its west face.
Continue on the main path to a circular stone snow pit and another notice board.
5 minutes beyond is a signpost. A well-marked path to the left (north) goes down to Puerto del Saucillo.
Side trips can easily be made to the limestone tor of Enamorados, 1775m (30 minutes each way) and to Cerro Alto, 1786m (15 minutes each way). 30m before the signpost another path comes in from the north. This is the exit point of the Rother Guide's variation noted above. An excursion along this path takes one into areas of Pinsapo
(Spanish Fir) woodland.
The main path now rises and skirts the north side of a limestone boss.
Descending, it passes a limestone cliff pockmarked with caves, some containing
religious icons. There is a reliable spring here, though the water may not be potable. The final steep slope to the summit
lies ahead, reached in about 2 ½ hours from Los Quejigales.
There are fine views of the Sierra Nevada to the north-east and Gibraltar and the
North African coastal range to the south.
Sierra Prieta, 1521m
(picture taken from Sierra de las Nieves)
This is the highest point of the Sierra Cabrilla, a compact and very fine massif, which lies north of Yunquera.
The best approach is from Casarabonela.
Just before reaching the village centre, turn right up a steep road signposted to the Cemetery. The road contours the lower slope of the
mountain and passes a Hermitage. Park on some waste ground by a sign for PR 270 and an avifauna information board.
From the Recreation Area 15 minutes above, two paths head up to a forest road, the one that is visible from many miles away.
The westmost path comes out at a sign inviting you to turn left for Cima Prieta.
However, the regular route goes right along the road for 300m to a signpost
whence a path goes
up to Puerto la Madera. The eastmost path comes out 15 minutes east of the
Puerto Madera signpost. From the Puerto a good, recently cleared, path contours the entire eastern flank of the mountain, arriving at a cairn after
20 minutes. Follow the cairned path up rough ground to the summit in about 2 hours 45 minutes from the car.
Cerro de Blanquilla, 1506m can be climbed from
here. Go west to a minor top. To the left (south)
is a straightforward cairned route to the col at 1314m. A steep gully
to the right gives a loose but safe alternative descent to the col. Go up to the ridge opposite and either scramble
along it or follow bits of path on the S flank. The ridge drops down to a notch and at this point a cairned path crosses
from the south.
Follow it up to the summit, attained in about an hour from Cima Prieta.
Returning to the notch, follow the well-marked path that traverses the entire NW flank
of the mountain to Puerto la Madera.
Torreon, 1648m (picture taken from Simancon)
This is the the highest point of the Sierra de Grazalema and also in Cadiz Province.
Head for the Puerto del Boyar on the road between El Bosque and Grazalema. From the east, the road to the pass goes through the
village of Grazalema and you can fill up with water in the main square.
The Kilometre Post at the pass is 44, so head downhill to a small car park at KP 40. A good, well-maintained path starts
opposite the car park and you should reach the summit in 90 minutes.
The path is closed from 1 June to 1 October due to the fire hazard.
An alternative route, more rugged, more scenic and more dangerous than the voie normale, starts at Puerto del Boyar.
Cross the fence by a ladder and look for an indistinct path crossing the hillside above a stone animal enclosure.
The path is cairned and heads west into a gully. A plethora of paths goes up the gully to a col, where there are several trig
points (45 mins).
Scramble up to the crest and to the summit of Cerro san Cristobal, 1554m. The summit of Torreon is now visible. An indistinct path
traverses the crenellated karst ridge. Any difficulties can be easily avoided on either side of the ridge.
The summit should be reached in under 3 hours.
Cerro del Simancon, 1569m (picture taken from summit)
This is the the highest point of the Sierra del Endrinal above Grazalema.
From the Puerto del Boyar car park on the road between El Bosque and Grazalema
follow the Puerto de las Presillas track. Beyond the pass, at 1257m, is a wall
with a gate adorned with Privado signs. Follow faint animal tracks on the other
side of the wall, heading up towards a cliff. A clearer track traverses under
the cliff from left to right. Go up through rocky bluffs, trending left until
the whaleback shape of the peak can be seen. This is an area of spectacular
karst scenery: deep grykes with sharp edges, dolines filled with thorn bushes
and limestone pavements. If you are lucky you may find a series of cairns
defining a path that leads south-east to a point just right of the summit cairn.
On the upper slopes the cairns are accompanied by painted yellow arrows. Expect
to take 2 1/2 to 3 hours in total.
La Capilla, 1191m
This limestone lump rises above the village of El Chorro.
There are no useful maps available at the village, which consists of a hotel and rail station.
A sign directs one to a sendero that crosses the range from south to north and may offer an easy means of access to the
peak, which is known locally as El Humo. However, to the north, a path can be seen climbing a vegetated slope between
limestone cliffs. Park at the start of the Camino del Rey path and follow a marked trail to a viewpoint overlooking the
Camino and railway (15 mins). From here paths zig-zag up through rosemary, juniper and broom scrub. A flat area is crossed and
a good path goes up steeper ground beyond, passing a stone hut (45 mins). Stay well above the dry stream bed if you want to
avoid the thorn bushes. 10 minutes later, a smarter whitewashed house is passed. At the top of an overgrazed grassy slope is a
patch of pine forest traversed by a jeep track leading to the house. Bear left through the trees and make for an obvious break
in the cliff. The easiest route, involving a little scrambling, is to the left - cairns. There is no path on the stony slope
above, but go directly up to a gully in the summit crags. This is passed easily and the summit, marked by a post, lies a few
hundred metres away (2 1/2 hours). There are fine views to the Sierra Nevada, Sierra Nieves and Axarquia. Return by the same
route (4 1/4 hours).
Camorro Alto, 1377m
A description of the approach to this peak, which lies just outside the El Torcal National Park, can be found in the Rother Guide to Andalucia South.
Starting at La Ventilla, on the road south from Antequara to Villanueva de la Concepcion, the route goes via the Puerto de la Escaleruela and takes
less than 4 hours. It is possible to drive to the foot of the Puerto from the Alora road, saving 2 hours - the way is signposted.
From the parking area at La Ventilla, cross the dry stream bed after 100m and go through a gap in the fence.
Follow a track, then a footpath along the valley floor to the foot of the pass (50 mins). From the top of the pass, go through a gap in the fence
to the west and follow a good path for 20 mins. At a small cairn go uphill on good, then indistinct paths. Once on the broad ridge, go straight up,
turning crags near the summit to the left. There are impressive views towards El Chorro. Descend by the same route.
(picture taken from Cerro de la Cruz, 1443m )
The central Arco Calizo karst mountains to the north of Malaga provide excellent walking country in the Camorolos and del Jobo sierras.
The circuit connecting the central peaks of Cerro de la Cruz, 1443m and Chamizo, 1637m is a great day out in remote, rugged country.
The absence of signposts and the sketchiness of the paths probably contributes to its low popularity - on a bright Saturday in early December
I only met one party all day.
The circuit can be done in either direction. This description starts with the Cruz and ends on Chamizo.
Just before entering Villa Nueva del Rosario, before the main bridge, go right along a new road.
It ends after 500m, where a sign for the Hondonero recreation area will be seen.
Go up a concrete road to a white chapel then continue left along a dirt road to the recreation area.
Apart from a distant sign by the roadside there is no indication that you have arrived.
There is no obvious parking area. Park on grass a little way down a track that leads to a smallholding containing green and brown buildings.
Walk SW past the smallholding and follow the jeep track as it zig-zags up through trees.
Go through a gate with a chain barrier and continue past some impressive pinnacles.
When the track starts to descend, go left through a break in the fence and traverse SW along a faint path. There are occasional cairns.
After about an hour you should reach a crest overlooking a green valley containing a circular stone structure.
Go right without difficulty up the broken limestone rocks to a trig point. This is Cerro de la Cruz.
Retrace your steps to a notch in the crest below and scramble down into the valley (the headwaters of the Guadalmedina).
Follow a fair path easily to the E, crossing 3 fences. After the last , which is adorned with a yellow notice, the path is less distinct.
However, it generally follows lines of weakness - if you find yourself scrambling over loose limestone clints, you are probably off-route.
Go up through the rock outcrop by means of a prominent gully then traverse the hill well to the left of the crest, following a line of weakness.
Cairns now appear more frequently. After a short descent to a clearing with thorn trees, a pair of cairns indicate the direction of the path.
Cairns and red splodges are very frequent now. The path continues NE, to the left of the crest.
After crossing a substantial fence, with a red splodge on the rock above, the final summit slope of Chamizo comes into view.
Head down towards a sloping alp and go up a good path that eventually passes several pinnacles to their right.
A short descent leads to the start of the W ridge of Chamizo. Although this looks difficult, a faint path traverses easily below the crest.
Any difficulties are easily passed. The summit crest is eventually reached and may involve some gentle scrambling.
From the trig point, reached in around 4 hours, head NE down a cairned, though faint, path. Where the cairns appear to indicate steep descents,
continue traversing to a fence. On the far side of this fence, rough paths descend steeply W to the start of a jeep track that leads to the end of
the dirt road from Villa Nueva del Rosario. Follow this back to the car.
Total distance - around 15km
Sierra de las Cabras, 1283m
(picture taken from Chamizo)
This is the prominent peak that lies immediately west of Junction 139 (Antequera / Granada) on the Autovia de Malaga.
The name and height come from the Michelin 1:200,000 Costa del Sol map.
It is possible to park on a rough track just off the roundabout.
Head for the SE ridge as this appears to be the easiest approach. Cross a field to a gate and follow the track beyond.
After a short distance, cross the fence and follow a break in the vegetation associated with a power line, before traversing
across the upper slopes to the SE ridge. The steep limestone gives a pleasant and straightforward scramble to the summit,
reached in an hour.
Pico el Vilo, 1415m
Pico el Vilo (1415m or 1465m on the summit plaque) gives an easy, pleasant ascent with fine views.
In the village of Alfarnate, cross the river by the main bridge and go south down a narrow street.
Bear right at the roundabout and park under pine trees opposite a school playing field. Walk up the vehicle track.
After 200m, at a hairpin bend, a rough path goes up the hill, bearing south-east. This path, shown on some maps, is poorly marked.
One is liable to get sidetracked by sheep trails, which weave a convoluted trail through the crumbling limestone terraces.
Thorn bushes are frequent obstacles.
An easier option is to continue on the vehicle track. Above the Cortijada del Alguacil it becomes a path and a signpost to Pico
Vilo appears. Follow the path through woodland to the exposed summit in about 1 hour 30 minutes. The neighbouring El Gallo (1353m)
can be ascended from the signpost by a cairned but indistinct path.
La Maroma, 2069m
A detailed description of the ascent from the north-west, from the Alcazar Recreation Area
above Alcaucin, is given by Charles Davis in his idiosyncratic Walk the Axarquia
guidebook. The round trip is 16km, requiring 6-7 hours.
Davis's poor maps make the route difficult to follow, so this is an attempt at clarification. Three routes will be described.
At the upper car park, the Parc Naturel signboard has a plan of the standard route giving a total distance of 20.4km.
This waymarked route follows the Castillones vehicle track. Go through the picnic area, passing a water trough.
The start of the track is marked by a chain barrier, Follow the jeep track
as it contours gently back and forth across the hillside towards a prominent pinnacle on the Loma de las Viboras crest.
The track ends at a rain or snow gauge. Allow about 1 hour 15 minutes from the car park.
A variation takes a vehicle track that branches off right after 15 to 20 minutes (signpost: "Ruta Botanica").
After 10 minutes, the track descends slightly to cross a dry river bed and eventually joins the well-cairned path that
ascends the Loma de las Viboras ridge to the rain gauge. There is also a short cut to the ridge that starts just before the descent
to the dry river bed.
This is a lot easier than trying to navigate the start of the Direct Variation up the ridge (see below).
At the top of the Castillones track, well beyond the Castillones Pinnacle,is an overgrown vehicle track
coming up through the trees from the north. This is the exit point of a 14km route from the Alcaucin Recreation Area,
which has a start point some 200m higher up the north side of the mountain than the Castillones Route from the Alcazar car park.
From the Alcazar car park, continue driving along
the well-graded track as it contours the lower slopes of Maroma towards the north. After 6km the track
descends slightly into a deep valley and crosses a small stream. 250 metres beyond is
the Alcaucin Recreation Area.
Park at the small stream and go up the track to a small white building with a trickle of a waterfall behind (50m).
Cross the stream and continue up the track. In about 100 metres, a small footpath can be seen crossing the hillside to
the west. An arrow has been carved on a pine tree at the start point. Neither the arrow
nor the start of the path is obvious. However, about 25m beyond, at the top of a steep
section of the main track, is a junction with a connecting path from the Recreation Area.
If you get to this point, go back down and look for the path by the arrow.
It rises gently to the right, contouring the hillside and crossing a gully.
After about 15 minutes, the path turns sharply south, heading up a blunt spur between
pine and oak trees. In 10 minutes, it crosses a forest track at a Y junction.
Beyond, the footpath disappears but the route simply heads straight up the spur on
steep but easy ground, with little undergrowth.
As an alternative, the upper branch of the forest track to the left can be taken. Both routes end up after 15 minutes on the
crest of the ridge where the Castillones forest track climbs up from the Alcazar
Recreation Area. Continue along the track to the rain gauge.
Davis's 16km route goes directly up the Loma de las Viboras ridge. Start up the Castillones track with its chain barrier.
Take the first track to the right. This soon crosses a stream and becomes a path. The main stream, the Barranco de la Higuera,
is crossed and the path climbs, soon merging with another vehicle track. Just after the track turns sharply out of the trees,
a path marked by a cairn is the start of the climb up the Loma de las Viboras ridge. This is also the point at which the
Ruta Botanica variation mentioned above comes in from the Castillones route.
The path is well-cairned and easy to follow. The rain gauge should be reached in a little over an hour.
Continuation to summit
Climb the slope above the rain gauge on huge zig-zags, emerging at the edge of a deep valley. The path traverses into this valley
to a confluence with the Barranco del Mojon, a steep, narrow valley that heads directly towards the summit dome.
This is a strenuous but shorter alternative to the waymarked path, which goes straight up to a col from where there is a magnificent
view of the Sierra Nevada. Descending slightly, it traverses the north side of Maroma, crossing patches of pine woodland. Now in
limestone country, it climbs the flank of a deep valley, threading between several rocky outcrops.
Just below the outcrops is the Fuente Espino spring, which should provide a little water at least until June.
On the crest is a defunct rain gauge. This is where shortcut up the Barranco del Mojon emerges. Turn left and follow the path to the
summit plateau - the summit cairn can be seen from here. The path is indistinct in places but is marked by rusty poles and wooden waymarks.
In poor weather or under snow, a map and compass could prove useful. The cairn should be reached in under 3 hours, whichever variation is
Canillas de Aceituna approach
Coming into the village from the
west, pass a free underground car park on the right and continue
for 100m to a large free parking area.
Walk back past the underground car park and go steeply up La Cuesta de los Picachos.
Take the first right (marked by a white arrow) and at its top, turn left at a sign for a football pitch.
Continue up the concrete road and go past the municipal cemetery
to a junction. The right fork contours above the town for 500m
until a track branches left to a signboard with a good
description of the Casa de las Nieves route to the summit.
This is a well-graded, scenic and well-marked path that goes up by
the Fuente Rabita and takes about 3 hours in ascent.
The left fork is a forest road that
passes two signs for La Maroma as well as a mirador and recreation area. At the second sign, leave the road
and follow a good path that makes an ascending traverse towards the north-west, crossing two streams, usually dry.
At the second crossing (around 1.3 hours from the village), that of the Barranco Charcones, the path appears to continue
on the far side, traversing the steep slope.
After about 30 minutes, however, it peters out at a level area below a steep slope. This slope is pathless, rocky
and sometimes thorny but may be climbed to a point on the edge of the plateau fairly near to where the regular
Los Charcones route (see below) emerges.
Back at the Barranco Charcones crossing, look for a small cairn and a black arrow on a post on the east side of the stream.
Force a way through the scrub until, after a few minutes, a path becomes apparent. This path zig-zags up the right (east)
bank until it meets the the Casa de las Nieves route at Los Charcones col.
From here to the summit the path is marked with cairns and green and white marker posts. It takes around 3 hours from Canillas.
Lucero is the prominent pointed peak seen from the Malagan coast.
It can be done in less than 2 hours by driving up a quarry road from Fornes on the
northern flank, or in 3 hours by driving along a dirt road from Canillas de Albaida
on the SW side of the range towards Puerto Blanquillo. The author has not driven
these tracks, so cannot say whether or not there are any barriers.
A fine approach, taking around 5 hours, starts from the Fabrica de Luz recreation area,
near Canillas de Albaida. Coming from Competa, do not drive into the centre of Canillas
but follow signs to the recreation area. Pass a junction with an unmarked road to
the right (the vehicular track to Puerto Blanquillo), then a limestone quarry. The paved road ends
at the Fabrica de Luz, where there is potable water and ample parking.
The footpath heads NE up a side valley, starting on the far side of the ford.
It is marked with posts, arrows and cairns and threads a scenic way among terraced
fields, past occupied and ruined farms and through limestone gorges. After 1¼ hours the
path joins the vehicular road (it is possible to return to Fabrica de Luz by following
this road west). This is Puerto Blanquillo. Walk up the road for 250m to a sharp bend and a cairn. Follow the path
up to Puerto de Competa, 1400m, reached in about 30 minutes.
La Chapa, 1819m
This summit in an area of gently rounded hills is about 5km due north of Puerto de Competa. Adorned with a steel cabin and radio
antenna, it is easily visited from the Puerto Competa using fire breaks and vehicle tracks, the round trip taking around 2 hours.
Continue heading towards Lucero by following the road downhill below the marble quarry. Pass a large water tank. After
15 minutes leave the road at a notice board and cross a wooden bridge. A delightful path leads through wooded limestone terrain, traverses the side of a
cliff and then climbs steeply up to the summit of Lucero in about an hour and a half from Puerto de Competa.
Cerro Cisne, 1481m
(Lucero on the left)
Cerro Cisne is a spectacular
pinnacle on a ridge system that culminates at La Cadena, 1645m
and Piedra Sellada, 1678m.
It is normally approached from the hamlet
of Acebuchal, about 20 minutes from Frigiliana: take the Torox
road and turn off at a sign for the hamlet’s only
Go through the hamlet to a small parking
area. The path begins at a marker post for the GR 249 and
takes a pleasant route along the dry bed of the Arroyo
Acebuchal. After 15 minutes leave the ravine at another
marker post (not far ahead, the gorge becomes blocked by
vegetation) and go up to a vehicle track. Follow this road
back down to the barranco near a row of beehives. Continue up
the gravely riverbed past the Venta Cebollera ruin and bear right at
the major junction beyond. Follow the well-marked path. After about 30 minutes the path rises from
the barranco and rejoins the vehicle track. Follow this past the
turn-off to Lucero and drop down to a large water tank and
helipad (not marked on most maps). The road twice
crosses a stream before rising sharply up a concrete ramp.
Cairns and a green paint splodge mark the
start of the steep ascent to Cisne. The route is generally
clear and well-marked: the lower half follows the flanks of a
steep gully but mostly avoids using it. At the col the route
goes to the north side of the peak – on the steep grey
limestone some easy scrambling is required. The summit should
be reached in about 3 hours from Acebuchal.
It is possible to
go NE following a ridge that takes you to the Puerto de
Frigiliana track and thence to the summit of La Cadena.
Be warned - there is no path and the thorn bushes are tall.
From the Cisne path go up easily to a small summit at 1479m.
There is a steep drop down to the Collado dos Hermanas, 1371m.
This is followed by a sharp, friable ridge best passed on the south side.
Thereafter the ridge is gentler and, on the furthest summit, Lomo del Chaparall,
the vegetation has been much reduced by forestry work.
The traverse to La Cadena takes from 1 to 2 hours.
La Cadena, 1645m and Piedra Sellada, 1678m
La Cadena's summit is precariously poised on a sharp limestone ridge.
It is most easily accessed from
Acebuchal. The path begins at a marker post for the GR 249 and takes a pleasant route along the dry bed of the Arroyo
Acebuchal. After 15 minutes leave the ravine at another marker post (not far ahead, the gorge becomes blocked by
vegetation) and go up to a vehicle track. Follow this road back down to the barranco near a row of beehives. Continue up
the gravely riverbed past the Venta Cebollera ruin and bear right at the major junction beyond. Follow the broad, well-marked path.
After about 30 minutes the path rises from the barranco and re joins the vehicle track. Follow this past the
turn-off that goes right to Cisne. Near its highest point, the road crosses
two streams in quick succession. At a cairn and a painted red arrow, a path
rises steeply up towards the head of the valley. After about 15 minutes, just as it
seems about to cross the stream, it turns sharply right and commences a long traverse
into the Angustias valley. Follow the well-marked path to a vehicle track at
Puerto de Frigiliana, 1248m (about 2 hours from Acebuchal). Immediately
follow a red arrow that indicates a short cut which avoids a big loop in the
vehicle track. After rejoining the track, continue to its high point where a
sign indicates a Fuente 200m away downhill. Go up onto the ridge and follow it to the
summit in about 3 1/2 hours from Acebuchal.
concrete trig point, the ridge narrows and provides an entertaining and exposed
traverse as far as a hunting boundary marker post (10 minutes). Here there is a
10m vertical drop. This feature, as well as the ridge beyond, appears to be too difficult for an
unroped party. However, just east of the summit, a ramp drops down the north face.
There are 3 pine trees at the top. The lowest (and tallest) of these obscures a large cairn, which indicates the start of
a long traverse about 50 metres below the ridge that eventually leads to Piedra
Sellada, 1678m. The traverse is sparsely cairned and there is no clear path. Below Piedra Sellada's rocky summit, the way deviates to the
north before joining a path from Salto del Caballo, which has a look out station on its summit.
The entire traverse takes about an hour.
Pico del Cielo, 1544m
(picture taken from Navachica)
Pico del Cielo is the peak at the end of the ridge overlooking Nerja Cueva. It provides easy walking along a well-marked path.
Driving into Nerja Cueva, the start of the track to El Pinarillo picnic site and Fuente del Esparto is easily seen on the left
just before a filling station on the right. The track can be quite rough at times but has recently (2013) been graded.
After about 3km, a jeep track diverges right, while the main track goes left and slightly downhill. A notice indicates a Sendero (marked path).
4 x 4 vehicles can drive up this track, as far as the abandoned Cortijo de la Civila.
For walkers, there are short cuts that avoid some of the bigger loops in the track. Beyond the Cortijo, the path is well-marked,
looping extravagantly up the hillside before making a northerly traverse to the foot of the summit pile. Expect to take around
2½ hours to the top, which is marked by a cross. About 10 minutes beyond is a higher point (1544m) that probably qualifies as the
Navachica may be ascended in about 2 hours from here. The route follows the rim of ridges and minor peaks that enclose the basin of
the Barranco Cazadores. For a limestone massif that is clad in maquis vegetation, the going is remarkably easy.
From the summit, head NE through a partly burned Kermes Oak forest towards the lowest point in the ridge. Drop down to a flat area and, after 15 to 20 minutes,
a path appears with occasional cairns and red splodges. This path avoids the highest points, traversing the seaward side of most of
the crest. There is no path over the last two eminences on the crest but by that stage, the summit of Navachica should
be a visible target.
For the continuation to Almendron see below.
This circuit of Pico del Cielo, Navachica and Almendron can be easily completed in 8 hours, making it eminently feasible for a winter day's outing.
To reduce the walk by 3 kilometres, drive past the El Pinarillo Recreation Area and park at the entrance to the Barranco Cazadores.
This is at a point where the road turns sharply west, heading towards the Fuente del Esparto. The direct route to the summit of Cielo
follows a prominent shoulder and starts about 250m up the gorge on the right.
Almendron, 1514m & Navachica, 1831m
(picture taken from Cisne)
These two summits in the Sierra Almijara may be readily combined to give a very high quality day's walking. The route follows the floor of a deep gorge,
the Barranco de los Cazadores, before emerging onto the gentle upper slopes of Navichica. It then descends the difficult (and largely pathless)
SW ridge over several eminences to a col below Almendron. From the col, a good path traverses the flank of the Barranco then descends the broad slope
to its west back to the start point.
Driving into Nerja Cueva, the start of the track to the Pinarillo picnic site and Fuente del Esparto is easily seen on the left just before a parking
area on the right. The track is quite rough - vehicles with a low clearance are not advised. The picnic site appears after 5km. Water is available here.
It is possible to drive a further kilometre along an even rougher track to the Barranco de los Cazadores, where cars can be left on the (dry) floor of
Follow the canyon floor without difficulty. There are spectacular rock walls containing caves. After 30 minutes, cairns and red paint splashes indicate
a path branching left up a gully to avoid a dry waterfall. This path goes briefly along the flank of the main gorge before heading back into the
gully and climbing steeply for about 150m. Just below a prominent man-made wall crossing the upper
gully, the path - now a mule track - goes right and contours
the main gorge at high level before sloping down to the bed of the barranco. After about an hour, at a blackened cliff, the path again escapes left up
steep, wooded ground, passing a mirador before re-entering the main gorge above the cliff - mine shafts are visible in the vicinity. The path then
rejoins the bed of the gorge and becomes indistinct and overgrown in places.
About 1hr 30 minutes from the start, in a vegetated section of the gorge, cairns and red arrows indicate a choice of routes. To the left is the way up
to Almendron. Straight on is the way to Navachica. The floor of the gorge is followed easily, with a little pleasant scrambling up water-polished steps.
At the first prominent fork, go left. Shortly afterwards, at a cairn, take the right fork. After two hours, near the head of the gorge, the path heads
right up a steep scree / scrub slope. Near the top, the path bears SE before emerging onto the crest of the Rancho del Viento ridge, with fine views of
the surrounding hills. The cairned path follows the crest then crosses a gently sloping upland heath of scrub, to a shallow col, before going easily up
to the summit in 2½ to 3 hours.
The SW slope of Navachica is easily descended over Altos de la Mina. Next, a small limestone scarp is easily negotiated and the domed summit of
Cerrado las Tres Lindes climbed. This is where the easy stuff ends. The summit is bounded by a steep scarp and the descent towards the Almendron col looks serious. But just
below the summit are 2 cairns. These indicate a steep, but safe, descent through the cliff. More cairns lead through rough ground of scree and
scrub to a small rocky summit overlooking a chasm. Cairns then show the way down to the col below the steep NE ridge of Almendron. The ascent is
straightforward, though the summit crest provides some exposed scrambling.
The descent from Navachica to Almendron took the author 1 hour 30 minutes.
Retrace the summit ridge path towards the col and go down a little to pick up the regular path as it contours below the prominent
La Puerto pinnacle.
See Rother Walking Guide p90. This is a pleasant section of the route, with fine views.
The path now ascends and crosses to the Rio Chillar side of the ridge. A stony path leads down to the vehicle track near Fuente del Esparto and thence to the start point.