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Hiking trail

Grazalema to Villaluenga del Rosario

Hiking trail
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Grazalema
    / Grazalema
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Church of San Juan, Grazalema
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Mountain Scenery from Puerto del Boyar
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Climbing above the Treeline in Limestone Scenery
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Beautiful Mountains
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to Benaocaz from the Ermita del Calvario
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Friendly Wildlife!
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 1400 1200 1000 800 600 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Parroquia de la Encarnación Church Puerto del Boyar Ermita del Calvario

Today’s walk is a scenic traverse of the limestone mountains and pine forests that stand between Grazalema and Villaluenga del Rosario. Stop briefly in Benaocaz to explore the village’s rich history.

moderate
17 km
5:45 h
706 m
662 m

These towering limestone peaks (around 1,500 metres high) are one of the first obstacles for weather systems arriving from the Atlantic. Resultingly, a microclimate bubbles around Grazalema, making it the wettest village in Spain and ensuring a unique walk through verdant pine forest. (The majority of the rain falls in winter so you’d be unlucky to experience much yourself!)

You’ll burst above the tree-line to discover unobstructed views of the karst limestone landscape. There’s the wrinkled limestone pavement, the lonely upright pinnacles defying gravity and the grey mountain peaks that can contrast fiercely against blue skies or blend invisibly into the clouds. Speaking of the skies, this area is filled with Griffon Vultures who ride the thermals and encircle the peaks. Their enormous 2.6-metre wingspan(!) is larger than an eagle’s, and in this stark landscape, it’s easy to picture them as pterodactyls in a prehistoric world.

You’ll pass through the village of Benaocaz which boasts an interesting history, from Neolithic caves to a Roman village to a Moorish town. You can stop at the museum to learn more about this rich past. Villaluenga, where the trail finishes, is known for its sheep farming; it has the only shepherd school in Andalucia, once-booming textile industry and the renowned Payoyo cheese – made with a mix of sheep and goat milk - is a speciality of the area.

Author’s recommendation

Try Payoyo Cheese while in Villaluenga. It is typically a blend of sheep and goat milk, and a speciality of the area.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Macs Adventure
Updated: March 05, 2020

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
1298 m
Lowest point
716 m

Safety information

There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.

There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp left bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.

Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.

Part of this footpath crosses through a 'coto privado de caza' - a private hunting area. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time and is unlikely to be affected, but be sure not to deviate from the path.

Some of the path passes through areas where there may be cows. Cows will seldom take any notice of you but take care not to surprise them and pass around them with a wide berth.

Equipment

Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of the steep ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.

Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Ermita del Calvario

This hermitage, constructed in the early 1700s, has a simple single-nave and belltower design but in a striking location, atop a rocky limestone hill on the outskirts of Benaocaz.  A 15-minute detour up the hill also reveals a wonderful view overlooking Benaocaz.

 

Puerto del Boyar

This mountain pass is one of the highest in the area, 1,103 metres elevation, as offers a fantastic panorama overlooking the Boyar Valley. In winter it is popular for Spanish people to drive up to the mountain pass, as it is one of the most accessible places to see snow. It is only a short (100 metre) detour from the trail.

 

Benaocaz Museum

As discovered briefly above, Benaocaz has a rich history, from Neolithic caves to a Roman village to a Moorish town. The museum passes through each of these periods and at each stage explores the relationship between man and nature. Information boards and artefacts up to 100,000 years old help tell the story.

More information available here: https://www.destinationcadiz.com/culture/ecomuseo-historico-de-benaocaz

 

Food and Drink

You will reach Benaocaz after 11.5 kilometres, where there are a few options to buy food or drink and to refill water bottles.

Start

Plaza de España, Grazalema (828 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
36.758345, -5.365899
UTM
30S 288809 4070675

Destination

Plaza Alameda and Church of San Miguel, Villaluenga del Rosario

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km - Start in the Plaza de España facing the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) building. TURN RIGHT to walk along the main road towards the church. At the church tower after 60 metres, TURN LEFT to cross the zebra crossing (black and white road markings) and head down the narrow alleyway of Calle Mateos Gago. After 15 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON past the colourful church tower of San Juan on your left.

0.28km – BEAR LEFT as the road forks around a restaurant to head uphill through a No Entry sign. Continue along this road towards a third church.

0.43km – Upon reaching the church TURN LEFT to pass just below the steps and then after 10 metres, TURN RIGHT to head uphill, passing the church on your right.

0.59km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads to walk along Calle San José. BEAR RIGHT as this merges onto another road after 60 metres, opposite house number 87.

0.76km – Just before reaching an electricity substation and some bottle recycling banks and bins, TURN LEFT to leave the cobbled road and walk along the tarmac road. After 100 metres, TURN RIGHT to head uphill along the main road, immediately passing car parking areas on your left and right. Be sure to look over your shoulders to enjoy a final view to Grazalema.

1.30km – Once past a floodlit sports pitch and just before the road crosses the Rio Guadalete, TURN LEFT to pass through the gravel car park and cross a wooden bridge. Continue along this gravel footpath for 1.9 kilometres.

3.30km – As you emerge into a gravel car park, immediately TURN LEFT to pass the sheltered picnic area on your right, and follow the sign for Sendero Puerto de las Presillas. After 30 meters you will pass through a gate and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the rocky path ignoring a gap in the fence on your left. You can take a detour by heading uphill on the road for 100 metres, to reach a mountain pass (Puerto del Boyar) and enjoy a beautiful panorama – See ‘points of interest’ section.

You are now entering a private hunting area, 'Coto privado de caza'. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time and is unlikely to be affected but be sure not to deviate from the path.

3.60km – BEAR RIGHT as the path forks beside an information board. You are still following signs for ‘Sendero Puerto de las Presillas’.

4.20km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON past an information board, following the path across a lunar landscape of limestone pavement.

4.50km – As you reach a cairn (pile of rocks) with a wooden post directing you left to Grazalema, BEAR RIGHT to follow a trodden path towards a dry-stone wall. There is no signpost directing you this way. After 100 metres CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through the gate in the stone wall. There are lots of ominous ‘Finca privado’ (private farm) signs on the gate, but this refers to people hunting or bringing dogs. This is still an established footpath and walkers are permitted through.

5.60km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through crumbling drywall. The path continues contouring along the valley slopes with craggy limestone mountains on your left and the valley on your right.

6.90km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON following the worn grassy path as it passes the derelict farm building of Casa del Dornajo your right. As you reach concrete water troughs after 200 metres, BEAR LEFT to follow the mud path heading uphill. This path is vague with only slight wear, occasional cairns and fading blue marks to guide you; continue heading slowly uphill between the rocky outcrops and check the map regularly to ensure you stay on the correct path.

7.20km – With a large rocky outcrop on your left and a cairn on your right, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the mud path, ignoring a grassy path on your left. After 250 metres having just passed a gap in the drywall, BEAR RIGHT as the path forks, to stick to the more established path. Keep alert for blue paint and small cairns and check the map regularly.

7.60km – As you emerge onto a flat grassy area strewn with rocks and with a rocky outcrop ahead, BEAR LEFT to walk along a vague path, following the cairns. You will pass the large rocky outcrop on your right. As the path forks after 200 metres, BEAR RIGHT to walk along the trodden path, heading towards the distant dry-stone wall.

8.30km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through a gate in the drywall (though the gate may be open), and then continue downhill on the muddy path. After 400 metres, the path passes through a set of wide gates and continues heading downhill.

8.90km – With two dead, hollow trees on your left, BEAR RIGHT to pass through a gap in the dry-stone wall, and then walk downhill along the rocky track with the wall on your left. This turning is easy to miss so stay alert for the gap in the drywall and check the map regularly as you approach.

9.20km – The path crosses two streams (which may be dry) and then two sets of gates, 100 metres apart. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along this wider track, ignoring narrow side paths.

9.80km – BEAR RIGHT sharply to remain on the track and to continue walking with the stone wall on your right. After 200 metres having passed through a gate, the well-established track continues walking with the stone wall on your right, before bending left and heading away from it.

10.60km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the wide track, ignoring muddy paths on either side. After 300 metres the track will pass to the right of a metal farm building.

11.20km – At the picnic bench and small fountain, BEAR LEFT to continue downhill on the footpath, following the signpost to Fuente de San Diego.

11.30km – As the rocky path splits just before a whitewashed house, TURN LEFT and then TURN RIGHT to head downhill onto the paved road. After 200 metres with house number 8A on your left, BEAR RIGHT onto the downhill set of steps.

11.50km – From the bottom of the set of steps, TURN RIGHT onto the steeply downhill and cobbled slope. After 15 metres, TURN LEFT opposite house number 2. Remain on this road for 600 metres. This road will become paved and then pass below the Ermita del Calvario on your left. You can take a detour to visit the Ermita if you wish - there is a great view of the village and it takes approximately 15 minutes one-way.

12.10km – As you reach the T-junction, TURN LEFT following the sign to Villaluenga and Ronda. You have now joined the GR7 walking trail and resultingly the path is clearly signposted. When the pavement ends, walk on the left side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic.

12.60km – BEAR RIGHT from the paved road and onto the gravel road, following the sign to Villaluenga, and ignoring the sharp right turn to Ubrique. This road walks parallel to the paved road on your left. As the main tracks bends into a farmhouse after 50 metres, BEAR LEFT to head downhill on the rocky path, walking parallel to the overhead lines.

13.20km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the road becomes cobbled, ignoring a gravel road that passes through a gate on your right.

13.40km – As you reach a gravel road with a gate on your right, TURN LEFT. After 50 metres, at a junction with the main paved road, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross the road and find a steep footpath on the far side. There is a wooden post with a red and white marking to guide you.

13.50km – As you reach a cobbled road just before the paved road, BEAR LEFT. This footpath continues walking with the road on your right for 800 metres.

14.30km – As a section of metal railings begin on the right side of the road, and as the footpath on the left side fades away, BEAR RIGHT to cross over and find a path on the far side. At an information board after 100 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON passing through a gate. There are two gates side by side; choose the one on the right which the main gravel vehicle tracks pass through.

15.10km – As the worn vehicle tracks fade away, BEAR LEFT to climb the footpath that heads uphill towards the road. This path alternates between a cobbled track and a grassy footpath.

15.80km – TURN RIGHT as you emerge at the paved road, and walk along the footpath keeping the road immediately on your left. After 800 metres, TURN LEFT onto the uphill cobbled road signposted to Villaluenga del Rosario. Remain on this road for 700 metres, ignoring all side roads and following signs to Centro Urbano.

17.30km – Finish in Plaza Alameda by the Church of San Miguel. There's a cheese shop nearby where you can sample some local Payoyo Cheese!

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
17 km
Duration
5:45h
Ascent
706 m
Descent
662 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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