Frigiliana - Rio Higueron - Cruz de Pinto - Rio Chillar - Nerja

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The Parque Natural de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama is a magnificent tumble of unspoiled mountains, stretching over 35km from east to west and 20km north to south and almost deserted, save for the crumbling ruins of abandoned cortijos and shepherds' huts. It has a wonderful variety of scenery and habitat. The lower slopes are cloaked with forests of pine, evergreen oak, or open garrigue. The higher slopes are more alpine, with small, delicate flowers clinging to the rock. The highest peaks are sheer crags of bare rock stark against the sky. Rushing streams plunge to the coast, carving deep, shaded valleys and gorges between the mountains. Birds, butterflies and small reptiles abound, wild pig root in the scrub and ibex graze the slopes. This walk offers a delightful sample of this dramatic landscape, exploring two of the most beautiful valleys and the ridge between them, with extensive views of the surrounding peaks. It also provides the opportunity, particularly in spring, to enjoy wonderful displays of wildflowers and orchids, butterflies and birdlife.

We start from Frigiliana's Plaza del Ingenio, below the old molasses factory which was once the palace of the Counts of Frigiliana. Winding down through avocado and lemon orchards and road verges bright with crown daisies, purple bugloss and other spring flowers, we come to the Rio Higueron, here a tumbling mountain stream. We follow its course for a while, paddling in places, then climb out up a steep, pine-shaded ravine to an old ruined cattle pen, the Corral del Pinto. Our path now winds through scattered pines around the top of a couple of side valleys, across slopes thick with cistus, rosemary, Jerusalem sage, thyme and lavender, then climbs gently through a saddle to look down into the deep valley of the Rio Chillar. Climbing steadily across the hillside high above the river, through more flowering shrubs and herbs and with splendid mountain views to the west and north, we reach the peak of Cerro del Pinto, named after a 16th Century sea captain. Legend has it that Francisco de Pinto and his crew were caught in a terrible storm. In fear of their lives, the captain swore that if they were spared he would erect a cross in gratitude on the first land they sighted. As they approached the coast, this was the first hill revealed through the storm clouds and Pinto duly raised a simple wooden cross upon it to honour his promise. Later replaced by today's more elaborate shrine, it became a popular place of pilgrimage.

From here, all the major peaks of the Sierra de Tejeda can be seen, sweeping in a great jagged arc around the horizon, while to the south Nerja stands on the edge of a shimmering blue sea. Dropping down another steep, pine-clad gulley, the walk sweeps around in a long eastward curve to join the Rio Chillar, then follows its course to Nerja.

Spain - Southern Spain - Malaga - Axarquia

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Castle, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Great Views, Mountains, Play Area, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Sea, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland
03/04/2019 - Graham Barthorpe

The route is still quite straightforward to follow but the point where you leave the river some 600m downstream can now be readily identified by a large B&W sign marked PRIVADO etc. This refers to the land surrounding the walk and not the trail which passes in front of it. The red pinta marker is no longer visible. I agree with the stated distance and time.

08/05/2011 - Malcolm Watts

A good introduction to walking in the area. Route instructions are very clear and easy to follow, though keep an eye out for the exit from the stream bed. It is almost impossible not to paddle down the stream as there are fences and Privado signs along the banks. In low water, though, feet may stay dry. Pity about the litter by the shrine, but still a great spot.

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Distance away
5.6 Miles