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On the


        The Andalucían Coast to Coast Walk: an on-foot

        odyssey across southern Spain by Guy Hunter-Watts

        Twenty years ago, when hiking sections of the GR7, the idea of   Shortly before you reach the
        charting a walk across Andalucía linking the Mediterranean   railside settlement of Colmenar, the
        and the Atlantic began to crystallise in my mind. After months   trails lead past the deep gorge of
        of research and exploration, the magic line of the walk   the Cañón de las Buitreras where
        gradually fell into place: a 21 day, 430-kilometre trail that leads   griffon vultures ride the thermals above its plunging cliff faces.
        through seven protected parks and reserves and connects   Descending towards Colmenar, you pass idyllic rock pools
        several of southern Spain’s most beautiful villages. I have now   where you can take a cooling dip when hiking in the warmer
        hiked the trail five times and firmly believe that you could wish   months.
        for no better on foot experience if you’re keen to explore   Another day of wild walking takes you back to the Guadiaro
        Andalucía’s finest hiking trails.                   valley and the pretty village of Jimena de la Frontera before
        The walk’s early stages                             climbing to the hilltop settlement of Castillo de Castellar. Here
        Leaving Maro and the Med’ you skirt the southern flank of the   you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to overnight in the Castillo
        Sierra de Tejeda, Alhama and Almijara as you pass through the   Hotel, housed within the 13th-century Arab fortress, with vast
        subtropical valleys of the Costa Tropical. Beyond Frigiliana, the   views out across the surrounding countryside.
        trail runs beneath the mighty Maroma which rises to more than   The final section of the walk
        2000m. As you approach the western end of the Sierra along   The Bay of Algeciras, Gibraltar and the Moroccan coast are all
        narrow footpaths, the next range of mountains comes into   visible during the final days of the walk. Here you pass through
        view. Here you descend into the Chorro gorge where the   the southernmost reaches of the Alcornocales park with its
        walkway of the Caminito del Rey clings to a sheer cliff-side.  unique canuto ecosystem. After reconnecting with the Med’
        Two days west of El Chorro you reach the Parque Natural de la   just north of Algeciras you at last cross Tarifa’s narrow isthmus
        Sierra de las Nieves. Here you pass through wilder terrain as   to reach the Playa de los Lances and the Atlantic Ocean.
        fields of wheat, and olive groves give way to pine forest and   From here the final day of the trail hugs the ocean’s edge
        stands of gall and holm oak. After a long climb to the Lifa pass   where hundreds of kitesurfers will be cutting through the
        your next destination, Ronda, comes into view, a highlight of   waves. Crossing a headland, you reach the beautiful beach of
        the Coast to Coast walk and one of Europe’s most spectacular   Bolonia and its Roman ruins, the end point of the walk. After
        urban inventions.                                   430km of incredible coastal and mountain walking, you might
        On south towards the coast. Beyond Ronda, the axis of the   be tempted to celebrate with a chilled bottle of wine at one of
        walk swings south as you follow the eastern edge of the   the village’s beachside restaurants.
        Parque Natural de Grazalema. Passing through some of the   Guy Hunter-Watts has lived in Andalucía for 30 years. His latest
        prettiest pueblos blancos you reach the Parque Natural de Los   walking adventures include tackling via ferrata in the
        Alcornocales, home to one of the largest stands of cork oak in   Dolomites, exploring Slovakia’s High Tatra and climbing three
        Europe.                                             of Guatemala’s highest volcanoes.

          Featured              Guy is the author of Cicerone’s Walking in Andalucía, Coastal Walks in Andalucía, The
                                     Mountains of Ronda & Grazalema and The Andalucían Coast to Coast Walk.

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