Grade: Short, 3 kms, but difficult due to the precipitous nature of much of the route. Do not do this walk if it is raining or threatens to rain. The cave at the end and the imposing scenery is well worth the effort. Allow 2 hours for the walk to give time for admiring scenery, plants and snails. The drive there is spectacular and will take about 1.5 hours.
Essential Equipment: Boots are essential. Waterproof and windproof clothing is recommended, the walk is at a high altitude. Take a basic first aid kit, water and food.
Directions: Take the road from Gaucin to Ronda. At Atajate turn left on a road signposted Montejaque and Benaojan. Drive past the Cueva de La Pileta, Benaojan and through Montejaque. The scenic Alegiciras to Ronda railway line is on your right in the bottom of the valley. Past Montejaque the road climbs fairly steeply onto a short ridge for about 3 kilometres where at the highest point on the left is a Junta de Andalucia information post and a dirt pull in. Park here.
From the car park there are two tracks, one at right angles to the road and one rather better track between, angling back and down. Take the better track. It soon bends to the right and you get your first view of the rugged gorge that you will descend. On the left is a ruined finca.
A short way further is a second information post at the edge of the first steep part. Ahead of you down in the gorge is a dam, built in the 1920's and intended to provide electricity through a hydroelectricity station. It never worked because the water drained away through sinkholes and karsts as fast as it was collected.
Take the path to the left of the information post as it starts to descend steeply into the gorge. Take time to admire the scenery, rugged and hostile, with large rooks nesting at the top of the crags. On this stretch keep your eyes open for orchids, particularly yellow ophrys and bee orchids and the large brown lipped snail.
The path soon becomes almost vertical down a rocky gully. There are plenty of hand and foot holds so don't worry. Just as you think it is easing off you reach a point where the path is washed away. Hang onto the hawthorn tree branch, I got rid of the thorns for you, and swing down. One further, short, steep section and you are at the bottom of the ravine. Whilst you get your breath back look around. It is awesome. Vertical rock faces on either side and ahead with the narrow path leading on.
Take the path and you soon reach the cave entrance in front of which is a concrete 'well' that gives access to a lower, wet, cave system. This area has established its own micro climate, moist and warm. As a result plants, herbs and ferns, normally knee high, are above your head. It is easy to imagine this prehistoric scenery with a dinosaur browsing on the herbs.
The cave is quite safe so long as you do not go into the further reaches beyond the point where daylight penetrates. This system does actually go right through the hill and emerges in a cave near Benaojan but is not passable without a guide, proper caving gear and diving equipment.
Return the way you came. Have the fittest person at the rear to assist those ahead up the steeper bits. It may not be a proper technique but as I found with Julie, a quick hoist from behind at the appropriate moment kept her going in the right direction, up. Not without complaint of course.
© Nicholas Craig Nutter 2004 - 2012. Nick Nutter asserts his rights as the author of this article and all associated images. This article and images may not be copied or reproduced in any way without written permission of the author.