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Jimena de la Frontera - Raptor Valley, the Jimena Horseshoe Walk

Raptor Valley, the Jimena Horseshoe Walk Jimena de la Frontera Andalucia

Location: Jimena de la Frontera

Start and Finish: Parking area 200 metres south of the camp site, towards Jimena de la Frontera.

How to get there: If you enter Jimena de la Frontera from the north (from Gaucin direction) turn right off the A405 (Algeciras to Ronda road) along the C3331 (signposted Ubrique) drive 1 kilometre to a crossroads and turn left. The camp site is on your right and there is a parking area about 200 metres further on your right. If you approached Jimena from the south (Algeciras side) turn left off the A405 at the old electricity generation plant and drive all the way through the village on the main road. As you leave the village you will see a parking area on your left.

Distance: 10 kilometres.

Difficulty: Moderate. Some fairly steep walking at the beginning and the end.

Essential: Boots, waterproofs, food, water.

General Description: The route follows a well marked track just below the top of a ridge to the north of Jimena through cork oak woods in the Alcornocales National Park. The views are superb on a clear day down the valley to Gibraltar and the mountains of North Africa, east towards Los Reales and north towards El Hacho, Gaucin and Crestellina.

Leave your car and walk down the road. The residents of Jimena take pride in their village and this shows in the gardens and roadside plantings of colourful shrubs. One house has a magnificent peach coloured Thornapple (Datura stramonium) overhanging the road. The wild version with its white flowers is widely naturalised. Notice the fountain as you leave the village. The track to your left up a small hill leads to a monument and shrine that is beautifully kept. Continue down the road past the campsite on your left to a road junction.

Directly opposite is a cobbled track signposted GR7 Ubrique. Take this track as it takes you reasonably steeply up the hill. The cobbles finish but you carry straight on between two fences on a still clearly marked track aiming for just below the top of the ridge ahead.

You will emerge at a metal gate. Go through the gate onto a track crossing from left to right. Directly ahead is another large metal gate (normally closed), which is the continuing way to Ubrique. Ignore this and turn right through a large metal gate (normally open) on a broad earth track.

To your right you will be able to see Jimena and on a clear day beyond, right down the valley of the Rio Hozgarganta to Gibraltar but keep your eyes open for the raptors that take advantage of the thermals above the ridge. You are almost bound to see large numbers of Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus). This area is also home to much rarer Imperial and Royal Eagles and any number of the smaller raptors including the areas smallest vulture, the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). Unless there has been recent rain this upper part of the walk tends to be dry and plants struggle. However at this time of year you will see the cheerful yellow flowers of the spiny gorse (Ulex europaeus) and the occasional Tolpis (Tolpis barbata) with its bright yellow petals and cushion of dark brown anthers. The daisy family are also well represented with the delicate and elegant lemon coloured locally called Pan de Conejo (Rabbits Bread - Andryala integrifolia) and the Annual Daisy (Bellis Annua) that seems to flower in the most inhospitable places.

Continue on this track as it follows the contours just below the top of the ridge to your left. As you proceed you will head ever more north and the views open out to the east across the valley of the Rio Guadiaro and to San Pablo de Buciete, and eventually, the north as you swing around the spur of the ridge watched by the ever curious horned cattle that roam freely across this hill.

Jimena de la Frontera

Along this stretch there are a few Strawberry trees, locally called Madrono, (Arbutus unedo). The bright red fruits that really do look like strawberries are edible but they are quite hairy, small and lacking in flavour. You will eventually reach a fork in the track, bear right here and carry on north for a short way into the head of a steep valley. The path then swings sharply right and starts to descend with Jimena just visible ahead. You will then reach a metal gate with a style on the left. Unfortunately at the time of writing (November 2007) the style had rotted and was unsafe however there is room to scrabble under the gate. Turn right and continue on a good track through an open rotting green metal gate and then, as the countryside opens out, over a cattle grid. This next stretch, if it were green rather than brown, is very reminiscent of the limestone South Downs in the UK. It was on this stretch that we found a plant that only grows in meadows behind the Costa del Sol, it is a member of the geranium family and is known locally as Ronda Cranesbill (Geranium malviflorum). It resembles the Meadow Cranesbill that is rare in our area, except with lilac flowers and more deeply cut leaves.

An obvious track leads to a cortijo to your right and you bear left emerging at a crossroads with a road ahead taking you steeply up into Jimena.

Follow this road into Jimena until you reach a cul de sac sign where you turn left and walk up onto the main street. Turn right and a couple of hundred metres later arrive back at the car parking area.

Articles and Stories

Los Alcornocales Parque Natural

Places to Visit

A Reconquest Village

Walks in Andalucia

Aljibe, above the Eagles
The Mill Walk,
The Walk to the Mirador Asomadillos and the River Hozgarganta

© 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.

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