Grade: Moderate, 13km.
Essential Equipment: Boots are a must, some parts of the walk can be slippery and muddy after rain, drinking water.
A varied walk on the ridges and valleys near Jimena, with a couple of nice picnic spots.
Directions: From the East - Take the N340 to Sabinillas and from the main roundabout take the road to Manilva. Go through Manilva following the signs for Gaucin. At Gaucin you reach a 'T' junction at the Bar la Cruz. Turn left here and a few metres further at a junction with the main Algeciras to Ronda road turn left. Stay on this road for 21 km until you reach a junction with a sign indicating Jimena to the right. Turn right here. Park in the car park at the bottom of the village the Bar La Tasca is on the corner of the car park.
From the West - take the N340 to Torreguadiaro and follow the signs for San Enrique. Follow this road through San Enrique and on past San Martin de Tesorillo. Carry on until you reach the 'T' junction with the main Algeciras to Ronda road. Turn right. After 16 km turn left into Jimena.
The Walk - Leaving the car park walk up Calle Larga, Bar La Tasca is on your right, turn hard left at Fuente de la Cruz into Calle La Vaca. Turn left at Chorro de la Calle. You will now see signs for the Artilleria de Carlos III, go down the steep road leading to the river. The path to the right to the Artilleria is ignored, stay on the road over the river bridge.
The Artilleria is an interesting diversion, built in the 18th Century to supply cannon balls to the Spanish Army. Many of them were fired on Gibraltar during the 1779 - 1783 siege. A canal, which is still well preserved, was built to power the bellows for the furnace and was then used to power a wheel at a flour mill. Unfortunately there is little left of the factory. The mill wheel last turned in 1964.
Once over the bridge bear right following the road up past La Higuera and right again climbing up until you see a track to the left leading to a farmhouse. 20m further you will see a gap in the wall on your right. There is a faint red splodge of paint on the wall here.
Go through the gap and head slightly to your right climbing up the hill heading for the wall of a ruined farmhouse above. Turn left in front of the farmhouse wall and then right to go behind the farmhouse. A few metres to your left and slightly above, you will see a track that you follow until it emerges at the top of the ridge. Looking into the valley on your right you will see Jimena and appreciate how high you have climbed in a short time. This section takes you through a mixed wood of cork oaks and eucalyptus. Keep a sharp eye out for the many small flowers alongside the path and the French lavender shrubs that perfume the air as you brush past them.
On the left at the top of the ridge is a perfect resting place on a group of flat boulders. The views are spectacular down to the Hozgarganta river valley and in the distance, Gibraltar and Africa. From here you may also be lucky and see vultures and eagles soaring on the thermals created by the ridge.
Carry on up the track along the ridge. This section reminds me of Yorkshire, typical limestone scenery, with the bonus of, normally, decent weather. It is also the highest point on the walk. You will soon reach a wire and post gate that you pass through. Ignore the tarmac road to the left keeping to the rough track. At the next intersecting track bear right. There is another red splodge on a rock at ground level. You may see cattle loose on this and the next section. They all wear large bells and you will certainly hear them down in the woods if you don't see them. They are the red cattle famous in this area and although they have imposing horns they are very shy. Even so I would keep a dog on a lead for a while.
Walk ahead past a metal chain and descend a long track that winds down through cork oaks and olives. You rapidly lose all the height gained earlier. It was on this section that we saw a bright green Stripeless Tree Frog sunning itself. As you can see it did not mind being photographed for this article.
As you near the bottom of the valley keep your eyes open for a large rock with a cairn on top. This is on the right of the track on a left hand bend. Leave the track here onto the path leading right towards the river. You will soon reach the river where the path peters out. Select a place to cross and regain the path on the left hand side of the river. After a few minutes you again cross the river and a few minutes later cross back to the left hand side. You will see here some massive boulders and the river forms a nice deep pool ideal for a dip on a hot day. On the left of the track is a man made wall merging into the hillside and down the valley you can see the castle at Jimena.
You will probably have noticed by now the large number of small frogs that jump out of the way as you pass, into pools near the path, or into the river itself. During the mating season, January, these small creatures make an indescribable noise, sounding just like a flush of ducks. As you approach they become silent, resuming when you are past.
Just past the wall on the left is the start of a cobbled path. Take this path and you will soon see a ruined mill on the right.
The mill is interesting, having a holding pool behind and a system of channels and sluice gates that controlled the water flow to the two channels that powered the wheel itself. These two feeder channels are typical of Spanish mills and I have not seen the like anywhere else. I suspect the wall mentioned earlier was part of the aqueduct that fed the holding pool high above the river. In the depths of the mill are still some mill wheels and remains of the iron mechanism and paddles off the water wheel. The stones are actually concrete bound with iron so must be of relatively recent origin. Below the mill are the arched chambers into which the flour was fed into sacks for the mules to take away down the valley.
Continue down the path as it takes you to the river below the mill. Cross onto the right bank and follow the obvious path as it follows the valley above the river, between large boulders, until you reach the point above the confluence of this river and the Hozgarganta. High above and ahead is Jimena castle. Ahead is a post and wire gate. Go through the gate and turn right to a fence. Follow the track alongside the fence, keeping the fence to the right until it turns sharp right up the hill. At this point bear left on the path that soon brings you out on the track up which you toiled earlier. Turn left here, across the bridge and retrace your steps through Jimena to the car park.
© 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.