Long Walk - The Rosemary Walk, Moderate, 9Km
Essential Equipment: Long Walk only- Walking shoes or boots, water or flask. For this walk I would also advise a simple first aid kit, sun block cream, waterproof and windproof jacket. The walk is at a high elevation and can be subject to rapid changes in weather. The high point is 3,300 feet, Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England is 3,210 feet.
Short Walk - The Mirador, easy - suitable for all, even wheelchairs, 3 - 4kms
Directions - Take the N340 to Marbella, take exit 185 (La Canada). Turn left at the roundabout at the end of the exit road, over the bridge and straight on at the roundabout where you would turn right for La Canada. The Refugio de Juanar is signposted ahead. Drive for 10 kms and then turn left onto a narrow road following the signs for the Refugio. Keep on this road as it winds into the hills until you reach the Refugio. Park on the right on a rough car park just before the hotel car park.
Start Point / Finish Point: - Refugio de Juanar - height 800 metres
From the car park walk back down the road you drove up for 600 metres. On your left you will see a gap in the wall and rough steps leading down to the stream bed. Follow this path as it crosses the stream bed and then climbs the ridge on the far side. Short steep sections are interspersed with gentle traverses so that you reach the ridge line about 1 kilometre further down the valley. The views north east towards the Sierra Nevadas are spectacular on a clear day. Look out for orchids and bulbs on this section.
At the top of the ridge the path doubles back on itself around the ridge, ahead and up, the shoulder over which you will travel opens to view. The path follows the course of a normally dry stream bed through gorse, broom, cistus and rosemary. Take a moment to stop on this section and just listen. You will hear the sound of thousands of bees on the herbs.
At the top of the shoulder, the highest point of the walk at 1012 metres, you will see two paths, one ahead and one climbing the ridge to the right. Take this one for about 50 metres to a grassy clearing ideal for a picnic stop. The views in both directions are superb.
Return to the 'junction' and turn right. The path follows the contour lines around the spurs of a ridge in a large loop and as it does so different vistas are seen between the mountain peaks ahead and on the left and right. The obviously pale mountain seen on the horizon here is Torricilla, the highest in the Sierra Bermeja. This is followed by a view of the top end of the Istan valley followed by views towards Los Reales above Estepona and La Concha above Puerto Banus.
After about 3 kilometres the path enters a section of water worn mudstone and sand that looks very like a beach. In fact it was a beach hundreds of thousands of years ago. Notice the rock strata is almost vertical. The whole lot has been pushed 1000 metres up from sea level to its present elevation by the force of the African continental plate pushing against the European continental plate. This process is continuing and these rocks are still rising.
The raised beach section takes the path across another small shoulder to the side of a ridge where you will find yourself winding through thorny bushes. Long trousers are useful here. I scratched my leg on one such section and when I got home I found a small tick like insect attached to the wound by its mandibles happily drinking my blood.
You will soon reach a path junction marked with a post with yellow and white bands. To the right is a similar post with a yellow and white cross on it. Do not go this way. Walk straight on and a very obvious track starts to descend towards an area of woods surrounding the refugio far down in the valley. The track hairpins down as you lose all that height gained earlier. You enter the woods and emerge opposite the car park.
From the car park, cross the small bridge to the road and turn right. Walk through the woods and up a couple of hairpin bends until you reach a set of gates across the road after about 500 metres. (For those with walking difficulty you can drive to here but get there early to ensure a parking spot.)
Walk though the gates and along a well kept, broad track. The track is deceptive, it is a very gentle incline that takes you up to about 1000 metres although you will not realise it - honestly, I will prove it. This takes you through olive groves and open land and has magnificent views across the valley to a high ridge. It is said that wild boar may be seen on this stretch.
The track bends gradually to the left and ahead you will see the Cruz de Juanar, the 1,182 metre high peak guarding the west side of the Puerto de Marbella. This is the valley and saddle above Marbella up which smugglers used to bring their contraband and is a very strenuous there and back walk.
Soon you will see, high on your left, a very realistic sculpture of a mountain goat. You may even see real ones. Beneath the goat is the mirador with fantastic views down to Marbella and the sea. Just before the mirador is another example of the raised beach seen on the long walk - see 1,000 metres high no problem. Retrace your steps to the car
© 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.