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Explore the coast of Andalucia with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of Coastal Walks in Andalucia
2 Aug 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm
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Coastal Walks in Andalucia

The best hiking trails close to Andalucía's Mediterranean and Atlantic Coastlines

by Guy Hunter-Watts
Book published by Cicerone Press

Over 40 half and full-day walks along Andalucia's Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. The guidebook features the best of the Subbetica range, nearly all walks falling within Natural Parks and Reserves, from Vejer to Tarifa on the Atlantic and from Estepona, Marbella and Mijas to Nerja and Almunecar on the Mediterranean. Year-round walking.

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A guidebook to 40 half and full day coastal walks in Andalucía. The graded routes, which are suitable for any reasonably fit walker, range from 6km to 19.5km and can be walked all year round. The walks are located in seven of the region’s most beautiful National Parks and protected areas (including La Breña y las Marismas, Los Alcornocales y del Estrecho, La Sierra de las Nieves and Níjar-Cabo de Gata) and are mostly circular in nature, negating the need for any logistical legwork.

Step-by-step route descriptions for each walk are accompanied by 1:50,000 mapping, together with information about points of interest en route. Also included is a useful glossary and route summary table, plus all the practical information needed to explore Andalucía’s coast on foot – equipment, safety, when to go, refreshments, accommodation and more.

The picturesque coastline of Andalucía is a walker's dream. Sandwiched between mountain and sea, walkers are rewarded with both dazzling mountain vistas and stunning seascapes. The sense of history embedded in these ancient coastal byways – which dates back to ages past – is an added delight, making the walking all the richer.

  • Seasons
    The coastal belt of Andalucía enjoys mild weather in winter, spring and autumn, while even in mid summer walks can be enjoyable thanks to the cooling influence of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Centres
    The area covered by this guide stretches from Vejer to Tarifa on the Atlantic Coast, and from Estepona past Marbella and Mijas to Nerja and Almuñecar on the Mediterranean.
  • Difficulty
    Walks are graded as: easy, easy/medium, medium or medium/difficult. Several of the walks involve some steep ascents and descents but the routes have been chosen so that all are within the capabilities of anybody in good health who walks on a regular basis. The guide contains a mixture of half-day and full day walks.
  • Must See
    A few hundred metres from the beaches of Andalucía's southern seaboard, the mountains of the mighty Subbetica range offer some of the finest walking in southern Europe. Mainland Spain's highest peaks, some rising to almost 4000m, are cut through by deep gorges while a series of high villages facing south to the Mediterranean serve as perfect walking bases.

March 2017

Walk 25, p169

The Casa Forestal is currently being restored and the text should now read: "Passing a signboard follow the track to the Cortijo de Jarapalos, currently being restored, and an arboretum where spring water is channelled down across its ancient terraces".


Seven coastal regions
Plants and wildlife
Andalucía over the years
Getting there
When to go
Eating out in southern Spain
What to take
Staying safe
Using this guide
1 Costa de la Luz
Parque Natural de la Breña y las Marismas
Walk 2 Las Marismas de Barbate circuit
Walk 3 Vejer de la Frontera southern circuit
Walk 4 Los Caños de Meca circuit
Walk 5 Cape Trafalgar to Conil via the Torre de Castilnovo
Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales y del Estrecho
Walk 6 Valdevaqueros circuit via Punta Paloma
Walk 7 Río de Guadalmesí circuit
Walk 8 El Pelayo circuit via the Torre de Guadalmesí
Walk 9 Río de la Miel circuit
Walk 10 Gibraltar circuit via Mediterranean Steps
2 Costa del Sol
Paraje Natural de Sierra Bermeja y Sierra Crestellina
Walk 11 Manilva circuit via the Utrera Gorge
Walk 12 Casares circuit via la Crestellina
Walk 13 Casares eastern circuit
Walk 14 Casares circuit via La Acedía
Walk 15 Pico Reales circuit via El Pinsapar forest
Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves
Walk 16 Istán circuit via the Infierno valley
Walk 17 Istán to the Río Verde and back
Walk 18 Istán reservoir circuit via the San Miguel chapel
Walk 19 Marbella circuit via Cruz de Juanar
Walk 20 Ascent of La Concha from Refugio de Juanar
Walk 21 Refugio de Juanar circuit via Los Cuchillos
La Sierra de Mijas
Walk 22 Mijas circuit via the Pico de Mijas
Walk 23 Mijas circuit via Puerto de Málaga
Walk 24 Alhaurín el Grande circuit
Walk 25 Alhaurín de la Torre western circuit
Walk 26 Alhaurín de la Torre southern circuit
Walk 27 Benalmádena circuit
3 Costa Tropical
Parque Natural de la Sierra de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama
Walk 28 Ascent of La Maroma from Canillas de Aceituno
Walk 29 Cómpeta circuit via Puerto Blanquillo
Walk 30 Frigiliana to El Fuerte and back
Walk 31 Frigiliana circuit via Cruz de Pinto
Walk 32 Nerja circuit via the Río Chillar
Walk 33 Maro to Frigiliana
Walk 34 La Herradura circuit via Cantarriján beach
4 Costa de Almería
Parque Natural de Níjar-Cabo de Gata
Walk 35 San José circuit via Monsul and Los Genoveses
Walk 36 Presillas Bajas to the Majada Redonda and back
Walk 37 Los Escullos circuit via San José
Walk 38 Rodalquilar circuit via Cortijo del Fraile
Walk 39 Las Negras circuit via El Playazo
Walk 40 Agua Amarga to Las Negras
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts
Appendix C Accommodation
Appendix D Glossary
Appendix E Further reading

Sample Route

Las Marismas de Barbate circuit
Start/finishCar park beside the A314 next to a sign for Sendero Marismas de Barbate
Time3hr 5min
AccessFrom the N-340 at La Barca, just to the east of Vejer, take the A314 towards Barbate for approximately 3km until you reach a sign ‘Sendero Marismas de Barbate’. Cut left into a parking area where the walk begins.

Since 1994 the flat delta at the mouth of the Río Barbate, Las Marismas de Barbate, has formed part of the Natural Park of La Breña. These low-lying marshlands, criss-crossed by water canals, streams and raised tracks, have a bewitching beauty and are home to a richly diverse flora and fauna.

This is one of the best places on the Atlantic Coast for birding: the marshes lie on one of the major migratory routes between northern and central Europe and Africa and are used by birds as a halfway house before and after the journey across the Strait. The birds, both sedentary and migratory, feed on the abundant molluscs and crustaceans of its tidal reedbeds and it’s easy to spot egrets, mallards, grebes and herons as well as several different warblers among the reeds and tamarisk.

The walk is particularly memorable early on an autumn day when the low-lying flora of the Marismas is taking on its autumnal colours and Vejer hovers above the early morning mist. Be aware that parts of the path can be waterlogged after heavy rain.

The walk begins in the car parking area between Las Marismas de Barbate and the A314. There’s a waste treatment plant to one side so you’ll be keen to get moving as quickly as possible. From the car park go through a small black gate to one side of a larger green one, next to a signboard Sendero Marismas de Barbate. Bearing right and adopting a southerly course you’ll immediately begin to spot all kinds of wading birds out in the marshes.

Reaching a fork next to a sign Parque Natural turn left along a track which cuts due east across the marshes for a little over 700m then, just before it reaches the Río Barbate, angles right and runs on close to the looping course of the river. From here there are fine views back across the floodplain to Vejer.

The River Barbate beneath Vejer

The track, bearing right, crosses a bridge and a cattle grid then resumes its course close to the river bank. After angling left and crossing another small bridge it reaches a viewing platform (1hr 15min) with a sign listing the most common birds in the reserve. The track crosses a cattle grid to reach a fork. Here continue straight ahead (unless you wish to shorten the walk in which case turn right) sticking close to the bank of the Río Barbate before reaching a fork just beyond a sluice gate which is to your right. Here cut right and head back to the western edge of the marshes and a group of factory buildings.

Crossing a cattle grid then a small brick bridge (1hr 55min) you reach a junction with a broader track. Turn right and head on towards Vejer. Passing beneath power lines the track arcs left then passes through an enclosure with a group of ramshackle animal pens, passing through gates at either end. Angling right through a grove of eucalyptus trees you reach a fork. Here keep right, sticking to your same course. Soon you pass over a cattle grid where you reach more open countryside.

The marisma’s rich flora and fauna are born of the interplay of salt water from the Atlantic with that of the Rio Barbate’s flood plain. Spoonbills, night heron and osprey are common sightings along with egrets, kestrels, and peregrine falcons. The marshes are also home to a huge variety of wading birds including avocet, black-winged stilt, ringed and Kentish plovers, dunlin and greater flamingos. The birds find rich pickings in the form of wedge clams, cockles and, closer to the ocean, mussels and prawns. Fish species inhabiting the marsh’s saline waters include sole, eel, mullet, bass and gilthead bream.

Spanish terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) in the reed beds

The track narrows down as it runs on between beds of reeds, still heading towards Vejer. Soon the track arcs hard right (2hr 30min) then once more left. Adopting its former course it passes through thicker undergrowth where there are stands of bamboo and mimosa. Crossing a cattle grid the track runs on to reach the junction where, earlier in the walk, you cut across to the eastern side of the marsh. From here retrace your footsteps back to the car park (3hr 5min).

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