Saturday March 12th Villanueva de Algaidas to Rute

Bit of adventure today. To be honest it's a good job Christine arrives tonight and not last night, not sure if she would have appreciated today's walk as an introduction.

Started ominously, the rain was pouring down. The hotel didn't do breakfast, in fact it was a just leave your key in the door and go hotel. It was 8 o'clock and all I had with me was an apple, a big apple, but an apple non the less.

It did stop raining after about fifteen minutes but that was when the first part of the "adventure" started. The walk to the first destination, Cuevas Bajas, basically involved going along the side of a river which in normal circumstances is dry - at the moment it's in full flood. Worse still there was a series of lateral streams draining into the main river which were also in full flood. The sides of these streams were incredibly steep but had to be crossed, and eventually the inevitable happened, the soft soil on the bank gave way and I slid down to bottom collecting vast quantities of mud and soil as I went.

The last picture is the bank I slide down, trust me it's a least 15 feet deep.

Arrived at Cuevas Bajas, not a big place, and rebuilt my stocks of chocolate, bananas and some very expensive dried apricots. I was covered in mud so did well to get anything. Cuevas Bajas has some lovely houses suggesting a wealthy past.

Amazingly it was now sunny and I was making great progress to Rute, which for some reason didn't seem so far away. There is an option of not going to Cuevas de San Marcos and taking a more direct path, no choice as far as I was concerned.

Having crossed the bridge into the village of Vadofresno (leaving the province of Malaga and entering the province of Cordoba) the skies opened again, didn't rain for long but very fierce and water everywhere.

Just when I needed the signs they disappeared. There were three route options. The first one seemed to take you back towards Vadofresno. The second one took you down a gulley and then along the side of a cliff next to the river. I could see, however, that part of this route had been washed away. The third took you up on top of the cliff and through the olive trees. My GPS was telling to take the second route but given it's partial none existence I took the third. It was a nightmare, the mud was just incredible, not only was I sinking in it to my ankles, it was sticking to my feet. It then started to rain again. I was also having to negotiate the same sort of deep lateral streams that confronted me in the morning. I guess it took about an hour to cover about half a kilometre but when I found a tarmac road with a GR sign on it, it was a great relief.

The rest of the walk was uneventful although the countryside, still full of olive trees, is getting more attractive. The route took me high above the huge Embalse de Iznajar, a reservoir but pretty nonetheless.

Arrived at the Hotel el Mirador at about 5 o'clock, 30 kilometres and some obstacles in 9 hours, so in the end not so bad. Trying to clean up a bit but the room is now a bit muddy I'm afraid, hair dryer flat out in an effort to dry my shoes.


  1. John. Having chosen that variant you will pay the price, the GR7 is so bad signaled that it will be frecuent to get lost. But as a premium you will pass interesting places like Priego de Cordoba, a big place for tomorrow, a very nice town. And also a mountain range called La Tiñosa and Pico Bermejo.
    Cheers to Christine.

  2. Sounds tough John. Hope you dry out OK. just be grateful you're not a gooner right now! i'm sure you're full of sympathy!

  3. Congratulations, John, with surmounting this ordeal! When you meet the same weather and mud in the French Jura in June, you will know in advance that you can do it! And be sure of unlimited admiration of your Christine ...
    But try to pamper her with a drier type of clouds, if you can!

  4. hello,
    this section is still difficult and partially not existing at all. I walk with a quite heavy backpack, so the arroyos, even dry, are/were a very serious obstacles. Too seriuos, so I gave up and went cross over the olive plantages to the tarmac road to Cuevas Bajas - the road was a rather quite one. My recommendation is to take the tarmac road from La Atalaya to Cuevas Bajas and not bother with the few still existing kilometers of the GR7.
    After Vadofresno the route you have choosen seems still to be the only alternative, unless one tries to walk from Cuevas de San Marcos to Rute, avoiding Vadofresno at all. But my map indicated a tarmac road again; it might be a good choice on a rainy day.

  5. The GR7 has now been rerouted between La Atalaya and Cuevas Bajas. It now goes to the East of the road, along a gorge, over a medieval bridge and up and down a little hill, the same route as pilgrims to Santiago take.

    John P