Ubrique to Ronda

Today's trip from Ubrique to Ronda was an amazing walk, the best so far. Still the effort made beer in the bar across the road from the hotel taste extra good. The longest day so far, started just before eight and finished just after six, I covered 37 kilometres and climbed 1400 metres.

The walk had everything. It included four pueblo blancos and went from one side to the other of Andalucia's first natural park, the Sierras de Grazelema. Despite looking like it was going to rain, and this particular area is apparently the wettest in Spain, it stayed dry all day.

After leaving my overnight accommodation in the dark, dropping my key of at the police station, I joined locals who were filling their water bottles at a Roman fountain at the edge of the town. Roman water was absolutely the right thing because for the next hour I walked the Cazorla Roman, a largely intact and original roman road, climbing 600 metres up to Benacoaz. Starving by the I got there I had a huge and delicious dried ham sandwich with a cafe leche. The Roman road and the antecedents to the sandwich are shown in the photographs below.

Villaluenga del Rosario, which you get to after steady 4 kilometre road walk, is a picture post card pueblo blanco, and given the size of the car park just beyond the village must be very crowded in the summer. The view shows the village nestled underneath the massive 1395 metre Navazo Alto.

Climbing up out of the village, and heading southeast, you get off the road and onto an 18 kilometres series of trails taking you all the way to Montejaque. This is great walking. The best thing for me were the two huge dry valleys, the first one which you crossed and second one which you walked along, both with wide flat bottoms and with almost vertical cliffs on each side. Easy walking, although something approaching a scramble as you climb a pass to cross the ridge separating the two valleys. The last bit of the walk was classic limestone scenery with 1000 metre cliffs squeezing the valley on either side. To add to the show large numbers of griffon vultures, I counted 20 at one point, were hovering above, watching perhaps the huge flock of sheep just released by the shepherd who seemed to live in a cave at the bottom of the cliff.

Thought I had taken a picture of a griffon vulture, but now I think it might be an eagle, lovely white head.

The limestone scenery came to abrupt end just after Montejaque, the third pueblo blanco on the route, and the next valley, in front of Ronda was particularly deep and wide. Involved a long and painful walk down, crossing the broad gauge line from two days ago, and then up again to Ronda. It had been an amazing walk but I had absolutely nothing left in the tank when I got to my hotel (Hotel Polo) and I got the lift up to my room.

A couple of bits of news.

Met my second walker today, Ron from Colorado, the home of Osprey bags. He was plugged into an IPod, so it's not just me. He is also a serious light weight walker and makes some of his own gear. Like my first walker Juan, he was another nice guy and kindly took picture of me.

The second piece of news is that the missing underpants have turned up. They were in the bottom of rucksack. Given the role they are currently performing I can understand why they wanted to hide, but it's not fair on the other three pairs, so they are now back on active duty.

Also special thanks to Ivan and Sue, both for your kind comments and for your generous sponsorship. It really is encouraging.

Getting to Ronda is perhaps the first milestone. After five days walking averaging over 30 kilometres a day, I'm now out of Cadiz province and into Malaga, a bit knackered but now I have some shorter days to look forward to.


  1. Good John. So you ran into that wonderful scennery of the karst in its virgin state. Also the divine Ronda woth a days rest.
    Have a nice day dear friend and enjoy the southern Spain.

  2. Great reading your daily dispatches - I.ll pass the link on to cousins Chris Penny and Rowena. Best wishes William Sergeant

  3. Loving your stories. Still not quite sure why you got into, or were put into, a police van. Here's something to look forward to on your return, apart from seeing your family and friends, I have just read that the BBC have bought another series of The Killing

  4. John
    Very relieved to hear about the underpants but does four pairs really constitute lightweight hiking?
    I would like to join you somewhere on the Lodeve to Villefort leg. Unfortunately I have a commitment on 22 June so as soon as possible after that. But let me know if anyone else is scheduled for then as I am sure you would like to spread your supporters out.
    Fiona and I walked the Stevenson Way on our 'honeymoon' - though as you will remember, Fiona was about 5 months pregnant with Hannah (the Hayes's have always pinched our names as my mother would readily point out).
    RLS kept a journal of his walk, which is published and provides a much more interesting guide for walkers than 'Travels'.


  5. Hi John,

    Enjoying your thoughts and the countryside looks wonderful.

    As for the chocolate, the label syas Postres which means dessert or sweet ans underneath sayd easy to melt. No wonder it tasted strong, it was for cooking.

    Good luck, Christine (Pego)

  6. Sounds like a great day's walking. I'm enjoying your blogs. I particularly liked the tale of the missing underpant.

  7. Hi John

    Just wanted to say I'm enjoying reading your blog and seeing the photos. I'm glad the bad weather didn't last too long. You seem to have been doing some pretty hard days, so hope you get the chance of some recovery days before too long. Very best wishes.

  8. So glad you found those underpants - one less thing for you to worry about - just the weather and the chocolate! Great blog - sounds amazing. Vicky

  9. John, your right two is the light weight walking number, and 3 socks, always changing the left one. Look forward to joining me in France

  10. Hi John, sounds like a great walk, daily distances sound impressive! will have to up my training to keep up! eastern pyrenees have not had much snow this year you'll be glad to hear and by May should be clear.