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.