The walk in Stage 4 leads down from the town of Torrox to the Nerja coastline. In the first 3 Stages the reference road was the N-340; here the walk follows the direction of the Autovía de Mediterráneo.
Maintaining perfectly its general west-east direction, the walk uses a traditional path called Cañada Real de Motril a Málaga. The Great Málaga Path follows this Cañada scrupulously, the only exception being sections where the autovía, the motorway itself, takes over the old path and is built on top of it.
The first obstacle you must conquer is the riverbed of the sizeable Río Torrox, which has been done since time immemorial using the two-arched bridge and then a river crossing at a fork where a small tributary joins the main river from the east. The itinerary leads up towards the vantage point between the Cerro Pastora and Cerro del Puerto hills, at 265 m of altitude, and then it skirts the southern slope of Cerro Pastora without losing height and follows dirt tracks.
The walk starts descending towards the A-7 again at the point where the surface becomes asphalted and there are the first housing estates. Here the GR takes you through its second river crossing (Río Seco). The long ramble along A-7 service roads eventually takes you underneath the motorway, crosses town peripheries, a stone´s throw from both Frigiliana and Nerja, and takes you across the Río Chillar. The length, the altitude gained and the type of surface used, mainly on wide tracks, makes Stage 4 quite accessible to the traveller. This Stage contains only a couple of steep slopes to overcome, one of them going up and the other going down.
El Puente de las Animas is a good example of a traditional road bridge which was placed in the best possible location considering the terrain and the destination of the road. It was built using local materials and has been very important to the village, even though its old charm pales compared to the brand-new, imposing road bridge which rises merely a few metres away.
Slate slopes surrounding Torrox in the east seem to be reclaiming their mountain status here, because of their altitude and their steepness. This feel is added to by Torrox river, a deep gash in the abrupt terrain. Subsistent agriculture, extensive animal husbandry and other types of exploitation have caused deforestation of the landscape throughout the centuries, though from time to time you can find a surviving example of the primeval cork and holm oak forests which used to thrive here. There is a shaded area between km 1.5 and 3 where the existence of such forests in the past is particularly evident. There is also a diversity of shrubs and fauna associated with them, especially birds.
The GR lets you visit for the first time along the walk, in a long section, the different types of cultivated subtropical tree plantations, from the extensive areas of irrigated land on the southern slope of the Cerro Pastor to the small terraced orchards where you find the ever-present varieties of avocados mixed with kiwi, custard apple, mango, papaya and loquat. This is a new industry which is taking over, as there is more water made available to irrigate the land compared to the times when only dry crops were grown. The old crops are still present; above there are long dry stone walls surrounding rows of olive trees, some almond trees and a few surviving grapevines. The entire Axarquía coast has witnessed this modifi cation of its landscape at the beginning of the new millennium with the exuberant greenness of foreign trees. These trees require high temperatures which are typical of Axarquía but they also require irrigation which involves intelligent management of water resources.
Ultimately, the walk takes you along the fi nal sections of the major rivers: Río Torrox and Chillar which flow directly into the Mediterranean Sea in the south, which may encourage you to get to know each one of their tributaries in the future Stages of the Gran Senda de Málaga. The mountain ranges Las Sierras Tejeda y Almijara, though seemingly far away, supply the very necessary water for human consumption and for the industry, mainly agriculture, using drainage channels running along forested mountain slopes.