Rivers and Waters
El Barranco del Acebuchal ravine is the fi rst watercourse you will cross, however in this area it becomes a completely dry, wide and walkable streambed. However, one of the reasons why there are settlements here, such as the Acebuchal Alto y Bajo, has been the existence of natural water springs in the area. At this point the only watering point is a tiny fresh water spring which forms a small puddle at Venta del Cebollero.
The major streams of the area are at the Cortijo del Daire, situated right on top of the ridge separating El Barranco de las Majadillas ravine, in the west, from the Barranco Moreno, in the east. The two streams you have to wade through are, in that order, Arroyo de Juan Rojo and Arroyo del Mirlo (on other maps the latterappears as Arroyo de la Zarzadilla). These streams shortly become El Barranco Moreno, where you can find a few surviving wild cherries. The stream crossing is done in a wide area along the track and it shouldn’t pose any diffi culties. Just as you cross the second stream you will find a footpath called La Cuesta de los Civiles.
El Barranco Moreno is adapted to practising canyoning; in this case the itinerary is not too complicated. The only challengeis posed by a 20 metre high waterfall in the main riverbed where you have to abseil. One of the accesses to the canyon, a little path, can be seen just as you pass Arroyo de los Mirlos. Another access option would be to pass El Cortijo del Daire, leave the GR and continue a little further until El Arroyo de las Majadillas, walk down the streambed to the point where it joins the previous stream. Here, at the headwaters and at this altitude, brambles reign over the watercourses, together with Oleander, rushes and a few willows. The lower part of the gully is slightly more open, mostly harbouring clumps of Oleander.
El Cortijo del Daire and other nearby farmhouses were able to survive in the past thanks to the plentiful water coming from springs in the high mountains. The kitchen gardens of Cortijo del Daire are still recognisable; they take advantage of an upper terrace of an old travertine waterfall. All the watercourses here flow down carrying carbonates and they tend to leave behind plentiful tufa deposits.
As you climb towards El Collado de los Hornillos, at km 17, you will see the water deposit for Cómpeta; this gives you an idea of how rich in aquifers the area is. The walk takes you along the pipeline and you can see the inspection covers.
Finally, the area of the old roadside inns such as Cándido and Los Pradillos, is rich in water sources, which are refl ected in local names but also in the presence of clusters of rushes and poplars growing in between the pine trees.
The stage starts in an urban environment which, little by little, gives way to a pine wood. The wood, varying in thickness, will keep you company along a large section of Stage 6. Streams and scrubland continue towards the higher areas of the walk and they also determine the type of birdlife, together with the sheer rock faces which support a wealth of rock-dwelling fauna.
The first section of Stage 6, after leaving Frigiliana, leads along the road lined with houses and copses of pine. Because of that, species such as White Wagtail, Black Redstart, House Sparrow and Starlings, which typically can be found in inhabited areas, share territory with the species more linked to woodland, including Common Blackbird, Common Chiffchaff, Great Tit, and Common Chaffinch. Along this first tarmac section of Stage 6 you can also find Eurasian Collared Dove, Common and Pallid Swift, Swallows and House Martins, European Robin, Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Coal Tit, Goldfinch and Serin.
Once you set off on the forest track leading to El Acebuchal, the true woodland begins, where, amongst the Aleppo pines you can see such species as Mistle Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotted Flycatcher and Greenfinch, together with Wren, European Robin, Common Nightingale, Blackcap, Cetti´s Warbler, Golden Oriole, Crossbill and Cirl Bunting as you get closer to the stream.
Past El Acebuchal you will be walking along a rambla, a dry streambed lined with oleanders and large pine trees where the predominant species are Common Wood Pigeon, European Turtle Dove, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Tit and Eurasian Siskin, though you can still see the forest birds mentioned above. This is the basic make up of Stage 6 birdlife until you reach higher altitude and open areas, where additionally you will be able to see Red-legged Partridge, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Swifts, Common Stonechat, Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike, Common Linnet and Rock Bunting.
Past the Cortijo del Daire there is a combination of large extensions of broom and scrub where Short-toed Lark and Dartford Warbler breed; this is a good spot to pay attention to the sky looking for raptors. This sierra harbours Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Short-toed and Booted Eagle, and in the cliffs and gorges carved out by the streams, Bonelli´s and Golden Eagle. You can also see Common Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon, generally close to the rock faces, where you can also find Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Raven. Watching these species in such rocky environment proves to be especially rewarding for a birdwatcher.
It´s worth mentioning the presence of other species though they might be difficult to see, such as Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Tawny Owl, Eagle Owl, Red-necked Nightjar and Green Woodpecker; in any case these are birds which are easy to identify by their call or song. As you arrive in Cómpeta you are once more surrounded by the typically urban-dwelling birds.