Towards the Aldeas del Acebuchal and Venta del Cebollero
Having walked the inevitable stretch of the road, take a downhill track which passes through the Paraje de Cuatro Caminos and descends towards El Acebuchal. Pass by a house where a tiled mural tells a story of an orphan who was buried alive, with a gruesome description of her remains which were taken to Vélez Málaga.
The history of the two farmsteads, El Acebuchal Alto and Acebuchal Bajo (Upper and Lower Acebuchal) is very much connected to water and the gardens which make up 3 hectares of cultivated land, both on Cómpeta´s side where the houses are, and on the side belonging to Frigiliana.
The progress of the local population has been very much connected to the Camino de Granada, suggesting that the mule drivers and the “service stops” along the way which tended to them, may have triggered the settlements here. There are information panels in the area which tell the story of these mountain inhabitants and the Maquis (guerillas who fought against Franco) also the story of the depopulation caused by the Civil War.
Having walked for almost 8 km, at El Acebuchal, take a narrow path uphill following a streambed most of the time, sometimes taking in and out short-cuts. In the shade underneath Aleppo Pines and a few fi rst Maritime Pines, there is dense underbrush of large gorse bushes and Rosemary. Here you can find unusual plants such as Anthyllis citisoides and Ononis speciosa with Bupleurum fruticossum growing close to the ruin of a threshing circle.
The highlight of this section is the Venta del Cebollero or de Jaro, very close to beehives which have been installed here to take advantage of the dense rosemary bushes growing in the open areas. The “venta” was positioned before the climb along the Camino de Granada (these inclines do not cease until Venta Panaderos on the other side of the sierra, in Granada Province). They used to complement the hospitality services by working in the vineyards, whichsurrounded the venta in those times. Apart from the afore-mentioned water sources, other unique features are the architectural elements of the Ventas and other nearby buildings, which seem to go back to much earlier than the 18th century they have been dated to.
There are good examples of rammed-earth walls with putlog holes which can be seen very well from the outside, a frequently used andalusí (Andalucían-Moorish) technique very well suited to these dry environs.
Dirt Track Network
Starting from the venta the dirt track network truly begins. The one that the Gran Senda de Málaga follows, climbs up to the Puerto de la Páez Blanca pass (750 m), leaving the Cerro Verde hill to the left. This is a place of bloody skirmishes between the Guardia Civil and people who sought refuge in these mountains after the war of 1936. You will notice enormous Maritime Pine trees which stand out in the landscape; they have escaped forest fires unlike some previously walked areas. Also worth mentioning are centuries-old grapevines.
In general, the dirt tracks in the area climb from El Acebuchal, circle the rugged western slope of Cerro de las Tres Cruces, skirt half the slope of the Cortijo area and the southern face of La Loma del Daire. Then they pass on both sides of El Cerro Gavilán, heading for Cómpeta, as they descend from the east and west side of the hill. The GR-249 uses the dirt tracks only up to Cortijo del Daire, a farmstead which has a defi nite Andalucían-Moorish feel.
Along the dirt tracks there is a notable elevation gain between the Cerro de las Tres Cruces until the ravine El Barranco Moreno. There are spectacular views towards the mountain cirque where the valley begins. Halfway between the pass and the farmhouse you should stop to admire the impressive dry stone walls which support the dolomite sandstone and are true works of great craftsmanship. These walls harbour Viola arborescens growing in between sparse Rosemary bushes. El Cortijo del Daire dominates the broad valley from its privileged vantage point. There are some quite large caves on both sides of the Cortijo however they are somewhat diffi cult to locate, one of them lies underneath travertine limestone. Beneath the house, the terraced farmland still shelters a few surviving walnuts, pomegranates, fig trees, and wild olives. Currently there are also a few beehives.
Towards el Collado de los Hornillos and La Cruz de Canillas
This is the wildest part of this stage. Starting from kilometre 16 marker you leave the forest track behind and walk on a path which climbs the white sandy slopes and dolomite ridges covered with dense Rosemary and Gorse bushes, recuperating after a fire which ravaged these slopes not that long ago. Ignore some footpaths to the left (towards La Loma del Daire) and to the right (leading to a water reservoir and to Lucero) and continue until you reach Puerto de los Hornillos, where there are splendid examples of surviving Maritime pine trees, giving you an idea of the original aspect of the mountain slopes. The mountain pass is the highest point of the itinerary and you start descending using a ravine which twists southwards. On the right you will pass by paths to Puerto Blanquillo and Puerto de Cómpeta. The latter is an important landmark along the Camino de Cómpeta a Granada.
The GR will be following a part of this Camino from now on. At another junction, a little lower down, there are the Ventorro de Cándido and Venta de los Pradillos, remains of old inns which prove that you are following the old transit path for people and animals. This doesn´t seem to have been so long ago when you are passing by lime kilns and inns such as the one called De María Guerrero. Between this house and other Ventas there is an outstanding, enormous Maritime Pine tree, majestic looking amongst other incipient young trees.
To the east you will see far in the distance another signifi cant watercourse called el Arroyo de los Pradillos. It’s worth mentioning that there is a view point at this stage, which lets you visualise the whole itinerary from Puerto de la Páez Blanca with Barranco Moreno between the two points. Following the track southwards arrive at Casa de la Mina and its hotel. However, the GR passes on the other side of the ridge.
From La Cruz de Canillas to Cómpeta
As you walk over the pass of La Cruzde Canillas (having covered 22 km up to this point), the views are equally beautiful: towards the west, then to Sierra Tejeda to northeast and of Játar in the north; all are impressive. From the many forest tracks choose the one west of the watershed and towards Collado Moyano, leaving on one side the access to the fi re fi ghting observation point in Cerro del Gavilán. The Maritime pine wood you’re walking through is particularly lovely. Its appearance is a result of having withstood inclement weather, winds and thunderstorms as well as poor, insuffi cient soil, animal grazing and forest fi res. Unlike trees in planted forests, here each specimen is unique in shape, not very tall with gnarled trunk, thick bark, twisted branches; the trees resemble larger-scale bonsais.
There have been attempts of abating the desolate feel of the area by planting more pine trees, with varying degrees of success, and you can see the protective tubes around the small trees as you walk along the track. Except for a short section of a narrow path, the walk downhill towards the drinking water deposit for Cómpeta and a football fi eld is done along a track, surrounded with Esparto grass, Dwarf Fan Palms and Lavender. The fi rst houses of Cómpeta come together at the square called La Plaza del Carmen, where Stage 7 is completed.