Rivers and Waters
The Guadalhorce is the principal river of Málaga, due to its 166 kilometres and the fact that it does not leave Málaga’s boundaries (Málaga’s other great river, which the GR also visits, is the Guadiaro). In fact, the Guadalhorce river cuts the province in half, receiving its waters from the Central Limestone Arch, the Vega de Antequera plains and the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range. Of course, the importance of this river attests to its other names, although no longer used; Río Málaga river and Guadalquivirejo.
During the Great Málaga Path walk you re-visit the river in the middle section at the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes when one of its tributaries, the Río Turón river, flows up to its source. Towards the end, it joins with the Desembocadura del Guadalhorce estuary, another Espacio Natural Protegido, (Protected Natural Area). In this Stage you can admire for a little while a few black poplars and ash trees, along a sparse water flow during the summer.
It is popularly said that the river begins at Villanueva del Trabuco, at the Fuente de los Cien Caños (Spring of One Hundred Spouts), which makes sense as it is a spectacular place. But following its course upstream to the slopes of the Sierra de San Jorge you can reach a spot, no less emblematic, the Puerto de Los Alazores, among unique rocky escarpments.
In the Dehesas of the central area of the walk, there are some small lagoons and slow waters, which are enlarged and topped-up with water for domestic livestock and wild game. The GPS referenced deep pond found at one of the high places along the footpath, is a point where water fi lters out from the underground aquifer.
The Hoz del Arroyo de Marín is an emblematic area, despite its size being little more than 600 hectares, it has been declared by the Diputación of Málaga an Espacio Sobresaliente con Protección Compatible. The aerial view of the Hoz (Sickle shaped valley) demonstrates the origin of its name as it is a pronounced, semicircular scar, with an average depth of 250 meters, levelling out at the northern end. The valley ends at the Huertas del Río; (River Orchards) where its course takes a turn to the west, towards the Peñón de los Enamorados, (Lover’s Rock) while Archidona town overlooks its eastern end.
In fact there are satellite images of before and after of the powerful storms in 2012. You can see the consequences of the abnormal water flow in the uprooted and dragged tree trunks, erosion on the most open banks and damage to the infrastructure.
Despite this, the area you will pass through has well maintained walks, beautiful riparian vegetation, not so much for the size of the trees but because of the diversity and density. To begin with the narrowness of the gorge is more evident (it is actually very narrow at the base) and the flood terraces are reduced to a minimum; but they are wider above, here allowing the installation of mills and orchards. Hoz de Marín used to house a mill on the Arroyo del Ciervo, Deer’s Stream, oldest and probably most curious name in the area.
Here the ash-trees abound, especially at first, along with many elm trees. The gall-oaks or Portuguese oaks, which are fairly scattered, reach the edge of the river. At the end of the walk, when the valley opens up, the poplar trees prevail.
The milky coloured water is typical of this stream, it is due to the unstable nature of the bank’s terrain (gypsum, clay and other Triassic rocks), because of this the stream does not contain fish but it does have other animals associated with water, especially amphibians, and forest ecosystems.
The most defining feature of Stage 12 is the presence of the dehesas and the section along Hoz de Marín river. The walk also leads through cultivated areas, pine woods, and scrubland which add interesting elements to this stage.
Stage 12 begins by taking you along the stream bed of Arroyo Cerezo, a stream which flows into the Río Guadalhorce later on, where the restricted riverside vegetation is pushed towards the riverbed by the farmland and where the following species occur frequently: White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, European Robin, Common Nightingale, Common Stonechat, Common Blackbird, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Common Linnet and Cirl Bunting, among others.
In the neighbouring farmland such birds as Red-legged Partridge, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Common Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola and Corn Bunting occur most frequently. In the area of the farm buildings you may see Common and Red-rumped Swallows, House Sparrow, together with Eurasian Collared Dove. The section following the spot where you must quickly cross the motorway, once you leave the road behind you, is a dehesa area of great ornithological value. Prevailing species are Common Wood Pigeon, European Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Tawny Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Pallid and Common Swifts seen as they mostly hunt insects here, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Green Woodpecker, Woodlark, Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, European Robin, Black-eared Wheatear, Common Blackbird, Song and Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Black-eared Wheatear, Blackcap, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrike, Western Jackdaw, Common and Spotless Starling, Spanish Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Common Linnet, Eurasian Siskin and Hawfinch. Some winter seasons you may see Brambling joining flocks of other members of the finch family.Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Spotless and Common Starling, Great Tit, In the patches of crop fields which break up the dehesa you may also see Common Kestrel and, still scarce in Malaga province, Black-winged Kite; in May 2014 there was a record of an adult with two chicks.
You will arrive at the Hoz de Marín gorge walking through an almond grove and then a copse of pine where you can find Coal Tit and start hearing the first Crossbills of the day. Also, there are the woodland species mentioned earlier. This is a spot of great beauty with well-preserved riparian vegetation where Azure-winged Magpie can be relatively easily found and where you will most likely hear, given their secretive nature, the Wryneck, Green Woodpecker and Golden Oriole.You will also be able to find Long-tailed Tits and, if you pay attention to the birds high in the sky, with a bit of luck you may make out the silhouette of the Bonelli´s Eagle; the area contains one of the few known nests in the province which have been built on a tree top. You may also see during Stage 12 the Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle.
Arriving in Archidona you will be in a good spot to watch Swifts; amongst them you will be able to distinguish the Alpine Swifts with their strikingly white bellies. In the patches of retama bush which line the path as it leads towards the end of the stage, larks, Sardinian Warbler and Corn Bunting occur most frequently.