From the golden beaches of Marbella, uphill to the Town of Ojén and through pine forest of Nagüeles in the Sierra Blanca mountains, this trail continuously goes up and down, and around Concha (Shell) Peak, from which the Rock of Giblartar can be made out.
The Stage begins at the mouth of Arroyo Guadalpín, at sea level, crosses Marbella direction north-west up to Pinar de Nagüeles and then skirts the southern margin of Sierra Blanca, mainly direction east. Therefore, the walk will be constantly cutting through ravines and streams that descend from the enormous limestone mountain chain into the sea and leading you through large and small cols and mountain passes.
The cumulative elevation gain is significant but the uphill sections are usually short. As far as anthropization (human influence) of the terrain, there are noteworthy sites where farmsteads and even horticultural areas could be founded because of the closeness to water. Special attention needs to be paid to the mining in these metamorphic mountains, its use of aggregates, and the abandoned el Peñoncillo magnetite mines which led to the installation of the mining railway of San Juan Bautista and the 300 metre pier at the Marbella beach used for loading and shipping of the mineral.
From the mining area onwards the path turns northwards, frequently leading in and out of the valleys of the eastern slopes of Sierra Blanca, already in Ojén. With the A-355 road always on your right, resembling an impassable frontier, but with the white village of Ojén increasingly closer, go up a hill with telecommunication antennas on top, from where the tarmac access roads to the village can be used to arrive at the end of the Stage.
Sierra Blanca is a very special mountain system, bearing great signifi cance for the Marbella and Costa del Sol inhabitants, up to the point where it was actually a local association intent on recuperating the numerous Sierra Blanca footpaths which took care of their promotion, sign-posting and improvement or focussed on clarifying any doubts surrounding the history of places the paths lead you to, i.e. Cilniana.
The GR-249 walker can also enjoy the surroundings thanks to the work of such volunteers, their work wholeheartedly appreciated by Málaga´s local council. La Red de Senderos de Sierra Blanca, the local network of footpaths, constitutes the first incentive for the walker, offering plenty of alternatives to climb the sierra´s summits or to go back down to the sea level.
Nevertheless, the strong contrast between the urban and tourist vortex of Marbella and the solitude of these mountains could be the most important treasures of stage 31. This solitude can be admired from various vantage points and cols which afford a broad view of the bay Bahía de Marbella and the Mediterranean in general, with the grey ridges behind you.
The starting and fi nishing points couldn´t be any more different. There is a signifi cant distance between cosmopolitan, exclusive Marbella and the cosy village atmosphere of the pueblo blanco of Ojén, though physically they are no more than 8 kilometres away. Ojén was one of the scenes of, and was largely affected by, the terrifying fi re which happened in summer 2012 in which more than 8.000 hectares were burnt. The last part of the itinerary leads through the burnt areas west of the road, which lets you appreciate the natural recuperation progress of the native plant life.