The longest part of the path is made of gravel trails in good condition, while some of the trails are old traditional paths, and one stretch of the route goes along the A – 373 road. At the beginning, you will walk south along the Guadiaro River, and over the bridge. Then start walking in the opposite direction, and walk up eastwards from the Siete Puertas Farm (The Seven Doors) to the Siete Pilas Farmstead. After this you will complete the circle by walking along wide forest tracks of the meadow, called La Dehesa (where part of the forest had been cleared, and pasture and crops for livestock were grown), up to the road where you can turn back.
If you follow the map and signs, there are other possible routes you can make, by changing or making this one shorter, but keep in mind that this route in particular will allow you to see most of the zone, and that it is rather accessible considering its length and elevations.
We also recommend travelling by train to the start point. Although this affects your organization as you depend on the train timetable, the trip is extraordinary because the train goes through the Guadiaro Valley, no matter whether you take it in Algeciras Bay or in Antequera. Cañada del Real Tesoro is a village created in the late 19th century thanks to the railway, and it is also known as Estación de Cortes (Cortes Station).
This is one of the best preserved landscapes of Malaga's countryside, and it does not even include the Sierra de Grazalema Nature Park, which is on the other side of the river and not on this west slope. Besides walking across the fields, farmland, forests and thicket by the river, you must visit the unique Siete Pilas Farmstead. The facilities of this farm are placed around a stream with man-made pools, creating a singular scenic setting. There are no lanes, but only gardens or folds for sheep or other livestock, which separate houses. To round off your visit, go to the only school-chapel that is still used for the same purpose, which was designed by Ángel Herrera Oria, a bishop form Málaga.
The Guadiaro River
This river has a large flow and, in spite of having a straight course, it creates some spectacular meanders, moving south-west, in the wide valley. The broad river basin of the Guadiaro, which rises in the Sierra de las Nieves, and heavy rains in this area turn this large Málaga's river into an impassable obstacle. Actually, there were boatmen who used to take people, goods and livestock on rafts connected by cables from one side of the river to another at Bujeo de Álamo Passage and Cañada del Real Tesoro.
Today, the main use of the river in this area close to the path is power production. It was diverted towards a canal at the dam, which generates power some 6 kilometres away in the Hydroelectric Power Plant Las Buitreras in the Town of Colmenar. On the other side of the dam, there is also the beginning of the Guadiaro – Majaceite Transfer, an underground tunnel which takes water towards the reservoirs that provide towns and villages in Cadiz with water.
Siete Pilas farmstead
The Siete Pilas Spring is placed on the way from Cortes to Benalauría, an important communication route which had been used to connect valleys in the area before the roads were built. Its origin is unknown, although we do know that it was named after the Pilas de Calabrina (the Calabrina Pools) or Calabrinca, a rest area for livestock placed around a spring and its drinking trough. Originally the spring had seven pools, which is why not only the water source but also the place in the Municipality of Benalauría was named this way. The pools were later renovated and seven more were added, so this is how they look today.
This whole area, where limestone slopes between the Genal and the Guadiaro Valleys get in touch with clayey soil, has been very important since old times because it has been plentiful source of water. The proof of the importance of water sources for this livestock and farming area, was the existence of the figure of the Mayor of Water up to recent times. They are also the reason of the strange shape of the Towns of Benadalid, Algatocín and Benalauría, which extend from other side of the mountain to this spring of the Guadiaro and the sources of the Fuensanta, Salitre, Almargen or Siete Pilas, among others.