Suggested walks are between 5 and 6 hours long including stops for wildlife and lunch. The pace is never “competition style” as we walk not only for exercise but mainly to see new things. However it is almost impossible to accurately judge how long a walk will take for every single person. I have calculated the times having in mind an average walker who enjoys making short stops for wildlife, taking a photo or two and having a snack under a cork-oak tree. So, in fact, the walking time itself forms only part of our day out in addition to enjoying our environment. I do not walk to score points or set new records and the focus is on enjoyment.
None of the walks include hard scrambling, steep climbing or hard altitude gains. The terrain can vary between dirt tracks, stony paths, rocky fields, forest paths and meadows and I advise of that in the walk description.
EXAMPLE 1: LLANOS DE LÍBAR TO SIERRA DE JUAN DIEGO
This fairly easy 6 hour walk takes you to stunning mountain landscapes without having to climb hard or walk at high altitudes. We enjoy a peek to both sides of the Sierra de Juan Diego, the mountain range that divides the two villages of Montejaque and Benaoján.
This varied walk encompasses all that I love about the mountains around Ronda: the solitude of open spaces, patches of wildflowers, rich birdlife and mountain views. There are no hard climbs on this walk and it can be done by walkers of all ages and levels of fitness at comfortable pace. However, walking shoes are a must as we would be walking on rocky terrain. The reward for gaining just a little bit of altitude are superb views across the Líbar Valley.
There are ancient oaks, and a natural spring on the way is a hotspot for wildlife: Iberian and Common Chiffchaffs, Blue Tits, Subalpine Warblers, Green Woodpeckers and a score of other birds come to drink, bathe and have a snack, be it a tasty insect in the cork-oak bark or a hawthorn berry.
Ibex can be spotted in the surrounding mountain ridges and Griffon Vultures fly over low to get to the other side of the mountain chain. Black-eared Wheatears perch on rocks as you pass by and Redstarts show-off their rusty tails as they flitter just a few metres in front of us.
EXAMPLE 2 : AROUND EL HACHO PEAK:
This intimate little walk takes you from Montejaque to Llanos de Libar valley with its surprising rocky landscapes, through a low mountain pass to a lush river valley and back to Montejaque.
There is a very short climb at the beginning which can be done at a pace that suits one best: the surface is a wide country track. There is a very short part of the walk when we cross a ploughed field so walking shoes are a must. I also recommend wearing long trousers as there is a part of the path which can be overgrown, something that also makes the walk a bit wilder and more interesting. The major part of the trail is easy and the surface is even and comfortable with open spaces and lovely views. There is no mountain climbing or scrambling involved.
This is a walk where there is a very good chance of observing the rare Bonelli´s Eagle, as well as the more common Short-toed Eagle, the Griffon Vulture, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Subalpine and Sardinian Warbler, amongst others. Between January and April the Giant Orchid makes its appearance and from late March till June you can find numerous wild peonies.
The walk is frequently done by the local retired men who later gather in a little shack that they proudly call “Marina D´Or” where they have a few restorative drinks and then light a fire in the evening.
EXAMPLE 3: SIMANCÓN AND RELOJ, GRAZALEMA
The start and finish of this walk is in Grazalema village, a beautiful pueblo blanco famous for great walking, nature and ..food! This high difficulty walk is particularly interesting for walkers who do not mind gaining about 600 metres of altitude on comfortable paths with a bit of light scrambling at the top. There is an option of staying just below the peaks and enjoying the landscapes at the mountains pass below the summit of Simancón (1564 m). We start off at 930 metres and the climb is quite steady. You will need walking boots and walking poles for this walk. There will be walking poles available for those who do not carry their own (they do not quite fit in the hand luggage!).
The walk does not require a permit and does not “close” in June, though it is best to do this walk in spring, autumn or winter, excluding the hottest months of end of June, July and August or foggy winter days.
Time: 6 hours with a stop for lunch
As an option this walk can be done as a 7 hour circular.