Puerto del Collado to Venta Pradillos

5 hrs including good stops and half hour lunch.  
Start height  890 mts
Max height  1109 mts
Distance – Approx 8 miles or 13 KMs


 

This is a grand walk and goes up high on the tracks around the back of Cómpeta and above the Torrox river valley with amazing views down to the coast and on the right days to the mountains of North Africa.

You can start this walk at the parking spot called Puerto del Collado at 890 mts.  You get here from Cómpeta by doing the following.  Start at the Mirador by the Venta de Palma.  Walk or drive up the steep ring road around the back of Cómpeta, past a block of new apartments and then very sharp right up a steep concrete road towards Cruz del Monte Urbanization.  At the top of the road by a shrine turn sharp left and then after a few hundred mts turn right.  Up straight past the entrance to Cruz del Monte and then along about 1.5 km uphill all the way zigzagging up the forestry road until you come to the unmistakeable parking place with amazing views over the Sierra Almijara.  Park here.  You can also walk here from the top of Cruz del Monte along a great goat track but it  isn´t marked.  Forget the signs at Cruz del Monte that suggest the path or ´Sendero´ goes this way.  You can get to the same place but by a very long route.

OK – now take the steepest of the two tracks from the parking spot.  It goes northerly.  The roadway zigzags upwards for about 2 km from here with views that get better all the time.  You can drive up here and it is indeed an interesting experience.  You pass newly created firebreaks and places where trial bikes ply their trade.  Onwards until it levels out.  Just before this you get your last glances to the left of Cómpeta and its valley down to Torre del mar and onto Gibraltar and the Moroccan coast.  Then go on for about a km to reach the base of a large outcrop/hill/peak; a track down to the right marked with stones and a road that comes in from the left and goes on past the hill.  Two choices here – follow the road around the hill or go straight on up the ridge of the hill to the white fire observation hut at the top. 

This is Cerro Gavilán.  Once there stop and have a sandwich, fag or mars bar.  The views from this hut are unsurprisingly excellent.  At this point you are at 1109 mts above sea level.  This is higher than Snowdon in Wales or Scafell Pike in England. 


Once done with this great viewpoint. Go back down but this time go straight down the road made by the fire people.  Meet up with any of your party who took the road around this peak.  Then on, going north for another couple of hundred mts where the road veers off back to the left and downwards.  Here go straight on to the old Mule Path.

This path is steeped in History.  It is a part of the Mule trade route from the coast to Granada going back to the Moorish kingdoms of the 8th to 15th Century.  Goods came up the Torrox valley or up through Cómpeta and onwards over the Mountains at the Puerta Cómpeta into Granada. One of the few level parts of this walk where the mule packs could rest is along this track.  There are the remains of three old Ventas or inns along this track.  These were variously in use until the 1950s when they were used by the rebels hiding from the Nationalist forces of the Franco regime.  For  a great account of this see the book by David Baird ´Between Two Fires´.

 
As soon as you start on this track you come to a ruin on your left which is the first of the ventas – Venta Maria  Guerrero.  Onward on this lovely track for about 2 Km until you reach the second of these Ventas, passing an odd roundish hole in the ground which was probably either storage for the venta or a lime kiln.  The second Venta or inn is called Venta Pradillos.  There is a circle here formed of stone which is said to be a threshing circle.  Personally I would have thought it odd to bring wheat here to thresh and it is no sort of terrain to grow cereals.  More like the remains of a place to keep animals or even  a place to use donkey power for some purpose.  Whatever takes your fancy.

You can have lunch here.  This is where we turn around for this walk although you can go on and connect with a lower walk back via Casa de la Mina or walk down to Acebuchal or Frigiliana or even walk over the pass and up El Lucero-  Long walks all.
Go back the way you have come this time skirting the high top with the observation hut.  At the other side under a pylon there is a good spot to stop and sit and take in the views.  From here you can return to a car parked at Puerto del Collado the way you came or go down the goat track which zigzags in a SE direction down to casa de la Mina. The start is marked with a pile of stones.  A steep track but a good one with good views.  At the moment the Hotel at Casa de la Mina is closed so you can´t get refreshment there.  Pity.  Turn right at the bottom and walk along the dirt road back to Puerto del Collado. Another way if you are walking all the way back to Cómpeta is to take the other road here – the one that heads off in a general westerly direction.  After a couple of Kms there is a steep scramble down to another dirt road.  Turn left here and walk back to the Foorball Field from which you can walk around and down into Cómpeta .  A steep climb down to the bars of Plaza Almijara.