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Last week Sharon and I followed in the footsteps of Spain’s King Alfonso XIII.

The king (el Rey) perambulated the 5k long walkway/boardwalk, which hangs on the sides of a river gorge, in 1921, quite a while after it had first been constructed to allow access to hydroelectric power plants situated along the way. Although the construction was completed by 1905, the king:

“…crossed the walkway in 1921 for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce, (which is at the north end of the walkway) and it became known by its present name (The King’s Little Pathway)” (1)

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We’d heard of it before, but never really took any notice until last year, when my brothers and their wives accompanied Sharon and I to Ronda, by train (2). It looked remarkable, so Sharon and I set about trying to fix a date to complete the walk ourselves. We’d looked at doing it last January – but were too late to get ourselves a booking and at Easter, we were just too busy – until again we were too late.

IMG_0558The walk costs around €10 each and YOU HAVE TO BOOK a starting slot.  Timetables are available on the website (3). These are currently being updated, but I believe they were in half hour slots from 10:00am. We’re told that you can just turn up at the kiosk, but for all sorts of reasons, I wouldn’t risk it.

The pathway is one-way, going north to south and parking can be found at both ends – although beware, there’s not a lot of parking.  At the north end, there is a small group of lakes – the Guadalhorce-Guadalteba Reservoirs, around which cafes, hotels and other recreational activities have been established. This is where you begin your walk.

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“The actual entrance to Caminito del Rey is either 1 mile or 1¾ mile from the road, depending on which route you take.  There is a car park of sorts but it does not have the capacity that this attraction requires.  Cars are abandoned all the way down the road leading to the lakes.  There is a walkway that heads out towards the Caminito ‘entrance’, which starts around the side of El Kiosko restaurant/bar, under a short tunnel (with cars parked along it) and then through the woods and along a winding forest track that covers some stunning views. Another entrance begins closer to the main car park – via a pedestrian tunnel.” (4)

There is a bus service that shuttles walkers to and from either end of the walkway. For example: If you arrive by train at El Chorro railway station, close to the southern entrance, you can catch the bus right outside the platform. 15-20 minutes later it drops you outside El Kiosko (northern entrance), so you can begin your walk back to the station. However, do beware – there are not many trains per day. (5)

The bus also stops at the entrance to the small car park by the Mirador Restaurant.  So, if you’ve parked at the north and walked all the way to the south entrance – the bus will bring you back to your car. The bus cost us €1.55 each.

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The walkway itself is probably less than 5k in length but overall, expect to walk 8-9k, with the extra walks to and from each entrance.

None of it is strenuous, other than you needing a head for heights.

Unlike days gone by, when unfortunate people died whilst attempting the route as it began to decay, the walkway is perfectly safe and staff patrol it all the time in case of incident. Half way along, there is a fairly lengthy stretch of normal walking – so it’s not all hanging boardwalks and scary stuff. This area would be a good place to stop and maybe have a small snack. Our photographs don’t really do it justice at all. The colours are more magnificent (and we went on a day that was overcast), the views are much ‘closer’, much higher and much deeper. It really was worth the hour or so drive to get there from Fuengirola and the parking problems (actually, we did ok for parking because we arrived about 09:45am in plenty of time for our 10:30am booking).

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They don’t allow umbrellas and a guide seemed to be asking someone why he’d brought sticks (I don’t think they are allowed either – they’re certainly not needed).  Everyone is issued with a hardhat and sanitary head cover.  You need good strong footwear, some water (the amount depends on the weather I suppose) and possibly a fleece or lightweight rain coat if walking late/early in the year.

There are toilets at the IMG_0560northern entrance, so if the coffee you had at El Kioski has worked its way through by the time you reach the entrance barrier, don’t worry. If you see groups of people milling about – ignore them: look for an official, get your ticket scanned and follow instructions. What we didn’t know was that the people milling about were parts of organised groups waiting for their time slot – get past them, they are like cats being herded.

It’s not a long walk, you don’t need lots of food or drink. Judge your water needs on the weather and take a small snack (we took a couple of tiny pastries each) to keep you going.

We were advised not to bother with photographs and to soak it all up as we walked instead – and to be honest, I wish I’d heeded that advice. When I go again, I will not take my camera – I will feel the moment.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caminito_del_Rey

2 https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/hermanos-y-cunadas/

3 http://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/

4 https://dsugdenholidays.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/a-day-out-ardales/

5 https://www.rome2rio.com/s/M%C3%A1laga/El-Chorro-Andalusia-Spain

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I took advantage of an unusually dry day today,  to take a bus up to the top of Varley Road (I wasn’t walking up; it’s too steep, too busy and there are no footpaths) and I then walked along Chain Road (B6107) to Marsden.  The views from up here are tremendous and now that we’re a good way into August the heather is beginning to populate the hillsides and tops.  Along with the purple thistles, and other pink/white flowering wild flowers – the colours are just beautiful.

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There is a slightly higher route, on Marsden Moor proper, alongside the water channels originally designed to move water to and from Deerhill and Butterly reservoirs, but I fancied the road route as I would return to Slaithwaite along the canal.

The canal was wet and muddy after all the rain and in places, showed signs of having been flooded at some point. Still the rain stayed off and I had a pleasant five-mile walk.

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When the weather is nice here in the UK, we can experience the most wonderful scenery. From where we live, rugged countryside is never more than a few minutes away.

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This was the final weekend that my brother and his partner will be with us, before their return to Australia.  They fly out on Thursday and return home via a short stay-over in Dubai.

Their first weekend with us was the Jubilee weekend and lots of ‘stuff’ was going on. One of those days we heard noises (music) which appeared to be coming from across the valley, so Andrew and I set off to see what it was. When we got there (across the valley) we realised that the noise was coming from our side of the valley – the side we’d set off from (doh!). In fact, the music was coming from a couple of houses in the bottom of the valley – but the point of telling the story is that whilst we were trailing about Golcar Andrew noticed the Golcar Ginnel Trail  signs. I’ve catalogued my own sightings over the years on Flickr but a couple of the plaques have remained elusive. We said that we would ‘do’ the Ginnel Trail before he set off back home.

Now that was a month ago and a lot of rain has fallen since then, so yesterday was really the last chance to undertake what seemed like an easy task. The local information leaflets say that it’s about 3km long with some tricky uphill climbs. Now, being local I thought the uphill description was spot on but that the 3km was something of an understatement – which I think it proved to be.

We set off in a short lull in the rain and only experienced short bursts of wetness as we trailed around the hills and vales that make up Golcar. The trail starts by the church and then weaves its way down and along the hillside until it reaches the railway line. This is the main Trans-Pennine line which flits folks backwards and forwards between the east and west coasts of northern England (but mainly Manchester Airport and the big cities of the north). The trail then drops further down the hill to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.  At this point it would seem that the odd plaque has been removed/stolen/misplaced [delete as required] as there was only one at the TOP of eight and at the TOP of nine – each of the other trails having a plaque top AND bottom. This bit of the walk is also longer, with much more distance between the markers. From nine to ten, you could easily become lost and disorientated, so do make sure you have the guide with you to make sure you don’t become lost.

From here on the overarching direction is ‘UP’. Up the steep hillside to Golcar itself and for Andrew and me, even further up – to the Golcar Lily Restaurant where we were meeting family for a meal. Next time I’ll do it on a slightly warmer day 😉

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I didn’t pick a very good time to start a ‘Saturday Walk’ blog did I? They don’t seem to happen on Saturdays any more. This week my main walk took place on a Wednesday (30th December)! I’d also walked to town earlier in the week, with John T, Carol and Sharon and that was nice, but it was a very steady walk because of all the ice we had to traverse. We had a few drinks in town and then came back here for a chilli.

Both John (Rousell) and I had had some domestic problems over the last week. The weather had been so cold that we had both experienced pipe blockages and I’d also had a pipe burst in the garage. What’s more, my car had broken down on Christmas Eve, with what turned out to be a broken spring. This awaits the new year to get fixed and as a result John came to Wellhouse, from where be begun our walk.

We set off in thick fog, down the road and up towards Golcar Church, before turning left on Small Lane and across the fields to Bolster Moor. We tracked across Bolster Moor towards Waller Clough Road and then around the top edge of Slaithwaite, along Crimea Lane to Pole Moor. As far as possible, we then kept to the fields as we dropped into Slaithwaite and along the end of the still frozen reservoir. All the way we were accompanied by fog and mist and although we expected to come out of it as we got higher up the hill, it was only down on the reservoir that we actually saw the tops of hills around the lake. The frozen water seemed to be dragging the mist down to it.

Slaithwaite itself seemed to be damp and dour in the mist induced greyness and we carried straight on through and along the canal as far as Linthwaite, where we turned left and up Lowestwood Lane. Lowestwood lane is a fairly bust road, used by locals and those wanting a short cut to the M62. It starts quite steep as it approached the railway arch and then gets a bit steeper until the bend halfway up the road. Then it gets steeper still – until the top! Hard work.

It was nice to get out today and nicer still to get some exercise and have a proper chat.

 

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