Category Archives: Walking in Nature

Footpath Llano del Campo – Benamahoma

Llanos del campo en la Sierra de Grazalema

This short footpath called “Llano del Campo” is close to the village of Benamahoma and leads you through mixed Mediterranean woodland. It is dominated by evergreen and deciduous oaks and takes anything from around one to two hours to walk, depending on how inquisitive you are. 🙂

Birds calling from the trees include woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, firecrests, long-tailed tits and treecreepers with hoopoes during the summer months and griffon vultures plus eagles soaring through the open skies above.

The path is comfortably shaded through the heat of summer and verdant through the winter/ spring.

First two gates -  Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema
First two gates – Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema

The entrance to this walk can be found on the road between Grazalema and Benamahoma, this is the A 372. Pull off at km marker 37 (2 km from Benamahoma).

Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema
The Car Park and first gate- Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema

The site is obvious as there is a fenced off field with an area marked out for football and a small building (whose shaded area is very popular with nesting swallows in the spring).

There is ample parking at this recreational area. (The area will be busiest on weekends, so if you have a choice aim to go on a week day.) Go through the largest metal gates and head diagonally uphill and away from the road across this play area / cattle grazing pasture. As you go past the first oak trees there is another, smaller gate to pass through.

Second gate- Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema
Second gate- Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema

Now you are in the shade of the woods on a path that meanders through the rugged rocks. This first stretch climbs over fairly rough terrain as the water erodes this path during storms. In summer time the dappled shade is very welcome and during the winter notice how green the rocks and trees are with their covering of mosses and ferns.

The undergrowth is mainly lentisc, purple phlomis and gorse with rambling plants such as dutchman’s pipe, smilax and periwinkle.

In the spring there may be a variety of orchids on display!

Rocky path -  Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema
Rocky path – Llanos del campo in the Sierra de Grazalema

The path becomes wider and levels out as you approach an old derelict farm building on your right and left handside. Surrounded by large girthed oak trees, this is the highest point and from here you descend gently to a junction onto a partially cobbled path.

From here continue to the left heading downhill – but first, a short detour can prove interesting. If you go straight across this junction onto the narrowest path it leads you through gorse bushes etc to a water trough provided for domestic livestock.

Looking into the trough and you may see fire salamanders in their earliest stages, they are like brown tadpoles with visible gills. As adults these nocturnal reptiles are an amazing yellow and black colour. During the warmth of summer the surrounding damp patches are frequented by butterflies and bees.

Return to the main path and head downhill. Here the plant life changes slightly and now include Strawberry trees, Laurustinus, Stinking iris, Dorycnium and Honeysuckle.

Great views in the Llano del Campo in the Sierra de Grazalema
Great views in the Llano del Campo in the Sierra de Grazalema

As this path approaches the main road you should take the narrow rock-edged path to the left which goes through a small gate and then ascends slightly under the oak trees. This brings you onto the pasture where you began, head for the main gated entrance back to your vehicle.


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Signs and notices

Whilst out and about in the countryside here in Andalucia, you are bound to come across a variety of signs and notices telling you what kind of area you are in or whether you are about to stray onto private land. You may find signs telling you to “keep out!!” or to “Please close the gate”. More and more fences are going up and access to land is being restricted. In some cases trails and paths are closed and directional signs taken down illegally. (see Via pecuaria below)

Basically the rules to follow, whether on horseback, walking or cycling in the countryside are:
  1. Have an up to date map with the footpath shown
  2. Don’t go through a gate that has a Propiedad Privada sign on it.
  3. Respect private land (Propiedad Privada) and stay on designated footpaths
Continue reading Signs and notices

A Small river in the Gaidovar valley

Lovely observations from Rachel who stayed in the Grazalema area with her husband for a few months last year (2019). After exploring the main footpaths such as the Garganta Verde, Pinsapo forest and the high peak of Torreon they found a small River in the Gaidovar valley and walked upstream finding some nice surprises in the heat of the summer.


At the beginning of August, when the heat was turning up towards its maximum for the year, Dave and I decided to walk for a couple of kilometres up one of the smaller river beds within the Sierra de Grazalema natural park to see if any small pools lingered through the summer and just what treasures they would hold, we were more than pleased with the results!

Dried, bleached algae blankets the river bed rocks
Dried, bleached algae blankets the river bed rocks

The striking images above show a blanket of algae that has been bleached and baked dry in the sunshine clinging onto boulders, in stark contrast to the heavy flooding just 4 months earlier!


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Expecting a dry river bed

The first part of our walk turned up several dried exoskeletons of crayfish that had dried out as the exposed shallow pools diminished in the heat. Tamarisk, oleander, willow, brambles and smilax at times virtually closed off our access as we traced the dry waterway upstream. The first water filled pool that we came across had a distinct autumnal feel despite the time of year. Some trees drop their leaves in the summer to conserve energy. These ash trees overhanging the pool had cast a yellow cover of dried leaves, crunching through them at the edge were a couple of terrapins unsuccessfully trying to avoid detection. The pool at about half a metre deep and 20 metres long may provide a safe haven for many creatures.

leaf covered pool and a Spanish terrapin (Mauremys leprosa)
leaf covered pool and a Spanish terrapin (Mauremys leprosa)

The next of these pools that we came to was teaming with tiny frogs. As we developed an eye to pick out their tiny forms we could count 10 or so in a metre squared, some clustered in small groups on rocks and others with just a pointed snout breaking the water’s surface.

Left: Young Iberian Water Frogs. Right: Tiny fish looking for a meal.
Left: Young Iberian Water Frogs. Right: Tiny fish looking for a meal.

A larger body of water which stretched for perhaps 50 metres had many small fish that were extremely inquisitive, shoaling around my feet looking for an interesting snack. There were less frogs in this pool for a very good reason. Further upstream some larger boulders held what would be an impressive cascade in the right season but, for now it simply retained a higher pool with amazingly bright green algae and families of terrapins sunbathing on exposed rocks. It seems that each wet area is host to different creatures depending on depth, overall length, shade etc. This small pool has more sunshine hence the algae growth and terrapin occupation as an important need for their metabolism is warmth from the sun.

Snakes!

The next pool may have put some people off as I noticed a Viperine snake moving around the edge despite its impressive camouflage against the gravel base. Once it realized that we had seen it, this small aquatic snake made a dash through the open water before hiding briefly around Dave’s sandals and then disappearing around rocks into the deeper area. And next we had to climb out and over some large boulders to avoid breaking long strands from a spider’s web!

Left: A Viperine snake underwater. Right: A spider's web blocked our path.
Left: A Viperine snake underwater. Right: A spider’s web blocked our path.

Deep in the shade of overhanging trees we found a pool with ripped apart remains of large fish. But just the bones and scales with none left swimming around. These enclosed water bodies had made catching a summer meal much easier for the hunter. A strong odour emanating from rocks along the banks quickly led us to numerous spraints laced with fish bones and crayfish shells which confirmed to us that we were in otter territory. We were surprised to find that an otter could survive through the summer on an area that virtually dries out but having walked it, and given the over grown nature of the banks an otter could easily wander up and down stream undetected to the various pools in order to find a meal.

The frogs were plentiful down stream and further on we found a good selection of large fish in an area with slow flowing water with plenty of grassy cover on the banks. This new area was popular with dragonflies and damselflies which danced lightly through the air in colourful displays as we briefly disturbed their tranquillity before leaving the river and returning to our car.

Left: An otter spraint. Right: A Small Pincertail dragonfly (Onychogomphus forcipatus)
Left: An otter spraint. Right: A Small Pincertail dragonfly (Onychogomphus forcipatus)

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A walk in the Garganta verde.

Digging up old articles and reviews from 10 years ago or more I came across Steves great trip report about a walk in the Garganta Verde. First published in 2012.


“After recently enjoying a family holiday in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, Steve has written this article to share his experience of hiking the Garganta Verde.”

Remember that to enter this restricted area you need a permission from the park authorities. Read here about how to obtain permits for restricted areas in the Sierra de Grazalema


As part of our week at the end of August with Clive and Sue (of The Grazalema Guide and Wildside Holidays) we had permits for a visit to ‘La Garganta Verde”‘ a “must do” for the more adventurous visitors to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

Continue reading A walk in the Garganta verde.

A high walk in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema – Coros Peak

As the name suggests this is a high walk in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema. But, the easy access by road gains the altitude for you and then the walk is a fairly short circular one that goes around the peak rather than climbing to the top of it.

The view from the Coros peak close to Grazalema

This walk offers spectacular views and gives an overview of the whole area with 360 degree views from the peak itself. The peak of Coros is 1,328m above sea level and the car park 1,157m. The walk takes about 1.5 at a leisurely pace to complete the 2.7km and may give amazing sightings of Griffon Vultures, from above and below. The terrain is rugged limestone rock with rough grasses, stunted oak trees and sparse Mediterranean scrub.

How to get to the Puerto de la Palomas.

Park in the large area at “Puerto de Las Palomas” which is on the CA9104 road from Grazalema to Zahara de la Sierra.

Place your back to the view point “Mirador”/road and beyond the car park on the left hand side the trail begins at a slight incline passing through a rustic fence gate. (Not the big green gate on the right!)

Continue reading A high walk in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema – Coros Peak