Benamahoma to El Bosque

Benamahoma is one of the pretty mountain pueblos blancos of Andalucia. It is old, going back to Roman times and clings to the side of the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema, beneath the Labradillo range. Goats graze, bells ringing on the grassy slopes and the pinsapar of the sierras reaches up to the grey peaks. There is a trail from here which takes the walker ( or driver, at least for some of the way ) up and along the northern slopes of the El Pinar range, mainly following the course of the Arroyo del Pinar. The scenery is spectacular, but one needs to climb over the mountains to get to Grazalema, so be prepared for a long and testing walk. Our walk was less arduous.

The Rio Majaciete rises in Benamahoma from a spot first discovered, apparently, by a Roman pilgrim (its lower reaches become the Rio del Bosque, which is often how it is marked on a map). This is where we began our walk, at the river source, now protected by railings. Down stone steps following the stream, icy cold and clear as it gushes into the valley and provides water for the fishery (which was For Sale in October 2017). A slightly uphill diversion back into the village to see los griffos, mineral water, literally, on tap, for the villagers. These are still used, while we were there several residents arrived carrying large plastic containers, which they filled and took home. I can attest to the clarity and coldness of the water, which is, I am told, of a very high quality (I cannot judge).

Then down into the bottom of the valley to follow the designated countryside trail, which begins at a car park opposite a furniture makers. There is a stepped descent to the river side and the trail then winds along the left bank of the river, really a stream at this point, for four kilometres or so, to El Bosque.

It is not long before one leaves all habitation behind and the only sounds are of the tumbling river, the goat bells and the occasional braying of a donkey, as well as almost continuous birdsong. I am no expert, but my companion told me that one can hear many different types of bird along this walk and there did seem, to my untutored ear, to be a large variety.  The river is joined by other streams and widens and slows in places, where wading birds can be seen. But at no point is it very wide.

The path is broad and often has a rail at its side, or shallow steps where needed. It is generally well-kept (it is much used) though it was very muddy in parts when we were there. Some of it is boarded and includes bridges. It is a gentle walk, not suitable for those with acute mobility problems, perhaps, but fine for most people – we met people jogging along it as well as other walkers. The walk ends in a car park on the edge of El Bosque, opposite which is a turning to a collection of bars and hostelries which cater for the hungry or thirsty walker. For something a little more interesting, go past these and the wheel sculpture and across the stone bridge, up to the Venta Julien, (on the left at the top of the rise) where you can find an excellent selection of local, home-made, pork-based products, as well as food and drink.

The walk, if you include the visit to the source, is approximately 5km, 4.4km of it along the trail by the side of the river. No permits are required – this is popular with local people as well as those  from the surrounding area.

Other articles about walks and walking, in Spain and elsewhere, can be found at                       Grazalema            Inside out on the Camino                 West Highland Way           The Orange Walk              Arcos de la Frontera             A Walk on the Wild Side                    Green Walk                          Kew Gardens

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