Part of pan-European footpath blocked in Spain by developers
IT is the jewel in the crown of Spain’s network of footpaths. Crossing most of Andalusia, the Gran Recorrido 7 (GR-7) then skirts up through the country, though France and Italy and finally to Athens in Greece.
Comprising of a network of ancient drovers’ paths, it allows ramblers to stay almost completely off tarmac for most of its 10,500 kilometre length … in theory that is!
For just 100 kilometres from its start point in Tarifa, the route becomes unstuck.
Despite being carefully catalogued and signposted for the thousands of walkers who undertake the route every year, it is now well and truly blocked in Ronda.
Cut off by a stone wall and with security barring its route, the footpath has become a clear symbol to many of how private enterprise is destroying public rights of way.
Blocked by developers building the controversial double golf course project Los Merinos, it has left countless ramblers and nature lovers cursing the once celebrated mountain town.
But now the Izquierda Union (IU) political party has decided to fight back by denouncing the town hall for not maintaining its most important footpath.
Along with dozens of other groups, it is demanding the path be reopened.
After handing in 180 signatures against the blocking of the path, its leader Rafa Ruíz said: “Our public rights are being abused to satisfy a private enterprise.”
He insists the path is clearly catalogued in the town hall as number 150, linking the Cadiz villages of Alcala del Valle with the Málaga village of El Burgo.
However, developers are not in agreement. Indeed, they claim the GR-7 does not pass through their land.
Moreover, they have begun legal proceedings against three town hall workers, who they claim illegally included the path in official documents.
One of the 80 different complaints against individuals opposed to their project, council environment boss Nicolas de Benito, local police officer Juan Terroba and an inspector of the Green Police Paco Moreno are up in court.
Terroba denies the allegations. “This is absolute rubbish. The footpath has always been included in town hall documents.
“It is just another attempt by the developers to tie us all in knots and cost us a fortune in legal fees.”
Even Ronda mayor Antonio Marin Lara demanded last year that the developers open footpath 150 “within ten days.”
However, he has now mysteriously fallen silent and the old footpath sign has long been removed.
As Terroba quips: “Maybe the town hall expects the ramblers to take up golf instead.”