THIS short circuit gets you up close to the dramatic cliffs and spectacular gorge and bridge whose beauty have made Ronda one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations.
After leaving the town along a sandy footpath close to the cliff’s edge, you follow a winding country lane across the bowl of the valley past numerous small holdings and country houses before climbing steeply back up to Ronda’s historical centre via a cobbled footpath hugging the gorge’s spectacular eastern flank. From here the views of El Puente Nuevo are simply mesmerising.
The nitty gritty
Start/finish point: In front of the Parador on the western side of the Puente Nuevo
Time: 1hrs 35mins actual walking time so allow 2hrs 30mins
The walk begins in front of the Parador on the western side of the Puente Nuevo.
With your back to the Parador turn left and leave the square along Calle José Aparicio. At the end of the street turn left again. Passing the bullring you reach busts of Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway. Here, cut right along the Paseo de Orson Welles. Passing in front of Ronda’s ugly municipal theatre, you reach the small park of La Alameda.
Cut right along the park’s central walkway; then, reaching a statue of Pedro Romero, angle right and exit the park. Turn left then, passing right of the Iglesia de la Merced, continue along Calle Jerez. After passing Hotel Reina Victoria the street angles right past a statue of the Virgen del Rocío, then once more left, before reaching a roundabout. Here keep left, sticking close to the cliff edge. After 200m, angle left away from the road along a dirt track, following a sign for Bodega Descalzos Viejos.
Running close to a wall topped by a fence, the surface of the track changes to tarmac as it leads past the entrance to Descalzos Viejos. Maintain on your same course along a sandy track which, passing a green gate, narrows to become a footpath that runs gently downhill, close to the edge of the cliff and parallel to a stone wall. Angling right, the footpath drops down to meet with a tarmac road. Here turn left following a sign Ronda GR141, GR249. Passing through a breach in the mountain (El Puerto de las Muelas, 35mins) the road bears left before descending towards the valley floor. Reaching the gates of Hacienda Puerto de las Muelas, angle left following the sign Haza del Batán and follow a winding lane on past the gates of Haza del Batán where twin statues of Christ on the Cross and the Virgin are enclosed in a glass case.
Descending through groves of olive and walnut trees you reach a fork. Here, angle right. Reaching gates marked 21 the lane veers once more right, then winds on downhill, closer now to Ronda’s majestic south-facing cliff face. Crossing a bridge over the river Guadalevin, the road loops steeply upwards before descending to reach a junction with a cobbled track (1hr). Turn right and climb up past a building marked ‘Molinos del Tajo’.
After passing twin signs for ‘Albergue Los Molinos’ the track reaches a second set of signs for ‘La Hoya del Tajo’, one depicting birds that can be seen in the gorge. Leave the track here and follow a narrow path that climbs steeply up the eastern side of the Ronda gorge before passing through a narrow opening in the wall that, in Moorish times, served as Ronda’s lower line of defence.
Beyond the gap you’re treated to a stunning view of the Puente Nuevo that spans the gorge. Angling right, head on up a path parallel to the wall, then cut left up a flight of steps and follow a path that zigzags up to Ronda’s historic quarter and the Plaza María Auxiliadora. Here, turn left and exit the square along Calle Tenorio. After passing Casa Don Bosco you reach another small square. Here, pass left of three wrought-iron benches to reach a junction and a ceramic mural (Ronda y Los Viajeros Románticos). Turning left and, crossing the Puente Nuevo, you return to the start point of the walk (1hr 35min).
• Guy Hunter-Watts is the author of ‘Walking in Andalucía’ and ‘Coastal Walks of Andalucía’. Newly revised, 2016 editions of both books are available from www.cicerone.co.uk Guy’s latest Cicerone guide ‘The Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema’ will be published in 2017.