Remote and wild above El Jaral, Guia de Isora
This walk was done early in October, unfortunately on a dull day so the photos are not great. Otherwise the weather was fine for walking, and good enough to get reasonable views which are one of the joys of the walk. The other thing about this walk which I find so charming is that within a few minutes of setting out from the centre of a well-populated village you feel that you could be miles from civilization and in the wildest part of the island.
I did this walk first a year ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it but did not introduce our walking group to it because there was one section about 1km long which was very overgrown and difficult both to walk, and to find ones way. So when we set off this time, with a group, we were not sure whether we would do this route or divert to another route if the path was still difficult. My thoughts were that since the July fire had burned parts of the land in this area, the path might be clearer, and this did, in fact, turn out to be true.
We set off from the small parking area in El Jaral along the road past the old school (a yellow building visible from the parking place). After passing the school the tarmac road bends to the right and down past a very attractive ‘casa rural’, and then, becoming a track, goes steeply up a cobbled slope and levels out below a group of terraces which are worked. The track takes a sharp left turn up to the terraces, but here we continued straight on, onto a narrow footpath. The footpath enters the Barranco del Pozo on the left hand slope, winding around roughly level at first and then starting a gentle descent to the streambed, which it crosses and climbs steeply up the other side in zig-zags.
In time the path levels out as it passes a rocky outcrop, and continuing upwards a small house perched on a rock, Casa don Tomas, comes into sight. The path heads for the house and crosses a rusty metal pipe just below it and bends to the right. A short distance further on, after passing a small huerta (a field with crops) to the left, there is a T-junction with a track. We had arrived in El Choro, a farming area above the village of Acojeja.
We turned left, uphill on the track and where the track takes a right turn, the path continues straight on (cutting off a corner of the track), this happens again further on, with a left hand bend, and in between you follow the track. The track passes between fields planted mostly with potatoes and vines, and passes a reservoir on the left, with a pipe on the right. At this point, which is on top of a rocky outcrop it could be worth looking out for a path to the right which goes along half-way down the barranco slope. We saw this path from higher up when looking back, we continued along the track, which becomes uncomfortable to walk due to loose rocks, but does pass a fine golden fig tree! After the fig tree we headed up to the right to the edge of the Barranco de Niagara, to the corner where there is a bend in the barranco. A cairned path descends to cross the barranco and climbs the other side ending up by the goat farm above Las Fuentes, but we did not take that path, instead continuing up the side of the barranco for a further 550m (distance). It was in this stretch, and looking across the barranco that we saw the first evidence of the July fire, with parts burnt, and other areas not. Just after passing a large cave on the edge of the barranco we reached a junction with a path going left, which we took. On the wall an arrow points left with ‘El Jaral – 3 hrs’ in neat white painted letters. In fact the walk back to El Jaral is less than 3 hrs, more like 2.25hrs.
The path from here for a while is not so well defined, as this was the bit which was badly overgrown. In fact there still are some huge shrubs with tree-trunk sized stems growing actually in the path such that you cannot walk in the path in some places. However, there is a well-worn alternative path bypassing these points and it was not difficult to follow. Beware of goat paths, though, that was what confused us before the fire, though it was not a problem this time as the goats had clearly not been able to forage there since the fire.
The path crosses a dip and then skirts round a ridge, descending a bit, until it reaches a prominent ridge going to the west, and descends via zig-zags to go out along the top of that ridge. As you go along the ridge you are walking towards Mt Tejina, the prominent volcano above Las Fuentes village, with a little white hermita (chapel) on it above the village.
Half-way along the ridge, we had to turn a sharp right on the path, to descend to the Galeria Saltadero del Aguilar (a water mine named after a jumping off point of the eagle (?)). From here on the path was excellent, easy to see, easy to walk, so no problem. Passing the galeria building in the bottom of the barranco the path climbed gently out the other side, onto the next ridge. A path junction has painted directions to the ‘finca’ (a deserted but substantial farmhouse on the ridge above), which can be visited if you are interested. These remote farmhouses were in the past inhabited by people who looked after the goat herds, and made the cheese from the milk.
We continued down the ridge, and then zig-zagged down the other side till we reached a track in the next valley which goes to another Galeria (water mine). We turned left on the track and turning a corner soon had a view of El Jaral again. We continued along the track, which by now had tarmac, until we reached a crossing with a substantial path, and there turned left to go down to the village by the most direct route. However, the path is steep and needs careful attention, so others might prefer to stay on the tarmac road to return to the village in a more gentle manner.
The walk was 8.63km / c5 miles long, took just over 4 hours and involved about 590m of climbing. A GPS track can be found at this link: