Circular walk from Villa de Arico through El Rio
This is a walk using the Camino Real, (Royal Road) the main road commissioned by the Spanish crown following conquest, and now a signposted footpath, on the first half. On reaching El Rio the route takes us up a steep hill till we reach another signposted footpath leading back to Villa de Arico. On both footpaths the views are panoramic, and the scenery varied with some very scenic barrancos to cross.
The photos were taken on February 4th, 2017, and it is a good route to walk in the winter as the vegetation is greener, and often the views clearer. The route has little shade, so it’s not so good in the summer.
We started the walk from near the roundabout on the TF-28, where the road up from the south motorway TF-1, joins it. Continuing along the TF-28 through the town, past various bars, shops and a bank, we continued walking on the road until we saw a fingerpost sign for the footpath on the left-hand side. The initial descent onto the path is quite steep, but we then reached a lovely cobbled bit of path, setting off to cross the barranco streambed and up the other side to join a minor road for a short distance.
The minor road, and the yellow/white waymarks took us up to the TF-28 where we walked in front of a couple of houses, then, by a yellow/white marked post up onto a gravel path at the edge of the road for a few yards to a gate, inside of which the path descended sharply again to cross a barranco and up again. A short stretch along the back of some houses brought us to a minor road heading down to the left which we followed and took the right fork shortly afterwards. This led us straight onto a long stretch of Camino Real in the countryside away from houses and the main road. In places it was in very good repair, including good cobbled parts, other places it was rougher, and in the barrancos there were cobbled paths with chunks missing through erosion, but all easily passed with care.
As we approached a farm, which used to have a goat herd which grazed the land we had just walked across, we reached a tarmac minor road which we followed into the centre of El Rio. On reaching a crossroads we turned right, passing a small shop on our right, crossed the main road by the church and continued uphill past it on a tarmac road. After a sharp bend a path up to the right with metal railings took us onto a shortcut of cobbled road past the village’s ‘Lavaderos’ – public washing places – and joined the tarmac again higher up. We continued walking until we reached a footpath going right with a fingerpost pointing the way back to Villa de Arico.
The path was clear but not well signed, just a few cairns occasionally to help you, with a few deviations for crossing barrancos but trending generally straight across the landscape. The difficult part is when you reach a minor tarmac road crossing the path, you go right a few yards and then left at a signpost, still on tarmac through another barranco, then between some houses out onto another minor road and then straight on at a junction with a dead end sign, and continue on when it becomes a dirt track.
When you come to a place where there are some ugly recent earthworks, you will find the path to the right, squeezed against a tall fence. Take care down the slope into this last barranco as some of the loose rocks and earth have fallen on the path. At the streambed go right to reach the path up again which will take you to the top edge of Villa de Arico, where you walk straight down to the church and beyond to get back to the start.
The walk was 11.8km/ 7.75 miles approx, and takes approx 3.5-4hrs. There is approx 500m of accumulated climbing, but mostly in small ups and downs.