Difficulty: Medium-Tough, longer, steep ascents and some exposure to drops
Good Walk for: Seeing the burn from the 2014 fire, which the walk route covers (hence the firefighter on the map). Connecting from Canillas de Albaida to Cómpeta. Views, height, hills, exercise.
Distance: 10 Km
Options: Lots. You can make it a circular walk back to Canillas, varied by taking the lower track on the way back; you can make it a circular walk from the Cómpeta football pitch, doing the walk in reverse up to the Collado de Huerta Grande (CHG) peak before returning to town. You can avoid exposure and the steepest tracks by simply skipping the two peaks. All the tracks and most of the paths are very clear; the sketch map shows a good number of the connections you can make.
Description: Dramatic linear walk over the tops of the village hills, crossing through the 2014 burn. Starting point is beside the football pitch at the top of Canillas de Albaida. You can walk up from the village or, if you are coming into the village from Cómpeta you (or your taxi-driver) should take the right hand road uphill past the hotel; it heads up, passing Santa Ana after a sharp bend; keep going up til you reach the football ground: there is parking beside it. A little path leads you up onto the road above. Here turn left. Follow the road up until you are close to the big mast and there is a good sized track leading off to your right. Take this; pass the first minor track to your left but take the second: it takes you right up to the mast. Walk round this and you find a path that takes you straight up the firebreak.
There is a long rise and then a ‘false summit’. Keep going until you reach a a triangular junction in front of which is a steeper rise. On the left hand side there is a little path that zigzags up this. Take this path and work your way carefully uphill. It soon becomes a bit less punishing and leads you into the ‘burn zone’ (shaded red on the map). As you walk along the second ‘false summit’ you approach the ‘2-Tracks junction’: the said tracks run to the right around the hill. When you reach them take the upper track and follow it round.
You are now heading towards Cómpeta and the Gaviarra ridge is dramatically visible before you. When you feel you are almost on top of it you pass a pylon on your right and then see another above you on the hillside on your left. A few minutes you find the start of a path on your left taking you back up towards this pylon.
To go to the CHG summit (1049m) take this little path. After you get to the pylon you must find a fainter path going in the same direction. You skirt a ridge of rocks on your right before climbing up to the obvious summit – a crown of rocks with a great view down to Canillas de Albaida and beyond.
You then retrace your steps to the track again. Head on along this in your original direction of travel. A few yards on is a path down which you take later, but for now continue straight on. You pass the flank of Gaviarra (1104m), but you don’t ascend it: when you reach a second junction and keep left, you leave this ridge behind. You are heading out of the firezone now, towards Cerro Gávilan, the high point of this walk (1137m); as you do so you’ll see the difference between the unaffected woodland and the burn.
At the next track ‘T’ junction you get a superb view of the Sierra Tejada. You are at point A. Now you have some choices.
Option 1: Turn left. Just where the track swings left to circle round the peak you step onto the bank over a pine root – a path runs uphill straight before you. Take this: it is steep and there is exposure to the drop but it is quite easy to follow. Pace yourself. After 10 or 15 minutes you get to a track (good spot for a breather), cross it and go on uphill for another 3 minutes and then you are at the summit, just below the firewatch station. When you’ve looked out from in front of the station walk out behind it to find the track the firefighters use to get there; follow it down in a spiral until it joins a track and here turn left. This track will bring you back to point A where you made your choice.
Option 2: If you want to ascend but avoid steep ground or exposure, follow the track round until you find, on the far side of the summit, a connection with the concreted track the firefighters drive up to get to the firewatch station. Walk up this track until you arrive at the summit and enjoy the views. Then reverse your route to return to point A.
Option 3: If you think – I don’t need to climb Gávilan, the views from here are great! – that’s fine.
With your back to Gávilan go back down the track you walked up to get here (that is now on your right, going downhill). Pass one left hand junction but when you come to the next small path going downhill – you should see the path to the CHG summit a few yards ahead of you – turn left to take it. This brings you down to the main lower track. Here turn left to go towards Cómpeta.
When this track splits take the right hand track downhill; at the next split take the right again and then at the 3rd junction turn left; again you are connecting with a lower path. You will be able to see the town below you now, and the artificial green of the football pitch. Keep going until you are almost past it and find a track down towards some small buildings just before it on your right – go towards them and then, on the left you’ll find a short but rather nasty thin little path that gets you down to the side of the football pitch. You are now in Cómpeta: you can follow the road down into the town. Make your way to the plaza and you can enjoy a beer or two before picking up a taxi to get home.