hidden europe 3

El Camino del Rey

by Nicky Gardner


only for the sure footed: a dangerous catwalk in southern Spain

Andalucía has many aspects. On the morning train heading north out of Málaga a few years back, we caught a glimpse of one of them. There is a moment, scarcely half an hour out of Málaga, when, as the train climbs steeply up the side of the Guadalhorce valley, there is a fine view to the left of a tremendous defile - a great slit that cuts through the limestone mountains.

This is a bewitching landscape. With its dolmens and great megalithic sepulchres, tantalising rock sculptures, and forests and mountains reserved for mongoose, eagles and wild boar, this is quite another Andalucía from that of the crowded coastline. Local legend has that a giant who was having an off day vented his anger on the landscape and tore open the great cleft of El Chorro, the defile which is just visible from the train.

And yet El Chorro, for all its wild aspect, is not devoid of human imprint.

Related article

Cardinal points

One travel guide claims that Finisterre is the most westerly point on the European mainland. This is in fact wrong, just as other points that lay claim to special status as geographical extremities are often spurious. We map Europe's extremities.