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Second Canyon Las Palomas Cliff

Second Canyon Las Palomas Cliff

After the long curve where the boardwalk goes round the rocky wall, you start leaving the Soto and get in the second canyon, known as Las Palomas Cliff. This is where you can see the following spots:

  • Viewpoint of the railway wall before Las Palomas Cliff
  • Kings Bridge at the middle of the cliff
  • Sand Trap and Toro Cave
  • Flat Rocks.

 

Viewpoint of the Railway Wall (450 metres away)

After a long curve where the boardwalk goes round the rocky wall, you will start leaving the Soto and enter to the second canyon at Las Palomas Cliff [Doves Cliff]. Here, you will see a colony of spirited doves fluttering about. You might get surprised by the light and the steep wall, actually a retaining wall which was made after the train derailment. We can still see some beams and sleepers as a consequence of this. When you arrive at the cement stairs, you can access a narrow curvy walkway, a viewpoint from which you can admire the Soto you left behind on the left and the beginning of Las Palomas Cliff on the right. Next, there is a long straight stretch of boardwalks with no obstacles and some gentle bends, almost always, along the canal up to the another viewpoint at the King's Bridge (Puente del Rey) and the sand trap at the Toro Cave (Cueva del Toro).

It can be observed that some parts of the canal still have water inside. You will be surprised by the fact that this ecological spot has plenty of amphibians and insects. We also invite you to look up at the huge walls and plant life which miraculously grow on the rocks.

Segundo cañón. Tajo de las Palomas. Entrada mirador de talud del ferrocarril (FFCC). Caminito del Rey

 

King's Bridge (Puente del Rey) (700 m away)

El Puente del Rey (The King's Bridge), which was named that way because it was used by King Alfonso XIII on 21st May 1921, after he went down the siding next to it. The bridge had different names before this event, such as the Bridge of Tajo de las Palomas, Cueva del Toro, Fuente del Toro [Toro [Bull] Fountain]  or Tensado [Tautened]. After this small bridge was made between two railway tunnels, it was meant to connect two sides of the cliff, the railway and the service boardwalks, making possible loading and unloading of materials and carrying out operations. From this place, you can see some of the tunnels which were made by groups of workers. Each group was digging the mountain, using dynamite, from one of its sides until they met in the centre, although the tunnel hole or light were not always equal. At the end of the bridge, there are the cement benches where people could wait for the train.

The bridge between two sides of Las Palomas Cliff was a footbridge made of taut cables which supported the concrete board (therefore the name tensado [taut, tautened]). There are stairs, safety wall, handrail and two long concrete benches at the end of the structure. From the bridge viewpoint (Mirador del Puente), you can see Number 7 tunnel, called Rocas Llanas [Flat Rocks], on the right. It is 325 m long and it belongs to the railway line Málaga – Córdoba. At its exit, a small viaduct was built in order to span the Cañada del Lobo ravine.

The Cañada del Lobo [the Wolf's Cattle Track] is a rather outstanding natural attraction in this place. It is rather steep, with a drop of 1000 m, and stretches from the top of the Huma Mountains (1191 m) to the mouth of the river at Las Palomas Cliff. The spot is named after wolves as these animals used to inhabit the area, but the last specimen, a female wolf, was hunted in 1941.

Caminito. Acceso Norte, Ardales. Entrada en el Desfiladero de los Gaitanejos6

 

Sand Trap. Toro Cave (705 m away)

The first stage of the canal practically ends at the natural beauty spot of the Toro Cave, some 1400 m away from the beginning of the route. This is where the first big sand trap is, right in front of the bridge. It has a pond made by retaining walls and next to the place where the supervisor's booth, for controlling works, used to be. A sand trap is a building where sand and other kind of sediment brought by the water from the canal is kept from getting onto the way and hydroelectric power station. That is why the function of these building structures was crucial. The widen trap would then be closed by floodgates and all the dirt could be removed through the drain to the canal. Workers would move the poles over the walls with certain risk, although there were no accidents.

The Toro Cave, which this area was called after, is above the sand trap. This is one of many caves which forms part of this natural surroundings' karstic scenery. It was inhabited or used in varied periods throughout history, even by blacksmiths or as a forge during the works in the zone. There is to underline that it was a shelter for people in the Neolithic.

You will also find a bench where you can rest after having hiked a large part of the route. You can admire the bridge over which King Alfonso XIII walked in 1921, or vultures that fly up in the sky. During guided tours, groups stop here to hear about some interesting spots, such as the bridge, the railway, the sand trap ruins or the underground canal, so they could continue their way.

Puentecillo junto a la cueva del Toro04

 

Rocas Llanas Viewpoint (900 m away)

Go past the sand trap and along a curvy stretch of the boardwalks, and you will see a ledge. Go over it and you will get to some stairs and its landing at the same altitude as the Rocas Llanas [Flat Rocks] Viewpoint, where an information board about animals from the area and a sign which marks 900 m away from the beginning of the route are. This is the signposted meeting point where groups take photos in front of spectacular views. Here, you can admire peculiar rocks opposite you, and the enormous wall of Ballesteros [Crossbowmen] Cliff, rocky slope which stands out due to its orange colour, which comes from iron oxide, and some dark and white chalky spots. There is also the railway quarry on the left, at the bottom of Hoyo Vallley, and Almorchón Cliff (662 m) on the right and high above, which belongs to the Pizarra mountain range. In the background, you can see Peñon del Cristo rock or Castillón de la Ermita (country chapel) (619 m), which hikers climb to.

The last stretch of the second canyon ends with large gullies, and then starts opening. The Balesteros Cliff can be observed all along the route that goes through Hoyo Valley. There are many holes on its walls with the nests of a large colony of vultures and other birds of prey. You can admire their marvellous flight, influenced by upward streams.

You will also understand how enormous was the effort required to build the railway from Málaga to Córdoba in 1865. It was an unprecedented construction made in less than six years. The land over which the railway was supposed to be built, was rather rugged, so the engineers made their best endeavours to do so, above all in the area of El Chorro with plenty of tunnels, viaducts and bridges. The stretch which was finished in 1866 consisted of 192 km, 17 tunnels, 8 viaducts and 19 bridges, many of which had to be built in the Gaitanes Gorge, where the works were very difficult due to the rough terrain.