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The Casasola reservoir in Almogía is located in the last stretch of the Campanillas river valley, and is well worth a visit this season. J. A.
The Malaga river that marked a 'royal route' under Carlos III: from mountain top to hell's pool
Hiking

The Malaga river that marked a 'royal route' under Carlos III: from mountain top to hell's pool

The path along the Campanillas river, between Almogía and Villanueva de la Concepción, was used by many travellers on their way from Malaga to Antequera in the 19th century

Javier Almellones

Friday, 3 May 2024, 15:49

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Nowadays the towns of Almogía and Villanueva de la Concepción are linked by one stage of the Mozarabic Way of St James, a route that runs through Malaga province. This hiking route allows you to discover the valley of the river Campanillas, which although not as well known as the Genal, Guadiario or Turón valleys, offers a path full of natural and historical attractions.

The guide, in this case, is the aforementioned Campanillas river, one of the tributaries of the Guadalhorce in its last stretch, which supplies it with water from the foothills of El Torcal in Antequera. It is no coincidence that the river's first springs appear at the foot of this natural site, in the municipality of Villanueva de la Concepción.

In fact, the first metres of the Campanillas river are also fed by many streams acting as tributaries, alongside the old road known as the Camino Real (royal highway). In the time of Carlos III of Spain (1716-1788), this route joined the city of Malaga with Antequera, in order to make the journey to Madrid more direct.

It was under Carlos III that important bridges were built, still preserved today as a vestige of that era. The easiest to see is undoubtedly the Horcajo bridge, which must be crossed on the road from Casabermeja or Almogía to Villanueva de la Concepción.

Majestic holm oaks and centuries-old olive trees form part of the botanical landscape of this Malaga enclave

But there are two more important bridges in Casabermeja: the Garrallo bridge, also known as the Puente de los Siete Ojos (seven-eyed bridge) and the Paraíso bridge. The former is located near a hiking trail called Boca del Asno, while the latter is known as the 'paradise' bridge because it stands over a stream that shares its name, and which is a tributary of the Campanillas.

To this trilogy of bridges in the valley of the Campanillas river, all of which are located in Villanueva de la Concepción, we must add a fourth: Las Palomas bridge in Almogía. Unlike the previous three, this one is presumed to have Roman foundations, although it did undergo major renovation when the Camino Real was marked out. It has since been restored to its former glory, and although narrow, can be crossed by car should you wish to go from Almogía to surrounding villages such as Casabermeja.

'El charco del infierno' ('hell's pool) has been named a 'Rincón Singular' in Malaga province, as a unique beauty spot.
'El charco del infierno' ('hell's pool) has been named a 'Rincón Singular' in Malaga province, as a unique beauty spot. J. A.

As the Campanillas flows from here, the valley begins to narrow. In this way, it reaches the tail end of the Casasola reservoir, located between Almogía and the Campanillas district of Malaga. This dam, built twenty years ago to prevent flooding in the district, forms part of the landscape of this tributary to the Guadalhorce.

This spring, the river has managed to fill up almost a third of its full flow. Before reaching the dam, you can walk along a small path from Las Palomas bridge to the tail end of the reservoir. On this route, you can appreciate the riverside enclave known as 'El charco del infierno' ('hell's pool'), which is difficult to access, as it is situated between large rocks that look spectacular when there is enough water - as can be seen today.

The Las Palomas bridge, built in the 18th century, was part of the old Camino Real (royal highway), under Charles III.
The Las Palomas bridge, built in the 18th century, was part of the old Camino Real (royal highway), under Charles III. J. A.

Thanks to its location, for many years now this enclave has been declared a 'Rincón Singular' in Malaga province - a unique beauty spot that is to be preserved.

This area of the Campanillas river valley is an honest testimony to the great diversity of plants and vegetation in Malaga province, such as mastic trees, broom shrubs, buckthorns, asparagus ferns, white rockroses, caper bushes, blackthorn berries, hawthorns, thyme and fennel, among others.

The valley of the Campanillas river, which links Antequera and Malaga, is also home to majestic holm oaks and centuries-old olive trees. As far as fauna is concerned, you can see some birds of prey, such as the common kestrel, as well as other riverside birds, such as the grey heron, the sandpiper, the wagtail and the stonechat.

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