Sometimes I forget how priviledged we are! We did yet another stunning walk in Casares area. This time, we walked from our doorstep in El Jaral, through an area called the ‘Matute’, towards ‘Los Molinos’, through the gorge of la Utrera, to end at the Roman Baths. It is a walk that takes you through dazzling nature, a walk that oozes history!
At 10 in the morning, we met up with a small group of neighbours, to go for a walk in Casares. We were heading to catch the old ‘Vereda’, or cattle track, in the Matute that connected Casares with Estepona. In the old days, this track was used to bring the sheep, cows, or goats to the market and back home. From Casares to Estepona it must have taken them a good 6 hour walk. The Veredas are still open to the public. We took the Vereda towards Casares/Manilva passing not only beautiful landscapes but also some impressive country estates in Casares. Where the Vereda crosses the river, we entered the area of ‘Los Molinos’. There are eight mills alongside the river: the molinos harineros. Some are in state of ruin, others are bought and transformed into houses and some are still in the original condition, showing its original function. Impressive!
Spring is in the air
The mills are extraordinary, but let’s not forget the countryside! The fields were bright yellow, and we came across sheep and little lambs. Can you imagine walking for almost 2 hours and not come across anyone? What a luxury. Later on, we did come across a farmer, who luckily pointed out to us the right direction. At the first crossing of the river we could have easily taken a wrong turning. He was kind enough to open the gate of a private property to put us back on track.
We followed the flow of the river further south. By this point, we were on track number 10, as described on Casares Walks website. If you consider taking a self guided walk in Casares, this is a good website to check out. We crossed the river two more times, got slightly damp feet from sliding off the stepping stones, but who cares? The sun was shining and the scenery was breathtaking. The most beautiful part of the track was yet to come. The route from the village of Casares down to the Roman Baths is also a public road, an old ‘camino real’, creating the connection of Casares with the coast. It crosses a private property at one stage and then you enter in ‘the Canuto’, the gorge.
Walk in Casares: Baños Romanos
The canuto, part of the Sierra Utrera, is an amazing piece of nature. It is a miniature Torcal. The river has cut through the rocks to leave an impressive gorge. The wind and the rain have sculptured the surrounding stones, transforming them into unique pieces of natural art. I still haven’t done the guided walk in this specific area were they take you to ancient old caves and show you the hidden, enormous fossils. History has been carved into stone in this remarkable place. If you want to go exploring in this area I would advise you to take a guide. It is so easy to get lost. You will not be the first one to spend the night in a cave because you can’t find your way back. Sur Walks is a reliable company and Johanna is an excellent guide. Not only on this walk in Casares, but anywhere in Andalusia!
We kept the safe route and followed the path down into the gorge, climbing the giant rocks. After many ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ we arrived at the Roman Baths. Another amazing piece of history. The old bath has been preserved. It is covered with concrete on the outside, to prevent deterioration, but the inside it is still authentic. There is no entrance fee. The baths are free to use for everyone. The water holds sulphur which is said to be good for the skin. The mud on the riverside is used as a beauty mask. It cleans the skin. We decided to leave the mud bath for another day. It was lunch time! We headed to the restaurant Floria Rustico, located at an arms length from the Roman bath to get a well deserved beer, some delicious gambas pil a pil, almejas, and mejillones. What can I say, just an average day in Casares!
P.S. Credits for the photos go to Henny Klein Klouwenberg!
Anita Schmidt | 7th March 2017