The Walk of the Visigoth Church
This route is one of my favourites because I love the Visigoth Church. The walk is rather demanding to start with - a climb of 198 metres and then down again - but the views are great all the way around and the walking is easy after the first part. The Visigoth Church is the oldest example of its kind in Spain and the interpretation centre (shut Mondays) has a film, exhibition, maps and a good guided tour but all of this is only in Spanish. However, an information booklet has been printed in English and it’s sparse but good.
The view from the Church is across the valley towards Arroyomolinos. Here, in 1811 during the Peninsular Wars the English, Spanish and Portuguese fought a battle with the French and beat them soundly. Many French soldiers escaped by throwing down their weapons and climbing the face of the Sierra de Montánchez. The Arroyomolinos web site has a very good account of the battle but, alas, only in Spanish - as I write this today.
Alcuéscar, the start and finish of this walk, has both bus and taxi transport. There are bars and shops and a very interesting Plaza Mayor and Church.
Time: 3.5 hours plus time at the Visigoth Church
Distance: 9.5 kilometres
Elevation: lowest 439m, highest 698m
Route: circular — map by Google
Use the main entrance to Alcuéscar from the main road, the EX382, turn right, and keep going up. At the top of the village and the top of Calle Cristobal Colon, turn left into a wide road with a panoramic view of Alcuéscar and the countryside. This is where to park.
1. N 39º 10’ 38.5” W 06º 13’ 37.6”
With the view on the right, walk to the end of the concreted road and as it turns right, back to the village, take the footpath ahead. The path goes up at once. In places it is steep but is easy to follow with no junctions.
2. N39º 10’ 19.8” W 06º 14’ 07.1”
Climb higher and get a great view of the whitewashed Hermitage of Alcuéscar (photo 1) with Montánchez Castle in the distance.
3. N 39º 10’ 11.2” W 06º 14’ 13.8”
Take a path to the left and enter a pine and chestnut wood. Continue going up through the woods to arrive at the highest point of the walk (698m). The views all around are fantastic.
4. N 39º 09’ 51.6” W 06º 14’ 12.3”
After the climb up start the descent. The path is in good condition but there are loose stones in places that slide underfoot. Go slowly.
5. N 39º 09’ 28.1” W 06º 13’ 45.3”
The descent becomes extremely steep but the views are well worth the effort. As the track descends the steepness levels off a bit. At the end of this long descent the path meets a T junction. Turn left.
6. N 39º 08’ 56.99” W 06º 13’ 53.09”
Walk on through the trees to come to a clearing with the road ahead as the direction. However, to the left is a small track that goes past orange groves to a natural spring. If you need extra water fill up your bottles.
7. N 39º 08’ 59.2” W 06º 13’ 29.9”
Walk on the main road ahead and drop down to see the Visigoth Church in the distance. Arrive and take a break — visit the interpretation centre to see the film and exhibition. Then go to see the Church (set in wild flowers in spring) (photo 2). An ancient mill lies to the north. The view over the valley towards Arroyomolinos, and even Montánchez, in the distance is quite something. There’s also some toilets! Real luxury on walks! After the stop continue along the road. Pass through an area of cork oaks (photo 3). The oaks are stripped of their bark every nine years. A slow growing crop compared with olives, figs or oranges. This part of the route is entirely on the road. It is, however, very quiet and runs through the cork oaks, olive groves and farming fincas.
8. N 39º 10' 03.24" W06º 13' 06.90"
The road comes to the outskirts of Alcuéscar. Pass small farm buildings and a shrine on the left. Turn second on the left after the shrine to walk up a steep hill with steps at the top.
9. N 39º 10’ 40.7” W 06º 13’ 35.0”
At the top of the steps turn left into the Calle de Marcelino Barrero. Turn right and find the car.
10. N 39º 10’ 38.4” W 06º 13’ 34.7”
Photos: October and May