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Report - El Caminito del Rey (The Kings Walkway), Spain - Feb 09'

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by northcave, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. northcave

    northcave blatant is the new covert
    28DL Full Member

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    Ok the King's Walkway needs no introduction but for those of you who haven't heard of it, here is a little background info with a little cut n' paste from selected sources.

    Firstly, "El Caminito Del Rey" translates directly to "the path of the king". However, technically it was not created as a pathway for the King of Spain, or at least not for a little while later. Anyhow, it is located in Spain at a little place up in the hills called El Chorro.

    In 1901 it became obvious that workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls needed a walkway to cross between the falls, to provide for transport of materials, and for the inspection and maintenance of the channel. Construction of the walkway took four years and it was finished in 1905. In 1921 King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway for the inauguration of the dam Conde del Guadalhorce and it became known by its present name.

    As far as I can tell the Walkway was a lot more rudimentary and then made a little more ornate after the King expressed his interested in crossing. The photo below illustrates how simple parts of it were but in some of my photos and in the one above you can see that it was made to be a little more than purely a path for inspections and the transport of parts.

    After myself & Stepping Lightly stepped off the plane our first hurdle was in that Easyjet decided to loose SL's bag. And yes it was the one with the rope in it :crazy. A day later we got it back which left us only 2 days get up to El Chorro and do this thing. An easy drive up was help even more so with the best Fish n' Chips I've ever had from an English couple in a random little bar in the middle of nowhere!

    We arrived late that night which meant we'd have to do the walkway the next morning on a Saturday which could have been a problem considering the local Spanish Police patrolled the area frequently on weekends. For the record, and no matter how tired you or how late you arrive in El Chorro; by no means should you stay at this place. Better to crawl into a bush and bivy!

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    The next bit of advice is that the lady round the corner makes a killer sandwich. Purchase many, should it be the last thing you eat when you fall 700ft to your death later on.


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    Ok the walkway begins at the mouth of the gorge with pretty much no other way in apart from by boat, but I wouldn't recommend it since they regularly release the dam up river which would leave you in a spot of bother with about 20 thousands tonnes of water baring down.


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    The initial part of the walkway has crumbled off totally and so a climb to the start is mandatory. It can be done without ropes but even if you cross horizontally towards the start you are soon very high.


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    The path then looks sturdy enough from above but in fact it is 1 brick thick at most and, in parts, completely absent. It curves round into the gorge and within about 50 yards you're already about 500ft above the water. If you were lucky you might be able to free fall into it without hitting the sides but it's doubtful. This soon crosses what seems to be a nice and secure bridge but I've been told it's ready to give... in a very permanent way. Either way I found this info out the next day so what I didn't know couldn't hurt me.


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    However, what was rather sobering laid at the end of the bridge. A memorial to three guys that didn't manage to complete the trip. I won't go into details but basically they all went over the edge and didn't come back to tell the tale!


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    From here the walkway disappears one of a series of gullies and slowly winds its way across the top of the gorge approximately 500-700ft above the river. Parts of the walkway are good, others precarious, whilst some is just absent.


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    It continues for a long while until it eventually appears in what is know and can only be described as the hidden valley. Both ends are sealed with deep gorges of which the only way in and out is via the walkway. This would explain, in part, why such an amazing place was so devoid of other people and tourists. We continued through the valley to far end where the walkway continued.


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    From here on there was little or not protection to be had so the rope came out for exceedingly sketchy sections whilst we continued the rest of the way alpine style with 40ft between us. It is here that the walkway shows signs of being upgraded for the King's visit to include solid pillars and metal arches every 20ft or so. The actual structure itself was however, no more secure than the first section. The only consolation was that instead of falling 700ft, this time you'd fall a mere 150 :tumbleweed


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    Eventually, the walkway ended abruptly and a small climb out is required. We then arrived at the reservoir where there was a little more exploring to be had of some old workings. If we'd had the extra day, which Easyjet stole from us, we'd have probably given this area more attention. Instead we headed back after about an hour.


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    So that's it folks. It is a walkway in the sky and myself and Mr Lightly are now Kings :Not Worthy. No seriously, I can't recommend this highly enough to anyone with a bit of cash, the right gear and a driving license. Don't go unprepared else you might be joining the three chaps that took the 700ft freefall. Enjoy!
     
    #1 northcave, Mar 3, 2009
    Last edited: May 6, 2011

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