El Caminito del Rey a.k.a 'The Kings Walkway', (El Chorro) Spain
Massive props to Stepping Lightly for this, I finally managed to free up some spare time away from the UK to get this done before the inevitable work starts
When it rains go to Spain...
And believe me it shit it down the duration we were there, we had committed to getting this done, so whilst the Spanish weather was making news, we quietly crept up to the walkway high up in the mountains of El Chorro
It was a memorable experience, despite SL throwing my phone in the wash later that evening, luckily the special brew San Miguel's took the pain away
Sorry pic heavy, also video at bottom..In 1901 it became apparent that workers at the hydroelectric power plants at Chorro & Gaitanejo Falls needed a walkway that would bridge both plants, to provide for transport of materials, and for the inspection and maintenance of the channel
Construction of the walkway took four years and was completed in 1905
The inauguration of the walkway did not take place until 1921, when Spanish King Alfonso XIII crossed it and has been called The King's Pathway (or El Caminito del Rey) since
The walkway is one metre (3 feet and 3 inches) and is pinned on the mountain face hundreds of metres high in places above the Guadalhorce river, deep within the Gaitaines Gorge El Chorro
It's now fallen to a severe state of disrepair, to a point where there is nothing but metal bearing supports left in many places!
Several people have lost their lives on the walkway in recent years and after two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed/demolished both entrances
In June 2011, the regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Malaga agreed to share costs of restoration (including car parking and a museum)
@ €9 million, the project will take approximately three years to complete
Many of the original features will remain in place and the new materials that are used will be in keeping with the old design
(As of 2012 this hasn't happened, and I suspect will be a few years before it is touched)
Masses of exposure and a head for heights makes for a full on trip of win!
Original 'way on', now described as "intransitable" by the Andalusian government
Since the first 60ft or so has been demolished, you have to start your ascent under the original path..
This involves some basic via ferrata and traversing along the mountain below the walkway across some old brackets a good 4 to 5ft apart, with a perilous drop, and an exposed climb with a good 70ft drop!
(It's understandable why people turn back at this point)
Within no time you are a good few hundred feet above the lagoon below
The pathway initially winds around the gorge via a set of 190 year old steps and a 3ft decrepit concrete pathway, offering little protection and having seen better days
(Also the first traverse of many across some shonky iron-work - Sadly no pic, but *SEE VIDEO at bottom for more detail)
Around the next corner can be found the Aqueduct which crosses the gorge
But first you have to traverse across the most exposed section of the walkway (here there is no path) just some rusty iron, with nothing but a 500ft drop below
Ahead is the Aqueduct which crosses the gorge, the water is carried through a large steel pipe
S.L wasn't hanging about as we stopped for a couple of snaps, fully aware it is f00ked and ready to collapse any time!
At the other side you can climb down to a cave-like entrance into a tunnel which runs through the mountain, I didn't take any pics, but it's covered off in the video..
Just around the corner is this memorial, which kinda puts it all into context.. these poor buggers fell over 500ft as the pathway gave way (and also a zipline they had rigged)
Make no mistake, this place is as sketch as it comes, it's not "The worlds scariest path" for no reason!
S.L Points the way on...
From here on in there are several similar sections
'Life on the Edge'
Eventually the walkway winds down into the gorge and opens out in a valley following a trail through a forest and another Aqueduct for around a mile..
..It then re-appears the other side of a narrow gorge in the form of a crumbling ledge as it heads towards the power station
Eventually the walkway comes to an abrupt end, as just like the start the last section has been removed, with no way off
The only choices now are to traverse back or a 40ft climb up the rock face,
we opted for the climb and to take a look at the hydroelectric station and dam
We had a quick poke about - Here the exit from the walkway, now inaccessible from the other side
We scrambled back up the mountain and abseiled back down onto the walkway below
It had been a long day and I was f00ked if I was traversing back the way we came, so was quite relieved when SL suggested an 'alternative route' back,
which if caught would have landed us in a whole load of bother!
BUT first we had to cross the bridge of death; this thing is proper f****d!..
The rest, well it's only a 6,000 euro fine, so with SL's pop star wages we thought we'd chance it
Shouts to Stepping Lightly & Ninjaboy for a memorable trip
(Switch it to HD 1080p crank up yer speakers and sit back!!)