WALK OF THE THREE WHITE VILLAGES – CÓMPETA, ARCHEZ AND CANILLAS DE ALBAIDA
Distance: Approx. 18km (long route), 12km (short route)
Time taken: 4.5 hours (long route), 3 hours (short route)
Places to see en route:
Cómpeta –16th century La Asunción church, climb the tower, and admire the vistas across the Axarquia as far as Gibraltar and north Africa on a clear day. Visit the wine museum with its wide range of local produce, and the grape press in Plaza Vendimia, where grape treading takes place during the Noche del Vino (not en route, but worth a visit).
Archez – like so many villages in the Axarquia area, Archez is typically Arabic in its design. Visit the magnificent minaret of the former mosque with its diamond patterned (sebka) material and tiling.
Canillas de Albaida – Roman bridge below the village, the 16th century parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Expectación, in the main square and the two shrines, the 16th century Santa Ana and the 17th century San Antón.
Along the route you will see way marker posts installed by the town hall with the intention of providing a marked walking trail, along with interpretive boards giving information about the area.
Starting from the picturesque Plaza Almijara in the centre of Cómpeta, head down La Rampa, turn right at the bottom and pass the Museo del Vino on your right. Bear left and pass the post office (a car park with a warehouse-style building) on your left and the florists on your right, continue until you reach the Cómpeta to Canillas de Albaida road. Turn right, and walk a short distance along the road to the Bodega Jarel, turn left and follow the track which goes almost parallel with the road for a few metres before dropping down into the valley. Ignore track going off to the right to Finca Maroma and pass the entrance to Casa Cantalejo the right of the track, and then past Casa Clarissa. Just past a large green water tank that can be seen down to the right of the path you come to a 4 way junction. There is a sign “Camino de Archez” pointing you in the right direction.
There are some nice fincas along this route and you’ll no doubt encounter a campesino or two who wants to invite you in for a glass of sweet potent vino. Keep to the main track and don’t deviate off to the right until you come to a four way track. Turn right steeply downhill on a new track, there is a handwritten sign on the fence opposite to Camino de Archez and there may be a chain across the track to stop motor vehicles. Continue downhill to a sharp right hand hairpin bend in the track. Ahead is a wire fence with concrete posts and some rather rusty electricity pylons. There is a second handwritten sign for Camino de Archez that you follow off the track onto a quite badly eroded footpath that follows the line of the fence downhill. You can see Archez in the valley below, follow the new path past a farmhouse with a white walled threshing area, continue on path until it meets a road. Follow the track down again until you come to the Sayalonga to Archez road. Turn right on to the road. You then have two choices of the route you would like to take to Canillas de Albaida, but while you are pondering, relax in one of the friendly bars in the village.
The first option takes you behind Bar Archez overlooking the gorge and past the town hall. Follow the road upwards past the interesting shell-shaped houses. When you arrive at the top of the hill, bear right, and visit the shrine Santa Ana. Continue up the hill and you will see Bar Cerezo on your left – a very friendly bar which is popular with the locals, and serves excellent vino de terreno and tapas.
The second option is to bear left on to the Corumbela road – stop off at Bar El Curro which serves excellent tapas – then bear right up the long hill. The views along the road are fantastic and you can look down on Archez and see its layout and the minaret from a different angle. When you reach the top, turn right and follow the road towards Canillas de Albaida. Pass Finca Cerillo on the right, and as you start to descend into the valley, you will see a track off to the right with a post marking the spot. Turn right and follow the goat track down into the valley. You will come to the Roman bridge which is a nice place for a picnic, then climb up to the road. You then have the option of going along the road which winds up to the village, or following the track straight ahead. Either way you will arrive in Canillas de Albaida, and a welcome stop at Bar Cerezos.
Leaving the bar, climb up the slope to the Cómpeta road, turn right, and follow the road back to Cómpeta. About a mile from the village, just past the turning up to the quarry and the riding stables, there is a track to the left. It is a lovely winding track and the views to the coast are stupendous. By following this track, you will arrive in Cómpeta near the Balcón de Europa. Pass the Balcón on your right and take the left fork along Calle San Antonio. You will then arrive back in the Plaza Almijara where you can enjoy a well deserved drink and tapas. There are a number of options for routes back to Cómpeta from Canillas de Albaida, but these will be published in future issues.