The Puente Nuevo – the New Bridge – is the most famous of the bridges in Ronda.
There are 3 main bridges in Ronda; the New Bridge Puente Nuevo, which is not new, the Old Bridge Puente Viejo, which is not the oldest bridge, and is also sometimes called the Arab Bridge Puente Arabe, although it’s not Arab either, and the Roman Bridge Puente Romano, which is not Roman but built by the Arabs.
To get a good view of the famous Puente Nuevo bridge, go along the little public path that goes beside and behind the Ronda Parador. There is no charge for this, although there is a charge if you go down and inside the part of the bridge where there is a small exhibition. Then cross the Puente Nuevo bridge to the observation platform on the other side of the road; from there you can get a view from the other side.
But the best view, the one that you see on posters and postcards, is from down below by the Molinos, the old Mills. I am about to describe a walk which will take you away from the hordes of tourists milling around the Puente Nuevo bridge.
For an averagely fit person (I am pushing 70 and most of my exercise is on the Tube in London), this walk takes 2 hours at a strolling pace. It is a circular route, and involves going down to the Vega, the plain of Ronda, the lovely countryside that you see from the various viewpoints up in the city.
Admittedly, this also means that you then have to walk back up to the city towards the end of your circle, but on a winding country road with flowers by the wayside, what could be nicer than stopping occasionally to admire the view, look at the flora, and get your breath back?
You do indeed walk along country roads – the ones that you can see from up above - where you may see only two or three vehicles in your whole time. Peace after the hustle and bustle of the town and its tourists.
But you can only do this walk from October to early June; after that it will be too hot. And do wear a hat and take a large bottle of water, whatever the time of year.
If you print this off, you won’t need a map, although you might like to have a quick look at Google Maps – you will be going up the main road and then round and all the way along the Camino de los Molinos. Look at it on the map and follow it on Google Street View.
Start anywhere in town near the main road, Virgen de la Paz. If you are at the Puente Nuevo, start walking past the Parador and the Bullring, past the Alameda park and then bear right at the big church – La Iglesia de la Merced – with a flight of steps in front.
You are now in the Calle Jerez, and just along here on the left is the Bar/restaurant Las Castañuelas. Check out the reviews! If you get your timing right, you can put your head round the door and ask Paco to keep a table for you in two hours’ time.
Keep on up the road, past the Hotel Reina Victoria (built by the British to house the engineers working on the Ronda to Algeciras railway line), and you then come to your first photo opportunity: a viewpoint with a bronze statue of the Virgen del Rocío. What an amazing view of the mountains!
Keep following the pavement with the white wall which then becomes railings and then nothing much. You are walking on a road along the edge of the cliff. There is now a wide track leading off to the left, you take this, and start going down through a pinewood. The track gets narrow. This is the only non-tarmacked part of the route, and lasts for 5 minutes.
After a bit you come to a roughish bit (5 metres only) down to a T junction in the track; turn left, onto what is now a lane rather than a track. Then just keep on going down and always going round to your left if there is a junction.
That’s it basically: keep on walking for an hour and a half!
You’ll go past a riding stable, one or two rather nice modern houses, fields of flowers, wild irises by the roadside in winter, almond trees in bloom in January and February, an old house on your right, with a tower that, allegedly, goes back to the time of the Moors, and you’ll cross the Río Guadalavín as it winds among lush fields full of poppies in springtime.
You’ll also get a beautiful view of the Puente Nuevo from below. And as you start the slow climb round towards the town again, you will see an interestingly shaped rock which is vulgarly (very vulgarly) named after an anatomical feature and ascribed to a Moor. :-) You’ll see what I mean when you spot it, and guess its name. The Moor's . . . . .
On the last stretch of the climb up, near a riding school, there are some steps back to the town on the left; I prefer to continue to trudge slowly up the little road and then at the top enter the town through the Horseshoe Gate.
And you are back in civilization – just continue walking back to Las Castañuelas for a well-earned and delicious lunch.