Walking the King’s Walkway in Spain with closed eyes is not a good idea.
When travelling there is the safe and sure way to go, or, those who possess the thrill seeker gene can opt to take a route which promises a bit of danger. For anyone who does enjoy an adrenalin rush, there is an elevated walkway in Malaga, Spain which guarantees to aid your concentration.
Called El Caminito del Rey, or the King’s Walkway, it is a fairly unstable path that has been erected along the sheer cliffs of a narrow gorge in El Chorro.
Originally built as a transport pathway for workers who were building a nearby hydroelectric plant, the walkway has been allowed to fall into disrepair, simply because its original use is no longer needed.
The walkway was began in 1901 and took four years to complete. The elevated path didn’t have a name until Spain’s King Alfonso XIII negotiated the perilous journey in 1921 to officially open the dam, and the route was then named the King’s Walkway in his honour.
It was a remarkable engineering feat just to build the path, let alone to complete the dam it was meant to service. The walkway is one metre (3 feet and 3 inches) in width, and rises over 100 metres (350 feet) above the river below. The drop from the path is sheer, with no impediments to halt a fall. Steel spikes were imbedded in the cliff walls at an angle of 45 degrees. Steel rails were attached to the spikes which acted as foundations for the concrete path that was laid on top. There is no handrail as such, but a length of sturdy safety-wire has been attached to the cliff face which walkers can either hold or clip onto for security.
These days the path is in very poor condition and much of the path has fallen away, leaving large gaps which need to be negotiated by those who are foolhardy enough to attempt the crossing.
The El Chorro district in Andalusia is popular with rock climbers and they are, in the main, the people who are most keen to negotiate the route. For anyone with rock climbing experience, then the traverse is probably is not considered to be complicated, and there are even good footholds in the path’s gaps.
There are guides in El Chorro who will arrange to lead people along the path. For anyone wishing to tackle the crossing it is advisable to go with experienced guides who will also ensure that climbers are equipped with the best safety gear. All you need is a reasonable level of fitness, a good attention span and an excellent head for heights.
(story previously published in www.grumpysgetawayguide.com)