There are many stories told about this hamlet, mostly apocryphal, and all involving terrible deeds during the civil war. Some will tell you, the inhabitants were rounded up and shot or that they were involved with feeding the bandits in the surrounding hills and because of this the roofs of their houses were removed to prevent anyone living there.
The fight against the bandits went on for many years and to avoid the residents being able to provide shelter or sustenance they were put under much pressure by the Guardia Civil. They were in fact finally forced out by a decree which only allowed them to be there during the daytime. This meant living in a nearby village such as Frigiliana and walking to and from El Acebuchal every day and as there was no motorised transport back then, totally impracticable. All the inhabitants finally left in 1949 and the cottages quickly became derelict and in many cases roofless. Spanish people in recent years have called the hamlet “Pueblo el Fantasmas” or village of ghosts, due to the 50 or so years that it was deserted and derelict.
The hamlet has a history stretching back to the 17th century and as you first approach it is hard to see why anyone would wish to build a house in the bottom of a ravine, partly shaded and with such sloping terrain as to make you walk permanently with one foot higher than the other. However, as so often is the case, man sees opportunities and subsistence farming was possible with a few animals grazing on the hillsides above the cluster of cottages and vegetables grown on the slopes. There was also an inn in El Acebuchal where the mule trains would pause on their journeys from the neighbouring villages of Torrox, Frigiliana, and Nerja up into the Granada region carrying fish, fruit and vegetables. These same mule tracks nowadays provide excellent walking routes and you will constantly be surprised, coming across old abandoned farms with trees still producing fruit just waiting to be picked for the refreshment of the weary traveller.
After the civil war ended, there were a few feeble attempts to re-settle but it was not until 1998 that one of the original families was able to renovate a house in which to live. This was Virtudes and Antonio “El Zumbo” the parents of the present owner of the bar, Antonio Garcia Sanchez, which has also been restored. Since this first renovation there have been many others no doubt speeded up by the arrival of mains electricity in 2003. The little church has also been sympathetically restored and the first Mass for 50 years was held in 2005. The hamlet which is divided into an upper and lower cluster now has smart looking reformed cottages some offering accommodation for visitors.
To visit El Acebuchal you can either drive down a mainly un-made track, or walk. Driving is straightforward as you leave Frigiliana towards Torrox, after about two kilometres, look for a right turn with a wooden sign to El Acebuchal. The road from here is a mixture of asphalt or unmade. At times it becomes quite narrow and passing can be difficult. Thankfully traffic is very light and you may get the whole way without passing another vehicle. Once you arrive it is possible to find parking just past the bar near the church.
The area around El Acebuchal is a walkers paradise with a walk to Puerto Blanquillo which starts along the ravine as you enter the hamlet. It is a walk of about 4 km, climbing up to an altitude of 800 m. El Acebuchal is at 500 m.
In the other direction you have the opportunity to walk from Acebuchal to Cómpeta a distance of 13 km. The return trip will take you about 5 hours so only for the fit. A good compromise is to have a car drop the walkers off at either El Acebuchal or Cómpeta and then drive round for the pick up.
Whichever walk you choose the sights are amazing with flora and fauna to get your cameras clicking. There are plenty of birds to see at the appropriate times as the area is on a migratory route.
The bar/restaurant does have a sign saying roast goat, suckling pig etc are available by prior order. It is closed on Mondays and there have been reports that the opening times can be a little haphazard.
If you are staying with us at Cantueso Cottages we can help you with directions and would always suggest it is worth calling in to the bookshop “Pasatiempo” in Torre del Mar as they have an excellent selection of routes covering our area.
Please also see our “Walking in Axarquia” pages of our website.