TRIPLE 'A' - Algatocín, Arriate and Atajate

Triple A – Algatocín, Arriate and Atajate

These three villages have nothing in common really, except that they begin with the letter A. There is also Alpandeire, of course, but that village will appear alongside its neighbour Faraján


Algatocín is one of the famous pueblos blancos (white villages) that run through the Serranía de Ronda and dot the mountains throughout Málaga and Cádiz provinces.

Algatocín is small, with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants. It is perched high in the hills at 721 metres above sea level and has the typical features of a mountain village, with steep, narrow, windy little streets and charming arches throughout.

One of the attractions of Algatocín is the 16th century Virgen del Rosario church and the hermitage, El Calvario. The latter is especially worth visiting as it is a lookout point providing panoramic views of the Ronda mountains, other pueblos and the Genal Valley below.

Paradise Found

By Joe King

This is the title of 17th Century English poet John Milton’s follow-up to Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. It is also the title chosen by Joe King for an experience he had in 2021.

I entered paradise the other day. A friend of mine invited me to visit El Molinete, a defunct windmill with outbuildings slap bang in the middle of the last remaining rain forest in Europe, namely in the Genal valley below Algatocín.

My friend bought the place just before the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK and was trapped there for months. Now she’s back with a vengeance and her dream of creating a retreat for shiatsu, tai chi, yoga and other meditative pursuits is back on course.

With no mains electricity or water, the place runs on solar energy and water from a spring up the hill.

“Green” to her roots my friend is dedicated to re-cycling what is on site, what she can find at the basura or what friends donate. This professional interior designer, furniture-maker and former teacher is the most competent female DIY-er I have ever come across. She can turn her hand to literally anything.

With the help of a few “workawayers” (see below for details of this scheme), she has turned a large wooden roundhouse into a delightful living space with outdoor kitchen, WC and shower. It is an official vivienda rural and is available to rent. It’s called the Round House in the Forest.

The first ever booking has just ended. A young Spanish couple, both doctors, spent the Easter puente there with their dog and were thrilled to bits with the accommodation, the location and the get-away-from-it-all atmosphere. They happily joined in meals and other activities with the two “workawayers”, one Italian and one Dutch lady, my friend and me.

After a couple of well-deserved days off, the work has started again to renovate a second roundhouse, to convert a large alberca into a swimming pool and make other improvements to the amenities.

Postscript: Sadly, the enterprise failed and my former friend (we fell out over money) was forced to sell up. Schadenfreude? Mmmm! Maybe ..... But it was still a paradise, nevertheless.

The Workaway Scheme

Workaway is a worldwide platform founded in 2002 that allows members to arrange homestays and cultural exchanges. Volunteers or "Workawayers", are expected to contribute a pre-agreed amount of time per day, say five hours, in exchange for lodging and food, which is provided by their host.

For more details click on the following links.


With an area of only 9 square kilometres, Arriate is one of the most densely populated towns in the province of Málaga, surrounded on all sides by land belonging to one of the largest - Ronda.

Enter Arriate from any direction, and it appears to be a sleepy rural village waiting, with no sense of urgency, for its grass to grow and its paint to dry. Then, all of a sudden a corner is turned and the visitor is suddenly in the high street of a bustling small town.


By Paul Whitelock

One Sunday last summer, we booked for lunch at one of our old favourite restaurants, El Muelle de Arriate, commonly known as Frank’s. However, because of the extreme heat, we switched to the evening, which turned out to be a smart decision. We arrived at 9 pm and sat on the terrace by the railway line in relative comfort. We couldn‘t get the QR scanner to work to look at the menu, so Frank, as is his wont, recited the starters menu to us.

They all sounded good, but we decided to share two; first a wrap filled with avocado, strips of lettuce and other wonderful things. This was followed by a tasty salad that contained vieiras (coquilles Saint Jacques) and prawns. Accompanied by a bottle of house verdejo. Mmmm!

Our preferred main course, a stuffed calamar, a whole squid, had sold out, which was somewhat annoying, but our substitute choice was a knockout: Tataki de ternera con patatas y ajo frito, beef tatyaki with potatoes, fried garlic, salad and vegetables al diente. Washed down with a glass of Ribera del Duero.

That was it. It was gone 11 pm – time to go home - fully replete and satisfied once again with our choice of eatery.



19 May 2023

By Paul Whitelock

It was my birthday yesterday. I'm now more or less double the age of my son, actor Tom Whitelock. I didn't actually have a bash this year. We're thinking of a big shindig to celebrate our 75th birthdays in a few years time.

No, my wife took me out for a nice meal, to a restaurant we'd never been to before.

Restaurante Caireles, Arriate

Housed in a former cinema, which closed some 25 years ago, this relatively new restaurant offered a fine dining experience in delightful surroundings.

The restaurant boasts old cinema paraphernalia as decor and even has an old black and white Spanish film projected onto one of the walls. With soothing jazz and soul music playing in the background, the restaurant had a mixed clientele last night: a family with two young children, a Dutch couple, two large groups of Spanish women and us, English and German.

Manolo, the boss, and his colleagues were polite, friendly and efficient.

The only downer is that, because of its location on the main street of Arriate, there is no car park. You have to take pot luck in the narrow streets nearby.

Our food

Restaurante Caireles offers an interesting menu of freshly prepared dishes to order. There are 20 starters, three fish main courses and eight meat mains and just three desserts. Nevertheless, I found it easy to choose, Rita struggled.

As entrantes I chose alcachofas con pure y bacon (artichokes with pureed potato and bacon pieces) and Rita went for langostinos al polvorone (prawns covered in cheese and baked in the oven).  Tasty.

alcachofas con pure y bacon

mero con salsa verde

Our mains were both fish: Rita chose mojama atun extra con patatas (grilled tuna fish steak with wedges) and I had mero con salsa verde (grouper with mojo picon and coleslaw). Again, well-prepared and presented, and delicious.

The gaps between courses were a bit long, but, at least that proves they were cooking to order. 

To drink we tried two different "open" verdejos, from Rueda and from Cuenca. Both refreshing.

Finally we shared a panna cotta as dessert - also excellent.

With a bill that totalled only 68 euros we were well satisfied with our birthday bash.

What a great birthday present! (Rita paid the bill!)

Another fine restaurant to add to our list of favourites!


Restaurante Sala Caireles

Calle Ronda, 10, 29350 Arriate (Malaga), Andalucía

Tel: 613 00 99 22



Atajate is a small white village in the Serranía de Ronda, perched between the Guadiaro and Genal valleys. With a privileged location in a wonderful natural setting, it is the starting point of several hiking routes. The Church of San José or San Roque is the main tourist attraction in town – the town with the smallest population in Málaga Province.

When coming to Atajate, remember to see the ruins of the Santa Cruz Tower, visit the site of Los Tajos and taste a delicious almond cheese (marzipan).

The Smallest Village

By Paul Whitelock

Did you know that the smallest village by population not just in the Serranía but the whole of Málaga province is Atajate? With just 168 residents it nevertheless boasts an infant and primary school, a pensión, a doctor’s surgery and several highly-rated restaurants.

Of that total population seven are foreigners, predominantly from the USA . There were two deaths, no births and no marriages in 2019 and the unemployment rate is at a rather high 21 per cent. The most jobs are in hotel and catering, construction and administration.

Agriculture is predominantly concerned with the cultivation of oats, oranges and olives.

Sunday Lunch in Atajate

By Paul Whitelock

One Sunday in July last year, we went to a restaurant we hadn’t been to in years, Restaurante Audalázar in Atajate. We sat outside on the covered terrace and enjoyed a delightful couple of hours eating the tastiest and best-presented food you could imagine.

We shared a delicious house salad to start and then Rita went for one of the specials, filete de buey, ox fillet steak. She ordered it al punto and that’s what she got. She loved it.

I opted for another special, lomo con salsa de higo, and I was not disappointed. A couple of glasses of Ribera del Duero followed by coffee and we were happily full. 

Quite expensive, but worth every penique.

‘NOVIAS’ en Atajate

Por The Culture Vulture

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Anoche presentó en Atajate (Málaga) La Pequeña Compañía del Proyecto Platea la obra “Novias”, una comedia escrita por dos actrices del mismo grupo de teatro.

Emma Cherry y Charo Carrasco escribieron la obra como medida de escape durante el confinamiento causado por Covid-19. Estrenó en Ronda en el Convento de Santo Domingo en septiembre de 2020.

The Culture Vulture, un británico residente en La Serrania de Ronda desde 2008, asistió a esa primera presentación y escribió entonces una crítica muy positiva. [Haz clic aquí para leerla]

Anoche llevó a su mujer a ver la obra, que ella no había visto antes.

He aquí la nueva crítica del Culture Vulture:


Habían instalado el escenario en el aparcamiento de Atajate, el municipio más pequeño de la provincia de Málaga. La temperatura había bajado bastante y el público se sintió muy confortable.

‘Novias’ surgió a través de la escritura de un argumento que habla de cuatro mujeres que acuden a la última prueba de su vestido de novia en un taller de costura. De ese encuentro surgen una serie de divertidas reflexiones. “Es una comedia muy fresca, muy dinámica que te hace olvidarte de todo lo demás durante la hora y quince minutos que dura”, han insistido las autoras.

Dirigida por el actor profesional rondeño Marcos Marcell, la obra ha funcionado muy bien en muchos niveles, con un entusiasmo grande por parte de las cuatro actrices, Emma Cherry, Charo Carrasco, Ana Belén Sánchez y Nieves Rodríguez. 

Nieves, Charo, Emma y Anabelén

Marcell ha destacado el trabajo desarrollado por las autoras y las actrices. “Nos hace muy felices presentar una comedia 100% rondeña que es una respuesta a esta situación que estamos viviendo de noche continua. Es una ventana abierta a la ilusión y la alegría y para toda la familia”, ha explicado el director.

Con cuatro canciones en vivo muy bien presentadas, y un denouement muy divertido e inesperado pasamos una hora y pico muy agradables al aire libre en el aparcamiento de Atajate.

El público, unas 80 personas y tres perros, vino de todas partes: de Atajate mismo, de Ronda, Montejaque, Benaoján y Arriate y también de San Pedro de Alcántara y Cuevas del Becerro. Al final dio una ovación de pie muy merecida.

Las cuatro actrices fueron fenomenales: la neurótica Soledad, representada por Emma Cherry, actriz profesional inglesa; la ‘snob’ muy rica y muy especial Mercedes (Charo Carrasco); la ‘virgen’ frustrada y extrovertida María (Anabelén Sánchez); y Nieves Rodriguez, quien desempeñó el papel de Coco, la experimentada propietaria del taller de bodas.

En mi opinión esta presentación de ‘Novias’ fue mejor que la ‘premiere’, y mi mujer Rita, después de haber visto ‘El enfermo imaginario’ de la misma compañía en enero, opinó: “Es un grupo de teatro fantástico. Aunque no lo son, presentan como profesionales - con mucho entusiasmo y ritmo. Me ha encantado.”

¡Enhorabuena a todos!