Via Verde de la Sierra
Verdes are routes for bikers and walkers, built on the tracks of
disused railway lines. They are scattered across Spain.
The website for the Via Verde routes is at http://viasverdes.com/principal.asp It is in Spanish, or "Googled English".
This route is north of Cadiz and south of Sevilla. It is just over 30 kms long. The track was planned to be some 119 kms long, joining Arcos de la Frontera with Jédula. It was planned as a commercial route but the army too was keen for it to be built to make an easy route to Cadiz. However, with the Civil War and economic restraints, only 21 kms ever saw a train run on it. This section was completed, with 4 viaducts, an amazing 30 tunnels and 5 stations, but never saw a single train.
The route runs between Puerto Serrano and Olivera. Being on an old railway line, the climbs are gentle but definitely noticeable. Although it meant driving a little further to the start of the ride, I chose to start from Puerto Serrano, so it would be downhill going "home". I was glad I did that as I was quite tired on the way back, and going downhill certainly helped.
|As I drove to Puerto Serrano to begin the ride, there were many fields of sunflowers. Since it was mid June, they were all in full flower.|
|I chose to ride the trike for this ride. That was fine, except that there were some rough stretches of track which it did not like. For those the mountain bike would have been happier. I found a place to park near the beginning of the trail and got loaded to go.|
|The early part of the track ran through overhanging trees. If only it had been completed, I feel it would be a great tourist attraction now as a scenic railway. As it is, it is left for the few bikers who use it to enjoy.|
|The track passed several ruins of building from another age. A very isolated existence to live in these mountains.|
|There was a slightly muddy-looking river running beside the track for several kilometers.|
|There are 30 tunnels. Almost all are long enough to warrant
lights. There is so little traffic, they are fitted with motion
detectors to turn on the lights.
I kept myself amused as we entered the tunnels, by saying loudly in my deepest voice "Let there be light", and sure enough there was light.....
It was quite funny for about the first 15 times, but since I had to pass through the 30 tunnels twice, it pretty much wore thin by the end of the ride.
|Here you can see three tunnels in a row. The cost to build all these must have been enormous.|
|The river came and went as we traveled east. The flowers growing beside the river gave a nice splash of colour.|
|I saw very few other people for the whole ride. Once, when I stopped to take photos I was passed by a man on his donkey.|
|There were several very long straight stretches of track. It is no wonder that they needed so many tunnels and bridges to go through the mountains without seeming to bother to find an easy route.|
|The town of Olivar is overlooked by an impressive castle.
Before we came to live in Spain I had not thought of Spain as a country with castles; in fact it has more than its fair share of castles all over the country.
|The station at Olivar.
It was a Monday when I did the ride, and everything was closed up tighter than the proverbial drum. Some friends had previously done the ride on a weekend, and told me that there were plenty of places to get food and drink, so I did not go too well equipped. Be warned if you go on a Monday - take all you need!
My total distance covered, out and back, was 62 kms, with a total climb of 385 meters. It was a bit bumpy for the trike, and if I do it again it will be on the mountain bike. My only real issue was getting low on food and drink on the way back. I did find a vending machine at an un-manned tourist office. I had no coins for the machine, but found a man who looks after the vulture sanctuary near Coripe. He changed some coins for me and I downed a Coke and two bags of crisps. With this injection of fuel, I fairly raced back over the last 15 kms or so.
A good ride with interesting scenery that probably warrants a repeat one day.
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