Via Verde del Aciete
A fantastic Spanish initiative is the Vias Verdes concept; miles of old train lines have been removed to form long tracks, great for cycling or walking through stunning Spanish scenery, without the worry or intrusion of cars. There are over one hundred routes nationwide and twenty five routes within Andalucia. One such example is the Via Verde del Aciete, this stretch is one hundred and twenty kms in total from Jaen to Puente Genil. Along the track railway architecture has been preserved, you can see original bridges, stations, level crossings, guard houses and a tunnel from a historic oil train line.
We drove to Dona Mencia where there is parking, bike hire and a cafe where the old train station would have once been. At the Bikefriends hire shop there was a range of bikes, child seats, tandem and even four seaters with a roof! We settled for two adult bikes and a pull along trolly where Chaos and Mayhem could sit back and eat strawberries whilst we did the hard work pedalling. As Dona Mencia is at Km 75 we could head in either direction along the track, so we decided to cycle in the direction of Jaen to nearby Zuheros.
The trolley felt a little heavy and it was only when we had cycled the 3.5km to Zuheros that we realised why, one of the trolley tires was completely flat! Despite our attempts to revive the tyre we were thwarted by its complete flatness and the mini pump provided so decided to grin and bear it. Luckily the surface of this via verde track is great and mostly level. However, to enter the mountainside village of Zuheros we all had to dismount before either me or the trolley broke. Trying to drag the bike, cumbersome trolley and boys up to the castle was exhausting in the mid-day heat but the climb, drag and push was worthwhile. Below the castle is a suspension bridge and incredible viewpoint. We had a well-deserved rest and lunch at the superb restaurant Palancos, which served traditional Andalucian fayre, and the most awesome goats cheese, declicious!
We hired the bikes for the half-day rate at €12 per bike, the trolley was extra but was included free due to the flat tyre! A lovely way to spend Spanish Mother’s Day.