Freewheeling through Rural Andalusia: The Via Verde of Seville

Not far north of Seville, there is a track winding back through the northern slopes of Andalusia, through the Sierra Morena, a gorgeous corrugated mountain range covered in olive and oak trees under which graze pigs, sheep and goat. The track follows and old railway line built a century ago to service an iron mine at the end of the line. Mostly dead straight and mostly an easy incline, the Via Verde is the perfect way to see Andalusia by bike. I followed its twenty or so kilometres up and back to see what I could see.

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Along the track, the vestiges of the old rail link can still be seen. For nearly a century, this railway linked an ore mine at Cerro del Hierro – Iron Hill – with Seville, where the ore was loaded onto boats bound for England and Scotland. Prior to this, the mines were exploited by man as early as the Romans, but in the late twentieth century the ore was exhausted and operations came to a close. Today this natural wonder is protected, and the cavernous pits and tunnels can still be explored and its landscapes can still be appreciated.

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Halfway along the track I found my half-way house at the Río Huéznar, where, they told me, I’d find some waterfalls; the perfect spot for a mid day pit-stop. Approaching the river a flock of goats came clanging down the hill with their bells swinging at the necks and their udders swinging at the ground. Their shepherd told me with pride that his cheese is  100% cheese, no added nothing for him and his old man old-man calling at him from the hill. The old fella was telling him to bring in the young one, a little kid goat born three days ago, her umbilical cord still drying off in the sun. Spring is well and truly here.

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In Spain jamón – a type of cured pork – though ubiquitous, is not normally seen alive and walking, but on the Vía Verde jamón oinks at you, sniffs at you, and, boring of you, leaves you to search for more acorns to dig up with its snout. These walking, snorting jamón pigs eat only acorns fallen from the big old oaks that shade them, making them the finest pigs there are for a little bit of jamoncito.

via verdevia verde-11These same oak trees which feed the pigs with acorns feed your wine bottle’s neck with cork. For hundreds of years, humans have harvested these trees to keep their wine safe from oxidisation, and so long as Europeans remain romantic, that is, so long as they choose the cork-stop over the screw-top, these trees will keep receiving their yearly bark cuts. Not that the tree minds, as the cork just grow back with time. These trees, known as alcornoques in Spanish, pepper the hills here, creating a truly unique landscape.

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57 thoughts on “Freewheeling through Rural Andalusia: The Via Verde of Seville

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  1. We are about the head to Seville – we’ve been before but only to the city. This looks beautiful and has given me some inspiration! My husband is definitely looking forward to tiny cold beers and endless variations of eggs and potatoes, but I think we’ll have to be a little more ambitious now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear this post has pushed you beyond the confines of the city! Catch the ‘cercanias’ train line from Santa Justa station to the ‘Cazalla-Constantina’ stations – and you can rent a bike there or bring your own. Definitely good way to spend a day in Andalusia, just make sure you research the train times well, as there’ isnt that many going to and fro Cazalla through the day. I went at about 10am and returned around 6, more or less.


  2. Muy bien! Nice story and images from the Via Verde Timothy, from one of my favorite regions of Spain… I’m looking forward to more from Andalucia. You might want to find my friend Lottie Nevin (and partner Pedro/Pete) in your neck of the woods – check out her eponymous blog. Hasta luego 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Amit. There is and there will be plenty more reading on Andalusia in my blog – just stay tuned. Thanks for the tip about your friend Lottie, very well done blog.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe the Bellote pigs were the highlight, pigs that only eat acorns. But the whole landscape was the highlight, really. Beautiful country.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Intricacies and Follies and commented:
    I felt as if I had secretly tagged along and then I found that I was really enjoying the bike ride alongside Tim. I loved it so much that I’ve decided to reblog. And the photography– oh the photography, excellent. I’ll let it rest in my site for a while. Hope you don’t mind Tim. Thank you. Selma.


  4. I’m new in these woods. I just found out about reblogging;don’t understand the workings well though, but I couldn’t resist the urge to do it. Loved what I read and the pics, excellent. Thanks for sharing them. Enhances the feeling of being there with you. Lovely.


  5. So many people go to Barcelona and Madrid, or straight to the coast to lay on the beach, and they are all missing out so much! Andalucia is such a beautiful area, and has everything that a first time visitor would want to see in Spain (flamenco, wine, tapas, etc) but in a much more authentic and special atmosphere than you get in the bigger cities. Great photos!


    1. Totally! And its not hard to scratch beneath the surface of Andalusia either – just need to do a small amount of research and you can find gems. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not hard at all! I think Granada is my favorite city in Spain, such a unique culture there. I have a blog post about Granada where I pretty much gush about it the entire article because it’s so awesome 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved your photos! Speaking about nature n’ photography:
    On my blog you may travel digitally throughout Norway. (And it’s all free!)
    More than 6000 pictures – all in ‘full screen’ – from cities, municipalities, from tourist destinations or just plain Norwegian nature at its best.
    Everything is texted in English as well as Norwegian. Please enjoy!


    1. Hey Barry, your right, it *is* Cazalla; between Cazalla and the Pico de Hierro. You can catch the Cercanias to Cazalla-Constantina, and from there right the track up and back. Very easy to do from Seville. I live here yep, in Jerez de la Frontera, and I’ also an English teacher.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blimey that was a good guess. Been to Jerez a few times, liked it there. Would like to return and see flamenco, heard it’s pretty good there? Are you a fan of flamenco? Most expats in Spain seem to be English teachers, not much else we can do. Best of luck.


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