Green Stations, a natural way of experiencing the train
Green Station of Sanabria © Adif
If you like nature and you love the idea of travelling by train, this is the information for you. We suggest taking a trip to any of the nine Green Stations in Spain: these are railway stations which serve as a starting point for exploring territories with natural protected spaces and Green Routes, and offer the chance to enjoy hiking and cycle touring. Which of the nine stations will you choose for your excursion?
Alcoy (Alicante, Region of Valencia) From this station you'll find yourself within easy reach of the nature reserves of Carrascal de la Font Roja (13 kilometres away) and Sierra de Mariola (15 km), home of the southernmost yew forest in Europe. Very near the station you'll find six routes (with a variety of itineraries and degrees of difficulty) and the Alcoy Green Route (an old railway line which has been restored for use by walkers and cyclists). Afterwards you can recharge your batteries by a visit to Alcoy, where typical dishes include the bajogues farades, peppers stuffed with rice. Calahorra (La Rioja) When you leave the station, head for the Riberas del Ebro (6 kilometres away), Monte de los Agudos (7 km) and the El Perdiguero reservoir (4.5 km). There are several routes leading there. One option is the Green Route of El Cidacos, and another, the routes known as the 'Senderos de la Verdura'. You'll be able to revel in the beauty of these forests of white and black poplars, alders, ash and great white willows. Don't leave without exploring Calahorra and sampling its famous dish of assorted vegetables known as menestra. Calatayud (Zaragoza, Aragon) This station is the best place from which to explore the Sierra de Armantes mountains (5 kilometres away), the gorges known as the Hoces del Jalón (9 km) and the Sierra de Vicor mountains (20 km). You'll have five routes to choose from, offering the chance to see gorges carved out of the rock by erosion, species such as the golden eagle and peaks towering over 1,400 metres... And if you're going to Calatayud, don't forget to try the conger eel.
Castuera (Badajoz, Extremadura) Come and see the landscapes of the Sierra de Castuera mountains (3 kilometres from the station) and interesting reservoirs such as those of Zújar and Orellana. Choose between routes including the Mozarabic road to Santiago. And you can't possibly leave Castuera without sampling the Iberian cured ham and the roast lamb. Fuente de Piedra (Antequera, Malaga, Andalusia) It's definitely worth a detour to visit this series of lakes which are home to large numbers of birds which are almost without equal in Spain. The lake of Fuente de Piedra is particularly worth seeing, and is just a stone's throw from the station. And for a treat for the palate, try the local gazpacho and the typical fried breadcrumbs. Ponferrada (León, Castile-León) This is the perfect starting point for exploring places such as Monte Pajariel (3.6 kilometres from the station) and the Bárcena reservoir (7.6 km). You can reach them along the path known as the Senda de los Monjes and the route up to the Pajariel mountain. For lunch, the star of the local gastronomy is the hearty cured meat dish from El Bierzo known as botillo. Puebla de Sanabria (Zamora, Castile-León) Come and walk around the Lago de Sanabria nature reserve (14 kilometres from the station) or in the Sierra de la Culebra mountains (3 km), home to the largest population of wolves on the Iberian Peninsula. There are three routes to choose from: the traditional route of Puebla de Sanabria-El Puente, Camino de las Herrerías, and Castellanos-Chaguaceda-Triufé. And what's for lunch? Habones sanabreses (a local bean stew). Ribes de Fresser (Girona, Catalonia) As soon as you come out of the station you'll see before you the Ribes valley, and 12.5 kilometres away, the Núria valley encircled by peaks almost 3000 metres high. Discover this area by taking routes such as the path of 'La Salud', or take a ride on a mountain bike. And as a souvenir to take home: honey. Ronda (Malaga, Andalusia) There are numerous hiking routes which lead to the Tajo de Ronda gorge (1.1 kilometre from the station), the Dehesilla del Mercado park (2.1 km) and the gorge of the Ventilla stream (8.5 km). Don't miss a visit to Ronda, where the olives and olive oil are highly recommended. On the web page the official website of the ADIF , you'll find a more detailed guide to the nine Green Stations (a number which is soon to be increased), and information on all the monuments, museums and most important festivities in each place. Let the train take you to these unique places.