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Big Green Train Ride PDF

Big Green Train Ride, Jimera de LibarWhat could be better than an eco-friendly train ride and a healthy walk back through a protected landscape, followed by a meal made from organically grown produce?

Paul Whitelock describes two options for a green day out - one recently taken by UK Conservative leader David Cameron - in the beautiful Guadiaro Valley...

We've done our green day out twice in recent months, in December and in April, and once in each direction. And whatever the season or routing, it's a fantastic way to spend a day. Combining one of Andalucla's most scenic train rides with a fabulous river valley walk and a splendid slap-up lunch, things don't get much better. You are heading to the hills near Ronda and can arrive by train from either Granada or on the coast at Algeciras. British Conservative Party leader David Cameron recently undertook the walk, while staying in the famous nearby mountain town. In fact, the walk through the valley of the River Guadiaro between the villages of Benaoján and Jimera de Líbar can be done broadly in two different ways.

Either catch the 10.24 train from Benaoján-Montejaque station for the seven-minute train ride to Jimera de Líbar and walk back to your car in time for lunch in one of four different restaurants in Benaoján Estación. Or you can do it the other way round and walk from Benaoján to Jimera in time for a late lunch in the acclaimed Restaurante Quercus, or for tapas in nearby Bar Allioli, before catching the 17.03 train back.


Whichever way you do it, you'll walk through some of the most stunning scenery around. The fast-flowing Guadiaro, which winds its way through the valley, accompanies you for large parts of this walk, as does the single-track railway line which takes trains from Granada to Algeciras along a picturesque route built by Scottish engineer, Sir Brodie Henderson, at the beginning of the 20th century.

With the sheer limestone mountains of the Serranía de Ronda on one side and rolling hills, lush with vegetation, on the other, this is a really pretty way to get those leg muscles working and your heart pumping. Whether in the middle of winter when everywhere is still green, or in early spring when the wild flowers are blooming and the trees blossoming, you'll marvel at the beauty of nature. In the summer set off early or late or you'll frazzle in the sun. En route you might see rabbits, goats and wild boar, as well as pretty butterflies and circling griffon vultures. You'll meet other walkers too, mostly frlendly and game for a chat. The last time we did this outing, we met Spaniards from all over Spain, several Germans and some Spanish-looking ladies who spoke perfect English - they were Gibraltarians, glad to escape the narrow confines of The Rock to enjoy the wide open spaces of this part of southern Andalucía.

Lunch at Asador El Muelle, a former railway shed, is a hearty good-value affair, with a wide choice of meats and fish grilled in their wood-burning oven. The meat and fish main courses are generous and are enjoyed by a predominantly Spanish cliéntele, always a good sign. You escape from here for about 15 euros per head, including drinks.

At the more fundamental Café-Bar Stop you can get a hearty three course menú del día for about eight euros, bread and wine included, if you can get a seat. This is a very popular eating place, run with utter efficiency by the formidable Anita. But note that they are closed on Saturdays. Even cheaper, but charming nevertheless with its outside terrace on the station platform and a super display of flowers, is the Bar Cantina Estación. No menu of the day, but a choice of about ten daily dishes at realistic prices. On Saturdays they have a barbecue with a good choice of meat and fish to whet the appetite.

The restaurant at Hotel Molino del Santo is another matter altogether. This is high-class dining. Owned and run by Andy Chapell and Pauline Elkin, this place is very popular with locals as well as visitors. So much so that you need to book at weekends. The menu changes regularly and has a good selection of vegetable and salad dishes. The ingredients are largely organic and either home-grown or sourced locally. Top dish is habitas con morcilla, manzana y beicón, baby broad beans sautéed with black pudding, apple and bacon pieces. Allow about 30 euros per person, including wine. The hotel offers a special discount of 35 percent on room rates for Olive Press readers booking within three days of their planned stay, if they mention the paper.


Another option, a half kilometre's walk away alongside the river, is Hotel Molino Cuatro Paradas, which boasts one of the finest dining terraces in Andalucía. But you need to ring first to check that they are serving lunches.

In Jimera de Libar Estación, Restaurante Quercus, also in an old railway shed, is the more expensive of the restaurants described here, but it's worth every penny. This place has quickly gained a reputation as one of the top restaurants in Andalucia. Run by local lady María Luisa Martín, Quercus offers a really healthy menu, using ingredients from their own huerta or from local farms. There are countless specials every day, and lots of vegetarían options. Try the timbóle of baby broad beans and avocado with a carpaccio of langoustines and roasted cherry tomatoes and crispy slices of young leeks. A full meal with wine is about 40 euros a head.

Another interesting but cheaper option is the village bar right by the station. Bar Allioli, now run by Englishman Paul Darwent and his Danish wife, Synnove, this locale is loved by the vlllagers, as well as being popular with walkers on a budget. A wide range of excellent tapas is always available, as well as tourist information. It was here that the UK's probably future prime minister David Cameron ended up recently after taking the walk with his family.

So that is "our green day out". The walk is highly recommended and so is the food, whichever direction you go in and wherever you choose to eat. Enjoy!

©  Paul Whitelock

Tags: Big Green Train Ride, our green day out, eco-friendly train ride, David Cameron, Guadiaro Valley, Andalucla, Ronda, Benaoján, Jimera de Libar, Montejaque, Benaoján Estación, Restaurante Quercus, tapas, Bar Allioli, Sir Brodie Henderson, Serranía de Ronda, wild boar, griffon vulture, Asador El Muelle, Café-Bar Stop, menú del día, Bar Cantina Estación, Hotel Molino del Santo, habitas con morcilla manzana y beicón, baby broad beans sautéed with black pudding apple and bacon pieces, Olive Press, Hotel Molino Cuatro Paradas, huerta, timbóle of baby broad beans and avocado with a carpaccio of langoustines and roasted cherry tomatoes and crispy slices of young leeks, Paul Whitelock



0 #1 2012-02-10 12:08
A super little article by Paul Whitelock.
I have done the Algeciras run up to Ronda. Next plan is all the way up to Granada!