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Vias Verdes

As in the rest of Spain and Europe, Castilla y León has many railway tracks which have been, for some time, out of operation.

Some sections of old railway tracks have been today set aside for the use of tourists wishing to go hiking or cycling along them. These trails are known as the Vías Verdes where tourists have over 7,000km of those lines, once used by trains, to cover, be it on foot or cycling. Many of the other tracks were never actually made operational as work on them was not completed. The fact that many railway lines are not in use, leaves Castilla y León with a lot of possibilities for taking advantage of the land which has a great historical and cultural value. The creation of new social demands for hiking and ecological tours has given a new purpose to the once operational railway tracks.

In January of the year 2000, in Spain, over 800km of old railway tracks were converted into so-called Vías Verdes. Today, railways, the most ecological means of transport, offer a new form of non-mechanical transport with these sections of railway lines that have been long out of use. In addition to this, roads and paths with the appropriate infrastructure, such as the towpaths along the canals, enable tourists to do these routes. All of this makes up a strong network of Vías Verdes, which each day become the target of new projects aimed at preserving the region's heritage.

Vía Verde del Esla

The route recovered from Vía Verde del Esla goes from Valencia de Don Juan to Castrofuerte, both of which are in the province of León. Due to the high level of preservation and adaptions made on this stretch, handicapped people can cover it, as indicated in the Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles' handbook. There are also proper signposts indicating the cross-country route.

If the entire track is covered, in a northerly direction, the tourist can visit up to eleven towns in the provinces of Valladolid and León, from Medina de Rioseco, going through Palazuelo de Vedija and Villamuriel, to Barcial de la Loma, Castroverde and Villanueva del Campo. The tourist will also get to know the towns of Roales, Valderas, Campazas, Castrofuerte and Valencia de Don Juan.

Vía Verde Canal de Castilla

FROM FÓMISTA TO PALENCIA
The Canal de Castilla Vía Verde track,from Frómista to Palencia, runs 39 kilometres along the tow track that wanders parallel to this arm of the sea where it passes through Palencia territory. It crosses the valleys of the rivers Pisuerga and Carrión on compacted earth tracks helping walkers and cyclists to go on their way. The importance of this route is enhanced by the fact that a large part of it coincides with the Camino de Santiago. The entire route is escorted by rows of trees that rise up from the shores of the canal.

Frómista is an important setting on the Jacobean route, while, at the same time, a historic and monumental town of great value. Although it is not a vía verde track as such, due to the train´s activity, its signposting is in perfect condition.

FROM ALAR DEL REY TO FRÓMISTA
This stretch is 57 kilometres long and is one of the most beautiful ones along the Canal de Castilla, for it starts out at the source of this magnificent 150 year-old piece of hydraulic engineering. It is set in the valley of the river Pisuerga. The tow roads are made of firmly beaten compact earth with vegetation on the borders and are in good condition. They run along the very bank of the canal, which allows the walker to enjoy all this artificial river's architecture, crossing bridges, locks, docks and aqueducts.

The most significant towns found along the way are Alar de Rey, Osorno, Frómista and Herrera de Pisuerga -, where the Canal de Castilla Interpretation Centre is located at the San Andrés dam.

With good signposting, the vía verde is included in the group of those lines which did not start at the edge of the train track, but which have similar characteristics.

FROM PALENCIA TO VALLADOLID
This vía verde track runs between the Palencia capital and the Vallodolid basins, which is the end of the so-called "Ramal Sur" branch of the Canal de Castilla. This is a flat route, bordered by vegetation and groves, which allows walkers to walk on a well looked after compact earth path. The line goes through towns of great historic interest such as the capital of Palencia itself, the town of Dueñas on Palencia territory, Cubillas de Santa Marta and Corcos del Valle. Wine from Cigales with the Denominación de Origen label includes these last three townships, the last two in the province of Valladolid.

The Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Palazuelos, which borders on the tow road very close to the Puente de Cabezón de Pisuerga, is worth visiting.

Although the train has never gone through these tow roads, the Canal de Castilla vía verde track meets all the other characteristics that come under this title.

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