A MORNING’S cycle along the Via Verde is not only one of Andalucia’s most enjoyable excursions, but – somewhat incredibly – can take in one of the region’s best restaurants.
The 38-kilometre hiking and cycling route through soaring mountain scenery between Olvera and Puerto Serrano is one of the true secrets of inland Andalucia.
A clever ruse of the Andalucian authorities, it heads along an unused railway track that was never inaugurated after the railroad company went out of business in the 1930s.
It offers a relatively flat cycle ride through some of Andalucia’s most primitive, unspoilt countryside.
Bring your own bikes or rent them from Andres at Coripe Rural.
There are children’s bikes, trailers for babies and even a tandem for rent from Coripe.
A serious outfit, the company now has a new business renting bikes out on the beach at El Faro, in Marbella.
From Coripe it takes about an hour to get to Olvera, where you can have a morning coffee.
Heading off early – no later than 11am – is certainly advisable in the heat and particularly so you can hot-foot it back to Coripe, where there is an excellent lunch stop at the Estacion de Coripe.
By rights it should be a hot dog and fried-egg sarnie sort of place, but owner Juan Ramon has other ideas.
A keen local nature lover, this softly-spoken chap has a passion for food quite unlikely for such an isolated area.
His avocado salad turns up with some unbelievably fresh prawns, cod roe and caviar, not to mention its strips of smoked salmon and a delicious seafood sauce.
His fresh tomatoes alinados with shavings of garlic and rosemary compete with the best, while the hot tuna croquettes melt in the mouth.
Even better for a starter though is the carpaccio of beef, with the thinnest slices of Manchego cheese, courgettes and mushrooms on top. It was a lesson in finesse.
After our starters, we dived into a fantastic main course of carillada (bull’s cheek) in a plum sauce, as well as some tremendous skewers of monkfish and prawns.
For those who want to make a weekend of it, you can also stay at the Estacion.
Call Estacion de Coripe on 620 013 708 and hire bikes with Andres at www.coriperural.com