La Avellaneda is one of the depopulated villages in Geopark Villuercas-Ibores-Jara. It is located just by the side of the Ibor river, nine kilometres away from Castañar de Ibor, where today´s hiking route starts.
This route is part of The Jeronimos´path, the ancient trail that connected the monastery of Yuste with Guadalupe in the Middle Ages.
We started walking early in the morning from Castañar de Ibor because the aim was to get to La Avellaneda and return to Castañar de Ibor before the “cañas time”, as we call the time we spend at a bar –more often during weekends- drinking cold beers and eat “Spanish tapas” before having lunch.
If your legs are not brave enough to complete the whole route, another option is to drive down to the river, park the car and walk through the trail that go along the Ibor´s riverside.
Once we got to the riverbank, the murmuring sound of the water was what most grabbed my attention, along with the pleasure of walking among huge cork trees, ancient olive trees and enormous chestnut trees.
Ideal for those who need to recharge their batteries after a hectic week.
A bit of history.
La Avellaneda is partial refurbished. There are modest new houses next to the ruins of what were constructions for farmers and workers. The church has been completely restored.
The village exodus took place in the 18th century. It is believed the citizens abandoned La Avellaneda due to a plague of termites, but the truth is its people moved to Castañar de Ibor for other reasons, such as a better location closer to Guadalupe, the hub of Catholicism in Spain at that time.
La Villuerca (1.601 m altitude) is the highest peak in the 2.544 km2 Geopark Villuercas-Ibores-Jara´s region. From the summit you can see – on a sunny day- all the villages in the Geopark and observe its deep valleys and imposing mountains.
La Villuerca is known as the Geopark´s roof.
To get to the top, there are two options. The best one is to take a narrow rural trail that comes up from the CC-97 road nearby Navezuelas. Although the path is extremely steep, you can get to the top with your car without difficulty. Attempting drive through the road EX-118 near Guadalupe could be a nightmare. The numerous bumps along this path are so huge that your car may be seriously damaged.
Once on the top of the crag, what attracts immediately your attention is the vast display of giant antennas.
Some of them transmit and receive radio, tv and 4G signals, while others belong to the Spanish Army.
Soldiers were stationed in here since the 60s to facilitate the communication between the Navy, ground troops and the Air Force of Spain. The army base, which operated from 80s to 90s, is still there but completely decommissioned.
There is a fence and a signal that prohibit getting inside, but you can access the old heliport from which enjoying the amazing Appalachian relief.
Moreover, La Villuerca is a must-see site for birding lovers.
Those enthusiastic about observing birds can observe with Spanish Imperial Eagles and Griffon vultures, along with Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush and the Alpine Accentor, the most interesting species for rare bird seekers.