A NEW hiking track which highlights the industrial and cultural heritage of Cuevas del Almanzora municipality, as well as its striking natural scenery, will soon be opened to walkers.
The track, named after the Belgian-Spanish mining engineer and archaeologist Luis Siret, goes through Cuevas’ hills and dry water courses, also taking in the 19th century industrial constructions dotted around the Las Herrerías and Villaricos areas.
In great part it follows the route Siret designed for the trains which transported minerals to Villaricos,
Cuevas council said the project ticked a number of boxes. Expanding the municipal tourism, sport and cultural offer is one important aim. At the same time it represents the recovery and preservation of an environment of great scenic and ecological value and a more sustainable use of resources, as well as shining a light on Cuevas’ industrial past.
The route goes through a zone which was at the centre of the Costa Almeria’s 19th century mining activities, passing by places of interest including what was the Belgian engineer’s home: It also offers views of the Phoenician necropolis, the Villaricos watchtower and the Luis Siret beach.
The Junta de Andalucia financed just over 70 per cent of the €30,000 cost of creating the track after the Cuevas local authority’s Sport and Youth department presented the project for regional government funding for the development of tourist infrastructure in natural heritage zones.
The Junta delegation valued the project for as a model of environmental and sustainable development, and as a measure which improves universal access to and the safety of the location.
Explaining the decision to call the route after Siret, Cuevas council underlined the point he is widely considered the father of archaeology in Spain and the principal figure behind the first and most important discoveries about the societies and cultures which inhabited Cuevas and the surrounding areas thousands of years ago. He also had an important influence on the Las Herrerias surroundings, where he lived for many years, discovering and capturing the area’s industrial and archaeological past.
The council highlighted too the opportunities the route offers to discover the municipality’s countryside and the variety of flora and fauna in the foothills of the Sierra de Almagro.
The track starts at Bar Eugenio in Las Herrerias and runs for six kilometres to the Luis Siret cove on the Villaricos coast, coming back via the Phoenician necropolis and the El Arteal mines district, which was built in 1948 for miners and their families.
Remains of the old mines can be seen all along the route.
There are also a number of offshoots along the way which allow for getting up closer to some of the most interesting traces of the province’s 19th century mining boom.
The Guadalupe de las Herrerias residents’ association was a collaborator on the track. The group’s president Casimiro Fernandez, along with Las Herrerias Mayor Isabel Campoy, commented that the project represented a major contribution to the history of the hamlet and to Cuevas in general, as well as linking the important figure of Siret to the zone.
Fernandez also remarked it was a step forward in the development of the area “as a more attractive tourist destination through the recovery of heritage.”