In Hervás - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

April 25, 2024

In Hervás

We changed our schedule and route through this part of the tour because of the wintery weather ahead but we’re glad we’ve been pushed into it.  We liked having a second day in Plasencia, and we’re happy about having a second day here in Hervás also.  We love our comfortable apartment, it’s an interesting town, and it’s easy to figure out what to do with our day off.  Today Rachael plans a walk into the hills and I’ll take the bike and check out a section of the Via de la Plata, the  Via Verde that runs along an abandoned train line from Plasencia to Béjar.

I start by heading up to the former railroad bridge for a shot back at the town because the one I took there from last night was too backlit.  After that I turn back south, planning to ride about ten miles before leaving it and doubling back on a provincial road.

A look back on Hervás from the railroad bridge across the Ambroz.
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On the Via Verde de la Plata.
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I’m hopeful about the Via Verde, thinking it might be a promising spot for birding.  And as I bike along it’s obvious that it is because I’m constantly hearing birdsong, with many unfamiliar voices in the chorus.  It’s frustrating though because other than the larger, obvious blackbirds, magpies and doves I never get a close enough look at any of them except for a fleeting look at what was probably a great or blue tit.  Progress is very slow because I’m continuously hearing some bird obviously close by and stopping to stare up into the trees without ever seeing it.  An exercise in futility.

Finally there’s one small bird that hops briefly onto the trail about fifty yards ahead.  Too far off for a good shot, but close enough for me to count my first American robin of the year.

#224: European robin
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And then nothing for the next six miles until I’m stopped when I suddenly hear the hammering of a woodpecker, close enough that it sounds like it must be right above me.  And he is, and stays on the job long enough for me to get my shot before he realizes he’s got an audience and moves on.  A lesser spotted woodpecker, another lifer!

On the Via Verde de la Plata.
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On the Via Verde de la Plata.
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On the Via Verde de la Plata.
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Aldeanueva del Camino, a stop on the Way.
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#225: Lesser spotted woodpecker
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Bob KoreisSimilar in size to our Downy woodpeckers?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob KoreisYup, you’ve got it.
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3 weeks ago
The view to the west. That must be the Sierra de Francia out there, the range south of Salamanca.
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Interesting sky when I look toward the mountains. Something’s changing up there.
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I’ve been keeping a pathetically slow pace, and I realize that I’ll need to cut my loop short if I’m going to make it back by the agreed upon lunch time.  When I come to a track cutting off to the left I zoom in on the map to confirm that it will connect up to the paved road I plan to bike on and take it.  It will cut five or six miles off of the loop, but it’s hard to say how much actual time gets saved because it’s a very slow go.  Rough in spots, and often very steep, so most of it gets walked until I finally emerge into the plaza of a small village, Segura de Toro.

The ajuntamiento of Segura de Toro, a village I’m happy to see because it means I can quit climbing.
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There’s a well-eroded stone bear prominently placed in the village’s small plaza, so it and the name of the village prompt me to read up on it when I get back.  I’m expecting some folklore origin story - maybe one of the town’s founders gets rescued or nurtured by a kindly bear or something like that - so I’m surprised by what I find.  This is a Vettonian village, founded by the Vettones, a pre-Roman Iron Age Celtic people that inhabited this region between roughly what are now Caceres and Salamanca.  Bears were one of their totems, and this one must be a couple of millennia old.  No wonder it looks worn.

The town’s totem is looking a little worse for wear. Not surprising, since he was carved about two thousand years ago.
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In Segura de Toro. Oh, and I see the town’s restaurant is named Los Vettones.
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That’s not why Segura got stitched into my route though of course.  I’m here because there’s a small natural pond just above it that’s cited as a birding spot, so before heading home for lunch I go up to check it out.  I think maybe it really is a good birding spot from the colorful murals painted nearby, but there’s nothing here today.  Which is fine - I’m still being warmed by the memory of that woodpecker, and then on the way home I see my first chaffinch of the day too.

I was particularly interested to come to this small pond and stream by Segura de Toro, thinking it might be good for birds. It’s not though, not today at least. A few swallows, a magpie, that’s about it.
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It looks like there must be birds here at th3 right time though.
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An extra bike pose, because we’re behind on them. And there’s another European robin!
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Looking back at Segura de Toro.
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#226: Common chaffinch
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Four shades of cow.
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Keith AdamsAnd none of them purple. Disappointing, somehow.
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2 weeks ago
The old Aldeanueva del Camino train station.
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Back on the Via Verde again. Looking to the north, there are a few patches of snow on the Gredo range.
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I can’t be more than a half mile from town when Rachael calls to see if I’m close.  She’s back from her walk and standing in the plaza beside a restaurant that looks good to her and wants me to hustle.  I do, and soon I’m locking the bikes and we’re claiming a table in the sun.  While we eat Rachael tells me of her disappointing hike.  There was a mixup and she followed the wrong route - the same one we biked in on yesterday - and wondered why she was stuck on the pavement so much of her way.

We’re just finishing our meal when a man walks over and breaks the ice.  He’s a bike traveler also, a Scotsman on his way from Faro to Bilbao where he plans to catch the ferry to Portsmouth and train his way back north to his home near the coast west of Glasgow.  He’s alone today, but he’s traveling with his wife who’s off in Salamanca for a day or two.

Before we cut off I remember at the last minute to grab a photo, and Rachael thinks to point out that we should get his bike in the frame.  So we walk over and admire his beautiful new Thorn, his retirement present to himself.  And before we part he spells out his unfamiliar name for me a second time and invites us to stop in if we make it to the west coast of Scotland again today, which easily could happen.  

And, in a surprise, he asks if we know of Crazy Guy on a Bike, because he thinks he knows us.  He used to follow our journals there and wondered what happened to us when they suddenly disappeared so I tell him where we can be found now.  He says he’ll look us up and drop a comment so we can get in touch, and I hope he does - if for no reason than that I can finally get his name down.  At my age, you’d think I’d know that I needed to write it down immediately if it was going to stick with me.

Diarmid, on route from Faro to Bilbao.
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Diarmid HarrisName is Diarmid and it was nice to meet you both
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Diarmid HarrisThanks for checking in, Diarmid. Good luck on the rest of your ride to Bilbao!
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3 weeks ago
Diarmid HarrisTo Scott AndersonThanks remember to get in touch if you make it over to my neck of the woods
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3 weeks ago
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Today's ride: 19 miles (31 km)
Total: 1,156 miles (1,860 km)

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