Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vías Pecuarias

The track that goes past the bottom of our house has a little sign on it that says Vía Pecuaria. It means Drover's Path.

Last week I saw an article in our local rag about conserving these Drover's Paths. It seems to me that they are a bit like the public footpaths or the green lanes in the UK. Just like in the UK some people want to see them remain as open access, public spaces and others want to fence them off, build on them etc.

Their original purpose was to link the summer pastures in the mountains with winter pastures in the valleys for the movement of animals. In order to ensure that there weren't conflicts between the nomadic herders and more settled farmers these paths have been governed by a whole range of rules and regs from the Middle Ages onwards. The rules defined the characteristics of overnight resting places, widths of the tracks etc. It's these ancient rights that still protect these paths as public spaces. Apparently, at their height, there were over 125,000kms of tracks in Spain, nearly 1% of the total landspace. That compares with just 15,000km of railway lines.

The track past our house is only a couple of metres wide but some are much wider. In fact there is a classification system defined by width. The Royal Droves have to be at least 75 metres wide to qualify for the title. You could build quite a few houses on a track 75 metres wide!

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