The Ajuez Gorge

5th of September

The Ajuez ravine route goes through the municipality of Chóvar. We are going to walk through the cork oak forests and hike up to Nevera de Castro’s – a snow well that people used to use to conserve ice. The trail will also demonstrate us a bit of mining history of the area.


Difficulty: medium (9.5km with 350m elevation gain).
Technical level: medium (trails and roads with no technical difficulty).
Bring at least 1l of water, some snacks, cap, sunscreen and hiking shoes.


The Route

On this beautiful route through the Barranco de Ajuez you can enjoy one of the most appreciated and visited enclaves of the Sierra Espadán where we will enjoy nature in its purest form. As places of interest on the route, we highlight the Ajuez Reservoir, Fuente Fresca and the remains of mining in Chóvar. We will pass through the Socavón cinnabar mine that was in operation until 1966, leased by The Porvenir Mercury Mines Ltd in 1907, you can still see the sections of tracks and some wagons. At the same time we will see different kinds of vegetation, where cork oaks and ferns stand out. This route is circular and we recommend it for family walks, although it can be done by all kinds of hikers since it is very simple.


Minas de Cinabrio

Chóvar has a rich mining heritage since for decades numerous mines have been utilized throughout the term to obtain cinnabar, which was melted in furnaces to obtain mercury. From the beginning of the 20th century until the closure of the mines in 1967, the mining if the municipality had its period of greatest splendor; inherited from this period we find numerous mining remains in the area. As a consequence of this mining heritage, and of the poor conditions in which the miners used to work, many of them fell ill and died.
As a curiosity, in the Erica del Vaquero we find remains of the Ancient Furnaces, of the aludel or Bustamante type, that were used to liquefy mercury. These remains are one of the few ovens of this type that are still left in Spain (only 2 more). It is not known exactly if they were used in the municipality…. Chovar.es


Nevera de Castro

The boom in snow utilization from the XVI century, coupled with favorable weather conditions, led to the construction of an extensive network of snow wells in the Valencian territory. Castro’s snow well dates from the XVII century, and it used to supply ice to the towns of La Plana. It was restored in 1995.
Traditionally, snow and ice were used to preserve food, for medicinal purposes, and it also had gastronomic uses: cooling off on hot days (cool drinks, slushies or ice cream).
In modern times, the ice is being displaced by the industrial cold, we are left with the sights of this valuable cultural heritage, which brings us closer to understanding those old and hard jobs in the mountains.


Chóvar

In the foothills of the Sierra Espadán we find the municipality of Chóvar (Castellón) with 346 inhabitants and a surface area of close to 20km2, all within the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park. Just 60 kilometers from Valencia and 40 from the provincial capital, we can find in Chóvar one of the most peculiar landscapes of the Valencian territory. Its reddish soils, rich in silica, determine a rare vegetation in other parts of the Valencian Community such as the Cistus (jarales), the Pinus pinaster (rodeno pine) and its most characteristic tree, the Quercus suber (cork oak). It not only interesting because of its flora, the municipality also has a long history that makes Chóvar today a municipality rich in heritage and with many places of interest, both in the urban area and in the rest of its term.
The urban area is located on the side of a hill known as Punta de la Sartén. On its summit we will find the remains of a Muslim castle, with the homonymous name of the hill, which was used as a surveillance point, since from here we have a general view of the territory that surrounds the settlement. In the upper part of the town we will find a multitude of narrow streets with an irregular layout – inheritance of the founders of the municipality, the Muslims…. Chóvar


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