The Minho Eco-Track was voted Europe’s third Best Greenway at the 8th European Greenways Awards held in Limerick, Republic of Ireland, on 28 September, promoted by the European Greenways Association and by the European Union.
This biennial prize aims to promote examples of best practices and support its replication in other European greenways. It follows on from the award of Europe’s fourth best greenway already achieved in 2009.
The candidacy for the prize by this Eco-track par excellence was led by Valença Municipal Council and it included, in addition to sections of the greenways of this municipality, those of Monção, Vila Nova da Cerveira and Caminha in a concerted project that set up and promoted a green corridor between Monção and Caminha, parallel to the River Minho over much of the route.
The eco-track is destined for pedestrian walks, cycling, inline skating, skateboarding and has reinforced the range of leisure and tourism facilities of the region, with a nature product that shows some of the most captivating aspects of the Minho Valley. It provides walks through vineyards, fields under cultivation, streams and views over a vast built heritage, with some viewpoints providing privileged views of the River Minho and Veigas, and access to fisheries, river beaches and coves, inserted in the Natura 2000 Network.
The eco-track Interpretation Centre, in the former Casa da Vigia at Valença, shows the fauna, flora and memories of the old railway line.
The Minho Eco-track was inaugurated on 14 November 2004, linking, always next to the River Minho, Valença Station and the former Senhora da Cabeça stop, in Cortes. It then stretches, in a second phase to Lodeira and, subsequently, to the Monção-Salvaterra international bridge and the historical centre of Monção. It is about 15 km long. The initial section follows the former railway track between Valença and Monção.
Today, with the inclusion of other non-railway sections, the green corridor is over 22 km in length in the municipality of Valença, extending also to the south to the municipalities of Vila Nova da Cerveira and Caminha.