A wood full of stories about iron, wood and charcoal.
Mown meadows, clearings, Scots and mountain pine woods, fir and beech groves, old charcoal burners, clinker and mines… the essence of Virós Wood.
The Bosc de Virós (Virós Wood) is an extensive forested area with many different uses, all managed under sustainability criteria. It is an example of planning in which wood harvesting, stockbreeding, tourism, mushroom picking and capercaillie conservation, among other activities, coexist. A walk along its paths takes you on a journey of discovery through a very long history. From Roman to modern times it has been closely linked to the exploitation of iron mineral and charcoal, the raw material of the three forges that once operated in the Vall Ferrera and produced the best iron in the Catalan Pyrenees.
The diversity of uses is the result of the wide variety of tree species found there: beech (virtually unique in Pallars Sobirà), Scots pine, mountain pine, spruce, small oak, hazelnut, aspen and birch. All these make up an exceptionally rich forest mosaic that can be enjoyed in all four seasons of the year.
Discover its natural and cultural values by taking one of its itineraries. Discover the “iron woods”!
BEAR IN MIND
• Bordes de Virós and the Capercaillie Refuge are accessible by normal car; for the rest of the tracks you need an off-road vehicle. Some of the tracks are regulated. In winter, you must have winter tyres or chains fitted to use them.
• This is first mushroom reserve in Catalonia. If you want to “hunt” mushrooms, please remember that picking them is regulated. You can buy a daily ticket (5 €) at the tourist establishments in the Vall Ferrera.
• One of the largest woodland areas in Catalonia, it has great biodiversity and allows you to observe or detect a wide variety of animal and plant species, including roe deer −a small deer that barks like a dog− and capercaillie, a large bird that lives in the best preserved subalpine woods.
• For more than 1,800 years, iron exploitation was the main economic resource in the Vall Ferrera and it has left a major imprint on the Virós Wood in the form of mines, clinker (slag from the kilns), charcoal burners, huts, forges and tracks. To recall this past and preserve the blacksmithing tradition, the “Coast of the Mines” itinerary has been set up as part of the “Woods of Iron” project. Each summer the Pyrenean Iron Fair is organised in Alins and the best smiths in the country get together to demonstrate their ironworking skills.
• The remains of old charcoal burners. A wood of this size, with so many different species, offered a clear opportunity to supply charcoal to the forge sites that grew up in the valley. The numerous charcoal burners are a silent testimony to this past. You can see some of them on the Buiro and Costa dels Meners itineraries.
• This is an ideal area to enjoy sports in the countryside with the whole family. In summer, you can walk or mountain bike along the signposted itineraries, and in winter you can follow the cross-country skiing and snowshoeing circuits from the Virós–Vall Ferrera mountain resort, with its Capercaillie Refuge. Culture is well served by the many churches and Romanesque chapels to be discovered in the valley and the woods; the chapels of Sant Lliser de Virós and Santa Creu de Buiro are two of the buildings in this wood that invite spirituality and mysticism. Neither should you miss the oldest of them all, Sant Francesc d’Araós.
Download all the information about this experience in PDF,Here.