The official name of ‘Terras da Ordem’ (PR5 Odeleite) is far too bland for such a glorious walk, and so I’ve renamed it to reflect just one of the delights we came across over the 9miles. If you decide to walk it too then ignore the official start at the Forest Rangers’ Post in the Mata Nacional das Terras da Ordem, and begin where we did at Odeleite’s village pump on Rua de São Braz. The ‘Walking Trail Guide’ does mention this alternative start but instead of directing you to the pump (it’s under the road bridge en route to Alcaria) the guide refers you to start at the cemetery. Goodness knows why as it is in the opposite direction!
Leaving the car by the village pump we headed east along the banks of Ribeira da Odeleite looking out for herons and nightingales. At one stage we were joined by three very noisy dogs but fortunately we soon left them behind. Perhaps they knew what was coming up as we took a sharp left up an extremely steep and slipperly slope. Good walking shoes are a must to get up here, and MrB was most relieved he had his walking stick! Once at the top though it was all worth it, as the Spring flowers and views back towards Odeleite are lovely.
With the worst climb behind us we headed north west along a wide track, gradually climbing through stunning displays of Green Lavender, Spanish Lavender, Cistus and Genista. There is really only one track for this whole section, and when there was a choice we only had to look around for the yellow & red markers, usually on trees but just occasionally hidden on a rock behind lavender as we discovered on the very first big bend! If we come back though, which is a real possibility with this walk, we might try one of the other paths as all of the ones that take a north west direction seem to end up in the same place. The path took us through the matos, which is very typical vegetation at this altitude in the Algarve as the plants need to survive dry hot conditions from late Spring to early Autumn. After a mile or so of matos the landscape changed into forest, mostly umbrella pines, and we were now walking beside the Fojo, the stream we had spotted earlier. Well dried-up stream bed but I still found it very beautiful. Fojo eventually took us to a pond where the sound of the frogs was amazing.
The climb continued until we arrived at the official start. After a short pause at the picnic tables we were off again but on a slight detour as I’d spotted you could climb the watch tower. I’ve got absolutely no idea why they don’t mention the tower or the picnic tables in the book. It is a superb viewpoint even if we hadn’t climbed the watch tower but are glad we did as the views from the top are amazing. In fact the tower is almost good enough to visit without doing the walk.
From the tower and as directed by all of the markers and the book we headed down a wide path. A tip here, if you have no 583 of Carta Militar de Portugal, we suggest you explore making your own route through the forest to Cerros da Velha. We unfortunately didn’t look at the map in the rucksack and duly followed the markers. Initially all was well but towards the bottom of the slope the markers took us onto the road to Tenência, and so for a while we ended up walking along the asphalt road. Not a single car passed us, but it did seem odd to be taken on a paved road when there are footpaths through the forest. An upside was passing a gorgeous spring meadow and being intrigued by straight lines of newly planted Prickly Pear. The official route did eventually return us to the dirt track, but do let me know if you take one of the alternative routes.
Having finally got back on footpaths it was time for us to return to the river valley, and meander our way along the banks of Ribeira da Foupana. I found this river valley fascinating with its biodiversity and traditional farming methods. In fact it was so interesting I could write a book on what we observed but instead I’ll simply share a few photographs for now and return with more in-depth posts one day soon.
According to the trail guide the next highlight was to walk through Monte, a typical Algarvian hamlet, but we think Monte might be one of the trail guide myths! We knew we were at the right point as ‘Monte’ is where you turn right to cross the Pombal before heading south east again to continue to walk along the banks of the Foupana as it flows towards the Ribeira de Odeleite. However whilst we did spot the many agricultural plots we didn’t see a single house or ruin, nor is Monte marked on the military map. Most odd but then the guide is full of them for this walk!
The next hamlet of Pernadas is marked on the map and was also very visible when we walked through it. Bizarrely though the guide doesn’t mention this hamlet, despite telling you all about a restored watermill on the opposite bank to Pernadas! Perhaps something went wrong with the English version of the guide? Anyhow as you can see the mill is good to photograph but not sure what else you can do from this side of the river apart from remember it for when you stroll on the right bank another day.
As we left Pernadas we also left the Foupana behind but we didn’t mind as we were once more on the banks of the Ribeira da Odeleite, and so on our homeward path. We soon spotted the heron again.
Actually he spotted us first and it was him flying off which caught our eye! It was the next bird though which made my day and led to the renaming of this walk. We spotted the Nightingale briefly as he moved from one tree to another, not long enough to identify let alone photograph. However we knew it was him by his song which he kindly sang to us before and after his brief flight. I even managed (despite the dogs and the wind) to capture a few moments of it for you. I do hope you enjoy the Nightingale’s song as much as we did.
PS If you liked this walk why not pop across and say hi to Restless Jo for some more Monday Walks, some of which did take place on a Monday!
PPS Two months later on a grey wet day in England in June, I’m wishing I could escape back to here. Thanks to the magic of the internet and brilliant ideas such as Monday Escapes I can 🙂 If you are also need an escape or perhaps a walk then do follow either of the links in my postscripts, I promise you won’t be disappointed!