We’d checked out the start of this walk a couple of years ago, but it took us until now to walk the full length of ‘A Walk to the Spring‘. It is a relatively easy walk, up and down tracks and very quiet roads. Most of the signs are clearly visible albeit there are a few occasions when you may find yourself being redirected by the locals! If you are a true hill walker then you will probably find it a bit too ‘urban’ as much of the walk is on asphalt road and close to houses. It is though a very good introduction to life in the Barrocal, and if you are here in spring then the orchids are fabulous.
Unusually for us we began at the official start, which is in the village of Fonte da Mesquita, a few miles from São Brás de Alportel. There is parking behind the restaurant, and it is from here that we followed the walled path north east towards Mesquita Alta. This is a pretty section to walk through with traditional farming either side. At the top of the hill there are a few houses to walk past, and consequently as this is rural Portugal there are also dogs. On our last visit there was a very large dog with a very angry growl, and we half hoped he might have moved on. However it was not to be, he’s still here and noisely greets you as you walk between two of the houses. He’s actually quite scary but fortunately he and his two slightly quieter companions are behind a big fence. Quickly leaving him behind we head downhill now so we can cross the EN270.
The EN270 is the main road between Tavira and São Brás, and whilst not particularly busy the cars do travel along it extremely fast so do be careful when you cross. Having climbed and descended our first hill on this walk, it is now time for the second. It is though worth it as on the descent of the second hill there are panoramic views of the Vale de Bengado and lots more orchids.
At the bottom of the hill we cross the Ribeira do Bengado, as well as orchids and field upon field of wildflowers, there are also lots of irrigation infrastructures so it is a while before we begin to walk the lengthy stretch on asphalt road! After another climb we head east parallel to the EN270, and given how little traffic there is on the En270 compared to similar roads back home it is surprisingly noisy. Not too noisy though as we still heard the nightingales. We didn’t see them this time, but at one point we think there must have been nearly a dozen singing in the trees surrounding us. Such a glorious sound that we must have stopped for at least 15minutes listening to them and attempting to spot them.
Reluctantly leaving the nightingales behind we continued east for a while, before turning right to head back across the Riberia do Bengado, past a tile factory and then up through the cork forests. By now I was overcome with ‘orchidelirium’ so probably a good thing that after Monte das Favas that there were few to be seen. You are probably thinking ‘well, she hasn’t included many orchid photographs’, and you’d be right. I have so many I thought I’d keep most of them for another post just on orchids. Here though are a few photographs of the orchids as well as more of the stunning spring flora in the Algarve. It really is a beautiful time of the year to visit even on days like this one with approaching rain clouds. They did look very threatening at one point but the rain never came fortunately.
On the final section of the walk we found ourselves walking through ‘montes’, skirting around the farms and smallholdings, and noticed that the markers like the orchids had become become less easy to spot. Fortunately one of the locals very kindly redirected us after one wrong turn, and another we avoided after a good hunt for the walk markers. As well as taking short detours for the markers we also took a few detours for the wells, washhouses and other water features. A fascinating glimpse of what rural life was once like in the Barrocal. This reminds me, Robert I would love to see your nora post!
Whilst the guide makes much of the water features, the highlights of the walk for us were the flora and panoramic views. Not sure we will do it again because it felt a little bit too ‘urban’ for us, although if a fellow orchid lover visits us in spring I would have to take them on it. I’m sure many of you are shaking your heads at us with our description of an ‘urban’ walk, if you are then you’ll shake it even more when you see the fellow below who we spotted a few moments before the end of this 6mile walk.
Ok perhaps I have to admit looking at all these photographs that maybe this is not an urban walk but it definitely felt like a walk close to civilisation with the sounds of the traffic and walking at times on asphalt. If you are in the Algarve and are after more Algarvian walks click here and if you want to sit back and enjoy another stroll somewhere different pop across and say hi to Jo as she has wonderful ‘Monday Walks‘.