Since our return in Wednesday we have not had a chance to walk properly. Our excuses are many – too much rain in November, lots of guests in December and being away for a week in January. This week we finally got our act together. We decided it might be sensible though for our first long walk of the season to keep it under 10km and to return to somewhere we had been before. So on Tuesday we created our own variation of Ladeiras do Pontal which involved us ‘Sentido Inverso ao Recomendado’. We’d last walked PR2 ACT in April, when it was grey most of the time and occasionally very wet. On Tuesday it was glorious sunshine and blue skies all the way.
The weather was not the only thing that was different, the path had changed significantly too. Not because of the short-cuts we were taking or our decision to walk it the other way round but because the path was being upgraded. It had always been described as a rural track, but now it is more of a rural road. Still unpaved but double the width and very very smooth.
The other change of course was the flora. There is less colour in January than April but the flowers that are out smell so incredible they more than made up for the lack of colour. I cannot resist the smell of the Almond blossom. Every time we passed a tree I had to take a sniff! It is such a wonderful smell. In fact you could smell it yourself right now if you have a pot of honey in the cupboard. Go on, go and get a pot, bring it back here and then open it whilst you enjoy the gallery below. Can you spot the bee? You may need to click for a closer view.
The full walk is 13.5km (8.3miles) in length; our variation is around 10km (6.2miles) and misses out the downhill/uphill at the end. We began at the same place Miradouro do Pontal, and we even started off in the direction advised by the book. However this time before we could even see the goat farm we turned left and joined the smugglers trail to stroll through the pine forest. An easy interesting trail, and at the top there is a wonderful view.
From here if you are after a short stroll, you can turn left again this time towards the Guadiana. The river views are amazing on this section and you will also get a chance to walk beside the Guadiana before returning to the car. We’d definitely recommend this short version if you are here in late spring/summer. If though like us you want to stretch your legs a bit further and are visiting late winter/early spring then turn right and head west towards Balurcos de Baixo. The views are good although for the best views you will need to keep stopping and looking behind. Never a problem for us as our reasonably paced walking style is always interspersed by me darting off to photograph something and/or MrB suddenly stopping to bird. There were not many birds last Tuesday, however we did discover how they were upgrading the track.
On the outskirts of Balurcos de Baixo we stopped for our picnic lunch, there is a cafe in the village but I enjoy taking picnics on walks. We found a sheltered spot in front of a dry-stone wall. On the other side, we think, was an old threshing circle. Clearly not been used in a long while but did look very pretty covered in daisies with the Almond trees behind. Perfect Algarvian snow!
Having enjoyed our picnic we decided to try another short-cut. Avoiding the village we headed north and uphill. Definitely a good decision as the views from the track which runs behind the small-holdings are wonderful. At one point we could clearly see the huge white fort at Sanlúcar de Guadiana and the village of El Granado behind.
The small track eventually brought us back to the official walk route where we turned right towards Torneiro. You may recall me mentioning this hamlet last year. Still very very quiet and there were no swallows to entertain me this year but there were three very young lambs. A day or two old at most we think.
Shortly after leaving Torneiro the track upgrade returned. They have been doing a lot of work here, and all became clear in the valley below the goat farm. However before I explain why the upgrade was needed, I must share a few photographs of the goats. I do love Cabra Algarvia. I resisted taking a video this time, but couldn’t stop taking photographs of them.
The track is well used as not only is it the only way to the goat farm but for the village of Torneiro it is a much quicker route to the towns and villages on the Guadiana than the paved road. It is therefore important it remains accessible, and looking at the work they have done in the valley and with the new ditches it is clear that when the rains came last year they had a huge impact on this route. They have had to upgrade to keep it open.
Once you climbed out of the valley you are metres from the first short-cut. It is now simply a case of retracing your steps back to Miradouro do Pontal, or if you are at all like us take a small diversion to explore the ruined farm on the hill. Fabulous views but perhaps a little bit isolated.
PS Did you notice my title? Yup it is a Six Word Saturday. So if you are having a lazy Saturday why not pop across and visit Cate and her 6WS friends. You never know what you might find. Alternatively scroll back up and click on some of my earlier links to discover the full walk or more about the goats.