It has been such a while since I shared a walk, I’ve decided to return with one that had me tickled pink at the end! We’ve got a few kilometres though to cover before we get to that lovely moment.
The walk is ‘The Beliche Circuit’, a trail I had wanted to do for years. We drive past the circuit most weeks on our way to the hills around Alcoutim, and I had always been intrigued. Jo have you attempted it for a Monday walk? If you have I’m sure you began at the beginning. We, you won’t be surprised to learn, didn’t begin at the recommended start! As always there was a good reason, or in this case two. Neither of us wanted to begin straight off with a climb nor did we fancy walking along the road at the end, so we began near Horta do Vinagre, which is almost under the EN122 valley bridge and also happens to be the closest point to a road if driving from the EN122.
From here there was a gentle climb through the hamlet up to the dam – Barragem do Beliche. It was incredibly quiet, which is probably why we spotted our first bee eaters of the season high above us and were easily sidetracked by a nora, two four legged friends and peach blossom.
Barragem do Beliche opened in 1986, and in the late 1990s was connected by a tunnel to its larger and younger neighbour – Barragem de Odeleite. These two dams serve the population of the eastern Algarve, and can also meet the needs of the west on occasion. Most who have visited the Algarve will have heard of or at least seen the Odeleite. It is that fabulous dragon shape you fly over shortly before you arrive in Faro. Now scroll back up to take another look at map of the Beliche; being smaller the Beliche isn’t quite a dragon but I can certainly see a lizard!
The Beliche is easier to access for walkers than the Odeleite. However it was extremely windy when we walked along the dam ridge and so whilst the views were stunning it wasn’t the best day for mooching on the dam ridge. Instead we headed quickly for the short but steep climb on the northern side.
This is a short walk, only 6km, and by the time we had climbed the hill we were almost half way round. When you looked east you could see the EN122 Beliche valley bridge where we started and beyond the Guadiana International Bridge, which connects southern Spain to Portugal. A regular sight for us on many of our walks in this area. By the way that road may look tiny and quiet in the final picture in the gallery above, but be cautious if on it around lunch time. Specifically a few minutes before 1pm, when it suddenly turns into a speeding short cut for locals dashing home for lunch!
The locals dashing reminded us that we had a picnic. Eventually we found ourselves out of the wind and in the middle of a beautiful flower meadow. There were so many species of flowers, I didn’t know what to with myself. No heather though Jo! I will write another post on the picnic spot, but for now here’s a small selection of what I spied in a section about a metre square. Glorious!
After lunch it was all down hill as we made our way back to our start; and for a while it was also like we were travelling back in time. The modern valley bridge may dominate this incredibly beautiful valley, but below it time seems to have stood still. The way of life remains traditional here.
It was here, in the final few metres of the walk, that my 2017/18 winter sojourn was made perfect. We walked past a working donkey, once the main form of transport and agricultural tool in the Algarve, now a rare sight. I was tickled pink to see this and when you combine this delight with the bee-eaters earlier, this walk despite its brevity becomes one of my favourites. My joy in seeing the donkey and remembering this walk has also given me a great excuse to join in with day one of the 30day #InthePink challenge!