Inspired by the fabulous Restless Jo we headed north to Furnazhinas last week for our regular Tuesday walk in the hills. Now Jo had been wooed by the Odeliete we however were keen to get close to the Foupana, one of our favourite rivers, and so we continued north from the village on PR10, following the smell of the Almond Blossom, rather than south in Jo’s footsteps on PR9.
Furnazhinas is on a hill so whichever way you go you are going to end up going down only to come back up again. Neither way though is particularly steep or difficult, however do NOT attempt this walk in the wet season or even after recent rain in the drier months. There are so many streams and rivers to cross that I lost count, and even last week after a month or more of no rain there were sections we needed to use crossing stones. We also strongly recommend photographing the map outside the school as there are a couple of places where it will be the only thing that enables you to stay on track! So with these warnings in mind, let’s head off on our 7.7km hike!
It was a cloudy day for our walk and so unusually for me I wasn’t snapping the views every few minutes or so, however there was a silver lining amongst all the grey clouds. The lack of blue skies meant I was more aware than usual of the flora at my feet. There was a surprising amount considering we are in the middle of winter.
The footpath continues its slow descent until eventually you reach a section which despite being inundated with sign posts is incredibly confusing. First you are told not to cross the river but to head left despite there being no footpath in sight. Another sign peeks its head above the cistus so you scramble through, before then being told to cross the river bed. Within seconds of crossing you are told to cross back, but it doesn’t make sense as on the other side there is sign telling those walking the other way round to cross too! So we didn’t, instead we headed down the river bed and got out the map. As we did so I spied a very old sign painted on a rock, we were heading the right way we just needed to cross the riverbed further down. Totally confusing, but fortunately as the riverbed was almost dry not a problem. I think I would have been less than amused in the middle of a flowing river!
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves crossing the river bed again, but what a bed! I asked MrB to try and describe it for me, and this is what he said “schist overlaying shale”.
I know nothing about geology, but was fascinated. And the geology didn’t stop here. In the multiple riverbeds that followed this one there were smooth pebbles of every colour possible. It was like a walk in geologic time. It is also as you can see not a walk to attempt after rains, as the crossings are wide in places and there are no discernible points to cross without getting your feet wet. Fortunately for us it has been a very dry winter and so we were fine.
By this point we realised we were nearly half way round, and we were feeling hungry. The clouds also seemed to be dispersing and the sun was out, so a perfect time to stop for lunch.
Of course though by the time we found our perfect picnic spot the clouds had returned!
After our picnic it was a steady but easy climb under cloudy skies. There are plenty of spaces to stop to enjoy the view, and on a sunny day in spring when all the cistus is out it would be absolutely glorious.
It wasn’t long before we found ourselves on the road. You have a choice here you can following the Via Algarviana path back to the village or you can continue on the PR9. There is a difference of just over half a kilometre. Feeling energetic we decided to take the longer route. It proved to be fascinating as it took us through multiple small holdings as well as bed of watercress and mint. However the path at times felt like one only ever used by goats, so not recommended if you are feeling tired or have weak knees or ankles.
Back in the village we decided to see if the cafe might be opened. Someone had mentioned they thought there might be cake! Unfortunately there was none, the cafe wasn’t open. Still we did meet Jo’s braying donkey and also spied a basket weaver at work. I can totally understand why Jo has fallen in love with this village, and the lovely walks which are accessible from here.