Whilst we had a fabulous time in Alentejo a couple of weeks ago we didn’t have time on our trip to squeeze in a hike, and so the two of us were really needing to stretch our legs. Our first stretch was a lovely Sunday stroll with our friends in the Barrocal and then last Tuesday we headed out for a 13km figure of eight ‘mountain’ hike. They are not really mountains as even the highest peak in the range is only 589metres, and the ones we were striding up and down are nowhere near that height. However when you compare the ‘Serra do Caldeirão‘ to the coastal areas they sure do look like mountains!
Our walk began near the Corte das Donas windmill, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves surrounded by cistus, gorse and lavender. Everything is incredibly early this year; usually it is end March/early April before we expect to see this much colour in the hills. We may all be loving this fine weather but I am very aware it is not a good sign for the environment or our own futures.
We regularly see a shepherd near the windmill, and he was there again on Tuesday. Unusually his dogs were loose, and one of them, the biggest of course, couldn’t resist attempting to round us up. We didn’t feel threatened by him as he was wagging his tail furiously throughout, but must admit we were relieved when he was called away by the shepherd as he had a very loud bark and was enormous! He though was clearly most disgruntled to have not been allowed to finish the job, especially when a few moments later we left the main track and headed off on one of the many minor ones.
It was now all downhill for a bit as we made our way to our first water crossing; an easy crossing to make as there is a bridge. It did however take me quite a while to get to the bridge as there were so many distractions en route; in fact I took so long MrB was striding ahead of me. Most unusual!
What goes down must go up eventually and so up we went for a bit, before descending again to our second river crossing. Last time we walked here we were lucky enough to see a venue of vultures. No such luck this time, however the views on the way down were stunning and it was so warm.
It wasn’t just the views that was catching my attention, there was so much flora to enjoy. No wonder I took over 250 photographs! Hopefully by the time you read this I will with the help of my many wildflower identification resources have named everything I have shared here, and may have even started on the flora I have yet to share. There again it wouldn’t surprise me if at least one remains unidentified in the galleries in this post!
You may recall me mentioning more than once that the Riberia de Foupana is not a river to mess with. It is one of the longest rivers in the Algarve, and consequently there are multiple streams within the Serra do Caldeirão basin which flow into it. At times in the winter months this river will be a torrential flow. Even on a day more than a week after our one day of heavy rain last month in the middle of a minor drought it had water flowing. Fortunately for us the crossing stones have been repaired since we were last here and so it was relatively simple to cross.
It did make us slightly nervous though as if the water was this high here, what would it be like at the second crossing, where I was once nearly swept away. Fortunately again it was ok. It was only just above ankle depth and it wasn’t flowing too fast, however you did need a change of socks afterwards.
We were now on the homeward trek, and of course that meant we would mostly be climbing from now on. However the route we selected was relatively gentle, and the abundance of flora and fabulous views as well as finally signs of birdlife gave us plenty of excuses to stop. And we did repeatedly!
Within an hour we found ourselves back at the crossroads we had walked through earlier, remember this is a figure of eight hike. We now had an easy stroll back to the car in Corte das Donas. We could even see the windmill, about 1.5miles away as the crow flies and only slightly further to walk.
Well I say easy but there is one section which puts ankles and knees at risk as you head down an old donkey path whilst being barked at by two enormous dogs. Again the dogs don’t appear dangerous, just very loud and as the lovely old gentleman at the well explained a few moments later to us, they were only informing us that they are not used to strangers on that path!
It was a truly wonderful walk and with its proximity to the excellent cafes in Guerreiros do Rio and Laranjeiras a perfect day out for day hikers. As is my way now with walks I am not going to share the exact route, instead I recommend you purchase the Carta Militar de Portugal Folha 583 and have fun creating and hiking your own walk.
PS If you are wondering about that Sunday stroll, don’t worry I will be sharing the Barrocal walk as well. Probably in a week or so, as we are back in England for a few days at the moment. So whilst we are away why not check out Jo’s Monday Walks collection, or for more Algarvian ones visit my walking page.