It has been a while since I took you to the barrocal, I think the last time was when I was struck down with orchidelirium! Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) there was no risk of this the week before last as not only was it too early for orchids but we were meeting up with friends for lunch.
And it was not just a delicious lunch we enjoyed with them on their terrace, they also took us out for a rather splendid stroll in their wonderful valley in a part of the Algarve known as the barrocal.
There are three main geographical areas within the Algarve – litoral (coastal land) in the south of the region, the serra (mountainous) in the north and in the middle the barrocal. The barrocal, a narrow stretch of rolling limestone hills begin in Sagres in the west and spread across to Azinhal in the east. The widest section is north of Loulé.
Our friend’s valley is near Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, and typically has over the years been cleared of the matos (and possibly holm oak forests) for agriculture. Fortunately though in their valley the farming is all small scale, in fact most English or Americans probably wouldn’t even recognise this as cultivated land!
There are some unwelcome aliens in the valley, such as the Century plant, Australian mimosas and the widespread Bermuda Buttercup. Fortunately though there are not too many of these interlopers and most of the flora is native. I was though surprised to see so much erica (tree heath and Spanish heath) and also the strawberry tree as these plants are acid-loving and therefore tend to be found further north towards and in the serra. Maybe however the geology in this this valley is more varied than my flower book suggests.
We were not out walking for long as we decided the hike version would be too much in the heat plus lunch was calling! We did though experience a detour as the river was much higher than expected, and not only did it mean we get to enjoy more walking but our friends discovered views they had not seen before.
It was so lovely exploring the barrocal that it has left me with an urge to return very soon. Maybe I’ll persuade MrB that we should squeeze in the wonderful stroll to the spring next week as it is one of the best walks for orchids. It may still seem too early for an onset of orchidelirium but we spotted Sawfly Orchids last week in the litoral so I am hoping there may be lots now in the barrocal. I’ll keep you posted! In the meanwhile why not keep walking and join Jo for her Monday Walks. She was in the serra this week.