A few weeks ago I promised I would take you on one of many the walks we enjoyed last year. It is a walk heavily promoted at hikers and locals alike during the almond blossom season, and consequently is probably one of the most well known rambles in the east Algarve. However out of season PR8 Caminho de Amendoeira it is just as lovely and best of all, if you are nature lovers like us you are unlikely to find yourself caught up with other ramblers. It is the only walk where we have regularly come across hiking groups.
It officially begins in Cruz de Alta Mora, but if you have a map you could easily start it elsewhere as it is circular. Whilst we have done that for other walks for some reason for this one we always start at the beginning, we do though walk it the other way round!
Last March there had clearly been something happening at the old school, now a community centre as there were some wonderful paper flower garlands.
We were here though to walk, and so after a short moment to admire the garlands it was time to put the hiking boots on and head for the first crossing of Ribeira do Beliche.
The water was probably the highest we have seen here, as the river was actually flowing. A welcome sight after the 2018 drought, and so we were as delighted as the frogs!
We waded through water at the next crossing of the Beliche, where it looked even more beautiful. And to my delight there was plenty of ranunculus aquatilis.
It is shortly after the second crossing we take one of our diversions from the recommended route. Out of blossom season we avoid walking through the hamlet of Funchosa de Cima as it feels very intrusive, and there are other ways to reach the second hamlet, Funchosa de Baixo. However if you are attempting this in late January / early February then the path up to Funchosa de Cima is a must! The advantage of the diversion though is that you miss a hill and enjoy a ramble pass the cultivated plots and can get close up to fauna and flora. See if you can spot the dragonfly in the gallery below.
From Funchosa de Baixo it is a steep climb up on a tarmac road, but unless you are here over the lunch period you are unlikely to see one car let alone more. And there are glorious views from the top.
There’s a cafe not far from here too. We rarely stop though at a cafe on our hikes as we always have a picnic in our ruck sacks. And on this occasion we knew exactly where we wanted to stop for a lunch. Two more ups and downs away at an abandoned farm surrounded by fig trees and aloe. The latter is native to Africa and Madagascar, but following wide spread cultivation in the Algarve has now naturalised here. Aloe plants are profitable, they last for at least 5 years and provide as much as 25-30 tons of leaves every year from a 2 acre plot.
After lunch we were on the homeward track, and decided to add in another diversion. The official route takes you on the narrowest path ever round one side of the hill, and now having gone the other way on the wider path we cannot figure out why! Not only do you get some lovely views from the wider path but it is much easier on ankles, on knees and even more importantly doesn’t disturb as much nature or add to soil erosion which the narrow path does. I mean you can’t even see the start of it, despite the sign!
Whichever way you go you end up at the top of the hill, from which point there is a short stretch on the main road which we previously crossed outside the cafe. The sighting of a vehicle is a rarity, however signs of civilisation are not. From this point on every view included a hamlet, a windmill or wind turbines. Still not what you would call urban though!
The route signs however become much more vague and there moments specially near the goat farm where they totally disappear! The sign loss cannot be blamed on hunters as there are far too many homes as well as these cute kids. So either the walk developers thought it was obvious which way you should go or maybe, because the final section takes you uncomfortably close again to homes, the locals are trying to persuade us to find other routes. If it is the latter I wouldn’t blame them.
Despite the oddity of the route at times this is a splendid walk. Officially it is described as short and of low difficulty, but at 11km and with numerous ups and downs and uneven sections we’d suggest you need to be reasonably fit. If (once the COVID19 restrictions are lifted) you want to attempt it yourselves, visit here for my original post which contains more details as well photographs of the Almond blossom. And if you prefer something a bit more challenging then visit here for a 14km hike that starts in the same village, and has even more fabulous views and ups and downs. And if you are looking for some inspiration whilst ‘staying at home’ why not visit Jo’s weekly collation of lovely walks around the world.