For a beach lover like me, the Alentejo coastline is something truly special, but for a mariner, it’s a nightmare. Sweeping curves of sand are protected by jagged outcrops. The wind and waves are in constant competition. Safe harbours are rare. My base at Vila Nova de Milfontes was calm and serene, but I couldn’t wait to get out exploring that ‘wild coast’.
Peach Tree Island (Ilha do Pessegueiro) has an alluring sound to it, don’t you think? My ‘Rough Guide’ spoke of a short cliff top walk, starting from Porto Covo. Clutching map, and with bags swiftly stowed at our nicely central hotel, it seemed logical to follow the coast directly north out of town. The road soon came to a stop at a cliff top restaurant, and I looked down into a tiny cove. Alas, a sign said Porto Covo 16.5km, pointing off along the cliffs. Inadvertently I had found Portinho do Canal, a haven for local fishermen.
Out on the sea wall, the wind whistled fiercely. Back to the car, and a return to Vila Nova de Milfontes to find the correct road north, in the direction of Sines. Porto Covo wasn’t quite what I had expected. A single road, lined with shops and restaurants, which your eye soon skirted past to dwell on the sea, glimmering in the distance. After the peacefulness of Portinho do Canal, it seemed a busy spot. The small cove beach was lined with people, but my interest lay much further along the coast.
The road winds steeply down to the quayside, and a gravel track equally steeply up the other side. With the tide out, crossing over to join the track is no problem, but I could envisage a paddle on the return journey. In the event, the cliff top path to Peach Tree Island was not as tempting as I had imagined. With what I had already seen, in Vila Nova de Milfontes, it was time to call it a day.
Another day, and this time those special beaches. Heading south from Vila Nova de Milfontes it’s a bare 5km to Almograve, signed from the N393. The landscape becomes beautifully rural as you leave the main road, and then you’re at the coast.
Next stop was Odemira, a small riverside town that I featured in my walk this week. And then it was back to the coast and a place you have already had a peep at in a previous post- Zambujeira do Mar, with it’s vast expanse of sand.
What can top that? Well, maybe it was the day… maybe it was just time for a place to chill (there were a lot of steps at Zambujeira!)… but sometimes a place just imprints itself on your memory, and you have to stay a while.
A beach bar and a caress of sand, with wickedly shaped rocks on either side. Warning notices on the cliffs- beware rock falls and a fast racing tide.
I’m not a swimmer so I didn’t need to fear the signs. I was more than happy just to pootle in the shallows and explore the beauty all around me. And then it was back down the coast to the gentler beauty of my Algarve.
Join me there for a walk on Monday, won’t you? It’s every bit as lovely.