Jo’s Monday walk : Barranco das Lajes

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My walk through Portugal’s Barranco das Lajes definitely comes in the category of ‘tales with a happy ending’, but for a while I wasn’t so sure.

Let me set the scene.  The skies were the clearest of blues.  I’d been in the Algarve for long enough to take this completely for granted (a week!). I’d ambled on beaches, and been out with my walker friends.  I’d even met up with a lovely blogger and her husband for coffee. (Hi Becky!)  I was in as relaxed a state as I ever achieve.  But those smoke blue hills on the horizon were calling me.  Much earlier in the year I’d been there and resolved to come back for a walk.

Out came the guide to Walking Trails in the Algarve , which you might remember from my walk on the cliff tops at Carrapateira.  This walk has a very different location.  From my eastern Algarve home in Tavira it is a lovely drive along the N270 to São Brás de Alportel. As Becky points out in her most recent walk, directions in this guide are a little vague.  Fortunately my husband has a good memory for roads.  North we went, through the villages of Alportel, Cova da Muda, Javali, Parises, and Cabeca do Velho, climbing higher and higher into the hills.  When it seemed we couldn’t go any higher, and my ears were popping, we reached the minute village of Cabanas- the start of the trail.

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A more peaceful spot you could not hope to find…. until!  Over a farm wall hopped two dogs, the leader barking ferociously and heading straight for me.  Barking dogs are a pretty common factor on any walk in the Algarve countryside.  Most farmers have an animal or two to protect their property.  Usually they are on a leash, or behind a sturdy gate.  In such an isolated spot, the farmer obviously did not expect company.  He shouted at the dogs, but not before the leader had reached me and leapt at the back of my knee. Ouch!  I have to admit I was shaken and not a little worried that it had broken the skin, but I was ‘lucky’.

The walk follows the asphalt road a very short distance through the village of Lajes, before turning down a trail.  I limped along feeling a little sorry for myself, and wishing I’d had a walking pole handy for defence.  But it was such a beautiful day, and my surroundings so serene, it really was hard to stay grumpy.

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The trail descended quite gently, but it soon became clear that I had made the wrong choice of footwear.  My grazed toes did help to take my mind off my sore leg.  Grateful for small mercies!  A pause for a little discreet padding.  Can you believe that I really was enjoying myself?  But I sincerely hope that you will learn from my bad example.  Meanwhile the trail passed through olive and fig groves, beneath numerous cork and holm oaks and down to a watercourse, with rustling bamboo.

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Climbing back out of the valley, I marveled at the early flowering fruit trees.  I couldn’t decide whether these were the famous Strawberry trees (known for their powerful liqueur, Medronho) or Loquats.  In Spring these valleys will sing with with wild flowers- the rose and white faces of Cistus, lavenders in lilac and green- but for now the predominant colour is green.

Another intriguing plant draped itself rather seductively through a Eucalyptus tree- a white variety of the bottle brush?

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Almost at the end of the 5.5km walk, there is an optional loop up to Cerro da Ursa- a bit of a climb to a panoramic view.  The good news is that having reached the summit you are then back at the level of the road.  Even better, the car was merely yards away.

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After all that trauma I’m sure you can guess what I did next?  A whizz back down the hills takes us to the lovely little cafe, Tesouros da Serra, on the outskirts of São Brás.  Fig and carob cake was exactly what I needed!  Sore bits quite forgotten.

Should you be feeling energetic, details and a map can be found on the link to the Walking Trails guide.  As estimated, the walk took around 2 hours, but we didn’t hurry.  It was too beautiful.

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I do hope you’ll read some of these great contributions, and I have to apologise for keeping some of them waiting rather a long time. I’m very grateful for your company and the lovely walks we share.  Please join us if you have a walk, long or short- I really don’t mind which.  Details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or just click on the logo above.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Now, how did Esther know I loved John Denver?

Walk Down Country Roads

Aah, the memories!  A small boy I knew loved trains!  Thanks so much, Jackie…

Train of Thought

And this week, some beautiful gardens in Toronto :

Allan Gardens

It’s always a pleasure to accompany Drake, almost anywhere!

This way please..

An idyllic landscape next from Pauline (and a few cows) :

The Rural Heart of New Zealand

Elena took such delight in Rotterdam, it’s totally infectious!

Rotterdam in a Day (part 3)

I always love to welcome a newcomer to my walks, especially if we can meet for coffee:

New York- Coffee in Central Park

Or better yet, a beach!

Coolangatta- Classic Cars by the Beach

And if that won’t do, there’s treasure!  Please say hello to Lee Anne at ‘Just me please’ :

Eagles Nest- A abundance of treasure

Don’t you love Yvette’s new look?  And the way she looks at life too!

Walk with Jo (street photos)

Gilly took such a beautiful stroll in my absence.  Hope you didn’t miss it?

A field of brassica

And then when I got home she had this waiting :

A City Stroll at Christmas

You never know what you’re going to get with Tobias, but there’s sure to be an eye pleaser :

Uzes

Meantime, Jaspa takes us back to the days of slavery :

Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park, Florida

I can confirm what Becky says, but it was still warm.  I’m missing my Algarve already!

Not every day is a sunny day

It’s great to be able to close with another special lady.  I met Cathy, once upon a time :

A November rock scramble on Billy Goat trail

That’s all for now.  I’ll probably be on my way to Nottingham when you read this and I’m sure that you understand that time with my daughter is precious.  However, I hope to be able to reply to some of you whilst in transit and I’m an early bird so I can sneak some computer time in the mornings.  I’ll catch up with the remainder on my return on Thursday, and join you for another walk next week. Take care till then!

 

 

156 comments

  1. I am visiting and enjoyed the walk up to the top of this beautiful landscape. Too bad about that dog! Scary and now glad is just bruised and not broken through skin. Walking sticks do sound advisable on this kind of hike where country dogs may be territorial, Jo.
    The photos and cake erased most of the pain, eh?! 🙂

  2. Love your walk. I live by the seaside and with lovely countryside behind me too, so I have the best of both worlds. I may try to write about my walks one day, but it’s not something I do normally. Your images are brilliant too.

    1. Thank you! My north east home is right on the coast and I can’t imagine living away from the sea. But it’s great to have somewhere as lovely as this to escape. Give it a try- it’s easy enough and you can use as much or as little detail as you like 🙂

  3. Beautiful scenery, loved your photos and those blue skies makes me long for sunshine, it has been very grey here in the UK for too long already and we still have all of the winter to deal with. I hope you knee is better now? I am very scared of dogs and an incident like that would freak me out. Thanks for this lovely post and may 2016 take you along some more great trails.

    1. Sounds like a lovely idea. I seem to remember you sending me another walk that I haven’t yet featured. The trip to the Algarve and then a visit to my daughter have left me struggling for time and Christmas is almost upon me. Thanks very much 🙂

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