Jo’s Monday walk : Vaqueiros

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A dilemma this week!  Whether to take you back to those blue Algarve skies, or stay with reality, here in the UK?  Ever the escapist, I’ve opted to leave reality on hold, just a little while longer.  Vaqueiros is another of those pretty hill villages in the Eastern Algarve.  A quirky little walk, this time I had the company of my walking friends, so no need to worry about angry dogs.

Again, the drive up into the hills from Tavira was a test for the driver, but pure delight for the passenger.  Before coming to the Algarve I would never have expected to find hairpin bends and smoke coloured hills.  Every twist and turn looks down across another tiny village, or out across a lovely panorama.  With each bend I want to shout ‘stop the car’, and leap out with my camera.  But, of course, that isn’t a practical option, and the dedicated walkers in our group would have been less than impressed.  Coffee stops, however, are mandatory, and we congregate outside a miniscule cafe in Vaqueiros.  I’m eye to eye with a languid grey cat, sitting comfortably atop a heap of beer crates.  Raising my camera appears to be the signal for a sprint start.  Another wasted photo opportunity!  Nothing for it but to start walking.

Vaqueiros is one of the villages along the Via Algarviana, a 300km walking and biking trail which crosses the Algarve.  The walk today is a circular route of just 13km.  In late November the sun is shining brightly but walkers are scarce.  The olive trees are laden with fruits, soon to be harvested. Our route takes us out of the village, joining a gently rising track.  Gnarled olive trees and umbrella pines are our chief companions.

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Can you see Michael, in the deep shade, at the rear of the group of walkers?  They are quite fit and walk at a decent pace.  I’m always hanging back, looking for an interesting shot.  Unless I get engrossed in conversation, which can sometimes happen.  I try to maintain a balance between enjoying my companions and the landscape.

Red and yellow markers indicate that we are still following a trail, but we mostly rely on our group leader.  An Algarve resident, he has been walking these hills for many years.  His well-muscled legs handle the ups and downs with ease.  Some of us are not so lucky! Along the route we come upon a couple of fords, but water levels are notoriously low this year. The rain came all in one week and everywhere is tinder dry.

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A cluster of hens are happy in the shade.

I mentioned at the beginning that this is a quirky walk.  Up in these hills you unexpectedly come upon the remains of a theme park. ‘Parque Mineiro’ was a misguided idea which never actually came to fruition.  Copper was once mined in this area and was presumably the inspiration behind the theme park.  I wasn’t at all prepared for the sight of a little yellow train, and yet there it was, intact and still sitting on the rails.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but there isn’t a cake stop on this walk.  Groans all round!  The village doesn’t have one and in fact we took a picnic with us. We ended up back at Vaqueiros, outside the same little cafe.  The lads helped to empty those beer crates while my tumbler of red cost but 40 cents!

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It’s a lovely part of the world.  This promotional video of the Via Algarviana is a nice introduction.  There is a board near the cafe which shows way-marked trails, should you ever get that far.

And that’s my walking done till after Christmas, so may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and healthy Christmas (yes, you are allowed cake!  You can walk it off afterwards).  Time to put that kettle on!

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A last round-up before Christmas.  Huge thanks to all of you who’ve followed along, up hill and down dale.  I’ve enjoyed your company so much, and thank you for helping to keep me trim.  Join me any time you like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Quick off the mark last week, Drake was in thoughtful mood :

Space for reflection

Lovely to have Debbie back in our midst again!

A Winter Stroll on Beach Street

Lots of you seem to know my weaknesses now!  Many thanks, Elaine :

A canalside walk

It’s round up time with Amy.  Pick a favourite?

A Walk through my Monday Walks

I shall make it to Water of Leith one day- trust me, Anabel!

Edinburgh- everything is going to be alright 

Still walking in circles with Geoff!

The Capital Ring : Richmond to Greenford, via Osterley

Violet shows us how beautiful Christmas in small town Ontario can be :

River of lights

Then we can hop across the water to cosmopolitan Toronto :

Toronto…. waterscape walks

You might have missed this one last week?  I did!  Apologies!

Metal and Wood Trail

Jaspa takes us to South America again.  Such a beautiful cathedral!

Trujillo’s Colonial Heart, Peru 

Walk homewards with Ruth?  You won’t regret it :

Stroll home

And isn’t it always a pleasure to spend time with Pauline and Jack?

Farm walk

Gilly lives in a lovely part of the world.  She’s lovely too!

The Otter in August

Hope to see some of you next week, if you’re not too busy entertaining and having fun.  I’ll be looking forward to a bit of fresh air in that gap between Christmas and New Year.  Off I go, to wrap presents.  I still have some to buy!  Take good care till I see you again, and have a wonderful time with your loved ones.

 

 

106 comments

  1. Jo, the chickens and cacti or deciduous plants make me think of our Western scenery. I liked seeing the green ribbons around a tall hill or moyntain. Is this evidence of “terracing” the land? Jo, I will be happy no cake since I need to not eat as many sweets as I Do. Lol

      1. A walk on the beach is enjoyable any time of year 🙂 It is summer storm season here.. Which means a few sunny days followed by lots of rain and occasionally hail. But at least it isn’t cold. I hope you are a long way from the floods I have been hearing about.

      2. We’re about an hour from the worst ones. Being on the coast has its advantages, and our homes are on the top of a hill (both here and in the Algarve 🙂 ). Poor York! It;s a beautiful city but it has had many flooding problems down the years.

      3. Glad you are safe. There is a lot of advantages having a house on top of the hill 🙂 It often floods here too. My neighbors at the bottom of the hill in our street often fill with water when Brisbane is hit by storms.

  2. Hello sweetheart I’m really behind now, but I’m glad to see this splendid post, great photos and the views are stunning. I’d be frustrated with the walkers when there is so much to photograph. It would be great to have like minded people like you and Jude to walk with occasionally. I love to walk as well but not march! These gnarly trees look like they are reaching out to capture someone, pretty ladies with cameras maybe, watch out!

    I can imagine how much work it is to do the challenge nearly every week, and while I’d miss it, I agree with Jude that once a month would be better than gving it up.
    I’m all ready for Christmas now, hope you are too. I’ve just had a half day to go have lunch with my friend Sue, in Topsham, another half day tomorrow, then off until Tuesday, hooray!

    1. I did the lunch and coffee dates yesterday, Gilly, and had a lovely day. Nothing’s gone right so far today, but I’ve still got another one. Too tired to do more than a bit of wrapping tonight. (and maybe a glass of something 🙂 )
      Woo-hoo! Enjoy your time off- you’ve earned it.

  3. 13 km in how many hours? I bet we take the same amount of time to cover 3km! A lovely walk: the Algarve is looking more and more like a Warsaw side-trip destination. My mob are here and my grand-daughter has designed Christmas lunch, saving me the the decision-angst.

    1. You probably do, but no worse for that. 🙂 Thanks for making the time to pop in, Meg. The grand-daughter sounds a good un 🙂 James has volunteered to cook chicken cacciatore on Christmas Eve but I suspect it will cost me angst in the shopping and prep. Wish I could just ‘go with the flow’ but tis not my nature. Tis, however, my nature to send you big Christmas hugs! Have a fine old time, and much love in 2016 xxx

      1. Fingers crossed, we think we’re good now! Thanks for asking;). Have a very Merry Christmas, Jo, it’s been great connecting and hearing about all your incredible travels :).

  4. I so enjoy reading about your walks. I am envious of your group. I wish I knew a walking/hiking group to join here in Prague. That theme park is intriguing. Will you be spending the holidays in the Algarve? Wishing you a holiday filled with cheer and cheers. 😉 🍺🎄

    1. We’ve not yet managed an Algarve Christmas, Julie. 😦 Dad always comes for Christmas lunch and our son is home for a few days. The best we can usually hope for is an early January getaway but this year we have Polish family coming so it’s on hold. But we make up for it the rest of the year 🙂 🙂 Thanks and happy hols to you too!

  5. What a great tour, Jo. My eye was immediately captured by that stick insect (Image_1022). You didn’t think I’d let something like that pass without me noticing it! 😀

    Have a great Christmas and Happy New Year (I’m sure this is about the tenth time I’ve told you this, but I really mean it) xxxx

  6. I think you should be on the payroll for Tourism Portugal Jo. I just finished watching the video and having visions of cycling the trail dancing in my head. Love all those little villages along the way. There’s another one for the list. 🙂

    1. Oh, that poor list, Sue! 🙂 You’re not doing so very badly. Thanks for all the lovely company and encouragement you’ve provided throughout the year. I do appreciate it. 🙂 Take some Christmas hugs with you to compensate for lack of snow. 🙂 Have a super time and all the best for 2016.

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