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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Quick off the mark last week, Drake was in thoughtful mood :
Lovely to have Debbie back in our midst again!
Lots of you seem to know my weaknesses now! Many thanks, Elaine :
It’s round up time with Amy. Pick a favourite?
I shall make it to Water of Leith one day- trust me, Anabel!
Still walking in circles with Geoff!
Violet shows us how beautiful Christmas in small town Ontario can be :
Then we can hop across the water to cosmopolitan Toronto :
You might have missed this one last week? I did! Apologies!
Jaspa takes us to South America again. Such a beautiful cathedral!
Walk homewards with Ruth? You won’t regret it :
And isn’t it always a pleasure to spend time with Pauline and Jack?
Gilly lives in a lovely part of the world. She’s lovely too!
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.