Jo’s Monday walk : Rocha da Pena


Some walks are a really hard act to follow.  After last week’s Almond Blossom Trail, in blissful sunshine, I was really looking forward to taking you to the heights of Rocha da Pena.  I envisioned the landscape, dropping away below me, and my eyes gazing far out to sea. Unfortunately, the dismal cloud wrapped around the rock had other ideas.  Every day in the Algarve cannot be paradise, can it?  But what I can offer you is good company, some wonderful plant species, and… oh, yes- cake!  What’s a little drizzle between friends?

The drive out into the Algarve countryside is beautiful in itself.  A little challenging, and you do have to like hairpin bends.  This is another walk that features in the Walking Trails in the Algarve, (p.72) and once you arrive the signage is good.  The walk begins beside a cafe, Bar das Grutas, and a strong coffee is just the thing to set you up.  Don’t expect a smile from the proprietor, however.  Or maybe it was just the weather!  Taking a look at those clouds, I think we’d better get going!

It’s uphill, of course, but not too steep, and there’s plenty to hold your interest.  Plants nestle in unsuspected places.  I’m walking with a group and every now and then a voice sings out ‘don’t miss this one!’  I’m being teased a little, but I like it.  The challenge is to keep up with the group, yet still record my individual delights.


There are a few signboards, pointing out things of interest, and I’m reminded of the fires that swept this mountain range, soon after we’d bought our Algarve home.  Driving along the coast, or even down on the beach, a black pall of smoke could be seen on the horizon.  It must have been terrifying to be up here, as the fires raged for 4 days, in 2004.  Hard to imagine on this moist day, when so much has renewed and revitalised.

I’m soon on the hunt for the wild bee orchids which, I discover, like this predominantly calcareous outcrop.  I can’t be cross with the weather when I learn that late January/early February is the perfect time to see them, rain or shine.  The plateau rises to a height of 479 metres at Talefe, which roughly translates as ‘trig point’.  All this richness and diversity has led to the Rocha being a ‘Special Protected Area’, by law.

The boards also refer to narcissus calcicola, which I take to be a simple daffodil. I’m wildly excited when I come upon a carpet of these tiny beauties, so much smaller than any I have seen before.  I think I probably have more than one variety here.


Up on the heights, with the daffodils, lie the remains of a defensive stone wall, believed to date back to the Iron Age.  It’s been attributed to Celtic people who lived on the Iberian peninsula in pre-Roman times. (6th-1st century BC)

There are caves you can explore, currently inhabited by two locally endangered species of bat.  The largest cave, known as ‘Moor’s Grotto’, was used as a final desperate refuge in the 13th century, according to legend.  The Almohad Moors tried to hide there, before being slain by the Portuguese troops of King Afonso III.

After a speck or two of drizzle, a tantalising glimpse of hazy sunlight appears in the distance, as we drop back down the trail.  I look wistfully towards the open door of an unlikely ‘Mini Museum’ in the village of Penina, quietly going about it’s business.  But my walking friends have lunch firmly in mind.  No loitering allowed!  I guess I’ll have to come back, on a sunnier day, and perhaps do the walk in reverse.

If you’re thinking you’ve seen that door before somewhere, it was one of many in Life is full of choices.  Within a matter of minutes we’re back to our start point, and not a moment too soon as the skies open.  The Bar das Grutas supplies food, but we hop into cars and head for the village of São Romão, near São Bras de Alportel, where we have a reservation.  A warm welcome awaits us at Cafe Correia.  And cake, of course!

I’m including a link to an excellent website, Walk Algarve, where you will find full details of the geology, and flora and fauna to be found at Rocha da Pena, with a little more history.  And now, that cake’s made me thirsty.  Time to put the kettle on.

walking logo

Thanks everybody for keeping me company on my walks, and for entertaining me with yours.  I hope you enjoyed this one and, if you have a walk you’d like to share, details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walks page.  Just click on the logo above.


I’m not a huge fan of snow but if anything could persuade me… Anabel just might :

Canadian Rockies : Lake Louise

And Colline gave it a good try!  Canada definitely seems to be the place for it :

A Walk in the Snow

Come over to the ‘dark side’ with Drake?  He does it beautifully!

Abandoned walk

Congratulate Jesh?  She deserves it!

A Short Diversion

Me and Jackie, still singing, down Mexico way!  And why wouldn’t we?

Monday walk : Guadalajara

Jaspa does go to some fascinating places!  I’d really like to visit this one :

The Templar Tunnels of Acre, Israel 

A little summertime warmth, Down Under, with Rosemay would be good too :

The French Connection : Bunker Bay

Geoff and his dog go bounding through the sand dunes!

Life’s a Beach#glorioussuffolk 

While Snowdon Student takes a break from his studies to head for the hills again :

Relaxing by Llyn Idwal

Jude is busy getting ready to move to Cornwall, but still found time to share.  That’s a friend for you!

Scrobbesbyrig/Shrewsbury : Town Trail Part 1 

It looks a bit busy in Macau, for me.  Anyone been there?  Thanks, Lee Ann!

A stroll through the Old Town of Macau

Pauline gave me an early morning nudge this morning!

Early morning beach walk

I’m well and truly re-acclimatised to the UK again.  Not sure where to take you next week, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be walking somewhere.  Many thanks again, and I hope you all have a great week!


  1. Thanks (a lot) for linking and mentioning our website, We’re truly happy that you enjoyed the information. Strangely enough, Rocha da Pena is actually our least popular post. It is a shame, since all we want is to keep our algarvian landscapes protected. Thanks for promoting it. Filipe

      1. Hi Jo! Never been in Masmorra, unfortunately. The people behind the WalkAlgarve website are now absent, and all that is left (for now) is me. The website is being upgraded in order to allow people to read it on mobile devices. There’s one caveat: it will feature more adverts, but we cannot keep it going as it is without it. Would you be willing to write a guest post to us about Masmorra? We would, obviously, link to your site and give you the deserved credits. Filipe

      2. It would have to be in a few weeks time. Dad died last week and I’m heading home for the funeral and a wealth of relatives next week. Will be happy to as soon as life is normal again x

      3. Oh…I’m so sorry – really, even if we do not know each other! Empathy grows spontaneously. We’ll keep in contact. Wish you well. Filipe

  2. Such a lovely walk, the wild flowers look so fragile and yet they must be tough to survive there. The wrapping up event of eating cakes is no doubt the “icing on the cake”.

  3. Love that the cakes got their place here. *laughing. A walk without a cake isn’t really a walk. Even on a sun free day, you find color and joy! But that is just YOU!!!!! My favorite pick must be the old door … and that top flower – orchid! One day I will physical join you for a walk down there. Are you ready????? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Sounds like fun, Pauline 🙂 Grey again here but I’m counting myself lucky. It’s Dad’s 88th birthday today and he’s having eye surgery, and my son has flown off to a stag do in Eindhoven, Belgium. 🙂 Thanks, darlin’.

  4. The rock wall going far into the distance is such a testament to the people who built it. Withstanding and weathering the test of Time. Those delicate and unique flowers with so may pale pink petals were beautiful, Jo. The yellow daffodils and purple flowers colors “popped!” 🙂

    1. Got to love daffodils at this time of year, Aquileana! The true herald of Spring 🙂 Thank you so much for your visit. Your own posts are amazing and stuffed full of detail. Love to you too 🙂

  5. What a delightful walk, Jo, although I did race through your post somewhat. Time is of the essence at the moment. 😕 I love those tiny daffs and the beautiful mauve flower with the heart-shaped petals. The cake did not escape my notice either. Yum! 🙂

  6. Oh Jo, your posts have everything – an envigorating walk in beautiful scenery, lovely message, gorgeous photos from tiny flowers to old doors (which I love) and of course, cake. What more could we ask for? Just so lovely 🙂
    PS I’m going to put a post up today (two weeks since my last one, I can’t believe it 😦 )and I wanted to link to the 7 day nature photo challenge you tagged me in some while ago but I can’t find the post…sorry, my fault, I thought I had saved it! Any chance you could put it in your reply here, pretty please? Thanks Jo 🙂 xx

    1. Oh heck! I don’t even remember that one myself, Sherri! I’ll have a look back through and see if I can find it. This is where good tagging comes in handy 😦 😦 Get back to you asap 🙂

      1. Thanks so much Jo! Sorry for the trouble. You can see how long it takes to get me to get to anything blogwise these days, but I get there eventually! No rush, I’m working on the post, it won’t be ready until later… xx

  7. Orchids, daffodils, cake! What’s not to like about this post – and you did all the walking too 🙂
    Need to go to bed, but so much crowding my mind at the moment i only get to visit blogs far too late. I will be back to check on the other walks. Promise. Just have a few lists to do…

    1. Good morning, list maker! 🙂 Wonderful sunrise and the weather is perking up nicely here (yes, yes, I know it’s cold- you can’t have everything! ) Just think how bee-ooo-tiful it will be in Cornwall! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. Don’t be daft! It’s bound to with things in boxes. Get yourself out for a breath of air. I’ve just been to the beach- different one 🙂 Need to come and see your Seasons but I’m hunting something out for Sherri, emailing Paula and making corned beef pie. Well, one of those options! I’ll get to you eventually and then I need to do some playing with flowers. 🙂 🙂

    1. Thanks, Debs! I have the feeling I’ve woken up in the wrong country because the sun is glinting away in the sky. 🙂 I’ve done a couple of UK walks already- nowhere new, but maybe entertaining. We’ll see 🙂

  8. Regardless of the weather you made it an interesting walk Jo by showing the flowers.
    Especially the ones struggling up between the crevices of rocks.
    You don’t let us miss wondrous little things that make your walks delightful. _/\_

  9. A lovely orchid, and delicate daffodils – I love the thought of daffodils in the wild. You expressed the dilemma of walking with a group so well. However I wish you’d stop tempting with cake. I’ve taken an oath against it.

    1. For Lent, or permanently? It’s the others who keep demanding cake or sulking, Meg. You know what they’re like. 🙂 Did you look at the Walk Algarve site? You can identify all the individual orchids from there.

      1. Sue- you’ve been cheated!!! 🙂 Funny, I thought of you today. Haven’t seen you around and wondered if you were ok or just busy. Glad you’re here.

      2. Oh, I’m OK thanks, Jo…just been rather busy and preoccupied. And look like being so for a while…I shall dip in and out of blogs when I can

  10. Oh how I envy you the orchids! and the daffodils are fab, the ones that look like little skirts are cultivated here, I’m sure Jude knows the name. Meg of course will love the rock, is there copper in those hills? What’s going on with the almond thingy? and did you have two pieces of cake, good girl!

    1. No, Mick had the strawberry one. I don’t like jelly stuff (rolls eyes 🙂 ) Hadn’t a clue what you meant about the almond thingy, but you must be referring to the fonte? The white circular ‘thingy’. It’s the site of a spring that would have been used for laundry, Gilly 🙂

      1. I’ve magnified it as big as I can on the original and it’s still quite hard to read (as well as the fact that my Portuguese is extremely limited 🙂 ) Something about being born and drinking???? Sorry! 😦 😦

    1. It’s a place I’ve intended to visit for a long while, Seonaid. It’s too hot by far in the summer and the grey weather wasn’t all that disappointing when I started spotting the orchids. 🙂 Thanks, hon! All ok with you?

  11. fantastica esposizione di orchidee selvatice, e di altri magnifici fiori spontanei che nulla hanno da invidiare a quelli ibridati.Adoro quella flora e quei belliissimi angoli di vegetazione mediterranea, un piccolo paradiso terrestre…senza trascurare quello culinario
    benritrovata amica Jo

  12. I agree. A little drizzle can’t spoil good company like yours and if there are gorgeous plant species like this and cake, who can complain Jo? 😀

    I’ll let you do the uphill walks and go with the group. I’ll sit down below and look for bugs and spiders. 😛

    That Summre Asphodel is absolutely gorgeous Jo and you took an excellent shot of it as well darling. Is that a bee I see in the photo or am I mistaken?

    The fire that year must have been terrible and it’s good to see nature going its course again. It’s wonderful to read that the area is protected.

    Stunning flower shots Jo and a pity you couldn’t go in at the Mini Museum. I wonder what treasures they had there?

    Was that cheesecake? I hope so. It’s my favourite of all sweet cakes.

    Thanks for the lovely walk, the cake. I need some coffee here now as well. 😆

    1. Coffee coming up! 🙂 I’m planning a revisit when I’m back there in April, Sonel, so hopefully I’ll get in that museum yet 🙂 Now then- which one was the Asphodel? I’m guessing because it was a lucky shot and I certainly didn’t notice any insects. My excuse is it was gloomy, Sonel 🙂 Hugs, darlin!

      1. Sounds great and I do hope you will get to the museum. 😀

        The Asphodel is the gorgeous white flower (img_3339.jpg).

        You don’t need any excuses for any of your gorgeous shots Jo. 😀

        ♥ Hugs ♥ to you too darlin’! ♥

  13. Hi Jo,
    I always enjoy stopping by your page. So much beautiful scenery and lovely history I wouldn’t otherwise think to research.

    I really enjoyed this walk especially since it ended with cake! Thanks as always for sharing your journeys with us. Have a great week.


  14. Hi Jo. Peter and l really enjoyed reading your blog on our
    Roche de Pera walk,Peter especially as he couldn’t make that one. Doing well here in Algarve and looking forward to more walks when well again.

  15. A lovely walk despite the weather! I’m afraid I’ve got more snow for you this week – the Scottish variety – but it’s very pretty and I did the walking in it so you don’t have to 😉 Just coming up.

    1. More snow!!! 😦 Just joking! I kind of hope we’ve seen the last for this year though, Anabel. Crocuses out here now 🙂 Hmm, thinks- I’ve never done a crocus walk 🙂 Thank you very much.

  16. Jo … hiking very well at her young age. 😉 You are going to be my inspiration when I hit … what? …. 29?. 😀 😛 😉 Very nice that you take moments to pause and took these lovely blooms.

    1. This old lady is sitting in her window seat, with the sun on her back, perfectly content with the world. 🙂 Thanks, Rommel! I was walking on the beach earlier today. Not such a bad world 🙂

  17. ooh just look at that cake, perfect after a stroll in the hills. Thanks for yet another wonderful walk Jo, the sun has returned here albeit today we have warmth, sun and mist. Very strange

    1. There’s a link to the cafe’s Facebook page, if you should want to try it, Becky. The village of Sao Romao is very pretty and there are some good, more level walks in the area, too. You can pick up a leaflet in the TI at Sao Bras. 🙂
      Cold wind, but sunny here this morning too. Been gallivanting on the beach.

  18. Absolutely stunning this week Jo, so much to enjoy, the beautiful variety of flowers from the dainty daffodils to the delicate orchids and that lovely pinky/purply flower that looks like tissue paper. There certainly is some thing good in every day and you have shown us it in abundance. Yum, that cake makes me drool. Thank you for squeezing my walk in this week. Now to go visiting the others in the group.

  19. I guess every weather has its advantages and disadvantages, surely, sunny weather is the best for photos, but you used some magical tricks, Jo, and turned your walk into a beautiful discovery of wonderful flowers and views, which brighten my morning! And final touch of a real Master is a delicious cake, who won’t be smiling after it…Sweet!

  20. What a lovely walk Jo and so much inspiration – nature, history and some wonderful views. I can see why the Rocha area is a “Special Protected Area”. The flowers are so pretty – am glad you could linger just long enough to take some photos and also that the rain stayed away long enough to get your walk in without a good soaking! Thanks for including my Bunker Bay walk this week too 🙂 I will head off to read everyone else’s contributions soon as well and also I’ll check out the Walk Algarve site. Have a lovely week 🙂

      1. Thanks Jo – yes I’d love to be able to spend more time checking out everyone’s posts that’s why I join in from time to time as I to read all the posts if I’m going to join in! I think you do a wonderful job collating all the walks and writing your own up!!

  21. Jo, jo, jo! This was inspiring – from the rock sprouting the bloom to the sign with the reminder about finding the good in a day – and of course the cake- which lured me in from the reader – now if we could just taste via blog! 😔

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s