Jo’s Monday walk : Sitio das Fontes

Time to return to the Algarve for this week’s walk, on the estuary of the Rio Arade.  It’s a good distance from my normal stomping ground, but I had reason to be curious about Sitio das Fontes.  Earlier this year, Dave Sheldrake began to conduct photography walks, for a donation to charity.  I haven’t managed to go on one yet, but my interest was piqued when he went to this particular site.  I had to take a look for myself.

Sitio das Fontes is an area of wild parkland formed around natural springs (or fontes).  Sitting in tidal salt marshes, it’s a wonderful place to explore the diversity of nature.  The tidal mill overlooks a wide stretch of nature in the raw, with birds and bees aplenty.

Captivated by the tiny frogs, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The parkland lies just north of the village of Estombar, and on a sunny weekday in early March I had the place almost to myself. An old waterwheel lethargically guards the entrance to the park.

Follow the path round to the tidal mill, or dally by the spring.  There are plenty of good sized rocks to sit on and contemplate nature, or simply daydream a while.  A new-looking bridge crosses the spring and you can take the long view or gaze deep into the clear waters.

The map at the entrance to the park wasn’t very clear, or maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention.  It didn’t seem to matter in the stillness of the lovely morning, the snail suspended somnolently on his stilts, and bee on blossom.

Beyond the tidal mill, a path leads off around the estuary.  The water was very low, exposing vast tracts of salt marsh and sludge, but still it was a pleasure to follow.  Shrubs and all manner of plant line the path, so progress is slow as you stoop to identify or smile in admiration.

Incredible to find two different types of bee orchid within feet of each other!  The path ends on the edge of the Arade.   Looking across the estuary I wasn’t sure if it might be possible to cross over the mud flats with the water so low.  Good sense prevailed.  I didn’t really want to end up floundering, but I was curious about the ruins on the far shore.  No great hardship to retrace my steps.

A less obvious path runs along this shoreline, but with the bonus of more orchids, some tiny iris, not yet open to morning, and a large cricket who made me jump.  Beyond the ruins the path begins to ascend quite steeply.  I climb high enough to appreciate the view.

But it’s not apparent where the path might lead.  It’s getting warm, the insects are buzzing and it feels like a good time to head back.  There are picnic tables, a children’s playground and a visitor centre, still closed at the time.  Best of all, the tranquil and lovely spring.

How very different from the thermal springs in Bath, that I wrote about last week.  Yet all part of our strange and wonderful natural world.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s walk.  Details of how to get there are contained in the links, and of how to join me, on my Jo’s Monday walk page . Now for some sharing.  You’ll have your work cut out, because I have heaps of walks!  Please make sure to visit anyone that you don’t know. Many thanks to all my contributors, and to you folk in the armchairs, it’s time to put the kettle on.

……………………………………………………………………………………..

You might like to compare Alison’s walk from a couple of years ago?  Your secret’s well and truly out now, Aly!

Our secret Sitio das Fontes

The most beautiful rainbow and frescoes from Drake this week :

Cruise through idyllic city

AND the bonus of a trip to Monmartre :

On the edge

Lots of garden shots and a cute little bug from Lady Lee :

How does your garden grow?

Sunny California, sunny Jackie!

Day 7 So Cal Bakersfield CA to Las Vegas

Becky always knows the way to my heart, and to some lovely places too.  This one’s in the Alentejo :

A short stroll around the beautiful city of Serpa

This, much closer to ‘home’ :

Thank goodness, a cloudy day

Did you ‘walk’ with Vanessa last week?  This one’s not for the faint-hearted, but shows off Majorca’s true beauty :

Soller, Mallorca, Spain/The ‘Sa Costera’ Hike along the remote and picturesque coastline…

Sue, meanwhile, is tootling gently down Memory Lane.  I hope you’re well now, hon?

Postcards from my Past/3- Cornwall’s Old Mines

Cathy is still busy making memories.  This is fabulous!

Sankei-en Garden & the Shanghai Yokohama Friendship Garden

While Mari shows us how to live a long and happy life in a little known but beautiful part of Andalusia :

Walking in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park, Spain

Exquisite prose and the nostalgia of the end of Spring, from Susan :

Park Ridge Trail, Morro Bay State Park

And an English version, with lambs and wild garlic.  Please visit!  This lady is new to me :

Late spring hike in the Manifold Valley

Miriam triumphs in adversity!  You can, too!

Toolangi Trails

And Paula proudly shows off some of her lovely heritage.  Go on- take a look!

Istrian Heritage

Jaspa seems to like our English heritage.  What’s more British than Tower Bridge?

Sam’s Ses Challenge #18: Bridge 

And I bet Woolly is a fan of those famous Austrian tortes.  Double rations this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk20_ Vienna

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk21_Vienna-2

Andrew has been striding out in Valencia.  Not like him at all!

Travels in Spain, Valencia City of Arts and Sciences and a 12 Mile Walk

You might wonder what the natural world looks like in Israel.  Take a walk with Lisa to find out :

Nahal HaShofet

That’s it for another week!  It’s a Bank Holiday in the UK next Monday but I’ll still be walking.  I hope you’ll join me.  Take care till then!

 

146 comments

  1. Another beautiful and peaceful walk and area, Jo! You do manage to find to most exquisite places. I wonder how busy they get later in the year? I love your photos and the colorful flowers, when they woke up yet. Or not. Good to go early for cooler weather, probably. I do notice a lot of water again. 🙂

    1. You know I like a drop of water, Liesbet! 🙂 🙂 Except this type does attract mosquitos in Summer. Another reason to go in the off season. Did you have a good holiday?

      1. It was a nice (and rare) break, Jo and we lucked out with the weather to see a beautiful European city. Thanks for asking! Time to do my rounds now. 🙂

  2. Definitely a stunning contrast to Bath! The heat seems to radiate from the photographs…or perhaps it’s just the hot summer’s day here in the UK! The orchids are simply beautiful and thriving in the wild, maybe I should try that approach in future?

    1. We were along the cliff tops north of here on Thursday and there were quite a lot of wild orchids about. Not the variety, but still… 🙂 🙂 I’ve loved the heat.

    1. Thank you! It’s lovely here today and I’ve just come in from the garden. My phone is rubbish for viewing so I’ll put the laptop on and enjoy it properly later xx

  3. Gorgeous!! The plant life is out of this world – the colours are so brilliant! The Algarve is somewhere I have wanted to go since 1991. You just inspired me to keep it on my list so I can experience the same kind of walk!! AND I LOVE FROGS!! 🤗 Thanks for sharing, Jo!

    1. This was a lovely surprise to me. I didn’t even know of its existence till I read about it on the photography walks. I hope you get there some day. 🙂 🙂

  4. As always Jo, this was a beautiful walk. Really loved the snail! And I finally crafted a post to contribute to one of Jo’s Monday Walks! (Although the photography doesn’t compare to yours, my heart was in the right place.)

    1. When we first arrived it was deserted except for two young girls having their own mini ‘photo shoot’ on those rocks. 🙂 🙂 I was delighted to find them gone when we came back. 🙂

  5. What a lovely walk, Jo. You reminded me of myself when you said “a large cricket who made me jump” 😀 This happens to me all the time when I’m on my walks – things that move too fast always give me a jolt xxx

  6. What a glorious place Jo – and you photos really do take us meandering through it. I started to point out some favorites but there were simply too many! I think the overall bucolic feeling is what drew me in the most. Great job.

    1. I’m not much better, Sue. And when the other half patiently repeats the names I promptly forget them! Till next time 🙂 🙂 What’s a name, anyway? Take good care!

  7. I always love your Algarve walks. Thus one was a real treat, and I love the pop of bright colors of sky, frogs, and flowers against the marsh browns and greens. Those bee orchids are really special – I’ve never had a chance to see them in person, but I would love to.

    1. And an easy walk too, hon, but you need your insect repellent. 🙂 I wasn’t sure what to expect because it’s just a country park but it really turned up some wonderful sights. (I’ve just been watching the Chelsea Flower show, and so did that 🙂 )

      1. There’s always a down side 😦 I had a bite on my ear, of all places, that was sore and weepy for ages! Fortunately it doesn’t show up in the photos. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, Otto. 🙂 🙂 The Algarve is special to me exactly because there are such areas, as well as the better known beach resorts. I love it and I think my posts reflect that.

      1. Well, we did drop anchor [or rather, stopped in a marina] once, because our skipper wanted to visit a friend of his. What I remember – still vividly after nearly 30 years – is only about our return to the bost, and that is a story in itself. It was quite late in the night, and it was fairly cold. We were waiting in the market square for a taxi, and when one came by, our skipper started to haggle about the price, saying that he knew what the drivers was asking was ridiculous. The long and the short of it: none of them gave in and … the taxi just left. And, oh wonder, no other taxi came by. The word must have spread that there were some crazy Germans waiting for a taxi in the middle of the night, but not willing to pay the (regular) fare. As it was quite cold a night, with some wind, all of us squeezed into the telephone box and huddled there to keep each other warm, until, when it was morning already, a taxi finally came by. And our skipper paid withou haggling.

    1. I knew you’d ask, Sue, and no- I don’t have an answer for you. Just an old dwelling, I suspect. Detective Becky is good at ferreting out this kind of thing. I’m happy just to look. 🙂 🙂

  8. Jo,
    This looks like a great place for a walk. I could imagine hiking along all these water filled ponds and marshes with Jerome. He would love the frogs and colourful flowers.
    Thanks again for adding me to your Monday walk list, I really do hope you’ll make it to the island sometime.
    Vanessa

  9. Lovely post Jo, looks such an interesting place. It is well known as a good bird watching spot, may even tempt me away from the Guadiana when we return!

  10. I know the whole of Portugal cannot look this good, but you manage to find some cracking bits of it to explore. Every time I see your photos and read about your walks I wonder why I am not living in this paradise. I am very glad you didn’t go floundering in the mud – it doesn’t bear thinking about!

  11. A gorgeous walk with equally gorgeous photos. I love the high up view over the estuary, and the very first photo is simply stunning – it looks like nature’s version of an infinity pool 🙂

    1. I’ve always wanted to sail up the Rio Arade to Silves, Eleazar, but not got there yet. It’s a lovely area to explore yet not far from ‘civilisation’. 🙂 🙂 Thanks a lot!

  12. So many things to enjoy here, Jo, especially the little frog in the floating grass pad and the “lethargic” water wheel. 🙂 Summer seems to be in full force there in the Algarve. I’m sure you’re very happy to be there.

    Thanks for linking to my blog. I never seem time to do anything but go out and explore, edit photos and post a blog here and there. Work is always the order of the day! So thanks for thinking of me. I do need to get back to Portugal. 🙂

    1. Sadly I’m still in the UK, Cathy, but I had a couple of walks from the March visit not yet posted. I have difficulty keeping to datal order. 🙂 🙂 Mick is really busy with work so I’m entertaining myself. Thanks, hon. Enjoy the bits around work!

  13. fabulous! you’ll have to return next year and see if you can catch a shot of the elusive – yet fabulous – Naked Hanging Man Orchid! (I kid you not – look em up!!!)
    lovely shots Jo as always – next time give us a shout and Kat the dog can show you some more paths 🙂

    1. Back in October for a longer spell, Aly, and I’ll definitely look you up. And I’ll most certainly have to go orchid hunting 🙂 🙂 Thanks, darlin! Love to the better half 🙂

  14. oh Jo this is beautiful, no wonder you recommended it to us. Wish we had made it, have to save it now for the autumn. Am glad though that common sense (Mike) prevailed on crossing those mud flats!!!

    1. It should be a good place for birding, Becky, though unobservant me didn’t spot much other than an elusive heron. Definitely a place for the anti-bug spray as I think I got well nibbled there. 🙂 🙂

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