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!
The most beautiful rainbow and frescoes from Drake this week :
AND the bonus of a trip to Monmartre :
Lots of garden shots and a cute little bug from Lady Lee :
Sunny California, sunny Jackie!
Becky always knows the way to my heart, and to some lovely places too. This one’s in the Alentejo :
This, much closer to ‘home’ :
Did you ‘walk’ with Vanessa last week? This one’s not for the faint-hearted, but shows off Majorca’s true beauty :
Sue, meanwhile, is tootling gently down Memory Lane. I hope you’re well now, hon?
Cathy is still busy making memories. This is fabulous!
While Mari shows us how to live a long and happy life in a little known but beautiful part of Andalusia :
Exquisite prose and the nostalgia of the end of Spring, from Susan :
And an English version, with lambs and wild garlic. Please visit! This lady is new to me :
Miriam triumphs in adversity! You can, too!
And Paula proudly shows off some of her lovely heritage. Go on- take a look!
Jaspa seems to like our English heritage. What’s more British than Tower Bridge?
And I bet Woolly is a fan of those famous Austrian tortes. Double rations this week :
Andrew has been striding out in Valencia. Not like him at all!
You might wonder what the natural world looks like in Israel. Take a walk with Lisa to find out :
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!