I love the approach to Alcoutim! You can follow the road from the coast out alongside the River Guadiana for much of the way, with tantalising glimpses ahead and back as you round the many bends. Just as you come to the village, the road curves and you have a fine view, down onto Alcoutim, and across to whitewashed Sanlucar de Guadiana on the opposite shore, in Spain. With morning mists swirling above the water, it’s a wonderful sight, and the promise of another beautiful day.
We park the car on the edge of the village and walk across a rivulet and down towards the water. The mist is already beginning to clear and the sun feels warm. There, waiting for us, several members of the choir, Ossónoba, and a guide. It’s the third time we’ve walked with them, and we’re greeted enthusiastically and made to feel welcome. A representative of the Via Algarviana joins us, to promote the walks and ensure there are no problems. Once assembled, brief explanations are given, and we set off.
It’s normally a peaceful spot, with the ferry crossing, when summoned, in a desultory fashion. Today a regatta is taking place and there’s an air of bustle. We chat to a Dutch man who has moored his boat midstream and joined the walk, hoping the event will be over when we return.
We leave the village and start a gentle ascent, looking down on the river. Yachts dot the water, lazing the day away. But not for us, the idle life. As Alcoutim recedes, we reach a junction and begin the climb in earnest. The walk is not long, but challenging in places.
But there is the distraction of the view and the distant sparkle of the water. A small patch of arable land surprises. Despite the nearness of water the soil is bone dry underfoot. Rock Cistus cling to the slopes, and I am delighted to find one or two already open and flaunting their beauty.
At the crest of the hill the roof of a tumbledown watchman’s cottage appears, through a froth of weeds. I peer through the sorry window, and out at the landscape beyond. So frail, the skeletal timbers. No place to hide.
I don’t envy the chill nights up here, a lonely vigil, watching for the enemy. But in the brightness of day I could be seduced into a watchman’s life.
And then it’s time to begin the descent. Slowly, at times, keeping my knees together and pigeon-toed, or sideways like a crab, on the steep parts. A helping hand is extended if I wobble, but I’m glad to return to level ground. I have little in common with mountain goats. Some of the choir begin to sing, purely for the joy of it, and I smile as I recognise the tune.
Back in the village, we follow the signs for the river beach. A chorus of delight greets a large family of black pigs, rootling about as pigs will. Pork is plentiful in the Algarve, porco preto appearing on many menus. Lamb is more expensive, and I can never bring myself to enjoy it, especially when, as now, they frolic in the fields, pestering mum for another feed.
Sand has been imported for the river beach, and there’s a pleasant little café and seating area. Plans are afoot to extend the beach, for this is a hot spot in summer. We carry on into the village, heading for lunch, where we are joined by the rest of the choir.
A poster on a weathered door announces their presence. They file into the restaurant, laughing and talking, and we meekly join them. We share a table with 2 Belgian ladies, trading experiences throughout the meal, a Portuguese stew and carob and almond desserts. As coffees are hastily produced, the choir master counts them in, and a rich, full sound fills the restaurant. Minutes later we are climbing the hill to their venue.
Performance over, it’s back into the hot sun and a gentle saunter, past the river and towards the car. Yes, I know there’s something missing, but we were busy talking during the meal and I didn’t like to interrupt with photos. But I can share with you a rather wonderful pastry that’s special to Loulé. Folhares are flaky and sugary, and oozing with warm custard.
We will be joining the choir again next week, for a final walk on the Via Algarviana. I expect I’ll share it with you at some point, but for now I intend to step back from the blog for a while. I hope you’ve enjoyed walking with me, and I’m sure that we’ll do it again. Many thanks to Ossónoba!
Guess what? Janet’s found a little warmth this week :
I think it’s always warm in Charleston, isn’t it Alice?
If you like the peaceful life, and don’t mind a little wind…
Have you ever been to Charles de Gaulle airport? If so, you’ll know exactly what Drake means :
Or you can stay closer to home, and a place that I love :
Winter seems endless in some places. I don’t suppose birds mind grey, Irene?
And Ice Sculptures last much longer in cooler climes, Natalie?
A gentle sunset stroll with Carol. Is there water in the river?
It’s pretty dry where Cathy was :
Candy offers up some great photo opportunities :
And Georgina shows us a different side to Spain :
Let’s end with a bit of squidge from Margaret! But at least there’s blue sky :
Keep walking! I certainly will, and you know that I can’t resist sharing for long. We have a short trip to England in April, but we’re back here for Easter. More parades, I hear you sigh! And hopefully some pastures new. Take care till then!