Jo’s Monday walk : Alcoutim, with the choir

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!

  walking logo

Guess what?  Janet’s found a little warmth this week :

Monday’s walk to the rookery

I think it’s always warm in Charleston, isn’t it Alice?

St. Michael’s Alley

If you like the peaceful life, and don’t mind a little wind…

Scotland Tour: Hiking in the wild North West

Have you ever been to Charles de Gaulle airport?  If so, you’ll know exactly what Drake means :

Track to the sky

Or you can stay closer to home, and a place that I love :

New look, old charm

Winter seems endless in some places.  I don’t suppose birds mind grey, Irene?

Along the Icy Marsh

And Ice Sculptures last much longer in cooler climes, Natalie?

Do You Love the 80s?

A gentle sunset stroll with Carol.  Is there water in the river?

All or Nothing

It’s pretty dry where Cathy was :

Morocco: a short walk through Todra Gorge

Candy offers up some great photo opportunities :

Paseo do Monte Boi in Baiona

And Georgina shows us a different side to Spain :

February Fun, Fotos and Short Walks

Let’s end with a bit of squidge from Margaret!  But at least there’s blue sky :

Winter Walking in Nidderdale-with Added Mud

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!

166 comments

  1. I hope you are keeping all these walks somewhere and will eventually publish them in a book. I know lots of walkers who would buy such a book for their travels. So many travel books that have room for walks tend to stick to the tried and true touristy paths and yours are so much better. Not a task for ‘later on’ or ‘retirement’ but one for now while people are still interested in hiking, trekking and walking.
    Lovely as usual, ad I enjoyed it with you. Long may your choir continue singing.

    1. I looked for a YouTube video to share but I couldn’t find one to do them justice, Mari. I guess I’m just lazy when it comes to marketing and I would be so hurt if nobody wanted the end product. But thank you for your kind suggestion. Sending hugs 🤗💕

  2. What a lovely walk, Jo! The scenery is inspiring and the weather looks amazing! I had hoped to link a walking post but with teaching, closing on our property loan and my weekly photo challenge, I got distracted. Always good to take a little break. Looking forward to your return!

    1. The weather is glorious, Terri. I’m sitting up on our roof after another strenuous walk this morning and simply enjoying being here. I’ll be around so I’ll catch up when I can. Take care! 🤗💕

  3. Stunning photos of Alcoutim. The boats on the river look the same as when we were there last year, about this time, with asphodel everywhere. Such a lovely time to go. The choir seems a great group. Do you sing on your walks? Thanks for linking my short walks and hope you get a break. I can only manage a post a month at the moment.

    1. I don’t think the boats vary too much, Georgina. It’s a beautiful spot and I love to be up there. There are only a dozen or so choir members who walk. The others meet us at the restaurant. I’m starting to know the songs a bit so I hum along. Thanks for your company 🤗💕

  4. Another charming walk Jo – always feel we’re walking along with you as you write so beautifully and your photos are lovely 🙂 The countryside looks so pretty with the spring blossoms and lambs (I certainly don’t like the idea of eating them either by the way 😦 ) Hope you enjoy your sabbatical and your trip to the UK in April 🙂 We’ve postponed travel to the UK for a while – I was going to come by myself for a couple of weeks next week then Monsieur was going to do a quick 10 day trip to see his mum in May. However we had already pencilled in October for a European holiday to visit Mlle (who should by then be living in Berlin) so have decided to combine that with visiting our UK families. Just don’t fancy the idea of long haul travel at present – normally am not one to be bothered by the risks of flying but not too keen on getting stuck somewhere at present or having to self isolate for some reason (not too practical as my dad lives in an apartment complex for older people). Mlle will hopefully be coming back here for 3 months in June in between jobs to get her knee fixed (netball injury). We’ll also be reducing our carbon footprint by only flying long haul once this year – hope things will have settled down though by October! In the meantime enjoy your break and hope to see you back on here before too long, take care xx 🙂

    1. We have a lot of friends who are frequent flyers, Rosemay, but it certainly isn’t a good time for it. A shame you won’t get to see Dad, but I’m sure you’ll Skype and try to help problem solve at a distance. I won’t be far away. Just need a break from the schedule. Take care 🤗💕

      1. Thanks Jo – yes Skype is wonderful my dad says as long as he can have our weekly chats face to face it helps him 😃 It’s only a few more months and fingers crossed things will be more settled by then. At least there will be plenty of flight bargains coming up!! Enjoy your well earned break free from schedules! Take care xx 😃

  5. I hope you are OK Jo and enjoy your rest. Shall miss your walks and wonderful descriptions and photos….even perhaps will have to find my own cake from now on 😀 😀 I do hope you pop in and see me when you can ❤ ❤

    1. Don’t worry, Brian. I will still be around. This morning I had another strenuous walk and there’s another tomorrow, croquet on Wednesday and I just need a bit of space. I doubt rest will come into it 🤣🤣

  6. Plenty of lovely views here Jo, but I was a bit apprehensive coming back down 😳 What surprises me about the choir walks is how they have the energy to sing after walking / hiking AND a meal! Nice that someone is with you to check the route, could do with someone like that on our trails, so many are impassable with brambles etc. Is your sabbatical from all blogging or is it just the walks you are cutting back? I shall miss your cheeky comments and your blue skies 💙

    1. Collapsed on the roof after another extremely tough bit of walking, Jude. With a chap who lived high up in the hills and has moved down to Tavira for an easier life. I was wearing entirely wrong shoes for the choir walk as I was under the misapprehension that it was a level stroll. Silly me, I’ll know better on Sunday. Some of them are really young and fit. The majority join us later for lunch. I don’t know the answer to your question. I just want to be schedule free for a while and see what happens. I expect I’ll miss it on an evening when we’re often at home and you certainly won’t be free of cheeky comments 🤣🤣

      1. Schedule free is good. I used to try and be consistent with posts, and challenges, but I pick and choose now which is why the flower blog is on a hiatus. Of course this year I have set my own challenge, but it is only for the year. I can understand why you want a break from the regular walks, it’s quite a commitment every week. But I hope you will post the odd photo and updates about your new life. 😍

  7. Rather a challenging walk Jo but what incredibly views, certainly worth the effort and having a choir to walk with, what fun when they burst into song for the pure joy of singing. A lovely walk to finish with. Enjoy your time out and I know we will all watch and wait patiently for your return.😊

    1. I was wearing the wrong shoes, Pauline, as for some reason I thought it was a gentle walk. I won’t make the same mistake on Sunday 🤣. Thanks darlin! See you soon xx

      1. I’m so happy for you both … that you took the step and move …. and to be able to enjoy life in the best way. Very envy. *smile

  8. Another lovely walk Jo, I was with you all the way. I love the first photo and the one with the river beach – I could spend all day there 🙂 Enjoy your sabbatical but please don’t stay away too long, you’ll be missed 😦

  9. Joining a local choir as one of the best things I did when we lived in France. It’s such a great way of becoming a part of the community, isn’t it, apart from the joy of singing. I see you decided against including my muddy walk. Don’t blame you! I’ll miss you when you step back from blogging. Please only make it a sabbatical, not a resignation! Have a great summer xx

      1. Gosh, I’ll look more carefully. Was so busy following up the others I didn’t spot it. Well, if you don’t sing with your choir yet, get started! It’s one of the best things I did. I’ve just looked up this post from 2013 (2013?????!!)https://margaret21.com/2013/05/08/i-dont-sing-because-im-happy-im-happy-because-i-sing/

    1. Ok, so I’ve identified you in a blue frock but you won’t let me comment 🙂 🙂 Seriously, I do love to sing but don’t have much confidence in my ability to hold a tune these days. I do know of a couple of local groups who sing and I have been tempted….

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