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!

167 comments

  1. Thank you for taking me for a walk Jo! The blue skies are so inviting. Given the present situation, I doubt we’d be able to travel anytime soon. I’m going to enjoy your walk virtually from the other part of the globe. Have a wonderful week! xo

    1. The situation is difficult, isn’t it? Hope you are staying safe. We’re traveling a little in Portugal at present and hoping the virus will soon run its course. 😘💕

      1. It has been quite challenging. I won’t lie. But we’re hoping this moment will pass soon. We spend most of our time indoors. We’ve just got to stay strong till then. Safe travels and thank you for taking me along virtually! xoxo ❤

  2. I love this post! Your writing, along with the photography, made me feel like I was right there with you on this adventure. Now if I could just get to Spain..

  3. I found this post a delight, Jo, as always. The photos are rich with color, ambience, detail and beauty; and the narrative is a joy to read, breezy but genuine, and heartfelt. Thanks so much, and enjoy your break.

    1. We’ve had so much pleasure from these walks with the choir, Jet. We did another on Sunday and it was every bit as lovely. Considering myself a lucky lady. Thanks for being good company 🙂 🙂

  4. Oh my Jo, what a glorious walk! The scenery looks amazing and of course for those of us who never see them, the sheep are marvelous. Thanks so much for this break from the everyday world 🙂

    1. It’s strange what everyday represents to different people, Tina. Mine was a Portuguese lesson this morning and I’m just taking myself out for a stroll down to the sea. Sending hugs 🤗🏖️💕

  5. A beautiful walk, Jo. I love your images of the sheep, the tiles, and the landscape. My husband would love the pastry. I’ll need to remember it for our next visit. Have a beautiful week and respite from the blogging world.

  6. Oh Jo these glorious photos make me so happy! We are still in the midst of winter. Portugal looks so amazing. I can’t believe I haven’t been there yet. Thanks for sharing your world with me. Hope you are doing well! 🙂

    1. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I look at the weather here and ‘at home’, Nicole. Just home from another beautiful outing with the choir. 🙂 🙂

  7. Jo, what a glorious walk with the choir, breaking into song during the hike and later at the restaurant before the main event itself. It must have been incredibly uplifting … you’re ending your current stretch of blogging on a high note! Hope you have a good break and look forward to seeing you back soon! Miss you already! Hugs xx ❤️

    1. Not long home from a last outing with them for this season, but hoping we’ll meet again. Their last performance was on the steps of a beautiful village church then we followed them to a restaurant that was full to the seams. It’s a huge place but it’s Mother’s Day here in Portugal. Funny how the dates vary around the world. We didn’t mind waiting for our seats and a final impromptu song or three from the choir. 🙂 🙂

  8. What a wonderful walk, Jo. I especially am in awe of the white-washed Spanish village across the water – from afar and close by – and the serene existence of the watchman. Seeing the lambs along the route is incredibly cute. I don’t regret not eating lamb! The river has an interesting color and the experience of listening to a choir when walking seems quite special. I have to say, this walk packs a lot in it – even social times in a restaurant – and I’m glad you found a group to guide and join you!

    Enjoy your blogging break. Whenever you get to your next Monday Walk, feel free to include one of my latest strolls. It includes cute animals as well. 🙂

    https://www.roamingabout.com/happy-cows-a-walk-in-the-field/

    1. Sanlucar is almost unbelievably serene, Liesbet. Unless there’s a festival, like the Contraband one at the end of this month, when the place goes wild. 🙂 🙂 Off walking with the choir again today. Best get my voice in tune! Thanks for the walk 🙂

  9. What a great post, Jo! The content is very interesting but your writing, the photos, and your pacing really made it an excellent post!! I will need to go back to learn more about the choir, but the concept of a slow hike through a place like this that ends with a choir singing and incredible food, well, I’m in. (The pastry – yes, I can imagine it. And I know there’s nothing like it around here!). Enjoy your time away – it’s a good thing to do once in a while. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Lynn. I do enjoy writing these and sharing so much of the joy that Portugal brings me. And I’m lucky to have great company along the way. 🙂 🙂

      1. We live in Mexico city, a city of 20 million inhabitants. And very spread out. It’s an hour drive at least to reach any point inside the city. And there isn’t much nature outside… (And I hate that…) 😉

      2. After so many years here, I must admit it takes its toll… We’re going to have a look in the South of France this summer. See if we buy something. Spend more time when my wife retires…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.