You don’t know what you have, till you’ve lost it? I don’t think I was ever in any doubt about just how precious are our Algarve salt marshes, and the beaches beyond them. One day, towards the end of March, with a State of Emergency in place, I set out to walk, within our prescribed area, from home. Bypassing the town centre I headed past the salt processing centre and on beside the marshes.
The stork, in its nest, feeding young. Just seconds before it had flown overhead, beak stuffed with fish. My camera, too slow to capture.
Out along the road, on their own, two cottages stand together, backs turned to Tavira. The road is narrow here, and paved only on one side. Drivers approaching each other must choose who will mount the low curb to allow passage, a sometimes interesting manoeuvre to observe. And then the road forks, one way passing an orange farm, the other continuing towards Fort Rato and the river beach.
The marshes are home to many birds, wading in the cloudy waters. Everyone stops to watch if the flamingos wander close, wary, but diligent in their search for crill. They are more easily seen from the Quatro Aguas road, or from the deck of the ferry as it chugs out from Tavira.
The abandoned fort broods silently, as it has for the many years since defence from attack by marauding pirates was a threat. I wonder again why no-one has seen this as a business opportunity, but am quietly grateful that they haven’t. This sometimes ugly stretch of river beach is beloved of dog walkers, and small children who can play safely in the shallow waters.
For me, it is my nearest access point to open water, the natural curve sweeping round to meet the river. On the far shore, Quatro Aguas presents its more manicured facade to the sea. I am well used to wandering here, watching the boats come and go, and sometimes venturing into the grounds of the Vila Galé Albacora hotel. There’s a pretty courtyard, with a church, and a small museum dedicated to the fishing industry.
The hotel is closed, like all others since the threat of the virus became known. Restaurants too, and there is nothing now to disturb the peace of the morning. I skirt the boundaries and head back towards Tavira.
Clouds are bubbling up a little, as so often at change of tide. This time I take the turn off past the farm, following the cycle trail. On one side, the salt marshes, stretching towards Cabanas. On the other, the row of palms I’ve come to regard as my Hula ladies, rustling their skirts in the breeze.
I’m heading for home now, beneath the railway tracks and past the Salinas estate. I cross the E125, strangely silent, and follow the road through fields and houses towards the place that I live.
As I’m writing this, I feel the emotions stir for, just a couple of days after this walk, the closure signs went up on Shell Beach. I no longer have access to the sea. I have not tried to walk to Quatro Aguas, but fear this may be similarly out of bounds. Particularly during the Easter period, the police have been vigilant in keeping people safe. I’m hoping that the rules will soon be relaxed a little but, in the meantime, I have the countryside and beautiful hills behind my home and a good stretch of salt marsh. You may have noticed the absence of cake? The cafés are closed, of course, but you can still visit a bakery and take home something nice. Next time, perhaps! Meanwhile, did you spot a few chimney tops along the way? I hope you’re joining in with Becky’s #SquareTops! Looking very dapper today!
When I was young I would often end up here in the Summer holidays. Thanks for the memories, Eunice :
I never can resist a stretch of sea to walk beside, especially if it’s a bit choppy :
The greenkeeper’s got his eye on you, Drake!
It’s amazing what you can find in the desert, isn’t it, Mel?
While Cathy brings us Italy in all its beauty :
I’m still sharing walks, though I understand your opportunities are more limited at the minute. I’m just happy to have you virtual travel with me. Stay safe!