Jo’s Monday walk

Jo’s Monday walk : Todos a Caminhar!

Something a bit different this week.  We’ve often remarked that we seldom see Portuguese people out walking, as we stride around the countryside.  Maybe they don’t regard it as a leisure pastime, or are simply too busy earning a living and looking after their families.  It obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed because, a few months ago, we came across an initiative called ‘Todos a caminhar’- walking for everyone!  Sponsored by local councils, it aims at promoting better health in the community.

Each Sunday morning, at 10.00, a different venue across the Algarve hosts the walk.  A couple of Sundays ago we turned up for the one at Castro Marim, a beautiful village right by the River Guadiana.  I had visions of tramping through the salt pans with flamingos wings beating the air all around me, but it was not to be.  Coaches had arrived from all across the Algarve and, there in front of the sports pavilion, a sea of people did variations on a ‘warm up’.  Unphased, we joined them, and off we all surged, on the road out of the village, but nowhere near the salt pans.

Almost immediately we were in open countryside, in an area unfamiliar to us, and surrounded by chattering groups of Portuguese.  Determined older ladies and their gents, who were keen to show they still had what it takes, groups of giggling teens, singles striding away, everyone using up those calories so they could enjoy a really good, late Sunday lunch.

A right turn took us up a hill, in the direction of Vista Real, and so it was, a royal vista.  Once we’d gained height, far across the fields I could just make out the outline of the mighty castle at Castro Marim, with the Guadiana beyond.  As the hill dipped again there was an option to collect a free orange and a bottle of water, and complete a shorter circuit of 3.5km.  Fitter individuals could tackle the longer 10km course.  Well, what do you think?  In for a penny…

It was a blustery day, with rain threatened, the scudding clouds encouraging us to pick up the pace.  The group was well spread by now and we were keen not to be last.  There were arrows marking every junction and cheerful helpers riding back and forth, ensuring no-one had come to grief.  After another steep climb, with views of the salt pans, there was a second opportunity for water and an orange.

A couple of horses, probably bored with the sparse grazing, took an interest in us motley passersby.  The route climbed through the village of Monte Francisco, a few characterful older properties and a sequence of mostly new villas.  Locals nodded a polite ‘Bom dia’.

The best views of all were afforded to the Castro Marim Country Golf Club, a swish establishment with as extensive and beautifully laid out golf links as any I’ve seen.  However, nothing surpassed my first sighting this year of a cistus in flower.

Smiling down the home strait, the blossom twirling in the breeze, I enjoyed the placid cows and the ruin.  Soon we’d come full circle, and finally I sighted my first flamingo.  And where there’s one, there’s often another, isn’t there?  Not quite as I’d hoped.

It took us about an hour and a half to complete the 10km.  We marvelled at the scale of the operation.  Not all are as big as this one.  There were ambulances on hand, in case anyone over exerted themselves, and everywhere, smiling, happy faces.  Best of all, the rain held off, the clouds blew away and afterwards we treated ourselves to delicious tapas on a lovely sunny corner in nearby Vila Real de S. Antonio.  Life could surely be worse!

So much variety, here in the Algarve!  I hope you enjoy sharing it with me.  Come back next week because I have something rather wonderful to share.  Meantime, thank you very much for your company, and if you have a walk you’d like to share with me, please feel free.  Details, as always, are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Please do visit as many of these walks as you can.

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Mosaics, history and emerging Spring in Israel from Lisa this week :

Shoham Forest

Meg takes us time traveling through the twists and turns of her beloved Australian landscape :

Aragannu

Let Amanda take you back in time with the amazing Pergamon Museum in Berlin :

Finding Heine and Treasures in Berlin

Still shivering with Irene in the Midwest!

Chilly Reflections

And heavens, Janet almost disappears in the snow!

Monday walk… winter walk

How about some warming stew with Jackie?

El Guisado Stew

And you can usually rely on sunshine from Lady Lee :

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

My good Danish friend is giving us an easy option this week.  Thanks so much, Drake!

Walk the easy way

But Cathy doesn’t know the meaning of easy.  Go along with her and Mike, and just enjoy yourself!

Prague, Czech Republic : exploring Mala Strana

This one won’t take long.  You have to love Tobias’ sense of humour!

A tour of the Academy

Thanks again to you all for spending time with me.  I have another busy, but sometimes lazy, Algarve week ahead.  Take good care!

Jo’s Monday walk : Luz de Tavira to Fuseta

I’m often asked if it’s possible to enjoy the Algarve and its natural beauty without the use of a car.  My walk today gives you one example of how to do just that.  In much of the Eastern Algarve the railway tracks run quite close to the shoreline.  As well as a hands free ride through pleasant countryside and that age old delight of peering into passing gardens, you can hop off the train and pursue a gentle walk.  After my brief absence, I’m taking it slowly.

The place I’ve chosen to start is Fuseta, a very laidback town 10km east of  Olhão, with an active fishing fleet and a natural harbour.  You can easily while away an hour or two here and I’ll give you some thoughts on how later, but first let’s catch that train.  There are two railway stations in Fuseta, though I’ve only just discovered tiny Fuseta ‘A’.  It’s at the top of a hill, behind the restaurants at the western edge of town.  If this doesn’t appeal, Fuseta-Moncarapacho, the main station at the eastern end of town, will serve you just as well for the purposes of this walk.

It’s only a couple of stops from Fuseta to Luz de Tavira, a sleepy little spot if ever there was one.  Dismounting from the train you cross directly over the railway tracks.  A word of warning- there is no official gated crossing, but it’s a very flat area and you can see far along the track in both directions, so please do look both ways.  Safely over, turn right at the first corner and follow a leafy lane, passing a couple of country homes.  Prickly pear and almond blossom will vie for your attention in this early stage of the year.

Bear left and soon a glimmer of water will appear on the horizon.  You are joining a stretch of the Ecovia Litoral, a cycle track which threads its way along the Algarve coastline, but which in many places makes for relaxed and enjoyable walking.

Often times the boats are marooned on these tidal mud flats, beautiful in their ugliness.  If you are lucky the tide might be in.  In any case, the sea will glitter in the distance.  The ruins of a defence tower, Torre d’Aires, are largely ignored, lost in the pellucid landscape.

Along this shoreline, an elevated bungalow with a lovely tumble of garden calls to me, though my more pragmatic other half reminds me that mosquitos will be a severe nuisance in summer.  This is the heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, and a winter haven for migrating birds.

Just past the midway point to Fuseta you will find a cafe, O Conquistador.  Virtuously I did not sample them (I was to have a substantial lunch at the end of my walk) but the cakes did look extremely appealing.  Following an arrow the path now crosses through the salt marshes, with Fuseta and a towering mound of salt on the horizon and butter yellow oxalis rippling at your feet.

I am delighted to observe, busily guzzling in the briney water, a large flock of flamingos.  Their overhead flight makes a lovely ending to my walk.

And no, I didn’t manage to capture them, unless you wish to see a very blurred tail feather or three.  But I can share that I ate at Crispins, almost impossible to miss as you walk back into town.  The quayside makes a pleasant after dinner stroll, leading as it does to an expanse of river beach.  Grab a bench and gaze out to sea, or watch the locals playing boules behind the green.  In warm weather you can ferry across to Armona and an endless expanse of beach.  Make sure to carry water with you as you are unlikely to find it at this end of the island.

Feeling like something a tiny bit more strenuous?  You can climb up through the narrow streets, for a closer look at Igreja Matriz, the Mother Church.  Notice the red lighthouse in the bell tower.  Legend has it that many years ago, during a mighty storm, the women of Fuseta lit an enormous bonfire in the churchyard, the highest point of the village, to guide their fishermen husbands home.  The men were guided safely back by the distant light and the image of Our Lady of Carmel, on June 16th, an event still celebrated every year.

It has its gritty areas but Fuseta is quite an interesting town.  This video gives a fairly realistic view of it.

I hope you enjoyed my walk.  I do try to include the details you would need if you found yourself in the area, but I can highly recommend Becky’s blog as a walking resource.  Based at  Olhão, she covers much the same territory as I do, with the very useful addition of an interactive map.

Sorry that I’m overdue in sharing some of these walks, but I do like to step back from the blog sometimes, especially here in the Algarve.  I don’t stop walking but I do just relax into glorious scenery and good companionship.  Many thanks to you all for your patience and support.

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Did you know that Drake is a steadfast Liverpool supporter? :

Night in anticipation

You need plenty of fuel in weather like this, but Jackie never has a problem :

Bundling up

No place like home, for Kathrin :

Monheim am Rhein : A walk through my home town

Lisa gives us a history lesson and some beautiful views (and warm sunshine!) :

Holidays in Haifa

While Lady Lee lives the high life!

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Miriam shares a charming place and a snippet of Australian history :

Old Chiltern Town

Marsha has a tendency to cheat a bit, but look out for those Monarch butterflies :

Plan your Travel Itinerary to include the California Central Coast

Nobody does a garden justice quite so well as Jude.  As a bonus, two gems, one old, one new :

Garden Portrait: Scotney Castle

Garden Portrait: Polesden Lacey

Yikes!  It was snowing at home when I received this from Elaine :

A wintery walk beside Loch Achray

And Irene’s post looked even colder!  Go and say  ‘hi’ and warm her up :

To the Top of a Dune

If that’s not cold enough for you, Hiking Maine is sharing some stunning ice formations :

An amazing Winter Hike on the Cathance River Trail in Topsham

Finishing here in the Algarve, Becky shares one of her passions :

The Olhanese architectural promenade

I hope to share another walk with you next Monday but I’m not making a full return to blogging just yet.  Take care of yourselves, and enjoy your walking, whenever and wherever you can.

 

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Hetton Lyons Country Park

The choices this week were another boring beach walk in the sunny Algarve, or a quick romp in the frozen north east of England.  Well, it’s no contest, is it?  Grab your scarf and mittens, and no loitering, please!  Except to feed the swans.

There’s a crisp beauty to it, as the frost nibbles at your ears and glistens on grass and fences.  Distant dog walkers embrace the morning air.

Out past the barn, I head towards the windmills, on a narrow lane.  A public footpath crosses the fields, the frozen earth firm underfoot.  Patterns abound, all etched in white, whilst solid puddles of ice line the path.

Despite the sun, the ice persists, tingling the toes, yet some of the fields are surprisingly green.  The blades whirr noisily above my head.

Fronds of bracken huddle beneath the hedge, the occasional, lucky one gilded by sunlight.  A forbidding, firmly-locked gate denies access.  No matter, as the country park lies straight ahead, just beyond the farmhouse.

The small pond is frozen solid, but most of the lake is clear and sparkling.  A path skirts the shore and the swans glide hopefully forwards.

There is a small cafe if you need a warm up afterwards.  As we drove through Hetton I saw a sign for homemade broth.  Sounded like a good idea!

I think the sign was on Market Street, but I was distracted by the mural.  Hope you didn’t get too cold walking with me.  I still have a few warm Algarve images that I may get to share with you before I go, but this is my last walk for a couple of weeks.

Many thanks for all your wonderful shares.  Please take a little time to read the following walks, especially if it’s someone you don’t know.  You may find a new friend.  There are lots this week but I’ll be in the Algarve for a few weeks, so you can make them last.  Once I get settled I hope to be back out with you again.

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Let’s start with a little stunning alpine scenery from Drake :

From a peak

And here’s a fair bit of the white stuff from Anabel too!

The Birks of Aberfeldy (and other walks)

You birders will love this!  Take a walk in the wild with Lisa :

In Search of the Endangered Slaty Becard- (and finding so much more!)

Dom hosts a regular walk feature on Wandsworth Radio.  Why not have a listen?

Walking Wandsworth Episode 6- Battersea Arts Centre

And you could munch along with Jackie while you do :

Comfort foods

“One of the most glorious landscapes I’ve ever been fortunate to have hiked in”, says Nicole :

A Magical Hike in Chile’s Parque Andino Juncal

Kathrin’s in a very happy place and I think you’ll like it too :

Hopfen am See aka my Happy Place

‘There’s gold in them there hills!”  Well, there was once, wasn’t there, Carol?

The Ten Dollar Town

You can just picture Pauline and Jack, having fun with all these folks!

Meandering in Uki Market

Lady Lee is back from her holidays.  You might be jealous!

New Year’s Eve and Day in Manila

Cornwall can still compete with most places, if the weather behaves.  In French, and English :

Hike around Lizard Point, England

And while we’re down that way, a sort of revisit, from Jude :

Garden Portrait : The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part 1

This time last year I was getting very excited about a trip to Tuscany.  Thanks for the memories, Woolly!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk49_Pisa

This year I’m just days away from an extended stay in the Algarve.  Thanks for a lovely reminder, Becky :

There’s a pig loose

And just to thoroughly spoil you, here’s that warm beach walk I know you fancied, courtesy of Meg :

An early morning walk and an act of gross disloyalty

Lovely skies here this morning but still slippy stuff on the ground.  Take care out there!  I’ll be keeping an eye an you, and I’ll let you know when I’m walking again.  Bye for now!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Lisbon… one last time

“Let me take you by the hand, and lead you through the streets of…” Lisbon… one last time.  I’m sure Ralph Mctell won’t mind.  I’ve always loved this song but the YouTube video is harrowing.  There’s a dark side to cities that rarely appears on here, but I know you don’t have to wander far from tourist heaven to find it.

You can walk this walk from top to bottom, or bottom to top.  I’ve done it both ways.  I can only suggest that you take your time, and stop off for coffee whenever the fancy takes you.  And I can definitely promise you cake.

Here we are, at the top of Parque de Eduardo VII, looking down on the panorama of Lisbon.  Close by you will find the bus station, which was my final destination that day.  You have choices of where to linger.  I never did make it into the Calouste Gulbenkian museum, but I did let myself be sidetracked by the estufa fria (cold greenhouse) in Edward’s park.

I shan’t even attempt to name names, except for one specimen I received a cutting of from the family in Kraków.  It’s thriving still on my windowsill.

That last one is a Tradescantia Spathacea and it can be found in Belize, Guatemala and the south of Mexico.  And on my windowsill.

The simple joy of flowers.  So, we’re still at the top of the park but, if you should feel the need for a cuppa, I know the very place.  Linha d’Água.  Otherwise it’s a gentle stroll down through the park, pausing to admire the restored Pavilhão, and a few azulejos, of course.

Cross busy Praça do Marques de Pombal and you’re on the Avenida da Liberdade.  Follow the patterned pavements all the way down to Rossio, or Praça de Dom Pedro IV, as it’s properly known.  The whole character of the walk changes here as you are on the edge of the Baixa, the lower part of the city.  Its tall, narrow streets are named for the gold, silversmiths and other tradesfolk for whom this was once the commercial centre.

If you didn’t stop for a drink before, or even if you did, this is another good area.  A Brasileira and Café Nicola have both stood the test of time.

Refreshed, it’s time to go upwards a little.  If the queues aren’t too bad you might want to use Elevador de Santa Justa.  Otherwise it’s a steep climb up to Largo do Carmo and the beautiful ruined Convento.  Sadly, I had no time to enter.

The views out across the city, towards Castelo de São Jorge, are as good as any you’ll find in Lisbon.  You can make your way past the exit from the Elevador and down to a terrace full of recliners.  Not a bad place for a cocktail!  And an internal lift will carry you back down to street level.

Now I have to make my way all the way back to the bus station.  Better leave you with that promised cake, as I journey home to the Algarve.

It’s been a long series of posts, but I hope it’s given you some idea of how lovely a city Lisbon is.  I’m returning to the Algarve soon but I will share one more Monday walk before I go.  Not sure where it will be, just yet.

As usual I’d like to thank you all for your company and your contributions.  Please find a little time to read these.  I do appreciate it.  If you’d like to join me with a walk, next week will be your last chance for a while.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Nothing like a bit of company to make a good walk great, is there, Jude?

Readymoney Cove to Fowey

Funnily enough this is somewhere Jude and I have been, together!  Thanks, Anabel!

Edinburgh: a Canongate walk

I’d like to introduce you to a lady called Martha.  She’s walking on one of my old stomping grounds :

Best walks in London : Thames Path west, Richmond to Hampton Court

That white stuff just won’t go away!  Pity poor Jackie in Toronto :

Les Feves Au Lard

And you can almost hear the ice crackling on Drake’s post!

Added white atmosphere

But of course it’s a very different story in Australia.  Let Pauline introduce you to the Scribbly Gum Moth.  Yes, really!

A walk round my patch

This is a very delightful photo walk with Aarti :

Photowalk in Bosque El Olivar

And who doesn’t love a walk with views like this?  Not Sunny Days in Seattle :

Hiking : Oyster Dome

Finally, something completely different, from Kat  :

In the Footsteps of the Samurai : Walking the Nakasendo Way

Good variety, I’m sure you’ll agree.  The forecast’s not good for this week but I hope to get out and about.  If not, I’ll be watching the Australian Open tennis.  Enjoy your week, however you spend it!

Jo’s Monday walk : In search of Tiles

There were two main reasons for my visit to Lisbon last October.  I’ve already shared with you the first- the Jerónimos Monastery.  This is the second- the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.  It’s not normally recommended to walk there, but it’s not a great distance, and there’s a very nice restaurant when you arrive.  So, why not?

My start point was Praça do Comércio, always an interesting space, where Lisbon fronts the water.  Some people can sleep anywhere, can’t they?

I even found a tiny strip of beach, but let’s not get distracted.  The road threads along the riverfront, beneath Alfama.  Roadworks were a bit of a nuisance, as was a chap on a bench, who misdirected us for the price of a euro.  That’s cities for you!  I had it in my head that along the way I might stop off at São Vicente de Fora, for the cloisters, a coffee, and a view.  Don’t try it on foot!  A tuk-tuk ride would be a much better idea.

Google Maps showed that it was only 1.2 miles from the Praça to the museum, but I found myself hugging shade as it was remarkably warm for late October.  Interesting rather than scenic is how I would describe the route, as we passed the cruise terminal and then Santa Apolónia railroad station.  At a bridge spanning railway and docks, a tourist bus sped past.  And then, amazingly, there it was!

What a wonderful use for an old monastery.  Tile lovers, you are in for a treat!  The convent of Madre de Deus was founded in 1509 by Queen Leonor.  Over time, many azulejo panels were stored there, and in 1957 it was decided to have an exhibition commemorating 500 years after Leonor’s birth.  The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation undertook the restoration work needed.  When the exhibition ended, in Jauary 1958, a wealth of tiles were available and it was proposed to transfer the Ceramic Section of Lisbon’s Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga to the building.  It was finally opened to the public as a museum in the 1970s.

First things first!  It was into the restaurant for some recovery time with delicious salads, in a prettily tiled setting, or a leafy outdoor courtyard if you preferred.  Fully fortified, it was time to tackle three floors of azulejos.

The museum surrounds the courtyard and cloisters, and has an incredible collection of azulejos, dating from 16th century to present day.

The magnificently restored church is incorporated into the museum.  You will be advised not to miss it and I could easily see why.  The decor includes rich, gilded woodwork, fine paintings and, of course, azulejo panels.

Time to climb to the next level.  There are interesting distractions along the way, but if you really can’t manage it then there’s a lift.

The azulejos change style and era on the next floor.  I tried to keep track of the accompanying details but it was too difficult.  Much easier to simply admire.  The museum website has an App to help you identify the pieces.

One of the most thrilling aspects of my visit to the Jerónimos Monastery was the moment when I stepped through a doorway to find myself looking down into the body of the church.  The same thing happens with Madre de Deus on the second level of the museum. I love the feeling of omniscience.  A seat in the Gods.

There is just one more level.  The exhibition culminates, at the top of the building, with an amazing 40 metre panorama of Lisbon, dating from 1730.  I have to admit, my eyes were starting to glaze over by the time I’d looked my fill.

The good news is that you don’t have to walk all the way back to the centre.  There’s a bus stop directly outside the museum and in 10 minutes you can be whizzed back to Rossio, and a different world.

Thanks for your company again this week.  It’s much appreciated.  I hope you can join me with a walk of your own soon.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Meantime please do enjoy these :

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Powder white, fresh snow makes for the most beautiful scenery.  Thanks, Drake!

The white track

I think Pauline might be grateful for a handful or two :

Hiding from the heat in the gallery

Becky will be enjoying this in a week or so’s time :

Another glimpse of the Guadiana

You could get the impression that Jackie doesn’t do anything but eat!

Cold Turkey

And Woolly?  He’s visiting War Graves again :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk48_Prowse-Point

An old friend takes us on a hike, California style.  Thanks, Kongo!

March to the Sea

Ending with something simply splendiferous!  Don’t miss this from Jude :

Heligan by Night

Whatever the week has in store, I hope you enjoy it.  I’m off out with my English walking group today.  See you soon!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Crossing the Tyne

There’s nothing like a bracing walk on New Year’s Day to whisk away the cobwebs.  This one, in North Shields, is well nigh perfect.  It all began with Tammy, whose North Shields Heritage Trail I featured on my last Monday walk.  Shields is only about 40 minutes north of me, by car, and we usually get there via the Tyne Tunnel.  It had not occurred to me that we could get there by ferry.  What a mistake!

Yes- 700 years!  The Heritage Trail starts from the ferry point.  My husband remarked that he and his Dad had made the crossing a few times when he was a lad, but I’d never crossed the Tyne by ferry.  And here it was, pulling in!  Obviously, a slight diversion was called for.

Ferries of some description are estimated to have been crossing the Tyne since the 14th century.  Steam packets began operating between North and South Shields in 1816.  Later on, bridges were discussed, but it wasn’t until the Tyne Tunnel opened in 1967 that there was a real alternative.  Once a hubbub of activity, the river was peaceful that day.  Excitement came in the form of two huge, oil platform ‘legs’ being towed out to sea.

With half an hour between ferries when we docked, curiosity got the better of me.  Not being familiar with this area of South Shields, I was excited to discover the National Centre for the Written Word – a truly state of the art building.  A cultural venue with library and exhibition space, I became a child again in the world of Captain Pugwash.  The pirates had come to town.

Not only that, but there was an exceptionally nice strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake in the cafe.  Needless to say, me and the skeleton missed the next ferry.  Back at the terminal, the sign below puts our whereabouts in context, 3 miles from Jarrow and 8 from Sunderland.

The Heritage Trail boards are very informative and give a good sense of how life was lived when the docks here were a thriving industry, and during their decline.  I can’t begin to reproduce them all, but I can give you a flavour.

We traced them past former industrial buildings and modern emerging apartments, towards the Fish Quay.  The ‘Old Wooden Dolly’ will have a tale or two to tell.  She started life as the figurehead on a collier brig, which was attacked off the coast by a privateer in 1781.  Sailors regarded her as a good luck charm, and would cut off pieces of her to take to sea to keep them safe.

You can still get a good plate of fish and chips in these parts.  The fleet were obviously finished for the day, with nets spread, as we approached the quay.  The High Light, built in 1808, together with the Low Light down below, helped guide ships into a safe channel to enter the Tyne.  The water here looks deceptively calm but there are vicious rocks just around the headland at Tynemouth.

Fishing boats have been sailing from North Shields since 1225, when the Prior of Tynemouth granted locals the right to build 7 shiels (simple dwellings) and a quay, to improve fishing supplies and increase the wealth of the priory.  I wondered where the name Shields came from.

The sun is low in the sky already, at not much after 2pm.  Beside ‘The Smokehouses’ pub an extraordinary building catches my eye.

It looks as though it’s listing a little, all at sea.  And there, by the shore, the main reason I have come to North Shields today.  Do you remember the corten steel sculpture of Tommy at Seaham?  Fiddler’s Green is an equally mournful but brilliant piece of work, from the same sculptor, Ray Lonsdale.  A tribute to fishermen lost at sea, the last rays of sunshine settle on his stoic back.

The fisherman looks out to the remains of Clifford’s Fort with, beyond it, Tynemouth Priory, and on the far shore, South Shields.

At this point the Heritage Trail heads uphill, past the High Light.  In the 18th century the narrow strip of land beside the river became too overcrowded, and North Shields spread to the plateau 60 feet above.  The rich shipowners and businessmen occupied the higher ground while working people remained in Low Town.  Dockwray Square, a set of elegant townhouses, was built in 1763.  Unfortunately the drainage was poor and the area became less desirable.  Today it’s the site of a small park, containing a cheery statue of comedian Stan Laurel, who lived at no. 8 during his boyhood, from 1897 to 1902.

The Trail ends in New Town, where we meet another of our Wooden Dollies.  A surprise to me, this one, because it’s carved by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn fame.  His signature mice are carved into the skirt and sleeve.  A visit to his gallery is included in this walk.

A cast of many characters, I’m sure you’ll agree, making me rather proud of my northern heritage.  I hope you enjoyed exploring the Shields with me as much as I enjoyed writing and researching this post.

I may be slow responding to comments this week, as I’m with Polish family in Norfolk.  It being New Year’s Day, you may well be slow to make any.  I hope you enjoyed your celebrations over the festive period, and there aren’t too many sore heads around.  Take your time over this week’s selection of walks and, if you like, join me next week at Jo’s Monday walk.  You’ll be very welcome.

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Can I start by introducing you to Mel?  She has very grand plans for 2018 :

Under the Tuscan Sun – in Hiking Boots

I don’t really like snow, but in Tish’s hands it assumes a certain magic (but it still melts 🙂 )

Wenlock Snow Walk

Jackie’s ladling out the mulled wine to warm you up!

Mulling over Wine

If you’re quick, you’ll just catch this!  It sounds great so thanks, Denzil :

A magical evening with the kids

Or you could stop by Museu d’Orsay with Drake :

Little museum walk

Ann Christine shows us that Gran Canaria isn’t just beaches.  It’s beautiful!

What I came to this island for

Too far away from me, but I do love a lighthouse :

Semaphore Heritage Walk

Some exciting stuff from Nicole, hiking with her Dad :

At the Doorstep of the Andes : A Hike to El Morado Hanging Glacier

Woolly reminds us of the 24 hour truce for Christmas, in 1914 :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk47_Christmas Truce

I’ll end with somewhere close to my heart.  Don’t miss this, from Verne :

Ten days hiking the unknown side of Algarve

Time now to look ahead, and to wish you all a healthy, happy and fulfilling year.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Beautiful Belém

Did you know that the name Belém derives from the Portuguese for Bethlehem?  And that makes it a very suitable subject for this time of year, doesn’t it?  Just 6km from the centre of Lisbon, it’s a distance I’d normally regard as walkable but, eager to get there, I squeezed myself onto a reluctant bus.  No tram for me!  My last visit to Lisbon ended in tears when my purse was pickpocketed whilst waiting for the famous no. 15 tram.  This time I was determined to make it to the Jerónimos Monastery.

And when I did, the disappointment of that failed visit was completely swept away.

I’ll bring you back to the incredible beauty of the monastery later this week, but for now I think we should do some walking.

Much too soon to loiter over a pastel de nata!  We need to get going to stay ahead of the tour buses.  I promise you can have one or two later.  It is the festive season, after all!  Not sure what to make of this street art.  Genius or madness?

Rua de Belém, the main street, is a strip of historical buildings dating back to the earthquake of 1755.  This and Ajuda were the areas least affected by the devastation, and many of the survivors who lost their homes were temporarily installed here in tents and shacks.  The King and his ministers set up court nearby and, with the construction of Ajuda National Palace, brought trade to the area.  With the French invasion of 1807 the royal family fled to Rio de Janeiro, and Belém gradually evolved into an industrial zone.  Tanneries, textiles, glass makers and metal stampers were among the factories established.

At the heart of Belém lies the Praça do Império, with gardens and fountain laid out during World War II, and beyond it a magnificent sweep of waterfront, culminating in the iconic Torre de Belém.  As you can see, it’s a popular spot.

The tower was built in 16th century.  Delicate as it looks, it was intended as part of the defence system at the mouth of the Rio Tejo, together with fortresses at Cascais– which we saw last week- and Caparica, south of the river.  A UNESCO World Heritage site, as is the monastery, it has a colourful history.  The two photos below are from a previous visit to Belém in 2005.

From here you can easily stroll along the riverfront as far as Ponte 25 de Abril, with any number of diversions en route.

You might think that not a lot of walking goes on.  It’s definitely an area devoted to fun in the sun, but looking ahead I’m excited!  The last time I was here I did not know that you could climb these structures.  Not only the lighthouse, but Padrão dos Descobrimentos.

The Monument to the Discoveries, as we see it today, was formally opened in 1960 to commemorate the voyages of exploration which departed from here as far back as the 15th century.  Trade was established with countries as far away as India.

You know what comes next, don’t you?  There was almost no queue for the lift that takes you most of the way up.

Did you spot Michael, in the blue t’shirt, sitting patiently waiting below?  He thinks it’s pastel de nata time.  Just another couple of shots!

Patience should be rewarded, I’m sure you’ll agree.  What a place!  I was astounded.  400 seats and choc full of character.  But best of all….

I don’t suppose many of you will feel like a walk on Christmas morning, so may I take this opportunity to wish all my walking friends a peaceful and happy Christmas.  I have enjoyed your company so much and I hope you’ll continue to walk with me in the New Year.

Not many walks to share this week.  Everyone’s busy, but spare a minute or two to say hello?  As always, many thanks to readers and walkers alike.  Details of how to join in are on the Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Let’s start with Tammy’s interesting tour in my part of  the world.  Watch out for the Fisherman!

North Shields Heritage Walk : Fish, Ships and Lighthouses

Jackie with a bit of seasonal spice this week?

Spicing things up

Why the battlefields of the Western Front are important to Woolly :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk46_Courcelette

And an excellent bit of sketching along the way, from Pauline and Jack :

Cliff top walk in the sun

That’s it for now.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Remember to breathe- it comes around every year.  Merry  Christmas!