Algarve

Jo’s Monday walk : Around Salir

You knew I’d end up back in the Algarve hills eventually, didn’t you?  I love to travel the scenic route up the N2 to Barranco do Velho.  When you look back down, the vivid blue of the sea has faded to a smokey distant haze.  This is cork territory and the ancient holm oaks enfold you as you turn off towards Salir, on the N124, in the foothills of the serra.

It’s a small village, notable for its loftily perched water tower, but one that is often bypassed in favour of prettier Alte or the mighty Rocha da Pena.

I didn’t have to worry too much about my route as I was following a walk leader.  What I did have to worry about was keeping up with the ‘Striders’. Not so easy to focus on the beauty all around whilst keeping half an eye on the walkers.  Blink, and they’d gone!  From the sports stadium at the back of the village we were quickly out onto a country lane, with views across to the Rocha, standing proud in the distance.

Oops!  Don’t miss that sign!  The trail leads steeply uphill (the Striders do seem to love hills!) to the left of the house.  Calla lilies caught my eye, and another of those precious water tanks, so vital for the hot summers.

There’s not a lot to tell about Salir.  It’s a sleepy place, with a benign 16th century church and a few castle ruins from the 12th century, keeping watch over the surrounding fields.  The softly curving Serra de Caldeirao forms a lovely backdrop.

It’s a lovely time of year.  The colours sing out, begging you to capture them.  So what, if I get left behind!

It would be well worthwhile, because look what I found, growing in the long, damp grass.  Wild orchids!  They are so exciting!

A quick scurry to catch up, but there are a couple of signposts.  This walk crosses the Via Algarviana, which spans the Algarve from Alcoutim in the east right across to Sagres in the west.  All around, the cistus are cheering me on, their crushed paper faces turned to the sun.

On this walk we’d been asked to bring a picnic, a bit of a disappointment to those of us who relish the usual restaurant stop at the end.  A couple of stone benches by a fonte made a good resting place, then we were striding off again.

I often remark to people that the Algarve is full of surprises.  Passing the cemetery at Palmeiros and an oddly colourful wall, we crossed over a bridge and made a right turn down a narrow country lane.  Expect the unexpected!

A battered drum kit in the garden told the unlikely tale.  The rest of the walk seemed almost anticlimactic after that, as we meandered back towards Salir.  The pace of the walk slowed after lunch, allowing more opportunity to chat.  Another water wheel or two and we were back where we started.

That’s the first of my recent Algarve walks completed.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Let’s put the kettle on now and see where everyone else has been.

Thanks so much everybody, for your company and kind comments each week.  I love walking with you.  If you’d like to share a walk, the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  If not, just sit back and enjoy!

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I do like to introduce someone new on my walks, especially when the scenery is this good.  Meet Chandi  :

The Pathway of the Gods- Italy’s Most Stunning Hike

Versailles seems a long time ago to me, but Drake has brought it all back!

More glimpses of Paris

Lady Lee has been cavorting in water parks with the family :

Our Subic experience

Opulence personified from Jackie this week!

Hearst Castle

Richard has a crack at climbing the highest cliff in Cornwall :

Cracking Crackington Haven

While my Sunshine friend is making the most of the blossom in our capital :

London- A Walk in thePark 

And please, don’t anyone accuse Woolly of being full of hot air!

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If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!  Or, in Paula’s case, take a wonderful shot…

Unbroken

Can you imagine being smothered in cherry blossom?  Cathy can!  She’s in Tokyo at sakura time :

Cherry blossoms in the rain at Shinjuku Gyoen

Denzil has begun a new undertaking which proves, yet again, that Belgium has quite a lot to offer :

GR121, Stage 1: Wavre to La Roche

Does this look familiar to you?  Yes- me too!

Walking in Florence

I even accept wordless walks!  Especially when shared with my lovely friend, Meg :

Wordless walks : Jemisons Beach and headland

Finally, some great hills for rolling your paste eggs down, with Kathryn :

My weekly ramble

Wonderful, aren’t they?  It’s been a bit cool and damp in my part of the UK this weekend, but then, it was a Bank Holiday.  I hope you’ve had a good Easter celebration, and maybe a bit of walking?

Jo’s Monday walk : Ribeira de Algibre

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The first place you would think to look for a captivating mural is a sleepy Algarvean village in Portugal, isn’t it?  No- me neither!  But it was one of the highlights of a recent walk in Ribeira de Algibre.  Situated north west of Loule and not far from the village of Boliqueime, this is walk no. 17 in Julie Statham’s book, “Let’s Walk Algarve”.

The chief criteria for this walk was that it was level, and not too long, the other half having sustained a limp.  I could, of course, have left him with his feet up, reading a book, but he insisted on being gallant.  There’d be ample time to read later.  Out past the quarry we went, left through the village of Parragil, then left again.  We parked, as instructed in the book, just past the bridge, and slap bang next to the most amazing wall.

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The owner of Vila Dias must have an artistic nature, and a sense of humour.  Reluctantly I turned my back on it to follow the trail, just before the bridge.  We are in an area of olive groves and vineyards, with lofty bamboo screening off the narrow river.

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The path twists and turns, revealing shallow riverbed on one side and regimented rows of vines on the other.  I pounce with glee on a small clump of white flowers- early narcissi, cushioned in luxuriant green, and guarded by ancient olives.  1000 years of age is not uncommon for these gnarled beauties, weatherbent by the sharp winds.

The soil is it’s usual, rich red and deep puddles occasionally surprise.  Neither of us can remember any rain.   All is still and calm when, out of nowhere, the carefree sound of pop music on a radio.  We exchange smiles and hum along, peering to see where the sound is coming from. Around each bend we gaze expectantly, but there is no sign of the music maker, and gradually the sound fades into the distance.

One of the advantages of this walk is that it is split into two halves, circles that begin and end in the village.  Each takes only about 45 minutes, and there is a cafe where you might linger before starting the second half.  Except that, of course, Cafe Ribeira is closed.  Perhaps later in the year?  Not a soul is stirring, though a horse gives us a good long look.

I consult the other half, who has limped gamely along.  We might as well do the other half, he says, and so we do.  The path leads behind a house, on the other side of the road, and the book directs us to look for an abandoned mill.

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The trail continues, partly by the river and then into more woodland.  Deep in a thicket of olives we spot a herd of goats and I try to edge nearer without giving the alarm.  Not entirely successful, but I manage a couple of shots.

All is tranquillity.  We are passed, twice, by the same cyclist, obviously doing his morning rounds.  In the vineyards we see 3 or 4 people working, clearing and burning dead branches. It’s a wonderful, pastoral scene.

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As we approach the river again, suddenly the sound of the transistor radio fills the air.  We gaze all around expectantly, but still, no-one is to be seen.  A shy picnicker, perhaps?  Smiling we return to the village.  The sun has changed position and I’m drawn again into the world of the mural.

Even the bus shelter was pretty!  That’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed walking with me.  Let’s get the kettle on and enjoy that cuppa now. And for you sympathetic souls, let me reassure you that ‘the limp’ was much better next day.

Thanks everybody, for keeping me company again, and for your generous support and contributions.  Anyone can join in with a walk of their own, long or short.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be more than welcome.

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A place with a whole heap of history.  Let Lady Lee show you around :

A week in Malta

You’ve all got time for this one!  Thanks, Eunice :

A quick afternoon walk

Woolly has progressed to Amsterdam and windmills :

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Something you do with a Silver Cross pram, Anabel?

Perambulations in Perth

Jackie’s determined to walk me into the ground this week!

San Antonio, Texas

Lisa has some interesting graffiti for you, in Tel Aviv :

Florentin

Kate takes on a scary climbing challenge in Scotland :

Munro Bagging in the Arrochar Alps

Not so much a walk as a series of reminiscences from Geoff :

A Time in Africa- part one

Drake knows I have a weakness for Samso.  It’s so easy to see why :

Return for a walk

Yvette has a fascinating art challenge going on so I’m chuffed she could make time for me!

Walk with Jo : Mom’s Siam Carytown (Day 54 0f 365 Days of Art)

Fancy another challenge yourself? Jaspa has all the details :

Sam’s Ses Challenge #5 : Mountain

I’ve done this one before, but not the right way around.  Typical!  Thanks, Becky :

Remembering Gilda amongst the Almond Blossom

Jude delights me with a walk in her neck of the woods.  Could this be the year I get to Cornwall?

A Winter Walk

Have a great week!  Here in the UK there’s just a chance that Spring is in the air.  Wherever you are, try to get out and enjoy it.

Six word Saturday

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How many dwarves can you name?

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Walking the back streets of the Algarve, it’s amazing what you can find.  It’s simply impossible to be bored.

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It’s ages since I shared any windows.  Dawn has a long running challenge, A Lingering Look at Windows.  I bet you have one or two just waiting to be shared.  And it’s always necessary to have six words handy on a Saturday.

Hope you have a good one!

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Six word Saturday

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Just one last ‘Presepio de Natal’

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In the hilltop village of Alferce, in Portugal’s Algarve, a gathering is taking place on the streets.

Wise men, shepherds and curious onlookers, they have come to see the Nativity scene at the heart of the village.  And who can blame them?

Isn’t it beautiful?  If graceful can be said to be “full of grace”, I think this qualifies for the Weekly Photo Challenge.  Don’t you agree?

Pop in and see Cate if you have six words to share, too.

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Jo’s Monday walk : Querenca to Fonte de Benemola

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Another of the Algarve’s sleepy villages, Querenca was looking idyllic on the last day of my October holiday.  Our walking group were meeting at the cafe on the left of the photo above.  It’s quite a drive up into the hills and a ‘bica’ of coffee is always appreciated before we start walking.

Surrounded by rolling hills and leafy green scenery, Querenca breathes pure tranquillity. Excepting when the Festa das Chouricas takes place, at the end of January, and the waft of spicy sausage rouses the locals.  In honour of St. Luis, the patron saint of animals, the celebrations give thanks for the pigs, bred locally, that feed the villagers throughout the year.  I rather fancy trying chouriço à bombeiro, where the sausage is doused in brandy and set alight. Bombeiros are fire fighters, in case you wondered.  Time to set forth.

We leave the village square in a downhill direction, over lovingly worn cobbles.  I’m too busy admiring the scenery to realise that the return route could well be steeply uphill. There are 13.7 kilometres to cover first.  I’ve walked to Fonte de Benemola in the past, but this route is unfamiliar.

Portuguese street names do sometimes seen inordinately long.  And did you notice that cat, giving me such a baleful look?

Continuing downhill we find the beginning of the trail to the Fonte, or spring.  A lush green valley leads beneath lofty cliffs, the arid red of the Algarve soil revealed in the fissures.  It reminds me greatly of my trip to Rocha da Pena, but today the weather is impeccable.

img_4322The trail winds along dustily, and becomes quite rock strewn in places.  In Spring these nooks and crannies will be dressed in the finery of rock roses and lavender, with the promise of wild orchids.  This late in the year colour is harder to find.

When finally I reach the Fonte, the bamboo and rushes are bleached almost colourless.  A soft shushing noise betrays the presence of the water, a sign ‘olho’ pointing hopefully.  A young couple are balanced on the rocks, trying to capture on camera the bubble of water as it rises and swirls in an ‘eye’.  I carry on, knowing that I’ve seen it in far less parched surroundings.

These natural springs prevail throughout Portugal’s hills.  This is ‘the eye’ in Springtime.

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As we follow signs back to the village I wonder if the cheery basket maker is still there, with his whistles and bird imitators.  I had purchased a wicker bowl last time, feeling sorry for him as he sat alone in the woods.  It serves as a slightly wonky erstwhile fruit bowl. Many new arrivals are enjoying the unseasonally hot weather, and I feel sure that he will be enjoying good trade in his shady dell.

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Remember that climb back into the village?  I confess I had forgotten all about it.  It took a while before I was puffing and panting back into the village square.  There just has to be a reward, don’t you think?

Much later I discovered a video of the Fonte that I thought you might like to see.

There are a number of routes around the natural springs.  Walking Trails of the Algarve pages 76 and 80 will give you shorter variations on this walk, or you can simply follow the signboards.  This video will give you a glimpse of the basket maker.  Please ignore the advertising.  I hope you’ve got the kettle on, ready to join my walkers from your armchair?

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Thanks so much, everybody, for your kind contributions to my walks.  I wasn’t at all sure where to lead you this week but in the end I opted for sunshine, as Winter wraps itself around us here in the UK.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If you’d like to contribute anytime the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.

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I do like a tinker in a museum and a browse round a market.  Geoff can tell you a story or two as well :

From Paddington to Page#walking#london

Woolly likes a little stroll, with not too much effort and some classy cars :

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But sometimes he gets a little further :

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Jackie’s by the York River, in Yorktown.  Virginia, of course!

Day 6- Yorktown

Nothing like a good fumble around the Albert Docks with Drake.  He’s in his element!

Come and get it

Does anyone know what Pargeting is?  Jude does, and I really love it :

Love Lavenham

Becky’s counting to 6 this week, but there are lots more than that!

There are pomegranates in the tree

While Carol’s fossil hunting and has found loads!

Buried Treasure

Or you could join Kathrin for a delicious trip to the beach :

A day at Solana Beach

How do you follow the legend that is Badfish?  Why, with devotion, of course :

ONE FINE DAY in BRATISLAVA : Part III

That’s it for now.  I think I’ll be walking in the UK again next week.  Feel free to join me but, more importantly, take care till then.