Jo’s Monday walk

Jo’s Monday walk : Belsay Hall and quarry

If there’s anything in life that gives me a kick, it’s a rhododendron!  Find me a quarry full of rhododendrons and perhaps you can imagine the effect. So I was very happy to make a return visit to Belsay Hall in Northumberland, a week or two ago.

Managed by English Heritage, the Belsay estate dates back to 1270, when it was first bought by the Middleton family.  Heritage on the grand scale, it comprises a medieval castle and a Greek Revival mansion from the 19th century, linked by some truly wonderful gardens.

As you can see, it’s not only rhododendrons vying for first place in this beauty contest. Bypassing the more than stately hall, I cannot wait to feast my eyes.  Frilled tulips and those with plainer frocks, delicate iris, and a shy magnolia are just some of the blooms that greet me. The grounds are the very essence of grandeur.  There’s even a croquet lawn, for that most refined of pastimes.

Tree heather lures me on and I find myself shoulder to shoulder with these beauties. Don’t they just sing with colour?

Even looking at them in photographs, I am mesmerised.  But this is only a beginning. Next, the quarry, with its magical patterns of light and shade.

The colours are rich and mellow, and the quarry towers above you.  It’s like a fairy glen, scaled up for a friendly giant.

Are you speechless yet?  I don’t know where I’ve ever seen a better display.  The castle is close by, approached through a bluebell wood.

In this serene and pastoral setting it’s hard to credit that a family would need a castle for protection.  When it was constructed, in the 14th century, conflict and border disputes were commonplace between England and Scotland.  The castle has one of the best preserved examples of a pele tower- built by rich families in this area in the Middle Ages for self defence.

From past experience, castles make a good subject for Paulas’s After and Before in Black and White Sunday.  What do you think?

The Middleton family lived in the castle, with modifications, until the completion of their mansion, at Christmas, 1817.  Inspired by a honeymoon in Greece, Belsay Hall was built with rock carved from their own quarry.  Let’s stroll back round there now, past the lake and the grazing sheep.  I try to get a close up of a cluster of cygnets, but they’re too far away to be more than a splash.

There was an exhibition of quilts taking place inside the hall, but I’ll save that for another day. Let’s adjourn to the tea rooms.

Directions on getting to Belsay are on their website.  I hope you enjoyed our visit. Many thanks for your support and the wonderful contributions I have received again this week.  Details of how to join in are always on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Let’s settle in for a good read:

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Almost missed Eunice last week, so she’s starting us off today :

A reservoir ramble

Can there be anywhere lovelier for a dawdle?  Thanks, Drake!

Wet wet streets

Budapest has a lot to recommend it too, as Anabel can show you :

Budapest: Margaret Island and Obuda

Jackie gets up to some strange things, doesn’t she?

Dirty laundry

Geoff, Dog and a lighthouse- I’m happy!

A wander about#sundaywalks

Ann Christine takes us back to terrible times in Irish history, but with a happy ending :

A Peaceful Walk in Belfast

A whole heap of lovely photos from Lady Lee :

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

If ever you’re needing a beautiful view, or three, tap Debbie on the shoulder.  She’ll have them :

Moorish to more Moorish

Becky uses that eagle eye of hers to good effect in the Algarve :

The Military Stairs of Alcoutim

That lass Jude knows how to make me smile.  A splash or two of azalea in a National Trust garden:

Garden Portrait: Coleton Fishacre

SO excited to be sharing this from Madhu!  A small part of her beautiful Indian heritage :

Kashmir – Afoot in Shehr-e-Khas

How would I describe Gabe?  Warm and whimsical, I suppose.  Go and see for yourself :

Hiking in Venice

So lucky and privileged this week!  Another wonderful share from Paula.  Don’t forget to listen too!

Light Catcher

What do you know of Peru?  Not much?  An interesting read here from Jill :

Ollantaytambo at dusk

And, much closer to home, Carol finds me some stone circles :

Walking in Circles

That’s it for another week.  All gems!  Hope you enjoy your long weekend (if you’re having one). Take good care!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Sitio das Fontes

Time to return to the Algarve for this week’s walk, on the estuary of the Rio Arade.  It’s a good distance from my normal stomping ground, but I had reason to be curious about Sitio das Fontes.  Earlier this year, Dave Sheldrake began to conduct photography walks, for a donation to charity.  I haven’t managed to go on one yet, but my interest was piqued when he went to this particular site.  I had to take a look for myself.

Sitio das Fontes is an area of wild parkland formed around natural springs (or fontes).  Sitting in tidal salt marshes, it’s a wonderful place to explore the diversity of nature.  The tidal mill overlooks a wide stretch of nature in the raw, with birds and bees aplenty.

Captivated by the tiny frogs, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The parkland lies just north of the village of Estombar, and on a sunny weekday in early March I had the place almost to myself. An old waterwheel lethargically guards the entrance to the park.

Follow the path round to the tidal mill, or dally by the spring.  There are plenty of good sized rocks to sit on and contemplate nature, or simply daydream a while.  A new-looking bridge crosses the spring and you can take the long view or gaze deep into the clear waters.

The map at the entrance to the park wasn’t very clear, or maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention.  It didn’t seem to matter in the stillness of the lovely morning, the snail suspended somnolently on his stilts, and bee on blossom.

Beyond the tidal mill, a path leads off around the estuary.  The water was very low, exposing vast tracts of salt marsh and sludge, but still it was a pleasure to follow.  Shrubs and all manner of plant line the path, so progress is slow as you stoop to identify or smile in admiration.

Incredible to find two different types of bee orchid within feet of each other!  The path ends on the edge of the Arade.   Looking across the estuary I wasn’t sure if it might be possible to cross over the mud flats with the water so low.  Good sense prevailed.  I didn’t really want to end up floundering, but I was curious about the ruins on the far shore.  No great hardship to retrace my steps.

A less obvious path runs along this shoreline, but with the bonus of more orchids, some tiny iris, not yet open to morning, and a large cricket who made me jump.  Beyond the ruins the path begins to ascend quite steeply.  I climb high enough to appreciate the view.

But it’s not apparent where the path might lead.  It’s getting warm, the insects are buzzing and it feels like a good time to head back.  There are picnic tables, a children’s playground and a visitor centre, still closed at the time.  Best of all, the tranquil and lovely spring.

How very different from the thermal springs in Bath, that I wrote about last week.  Yet all part of our strange and wonderful natural world.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s walk.  Details of how to get there are contained in the links, and of how to join me, on my Jo’s Monday walk page . Now for some sharing.  You’ll have your work cut out, because I have heaps of walks!  Please make sure to visit anyone that you don’t know. Many thanks to all my contributors, and to you folk in the armchairs, it’s time to put the kettle on.

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You might like to compare Alison’s walk from a couple of years ago?  Your secret’s well and truly out now, Aly!

Our secret Sitio das Fontes

The most beautiful rainbow and frescoes from Drake this week :

Cruise through idyllic city

AND the bonus of a trip to Monmartre :

On the edge

Lots of garden shots and a cute little bug from Lady Lee :

How does your garden grow?

Sunny California, sunny Jackie!

Day 7 So Cal Bakersfield CA to Las Vegas

Becky always knows the way to my heart, and to some lovely places too.  This one’s in the Alentejo :

A short stroll around the beautiful city of Serpa

This, much closer to ‘home’ :

Thank goodness, a cloudy day

Did you ‘walk’ with Vanessa last week?  This one’s not for the faint-hearted, but shows off Majorca’s true beauty :

Soller, Mallorca, Spain/The ‘Sa Costera’ Hike along the remote and picturesque coastline…

Sue, meanwhile, is tootling gently down Memory Lane.  I hope you’re well now, hon?

Postcards from my Past/3- Cornwall’s Old Mines

Cathy is still busy making memories.  This is fabulous!

Sankei-en Garden & the Shanghai Yokohama Friendship Garden

While Mari shows us how to live a long and happy life in a little known but beautiful part of Andalusia :

Walking in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park, Spain

Exquisite prose and the nostalgia of the end of Spring, from Susan :

Park Ridge Trail, Morro Bay State Park

And an English version, with lambs and wild garlic.  Please visit!  This lady is new to me :

Late spring hike in the Manifold Valley

Miriam triumphs in adversity!  You can, too!

Toolangi Trails

And Paula proudly shows off some of her lovely heritage.  Go on- take a look!

Istrian Heritage

Jaspa seems to like our English heritage.  What’s more British than Tower Bridge?

Sam’s Ses Challenge #18: Bridge 

And I bet Woolly is a fan of those famous Austrian tortes.  Double rations this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk20_ Vienna

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk21_Vienna-2

Andrew has been striding out in Valencia.  Not like him at all!

Travels in Spain, Valencia City of Arts and Sciences and a 12 Mile Walk

You might wonder what the natural world looks like in Israel.  Take a walk with Lisa to find out :

Nahal HaShofet

That’s it for another week!  It’s a Bank Holiday in the UK next Monday but I’ll still be walking.  I hope you’ll join me.  Take care till then!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Beautiful Bath

I love a bit of drama in a photograph.  This is me, not quite falling over the parapet into the swirling waters of the weir at Bath.  I didn’t start the day with any intention to go to this beautiful city but, a few minutes after I’d been dropped off at Yate bus station, what should appear on the stand?  A 620 bus heading directly for Bath.  I didn’t need to be at the airport for my return trip home till the evening.  Irresistible temptation!

A 40 minute ride through gently green and rolling Somerset and I was there.  It’s many years since I was in Bath, and I never did get to visit the famous Roman Baths, so I was almost on a mission.  But first, a little exploration.

Who’d have thought to find a Tardis as I exited the bus station?  Bath is obviously popular with tourists and backpackers, as several places offered luggage storage, including an opportunistic barbers.  Grand Parade is just that, with its elegant balustrade looking down upon the Parade Gardens. I was tempted to go in, but there was a small admission charge, unusual for public gardens.  In any event, I could see most of the garden from where I stood, and I was drawn like a magnet towards the weir.

Pulteney Bridge, which crosses the River Avon, dates back to 1774 and is one of Bath’s iconic landmarks.  It didn’t strike me at the time but it has much in common with Ponte Vecchio in Florence.  Both have shops built into them.  ‘The Bridge’ cafe caught my eye, along with the view through to the river, as I crossed to the other shore, noting the rhubarb and cherry slice in the window.  Maybe later?

Steps led down to the river, and it was a glorious and warm day.  I had picked up a visitor guide at the bus station, and a bench right beside the weir gave me the perfect surroundings for a browse. With the wonderful distraction of a boat coming in to dock.

No doubt about it, I was tempted, but the next departure wasn’t for a precious half an hour.  The riverside walk needed to be undertaken first.

As always, the boats and the watery reflections filled me with delight, and there was a wonderful sensation of peace.  In the very heart of the city, and yet enfolded by nature, I had not a care in the world.

I had forgotten that the Kennet and Avon Canal flows into Bath.  This 87 mile long canal links London with the Bristol Channel and had its heyday in the early 1800s.  With the advent of the railways it went steadily into decline, but happily restoration has turned it into a wonderful leisure facility.  I paused for a while to watch the activity at Widcombe Lock, before crossing a narrow footbridge back into the city.

The walk carried on, along the River Avon, but I wanted to make the most of my limited time. Stall Street led me conveniently towards the Abbey and the bustling heart of the city, where I had a date with the Roman Baths.

An event that I’ll share with you another day.  For now I’ll lead you past the Baths and the beautiful Abbey.  Yes, I know you’d like a look inside, but that will have to wait.  Instead we’ll walk all around the Abbey, admiring the statues, and into irresistibly pretty Abbey Green, with its leafy shade.

Just around the corner you can sample Sally Lunn’s buns, in Bath’s oldest house, dating from 1483.  You might find ‘bun etiquette’ amusing.  Hiding in these streets you will also find Bath’s indoor market, a wonderful melange of craft and food stalls. Too nice to stay indoors for long, I made my selection and headed for a nearby bench.  And yes, that rhubarb and cherry slice was simply scrumptious.

Just time to admire some Bath glass and at 2pm present myself back at the Abbey for the Tower Tour.  Look away now if you don’t like heights.

I think I made the most of my short time in Bath, but left still feeling that there were things I’d like to do.  Next time!

Thanks for your company, everybody.  I have a bumper collection of walks to share this week. Please do make time to visit them.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be very welcome.  Popping the kettle on now, and wishing I had a Bath bun to share.

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Not strictly a walk post, but a composite of many enthralling moments.  This is a must read from Gilda :

Discoveries Down Under Part 4- Sydney and the Blue Mountains

I’d never heard of Jane’s walk, but trust a New Yorker like Susan to tell it in style :

East Harlem Jane’s Walk 2017 (Part 1)

Few people are better traveled than Debbie, so if she invites you for a walk, go!

Wandering through District 5

Jackie likes to hoof it a bit, too :

Day 6 So Cal – Solvang to Bakersfield 

Innsbruck is a city I’ve only dreamed about.  Drake brings it beautifully to life :

Between river and hills

Woolly is in the same neck of the woods, but I’ve been to Salzburg.  It rained! :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk19-Salzburg2

I’ve made lots of good friends in the blogging world.  Becky was kind enough to share a place that has captured my heart :

Something unusual in the Algarve

And speaking of friends, this is pure delight from Jude :

A Woodland Walk

My lovely Meg pootles on a beach- a most delightful occupation :

Eurobodalla Beaches : Billy’s Beach

While our Cathy shops her way around Tokyo, between shrines.  That girl loves a bargain!

Meiji shrine and Harajuku : Takeshita-dori and Togo shrine (part of walking tour 18)

Geoff, meanwhile, takes us on a fascinating exploration of ‘lost’ rivers :

Losing its Rivers : following careless London #londonwalks#lostrivers

Shazza has an interesting (and dog friendly) walk in the Yorkshire Dales :

Clapham Nature Trail and Ingleborough Show Cave

Eunice has some lovely reflective blue skies, and 2 more dogs :

Canal walk – Radcliffe to Bury

And Carol goes hunting Romans in the Lake District.  They can be elusive!

Searching for Romans

Vanessa demonstrates a love for and knowledge of Majorca.  This is the start of a series :

Soller, Mallorca, Spain/A walk past the Orange Groves of Soller to the pretty village of Fornalutx

Finally, here’s Paula.  As near to perfection as you can get in a post.  Turn the music on and feast your eyes!

Canon of the Spaces

That’s it for another week.  Hope you enjoyed, and have a happy week tootling about.

Jo’s Monday walk : Bristol Blues!

The last time I was in Bristol was to see the highly spectacular Balloon Festival.  It had been my first visit to the city and I was quite keen to take an introductory walking tour.  Due to the volume of people in Bristol for the festival, in glorious August weather, the tour had been cancelled.  Little did I know then that I would have another opportunity.  But this time was very different.  The sky was an unrelenting grey, rather matching my disconsolate mood, and my weekend seemed to be unravelling around me.

You see, I had made a surprise visit for an 80th birthday party.  I flew into Bristol at 8 in the morning, and had the whole day ahead of me.  I had planned to spend it with my lovely friend, Gilly.  Not only was Gilly sadly unable to meet me, but I had neglected to bring with me a vital contact number.  I had no means of getting to the party.

Leaving Bristol bus station, I wandered into the city, trying to formulate a plan.  As so often, my camera came to my rescue and I started to observe my surroundings.  Bristol is well known as the birth place of Banksy and the wave of street art that took Bristol by storm in the 1980s.

I’m always ambivalent about street art.  Some, I hate.  Some, I love.  In this case it was a welcome distraction, highlighting good and bad in the city.  I especially felt for the semi-derelict St. John on the Wall church, on Broad Street.  Posters on the rusted grills covering the windows advertised for volunteers to enable the church to continue to be opened to visitors.  600 years of history hidden from view.

I was hopeful that the Tourist Information office might come to my rescue.  The battery on my ancient cell phone was fading fast and I needed somewhere that I might connect to the Internet. The phone number I needed was on Messenger.  At 9.30 on a Saturday morning the TI was still closed, but I had a map from my previous trip.  The Central Library appeared to be just behind the Watershed, where I now stood.   A spark of hope propelled me in that direction.

The sky maintained a dreary grey as I bypassed Millennium Square with its lofty wheel.  Bristol Science Centre held promise of an interesting haven from the cold, which I might need later. Crossing over the road I headed uphill towards the Cathedral spires.  The Abbey Gatehouse provided a welcoming entrance to the Cathedral grounds and the adjoining library.

10am was opening time for the library.  I turned my gaze upon the grand countenance of the City Hall buildings on College Green.

City Hall is a grade II listed building, the seat of local government in Bristol since 1956.  I had paid it scant attention on my last visit, when rain had driven me to the bosom of the Cathedral. I still had time in hand for a swift return to the lovely cloisters.

At 10 o’ clock precisely, the doors to the Central Library admitted me.  I was totally astounded at what I found inside.

Opened in 1906, the grade 1 listed Central Library was built on land adjacent to the gatehouse of St. Augustine’s Abbey, or Bristol Cathedral. Charles Holden, the architect, has created an Edwardian building that filled me with reverence.  Quietly I mounted the sweeping stairs, from the marbled entrance to the reference library.  Chandeliers dangled from the vaulted glass ceiling, between 2 tiers of galleries crammed with books. The history of Bristol was all around me.

To my enormous relief, there was an alcove where I could plug in my phone, and in a little while had found the number I needed.  There was a temptation to stay cocooned in the library, but it was time to set forth.  I had thought I might visit the botanic gardens at the University of Bristol, but the weather was still unsettled.  The TI was now open, of course, and there were leaflets outside proposing a number of walks.  Banksy perhaps? Just as I was contemplating coffee, I realised that the 11 o’clock walk that I had missed on my previous visit was all set to go. It was meant to be…

The funny thing was that my historic walking tour retraced many of my steps.  Back to Millennium Square, where we discussed Bristol and shipping, overlooked by the globe-shaped Planetarium.  Up to the Cathedral and College Green, this time with highly informative Ken, who covered the slave trade, imports of tea and Fry’s Chocolate factory.  Dates were affixed to the many beautiful architectural details.  While I very much enjoyed having company, one thing of significance did happen.  I had seen an illustration of a Banksy entitled ‘Well Hung Lover’, about which I was curious, but had no idea where to find it.  Would you believe that it was barely two steps from where I had been previously, that morning?

At the junction of College Green with Park Street.  You might have noticed that a watery sunshine was beginning to brighten the skies, and my spirits lifted like the prancing unicorn on the top of City Hall.

The tour continued past the huge old warehouses where Bristol Sherry used to be stored, down to St. Augustine’s Parade and the art deco Hippodrome Theatre, beloved of Cary Grant.  Back to the Floating Harbour and the incredible story of how the river was diverted to ensure that Bristol’s life force, trade and shipping, could continue to prosper.

Huge Queen Square next, and it’s grand Georgian houses.  The Bristol Riots took place here in 1831 and almost 100 of the buildings were burned to the ground.  They’re a feisty lot, Bristolians.  As we looked towards the Bristol Old Vic theatre, currently undergoing renovation, a tribe of Norsemen and their ladies stomped past.

Past the Welsh Backs, and a wonderful jazz pub, ‘The Old Duke’, honky tonk music tripping off the keys.  Our tour ended at St. Nicholas Market, where you can purchase almost anything your heart desires in the lovely old Exchange building, or outside on the busy street.

It was definitely time to take the weight off my feet and I found the perfect venue,  The Cosy Club.  Yet another grade II listed building, and a former bank, the ceilings romped with art and the music had my toes tapping.  A comfortable banquette was my resting place for the next couple of hours. And then it was time to head for the party!

I hope you enjoyed my wanderings in Bristol.  So did I, after a bad start.  If you saw my Six word Saturday you’ll know how the party went.

Definitely time for a cuppa, isn’t it?  I have some wonderful walks to share with you, again. Many thanks to all of you who take part, and to you comfy armchair types too.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’d love it if you could.

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What a privilege to be joined by Tish AND a gardening legend from our past!

Tulips’ Last Hurrah And A Gardening Legend

And if anyone can put a beautiful post together, it’s Debbie :

A Flowering Island

Wander back in time with Drake :

Historical flashback

Nice to see old traditions still observed, but with a modern twist.  Thanks, Lady Lee!

Maypole- raising

What’s Jackie up to this week?

Day 5- So Cal- Solvang 

And where would we be without Woolly?  Still serious this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk18-Anzac-Day-2

Enjoy the gentlest of ‘potter arounds’, with Susan :

Walking Small 

And a sequence of reminiscences and beautiful wistfulness, with Meg :

One tree beach

Eurobodalla beaches : One Tree Beach (the north end)

Delighted to be tiptoeing through the bluebells with Elaine.  Today I’ll be bluebell-ing in Durham, weather permitting :

Bluebell time

While Eunice shows us England’s green and pleasant land in all its beauty :

A woodland walk

My lovely friend, Cathy, is walking marathons around Japan, making the most of her time there :

From Tokyo station to the Imperial Palace Outer Gardens, topped off by a beer garden in Hibiya

That’s all for now, folks!  Hopefully I’m off to count bluebells this morning.  Have yourselves a great week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Odeleite, a beautiful disaster!

From one extreme to another, last week’s gentle look at village life to this week’s biting off more than you can comfortably chew.  Does this look like a promising start- the cemetery wall in Odeleite?  It was all downhill from here- a seemingly endless set of concrete steps, and yes, I did stop to wonder how I’d find the energy to climb back up them.  But all’s well that ends well, isn’t it?  There was a seat awaiting my return.

Odeleite is such a pretty village, as you can see, though not a little steep.  That morning I was surprised to find a skirmish of bikers, clad in leathers and revving their engines on a narrow terrace.  Much preferring the tranquil life, I moved on.

The first mistake was to follow an inviting sign.  My partner in crime has a nose for these things, so he tells me.  My mistake was to follow him.

The goat did try to warn us!  The water course looked very inviting, and with a picnic I could have lingered, but we had our walking heads on.

Now I have to confess that if things don’t go my way, I can get a little grouchy.  As we climbed the hill, away from the village and leaving the water far behind, I niggled a bit.  After all, we had set out to walk beside the water.  Or at least, I had!  But my persuasive other half insisted that route PR5 was exactly what we needed, and would bring us back to the river, in a loop.

A rock pool or two spliced through the charcoal stone and everywhere rock roses waved and bobbed at our passing.  Hard to stay grumpy in surroundings like this.  After half an hour of dips and rises, we came to a village called Alcaria, where things began to look promising.  It’s well known I can be won over by a glass, or two!

Tucked down a back street, casa do pasto Alberto’s had a couple of outside tables. Unfortunately it was Sunday lunchtime, and inside was heaving with locals, tucking in.  We managed a chunk of gooey meringue apiece, before sadly moving on.  We were about to make our next mistake. The choice was a 2km return to Odeleite or to continue on the PR5.  Blame the wine, if you like, but I found myself agreeing to the latter.

Did you notice that the sign said PR4?  Somewhere along the way we had left our PR5 behind. As we approached the river, a field full of sheep tinkled their bells at us.  We knew that we would have to cross the river to reach Odeleite, but where was the nearest bridge?

Some way distant, of course.  With great relief, we finally crossed a road bridge.  The sign read Foz de Odeleite.  Familiar territory!  At least, I recognised the restaurant.  Still quite a way to go to our destination, but the sky was blue and the scenery beautiful.  And I was following my river!

Over on the far bank we spotted the sheep we had passed earlier.  A tempting tumble of apples by a deserted farmhouse…  if I took one, would a dog race out, barking?  With serenity all around us, it was a shock to the system to find that trouble was lurking, just ahead.

A ford that we really hadn’t bargained for, and quite deep.  Retracing our steps was unthinkable, so it was off with the shoes and a slow, steady wade across, holding hands.  On the far side a Portuguese family watched, the small boy busy amusing himself.  Stones and rivers go together, don’t they, but he stopped play, open-mouthed, to watch our progress.

We dried off, and a sign pointed us directly towards Odeleite.  What could be easier?  Smiling cheerfully at the family, away we went.  Along with the cistus and lavender, tiny blue iris winked shyly at us.

Tired but hopeful, there was yet one more twist in store.  Always observant, my partner had realised that the river was flowing in the ‘wrong’ direction.  Increasingly doubtful, he wanted to go back, ‘just to be sure’.  Abandoning whatever good sense I had left, I returned with him to where the bewildered Portuguese family, fortunately, still remained.  Halting language, gestures and smiles confirmed what I already suspected.  We had been on the right track, and had to retrace our steps.

Eventually, we did make it back to Odeleite, after 6 hours of walking and at least 16km.  As we came into the village, it was immediately obvious the mistake we had made.  Isn’t it always?  We had started out in completely the wrong direction.  The walk we were ‘following’, Terras da Ordem, from the Walking Trails in the Algarve book, gave 2 choices of starting place.  Maybe we’d have been better off with the other! At least we didn’t have to climb those woeful steps.

If you’re feeling brave and want to try it, you need to scroll almost to the end of the website, to page 140.  And in fairness to the better half, we were at the junction of 2 rivers, as the map will show. Confusion all round!

Thanks folks, for following my weary feet.  Sometimes it’s not such a good idea.  I will struggle to respond to you today because very last minute plans mean that I am in Bristol as you read this.  I hope to have WiFi at some point, and if all else fails I’ll be home again late Tuesday. If I haven’t shared your walk this week, it’ll be here next Monday.  Kettle on now, and feet up, my happy band of armchair walkers!

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Becky, the laugh was on us!  One of these days we’ll walk together and I won’t get lost!

Nightingales in the Pomegranate Trees

Bavaria is so pretty, isn’t it?  Lady Lee spent a few days there :

Bamberg – The Changing Seasons

Jackie’s still battling the elements and having fun in California :

Day 3 So Cal- Monterey and Area

Woolly shows his serious side with an Anzac Day post :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk17-Anzac-Day

While Drake has fun with a broken bus in Lancashire :

Wanna be free

Meg keeps me well supplied with beautiful beaches.  Tread carefully on this one!

Eurobodalla beaches : Plantation Point

It remains to say that I hope you had a great weekend, Bank Holiday or otherwise.  Words will struggle to describe mine.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Almodôvar, and the red shoes

It can get very flower laden around here at this time of year, so today I’m going to take you on a stroll around Almodôvar, a little known village in the Alentejo.  Why?  Well, just because I can, and also because I was intrigued by these red shoes.  Seriously, don’t you ever want to go somewhere just to see what’s there?  I do it all the time.

It’s not the easiest place to get to, and after an hour and a half of rocking and rolling along switchback country roads, car sickness was beginning to threaten.  I knew that, once over the border from the Algarve, the land would begin to flatten out.  Still, it was a relief to step out of the car.  An elderly lady was pegging out her washing and regarded me with some curiosity. Visitors from out of town are obviously a rarity.

It’s an ordinary enough place, the likes of which you will find throughout Portugal.  The charm lies in wandering the quiet streets, simply observing life.  It was just before Easter and preparations were underway in Igreja Matriz de Santo Ildefonso, the imposing 16th century church which dominates the main square.

A map on a nearby wall points out places of interest in the village.  Just what’s needed!   Number 2 is the clock tower, or Torre do Relogio.  In the 8th century, Almodôvar (literally ‘place in the round’) was rebuilt by the Muslims, with a surrounding wall.  No trace of this exists today.  A clock tower, served by an outside staircase, would typically have been part of the ramparts from the 17th century.  The clock was housed in the right tower of Santo Ildefonso, but was removed in 1889 when the parish church was struck by lightning.

As so often in Portugal, the smartly modern sits alongside the shabby and forlorn.  A pedestrianised shopping street comes as something of a surprise, but I am no longer surprised by wall art.  Meet poet Fernando Pessoa, and friends!

Still loosely following the map I headed along Rua do Convento, the convent of Our Lady of Conception inviting me closer.

What to make of this?  I hunted high and low for an explanation of this fanfare of an art installation.  Why red shoes, I was at a loss to know.  No clues inside either, but the interior was a show stopper. All that glitters…

I did solve the mystery, though.  Close by the convent there’s a 6 metre high sculpture of a cobbler on a roundabout.   Marked ‘Aureliano, 2001’, in researching it I discovered that Almodôvar had a history of shoe making.  Between the years of 1940 and 1970 there were around 200 manual shoe makers working in the town, and selling their wares at fairs throughout the county.  This sculpture, made by Aureliano Aguiar of Coimbra, from cogs and recovered bits of metal, is in their honour.

I strolled back to the sleepy little square with a fountain, and found a cafe opposite the museum. In the shade of the trees, sensible villagers idled to pass the time of day.  This place would be like a furnace in full summer.  I was melting in March.  So when I was offered a half litre bottle of vinho verde (they didn’t sell it by the glass) there was nothing to do but sit and watch the world go by.  Of course, I needed a substantial amount of food.

Back in the car, we rolled down the N2 towards the coast, passing the village of Ameixal with its Thursday morning roadside market.  The stalls were all but empty.  A venue for another day?  I had been thrilled by the wild irises, dusting the kerbside, on our way north.  Worth a last quick leap!

And that was Almodôvar.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  I do like a wander.  Sorry about the lack of cake again.  I was too full after that enormous toastie.  Speaking of which, it must be time to put the kettle on.

Cuppa to hand, it’s time for this week’s wonderful shares.  Thank you all for your company and the great support I receive on here.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be made very welcome.

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Look where Lexi’s landed!  Doesn’t it look fine?  You just might be surprised :

Happy in Houston- Part 1

I love a sing-a-long, and where better than the charms of Paris? (and Drake) :

Unforgettable

From one magical city to another! So lucky to have Debbie show us the heights :

Views from Montjuic

There’s always something to be thankful for in the company of Lady Lee :

52 Weeks of Thankfulness- Week 43

Geoff’s lessons on life, ably assisted by Dog :

Brecon Beacons- a lesson in green living

Jackie’s not quite so exuberant this week, but then, look at the weather!

Day 2- So Cal, Monterey

It’s not every day that I’d go walking around a complex, but Sedona surely makes a stunning backdrop.  Thanks, Marsha!

Resort Walk Reveals 15 Top Things to Love

Woolly wins it for excitement this week.  Up, up and away!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk16-Hot-Air2

Amy goes hunting for wildflowers in Texas, and finds boots and saddles!

Texas Hill Country

But Dawn is more than happy with her finds :

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge : Surprised and Delighted 

I went looking for wood sprites or elves with Denzil, in Belgium :

The Valley of the Hoegne

And then I really struck lucky when Gilly found me a baby dragon!

A Forest walk

And finally, what did Carol find at the top of a hill?

Unrivalled Views

My English walk today has been rained off!  And it’s not even a Bank Holiday.  That’s next Monday, isn’t it?  See you then!

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!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk2017-Wk15-Hot-Air

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?