Portugal

Jo’s Monday walk : Lagoão Trail

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I do like to have a bit of fun on a walk, and for me that invariably means water.  When the guide book says that the river might not be fordable after heavy rainfall, I picture great torrents.  But this is, after all, the Algarve, and the prospect of being swept away downstream is not huge.  The only way to find out is to follow the trail and see.

So it was that we parked up, between the football ground and the fire station, in the wonderfully somnolent village of São Marcos da Serra.  Our destination that day was the hilltop village of Alferce, site of yet another magnificent Presepio de Natal, this one with life-sized figures.  The Lagoão Trail was almost en route, so it was decided to ‘make a day of it’.

This is a nicely level, circular 10km walk, initially following the river.  Much of the scenery has a soft Autumn tinge to it on this January day.  A great billow of smoke announces a farmer, burning off dead wood and shrubs.  The delicate pink of a rose bush delights my eye.

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Before too long we approach the ford, which I’m happy to say is fordable.  Mick goes first, in his sturdy boots.  While I’m fiddling about taking my shoes off, a car splashes through, catching me completely by surprise.

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I linger to gaze into the swirling waters, lapping clear and cool at my bare toes.  The river is moving quite swiftly, creating gurgly pools in its midst. Satisfied with my brief plodge, I follow the trail, admiring the wispy fronds of toffee-coloured tamarisk.

Soon a junction is reached.  Consulting the map it’s obvious that the walk can be shortened, but the reservoir beautifully reflects the umbrella pines and it’s too tempting to continue to walk beside it.

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The trail winds away from the reservoir and past a couple of tired-looking farms.  A posse of cats try to outstare me, in that way that cats do. Distracted by them, and trying to photograph a heap of drying cork, I fail to notice the dog till it’s leaping and snarling at my side.  My protector has his toe boot at the ready, and fortunately it backs off.

Hurrying on around the bend, I catch the tinkling of a bell.  I anticipate goats, but it is in fact another dog.  A much more laidback character, this sheepdog scarcely looks in my direction, but he has an ear cocked for his charges.  They watch me with curiosity, from the other side of the wall.

The final stretch of the walk turns back beside the river.  I’m quite surprised to find a railway track ahead but, checking my map, it appears the line runs north to Beja in the Alentejo.

As often happens, the road back into the village involves a bit of uphill, but there are gleaming white chimney pots to distract, and even an iris, peeping out of foliage.  A couple of villagers sit on the steps of their houses, in the sleepy warmth.  In the main square a few benches are occupied, next to the pretty little church.  I peer into a shop window at a Nativity scene made entirely of cork. Not easy to photograph!  A sign at the community centre indicates a main display inside, but it won’t open until 3.00, and I’ll be gone.

A glint of sunlight draws me towards the Christmas tree.  It’s made from recycled plastics. A brilliant idea, and one we could all copy.

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The only restaurant appears to be closed, but there’s a tiny cafe where a tumbler of wine and a cake costs very little.  Duly fortified, it’s down through the village and back across the river.  The empty car park is now overflowing and it appears it’s ‘match day’.  Young, fit bodies mill about and it’s time to reluctantly move on.

This walk features at page 100 of the Walking Trails in the Algarve, where you will find a map and details.  Time to put the kettle on?

Many thanks to you all for continuing to share your walks with me, no matter what the weather. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, and everyone’s welcome!

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I rarely turn down a good scone.  I guess Anabel knows that :

A stroll in the grounds of Scone Palace

Say hello to Eunice, please?  A Meccano bridge and Mandarin duck make a pleasing combination :

A New Year canal walk

A familiar theme- Capability Brown- from Lady Lee :

Stowe House

Going prospecting with Liesbet!

Things to see in the Northern Gold Country

Jackie explores an inspiring garden :

Albin Polasek Sculpture Gardens

A boat, a beach hut and a lighthouse with Stephanie in Puget Sound :

A Walk through Point No Point County Park

I really enjoyed looking at Brugge with Woolly.  Have you missed any of his posts?

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Just a tiny bit jealous of Becky, who’s back in the Algarve, walking, on my behalf!

More than a glimpse of the Guadiana

It won’t be so warm in this country!  Play a game with Biti?

Guess what country?

London Wlogger is doing a grand job of hosting walks around our capital, including part of my old stomping ground :

Mile End Park to London Fields : Exploring Parks of the 19th and 21st Century

And are you familiar with When in my Journeys?  This is a lovely walk!

A walk on the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sometimes photography can be pure poetry.  Paula is surely mistress of the art form :

Braving the Elements with Grace

We’ve had some ferocious weather this month.  Drake examines the debris around the Baltic :

Day after a hard stormy day 

Denzil tells a sorry tale, but all’s well that ends well :

Sint-Agatha-Rode and the patron saint of breast cancer 

And Carol finds something really rather mysterious in Cornwall :

A Secret Place

Not so much a walk as a seal fan club, with beautiful photos.  Thanks, Susan!

Seal Walk

That’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed sharing.  Take good care of yourselves!

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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The Church of São Francisco

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Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches.  In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought.  Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation.  If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean.  Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.

Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked.  Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation.  A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.

Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church.  First appearances can be deceptive.  A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel.  Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.

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The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters.  Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881.  Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck.  Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box.  It may help speed the recovery.

This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.

 

My little town

I know!  I know!  I’m not supposed to be blogging but by the time I come back it will be too late to share this with you.  The 5th January is traditionally the last day for Christmas decorations and soon I’ll be off to watch the parade of Kings in Vila Real de S. Antonio.  Meantime I’ve found some lovely crib scenes here in Tavira… my little town.  Where else does the fire station contribute in such style?

That’s all I’ve time for!  Click on the gallery for a closer look.  Blue skies beckon.

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 :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Geelong-Foreshore

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.

Six word Saturday

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Lazy leaf or a beach ‘bum’?

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Drifting to the end of Verena’s Festival of leaves.  You have one more week for sharing.  Join Cate if you have six words spare.

Have a great week, and don’t get stressed over Christmas.  It’ll come and it’ll go.

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