Vaqueiros

Jo’s Monday walk : Vaqueiros, Cheese fest & the choir

Back in January, before our Iives were seriously upended, I took you on a walk from Vaqueiros.  The blossom was out then.  It seems such a long time ago.  A different, more carefree life.  But I want to take you back, to the beginning of March, for one last outing with the wonderful choir, Ossonoba, before all our boundaries diminished.

We were meeting at the crossroads of a country lane, close to the village of Malfrades, a little uncertain of what was to follow.  What we were sure of was a warm welcome, and smiles of recognition from the choir.

As usual, we had an experienced guide to lead the walk and answer any questions we might have about flora and fauna.  In Portuguese, of course, but if we looked too perplexed there was a member of Almargem on hand to explain.  This organisation had liaised with the choir to promote the Via Algarviana, and we were engaged in conversation several times with a charming young woman, anxious that we enjoy our experience.  And enjoy it we did!  The wonderful, big-faced white rock cistus were just getting into their stride too.

We were at one of the highest points of the Eastern Algarve, and as if that were not enough, were all set to climb a disused viewing tower for panoramic views of our surrounds.  You might have wondered about my leading photo.  We’ve reached the top!

The less confident might have opted for a seat with a view, but even it didn’t look very secure.  We followed the gently rolling trail down to the lake, with one more surprise in store.  Beside the path, winking silently in the sunlight, mysterious wild bee orchids.

The village of Vaqueiros, our destination, is just ahead, for the choir are to perform there, one last time for the season.  In January the village had been completely deserted, so we were astounded to find the main street lined with stalls.  Smoke from several bread ovens drifted into the air, with lingering delicious smells.  Local cheeses, sausages and bread were on sale, alongside beautiful hand crafts.

We made our way to the top of the village.  The choir were assembling on the church steps, those who had walked with us slipping away to change.  It was hot there in the open and I looked around for shade.  A dog lay in a lazy stupor.  The choir shuffled.

Finally they were ready, and the sounds, so familiar to me now, filled the air.  Pure joy in singing, and in each other’s company, is what makes this choir very special to me.  After the concert we were invited to follow them to a nearby restaurant.  They ate, and drank, and sang…A Capela, as they do.  A day to remember.

I’m sure they will have carried on singing, even though their plans for travel have been disrupted.  I hope to join them again in the autumn, but there’s a certain indefatiguable lady whose #SquareTops I’ll be joining even sooner.

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A bumper collection of walks this week.  Good to know you’ve still been out and about, enjoying our world, whatever the restrictions.

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Starting with a stunner from Jude :

The George V Walk in Lockdown

Always nice to welcome a newcomer.  Especially one with a sense of humour.  Meet Geanie!

Duck Takes a Walk (During COVID 19)

Joseph has a great fondness for moss.  Why not let him show you?

A Daily Walk

I had no idea that South Korea was such a beautiful country till I followed Cheryl :

A Walk in Daewangam Park & Ilsan Beach

Not just a walk along a lovely beach, but dolphins too, from Alice!

Dolphin Watch

And some spectacular sculptures, courtesy of Natalie :

5 Circular Art Works To See

Lush forest to sooth the soul, with Susanne :

Green River, Rain or Shine!  And Steelhead sighting!

Andrew, being interesting on his home patch :

Village Walks – Blow Wells and Watercress Beds

Drake, a little sentimental?

Broken eggs

Margaret, being resourceful on her doorstep :

Walking Every Single Day During Lockdown

And Janet, keeping it even closer to home :

Monday walk…in my room

Nor has Eunice strayed very far :

Smithills Hall and Moss Bank Park

While Ann Christine shares her beautiful Swedish homeland :

Thursday Thoughts – A Spring Hike

It’s a real honour and a privilege to be joined by Cee this week.  Come and see her garden!

Jo’s Monday Walk & Lens-Artists Photo #94 – Walk in My Front Yard

And Pauline takes the next step, with a video link into hers :

Come with me for a video walk in the garden…

But Cathy simply carries me off into a beautiful bubble from the past :

Lucca to Florence, Italy

Fabulous, all of them!  Thank you so much for your company.  I take much pleasure in our virtual world.  Stay safe!

Jo’s Monday walk : Vaqueiros in Spring

Last week’s walk may have been a little long-winded, and I was chided over the lack of cake, so this one needs to be both short and sweet.  The blossom is appearing everywhere and it’s a crime to be indoors.  Come with me to Vaqueiros, in my Eastern Algarve.

Vaqueiros is another hill village situated on the 300km Via Algarviana, and a good starting point for two circular walks.  I took you along on one of them a couple of years ago, so let’s go and see the other.

An information board indicates the way out of the village, on a gentle ascent.  A tinkling of bells alerts me to the presence of goats, an elderly goatherd leaning, unconcerned, on a wall in the shade.  And then, in a valley, a wonderful surprise.  Clear, sparkling water, flowing freely.  It’s been a long dry spell and recent, welcome rains have done their work.

The patterns in the rock crisscross like a giant game board, and I linger, thinking what a great place for a picnic and a paddle.

Our walk leader tells us we have a steady uphill climb for half an hour, and to keep our voices down when we pass the beehives.  It’s probably too early in the year, but the last thing you need is a swarm of angry bees.  Fortunately, nothing stirs as we tiptoe past.

Next we find ourselves the object of much curiosity.  Sheep certainly seem to abide by the maxim ‘safety in numbers’.  I couldn’t spot the shepherd but I’m sure there’s a stray goat or two in the pack.

The trail wends its way around and beneath a canopy of trees, mostly pine.  We pass by a nicely shaded picnic table, knowing we are not too far from our café stop at journey’s end.  And you know what that means!

In the small reservoir a bird flaps down to perch on the stump of a tree, and I try to zoom for a clearer photo.  Not my forté.

Now I’m not really sure that you’ve earned cake, though we’ve certainly burned a few calories.  Sorry!  Somebody just couldn’t wait  😦

But at least one of them makes a delightful square for January Light.  Just 5 days of Becky’s challenge to go!

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So nice to have water in the rivers again, though I may not be saying that tomorrow when I have to cross one!  Thank you all for your company, and please find a little time to visit each other.  Join me any time, here on Jo’s Monday walk.

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Just a warm-up from Natalie, but so pretty you might want to linger :

Hiking to Peguche Waterfall

Amanda has found a happy new home by the sea to put a big smile on her face :

Sunday Morning Beach Walk

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t mind the odd invigorating walk, and I’m happy to join Jonno and Jo :

Wild and Windy Walk at Heddon Valley

Speaking of windy, what better than the one and only Chicago?  Thanks, Janet!

Jo’s Monday Walk… the Windy City

Slade, and a pink house that I remember, in Montmartre with Drake :

Kind of rocking culture

I’m not great at whistling, but I’d give this a go, Alice :

Echo Square- Savannah

Denzil takes us gently wandering again in Belgium :

Sclaigneaux 2k(for kids) and 10k walks

And how beautiful are these, from Irene?

Glimpses of Dawn

Living Desert Garden

Margaret takes me very close to ‘home’ with this one :

Highlights of a Bird-free Bird Reserve

In fact, this was my very first Monday walk, and I can’t resist re-sharing  🙂  Almost 6 years ago!

Jo’s Monday walk : Greatham Creek

I’m sure you’ll have heard of this place (the English version follows the Italian).  Please stop by and say hello!

Alberobello:tutto il fascino dell’orientalismo pugliese

Cathy does a fabulous job here!  Don’t miss her truly gorgeous photography :

Morocco: the blue-washed Chefchaouen

It’s going to be a great year here for blossom.  I hope you can enjoy it with me.  Take care till next time!

Jo’s Monday walk : Vaqueiros

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A dilemma this week!  Whether to take you back to those blue Algarve skies, or stay with reality, here in the UK?  Ever the escapist, I’ve opted to leave reality on hold, just a little while longer.  Vaqueiros is another of those pretty hill villages in the Eastern Algarve.  A quirky little walk, this time I had the company of my walking friends, so no need to worry about angry dogs.

Again, the drive up into the hills from Tavira was a test for the driver, but pure delight for the passenger.  Before coming to the Algarve I would never have expected to find hairpin bends and smoke coloured hills.  Every twist and turn looks down across another tiny village, or out across a lovely panorama.  With each bend I want to shout ‘stop the car’, and leap out with my camera.  But, of course, that isn’t a practical option, and the dedicated walkers in our group would have been less than impressed.  Coffee stops, however, are mandatory, and we congregate outside a miniscule cafe in Vaqueiros.  I’m eye to eye with a languid grey cat, sitting comfortably atop a heap of beer crates.  Raising my camera appears to be the signal for a sprint start.  Another wasted photo opportunity!  Nothing for it but to start walking.

Vaqueiros is one of the villages along the Via Algarviana, a 300km walking and biking trail which crosses the Algarve.  The walk today is a circular route of just 13km.  In late November the sun is shining brightly but walkers are scarce.  The olive trees are laden with fruits, soon to be harvested. Our route takes us out of the village, joining a gently rising track.  Gnarled olive trees and umbrella pines are our chief companions.

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Can you see Michael, in the deep shade, at the rear of the group of walkers?  They are quite fit and walk at a decent pace.  I’m always hanging back, looking for an interesting shot.  Unless I get engrossed in conversation, which can sometimes happen.  I try to maintain a balance between enjoying my companions and the landscape.

Red and yellow markers indicate that we are still following a trail, but we mostly rely on our group leader.  An Algarve resident, he has been walking these hills for many years.  His well-muscled legs handle the ups and downs with ease.  Some of us are not so lucky! Along the route we come upon a couple of fords, but water levels are notoriously low this year. The rain came all in one week and everywhere is tinder dry.

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A cluster of hens are happy in the shade.

I mentioned at the beginning that this is a quirky walk.  Up in these hills you unexpectedly come upon the remains of a theme park. ‘Parque Mineiro’ was a misguided idea which never actually came to fruition.  Copper was once mined in this area and was presumably the inspiration behind the theme park.  I wasn’t at all prepared for the sight of a little yellow train, and yet there it was, intact and still sitting on the rails.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but there isn’t a cake stop on this walk.  Groans all round!  The village doesn’t have one and in fact we took a picnic with us. We ended up back at Vaqueiros, outside the same little cafe.  The lads helped to empty those beer crates while my tumbler of red cost but 40 cents!

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It’s a lovely part of the world.  This promotional video of the Via Algarviana is a nice introduction.  There is a board near the cafe which shows way-marked trails, should you ever get that far.

And that’s my walking done till after Christmas, so may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and healthy Christmas (yes, you are allowed cake!  You can walk it off afterwards).  Time to put that kettle on!

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A last round-up before Christmas.  Huge thanks to all of you who’ve followed along, up hill and down dale.  I’ve enjoyed your company so much, and thank you for helping to keep me trim.  Join me any time you like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Quick off the mark last week, Drake was in thoughtful mood :

Space for reflection

Lovely to have Debbie back in our midst again!

A Winter Stroll on Beach Street

Lots of you seem to know my weaknesses now!  Many thanks, Elaine :

A canalside walk

It’s round up time with Amy.  Pick a favourite?

A Walk through my Monday Walks

I shall make it to Water of Leith one day- trust me, Anabel!

Edinburgh- everything is going to be alright 

Still walking in circles with Geoff!

The Capital Ring : Richmond to Greenford, via Osterley

Violet shows us how beautiful Christmas in small town Ontario can be :

River of lights

Then we can hop across the water to cosmopolitan Toronto :

Toronto…. waterscape walks

You might have missed this one last week?  I did!  Apologies!

Metal and Wood Trail

Jaspa takes us to South America again.  Such a beautiful cathedral!

Trujillo’s Colonial Heart, Peru 

Walk homewards with Ruth?  You won’t regret it :

Stroll home

And isn’t it always a pleasure to spend time with Pauline and Jack?

Farm walk

Gilly lives in a lovely part of the world.  She’s lovely too!

The Otter in August

Hope to see some of you next week, if you’re not too busy entertaining and having fun.  I’ll be looking forward to a bit of fresh air in that gap between Christmas and New Year.  Off I go, to wrap presents.  I still have some to buy!  Take good care till I see you again, and have a wonderful time with your loved ones.