Via Algarviana

Jo’s Monday walk : Furnazinhas

This isn’t a walk so much as an amble into the sunny Portuguese countryside, but with the potential for a great deal more.  Furnazinhas is a small village, sometimes used for an overnight stay, at the eastern end of the Via Algarviana.  The whole walk runs from Alcoutim on the River Guadiana, the border with Spain, all the way to Cabo S. Vicente on the west coast.  You can break it down into stages, whilst taking in some of the Algarve’s most picturesque scenery.  Furnazinhas is a tranquil and lovely place to stay.  There’s a sense that time has passed the place right by.

It’s a small village and, arriving by car, we passed swiftly through it, then parked alongside the narrow roadside and walked back in.  It was one of those days that wasn’t going to plan.  I had tried and failed to join an exercise class in Tavira that morning, and plans to join Becky and Robert for lunch had fallen through.  The sun was shining brightly, so I tucked my pet lip away, and we headed for the hills.  My husband was convinced that the village would be a disappointment too, so I was wearing flip flops and intending to go to the beach afterwards.  For once, he was totally wrong.

Some places just speak to you immediately, don’t they?  As we strolled into the village, absorbing the silence, this sleepy little place was already getting under our skin.  Almost our first sighting was the signpost pointing out the PR10.  A stone slabbed lane led off through the village towards the hills beyond.  The realisation dawned that I needed my hiking boots to do this place justice.  Or at the very least, trainers.

We stopped to examine a map, and realised that we could have had two choices.  The PR9 was a circular 7.7km route, with a variety of ups and downs, while PR10 was a linear and flatter 7.8km, and a part of the Via Algarviana.  Unable to sensibly follow either, I determined to explore as much as I could of the village.  An elderly gentleman, seeing our interest, seemed happy to chat.  Before much longer he was leading us across the road, to his father’s former stables.

What a lovely surprise!  First he showed us the house where he and his wife live, when they don’t have guests for the Summer.  Then he unlocked the door of the smaller house opposite.  Steps lead down into a beautiful dining room, with a bedroom sleeping 4 above.  The old stone walls and ceilings of wood and bamboo give the place wonderful character, while spanking new bathrooms wouldn’t be out of place in a glossy magazine.  A small kitchen sits at the rear of the property, with barbecue looking onto an expanse of garden.  It had so much charm, I couldn’t stop smiling.

He explained that he’d worked in Faro until his retirement, but now he liked the peace and quiet of the countryside.  Who could blame him?  He said with a smile that he could always pop back to the city if he needed a bit more ‘life’.  Meanwhile Casa do Lavrador, the conversion of his Dad’s place, seemed to provide him with contentment and a living.

Having walked as far as I could through the village, I crossed over to explore the back streets of the opposite side.  An old lad, on a disability scooter, looked rather incongruous as he performed circuits, nodding at us as he passed.  A couple, deep in conversation on a doorstep, looked up, but scarcely paused to draw breath.  I was starting to feel hungry.  In the garden of a house set back from the street, a couple of gents were busy tucking in.  I could see no sign to indicate a restaurant, but it might well have been.

Like most Portuguese villages, there were signs of abandonment.  The young have to leave home to find work, and not everyone wants to return.  Terraces of crops and trees lined the fields behind the village.  Somebody had been hard at work.

I expect you’ve guessed that I’ll be going back, equipped with water and some proper shoes.  We may even rent the cottage and relish the peaceful life for a few days.  If that’s something you’d like to do, Casa do Lavrador is a Turismo Rural, and the phone number is +351 281 495 748.

The Via Algarviana stretches for 300km across the Algarve.  The website includes details of the trail, places to stay and a very seductive video.

Something to think about for the future?  I hope you’ll join me next time.

Many thanks to all you lovely people who follow me, and especially if you’ve shared a walk.  Please find time to read and share.  You can put the kettle on first, if you like.  I’ll wait.

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Join Drake in the desert?  He always makes such excellent company :

Sand excursion

Or simply gaze at the still, calm water with Irene :

Mirror Reflections

Emma has a good grumble in Mumbles.  Justified, I think :

Walking the Gower Coast; Limeslade and Langland Bays

What has Marsha been up to lately, you might be asking yourself?

Thrill of a Lifetime: How Novice Kayakers Navigate the Mangrove Tunnel of Doom

Feeling intrepid?  Sue leads the way.  Even on holiday, that girl can’t rest!

10 Tips Before Hiking Camelback Mountain, Phoenix

Treat yourself to the sweet scent of rosemary and lavender.  Becky had a wonderful Easter Sunday :

The ‘carpet strollers’ of São Brás de Alportel

A blockbuster of a share next, from Denzil :

The ‘In Bruges’ movie walking tour

No Jude this week, but Victoria does a stirling job on the Cornish coast :

4 Stunning Walks on the North Coast of Cornwall

Let’s finish with a flourish (and an icecream) and go hunting Eastern Water Dragons and penguins, with Karen :

Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf

That’s it for another week.  I think I’ll be back to sharing an English walk next Monday.  My Jo’s Monday walk page will tell you how to join in.  Please do!

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 : 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.