Via Algarviana

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.