Western Algarve

Jo’s Monday walk : Monte Clerigo

If you saw my last post you’ll know that I spent the previous weekend in Aljezur. Wild, west coast beauty, and quite unlike my own gentle Algarve shoreline. An untamed ocean pounding the cliffs. It can take your breath away- literally, sometimes, as the force of the wind hits you. I could never persuade my husband to live here. For him, warmth trumps beauty. But if I can spend time on these cliffs and beaches I’m in a world of my own. Come with me to the windswept beach of Monte Clerigo….

The weekend hadn’t gone entirely to plan, but then, mine seldom do. Part of life’s rich tapestry, you might say. Because we had just one night available I had selected a hotel close to the beaches, and offering breakfast. The night before departure an email advised me that, thanks to Covid-19, breakfasts were not available in May. A quick look at the map assured me that we would find somewhere to eat not too far away, so off we went! In Tavira the temperatures were hovering around 27C. Not so on the refreshing west coast! Pulling my cotton shirt tight around me, I rounded the corner of the hotel to observe the pretty swimming pool. Waves were rolling across the water, in the icy blast! No idling by the pool with that book, for sure. Supper at the local Mexican restaurant was to have been a spicy compensation. The heat of the jalapenos almost lifted me from my seat, but the burrito, sadly, was cold. Outside people huddled in padded jackets, trying to escape the howling wind. And the last straw? The only dessert available was a chocolate banoffee, and I can’t abide mushy banana. Are you feeling sorry for me yet?

We checked out of the hotel early next morning, under a clear blue sky. The small beachside village of Monte Clerigo was a 5 minute drive, and the day began to look up. The wind still battered us, but I gaped in delight at the expanse of beach that went on, and on… Even I wasn’t foolhardy enough to sit on the outside deck of the beachfront restaurant, but my eyes stayed riveted to the view.

Before too long I was dancing along that beach! Well, more truthfully, heading for shelter, bent double, beneath the cliffs. But with the wind behind me, striding back was a joy. Look at that village, nestled into the hillside! The next task, to climb high above it, to the cliff top.

Steep, uneven steps lead up from the beach, around the back of the pretty village houses, and join with a gravel track. Cars and campervans can drive this stretch and there is even limited off road parking, but after a few minutes you reach the cliff path.

The views sweep away, up and down the coast, breathtaking in their beauty. For a moment you forget the breeze, and then it sucks at your clothing and you fight for balance. Far below, the waves crash. The path is sandy, making your legs feel heavy, sinking unsteadily.

The path twists and turns along the cliff, with every now and then a blue and green striped marker, just to ensure you are still on course. Pockets of tiny blue flowers gaze heavenwards, and a mass of yellow something huddles together, hunkered down against the wind. The fleshy roots of Livingstone daisies beam scarlet against the sand.

The rugged bays stretch ahead and behind, and in places there are strips of boardwalk. Erosion is a constant problem on these cliffs. An old watchtower or abandoned dwelling crumbles silently towards the shore.

We had intended to walk as far as Arrifana Beach, but the buffeting winds and our weary legs brought us to a halt a little short of there, for we still had the return journey to make. Every bit as enticing, the low growing shrubs rolling ahead of us.

But still, I was happy to see the end of the trail, and to collapse into the car, warm from our exertions. Homeward bound, we did stop off at Arrifana, just for a swift peak. A surfer’s bay, it was busy, and the hand rails lined with boards and wet suits. A Sunday lunch spot.

I’d like to dedicate this post to my lovely friend, Marie. She was no walker, but she loved the sight and the sound of the sea. I have to smile, or rather wince, at the memory of one stroll we took together, to catch a breath of sea air. I clumsily jammed a finger in her car door, and the stroll became a sit on the boardwalk, head between my knees. A permanent reminder of Marie, as if I needed one. We spent hours together, watching Rafa pull off yet another French Open, and during lockdown a Saturday night Chinese takeaway at hers was a rare treat. She was a kind and gentle soul, with a strong core. Which she needed for these last weeks have been harrowing. Yesterday evening the call came. Suffering is no more, but a very lovely lady is no longer here to share the laughter and tears.

Marie Teresa Brannan – 3.8.54 – 30.5.21 R.I.P. You will be sorely missed. My love and thoughts are with your family.

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This was a hard post to finish, but thank you all for sharing it with me. As previously announced, I will be taking a break from blogging. It’s long overdue, and the hot summer days will often find me beside a beach. One last share before I go.

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Come and have a look around Melbourne, with Teresa :

Going Around the City

Munsiyari- what does that mean to you? For me it’s a very beautiful place :

A Morning’s walk

And there’s no doubt that Rupali knows beauty when she sees it :

A walk in the garden: chasing colours – blue and green

Woodland, canal, a chirpy robin… Drake has it all, but those cows are watching you!

If not, so be happy

If it’s adventure you’re wanting, Sarah’s your girl!

A walk on Sausage Island: It’s all about the Elephants

As Mel points out, many Australian place names are unappealing, but never let that stop you walking with her :

Dawdling, Daydreaming and Dillydallying at The Drip, Mudgee

A simple walk, in lovely company! Join Manja and Bestia :

New trail

Marsha has been a source of inspiration, and not a little fun, since the day I met her!

#WQWWC #26: Hope we can make it up Thumb Butte Trail

And Rosemay has been a constant friend. Join her in this adventure :

Exploring Denali National Park – Part 1 (Looking out for Bears, Wolves and Lynxes)

Last, but not least, Carol brings you sensational views :

San Francisco Views

Take care of each other, and get out walking when you can. This morning I will be walking with friends, who all knew Marie. Part of the walk will be on the beach, and afterwards we’ll lunch at a restaurant she loved, and raise a glass. As her son said to me last night, ‘remember the good times’.

Jo’s Monday walk : Step back in time in Aljezur

I thought I’d told you about Aljezur? It’s a place that’s indelibly printed on my memory because on my last visit, albeit a good few years ago, my left flipflop disintegrated as I trod the narrow winding streets up to the castle. Now you might say this was my own silly fault for wearing inadequate footwear. To be fair we were heading for a beach, but I never can resist a castle on a hilltop. I’d persuaded my husband to drive up the cobbled hairpin bends so we could have a swift look. He wasn’t best pleased, but there’s a limit to how far you can limp over rough ground. Our visit was curtailed in search of a flipflop shop, so my memories of Aljezur are fleeting. Let’s just say it didn’t make a huge impression.

Roll the clock forward a few years and I’m back. Not going to the castle. Been there, done that! But I can’t help noting a few changes. A new pedestrian bridge over the river, so you no longer have to put your faith in haphazard motorists, and an updated square. But still an overwhelming feeling of stepping back in time. Where else are you going to see a mule pulling a plough, on the very edge of town?

It was hard not to stand and stare at this anachronism, but we crossed over the river on the new bridge. An entwined sculpture looked back at my favourite building, an inviting bottle green and white construction, side by side with the mercaria (market). Now, where to eat? The café Mioto had a trendy vibe, but a very inviting terrace, overlooking the river and the fields beyond. And very nice food too.

Deciding to defer cake till later, we set off on a gentle explore. I had hoped to follow the river out to the sea, but in the heart of town it meandered serenely under the bridges. I gazed a while at the ducks as they disappeared beneath a bridge and popped out again on the other side. They can play this game all day long.

Even here, street art has a role to play, the modern football stadium in stark contrast with the azulejo panel, depicting the town as it once was.

Show me the small Portuguese boy who doesn’t like to kick a football. The older ones love to ride their bikes noisily through town, tooting and waving as they go. Modern day pirates, for back in time their Moroccan ancestors may well have descended on the town, leaving their corsairs anchored in a nearby cove. A little looting and rounding up of villagers to be sold in the slave markets in Algiers. Who would think in so peaceful a place? Yet that castle was built to defend the town from just such events.

Aljezur was badly impacted by the earthquake of 1755, and the Church of Nossa Senhora de Alva was built a little way out of town to form the nucleus of a new population centre. I found that Aljezur had grown on me since that last unfortunate visit. It’s a place I might well come back to, not least because of the nearness of the stunning west coast beaches. But more of that next time.

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I keep meaning to take a break from the blog, but walks keep coming in, and I do have at least one more lovely one to share with you. So, for now, please enjoy these, and I’ll keep you posted.

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Idyllic Dales scenery and sheep! That’s Margaret’s offering :

Another day in the Dales… revisited

Or there’s a fascinating walk with Sarah :

A village built on shells

Who wouldn’t want to walk with Suzanne? She’ll tell you a story or two :

Weekend Walk – The Strand Reserve – Tauranga

Got to love Drake’s sense of humour :

Dusty field

The dry side of the coastline

While Marsha takes us to some beautiful Dutch gardens that aren’t even in Holland :

#LAPC#147: Bellagio Gardens in Las Vegas

Purple Butterflies in the Bellagio Gardens

And Susan joins us with a little poetry, and a variety of cats and dogs :

Hiking Haibun and Haiku

A Stroll in the park with Luce

A scenic walk with Ollie, the Cavalier, Children’s Garden, geese and baby ducklings

Here’s a challenge for you! Zara takes us on a few ups and downs :

South West Coast Path: Minehead to Porlock Weir Coastal Walk

Lady Lee likes to keep busy :

Gardening and cycling

All you could want to know about oaks and pines in Binsar National Park :

A walk in an oak forest

If there’s anything I love it’s a rose garden. You can always find beauty with Rupali :

Rose gardens

Spring is in the air

Anabel finds plenty of interest close to home :

A church walk

And Carol has some wonderful street art to share :

Telling Stories in Pictures

An old friend walks the streets of London (I know, Geoff- not so much of the old! 🙂 )

St. Pancras to Westminster

Not the Troggs, but natural beauty from Irene :

Wild Thing

And Teresa shows us how beautiful black and white can be :

A Walk in Emerald Lake Park

Tiptoeing through the bluebells with Jude seems a good way to end :

A Bluebell Walk

Hope the sun’s shining where you are. That west coast breeze was freezing! Have a great week everyone!

Jo’s Monday walk : From Bay to Beautiful Bay

You’ll be happy to know that I was properly shod for this little expedition.  Relatively speaking, of course!  But then, I wasn’t going to The end of the world.  It’s amazing how far you can actually see, round this wonderful coastline.  The cliffs seem to roll on and on.  Here I’m standing, in the fresh wind I’d been longing for, looking down on Praia do Tonel.  Ahead lies the Sagres promontory.  Behind me, a modest little pottery shop.

The commanding fortress looks out to sea in all directions.  Built in the time of Prince Henry the Navigator, its most distinctive feature is the compass rose, a giant pebble compass, 43 metres in diameter.  Within the fortress, Nossa Senhora de Graca dates from 1579, replacing the original chapel built for Henry in 1459.  He spent much of his later life here, dying in 1460.

The sea sucks greedily at the cliffs, battering its way in on the calmest of days.  It’s a place to be in awe of nature, yet fishermen cast their rods with the nonchalance of familiarity, from the most precarious nooks and crannies in the rock face.

From the solid entrance to the fortress, Rua da Fortaleza gradually dwindles into Sagres, the cobbles culminating in a timeless square, the heart of the community.  My visit coincides with an easing of restrictions related to lockdown and Covid-19.  Caution is in the air and people are sparse, yet there’s a peace and calm to this sun-soaked spot.  It’s not hard to linger here, sheltered from the wind, and indulge and daydream a little.

Reluctantly I move on.  Curving round the cliff tops, views sweep down to Praia da Mareta and across the bay.  The sun is gaining strength as I follow the road past an old school, converted to a café, and a straggle of surf shops, eating establishments and a tiny post office.  The signs are leading me to Praia da Baleeira and the old port.

From here the lookout is to distant Praia do Martinhal.  The bay is protected by the four islets lined up on the horizon.  It’s a bustling port area, temporarily becalmed.  The small cove has tempted just a few to frolic on the sands.

I’m pleasantly tired now, and climb back up the steep cliff, passing the pretty tasca with the incomparable view, to a more modest eatery, where the locals happily pass the time of day.  I try to catch a few scraps of gossip while gazing out across the bay.

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I hope you enjoyed a wander across Sagres.  Even in high summer it’s a place where you need a warm jacket early morning, and certainly when the mist creeps in on an evening.  I’d love to see it with the sea raging and storming those cliffs.  For now I’m content to share a few walks.  Many thanks to all of you who keep them coming.

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Carol has shared some truly spectacular scenery from Australia :

Rain in the Rainforest

Cloud Shapes

A Walk in the Forest

While Marion treads carefully on limestone pavement in Yorkshire :

Malham Cove

And speaking of limestone, Drake introduces us to a rather special one :

Some answers blow in the wind

While, just across the water, we are…

Surrounded by horizons

An early start and a bit of a climb certainly didn’t daunt Albert :

Jerrabomberra Mountain Reserve-Summit Walk

Nor is there any reason to stay at home with local views like this!

A Walk in the Woods – or beating those stay-cation blues!

Walking doesn’t have to be restricted to Mondays.  Whatever suits you, Colline  🙂

A Sunday Stroll

Rupali enjoys taking us out for the day and exploring her beautiful world :

Weekend 101 -Hiking

Finding sanctuary in nature

While Susan finds delight in the simplest of pleasures :

Walking the urban forest

Natalie always manages to keep herself busy, no matter where :

Summer Week 4 :Trillium Park

It’s a long while since I’ve been to Morecambe Bay, and I’m happy to do it in Eunice’s company :

Morecambe promenade – south to north

How about this for a grand finale?  A fabulous post from Sheetal :

The Ultimate Guide to Florence

Rather a lot of shares this week.  Please visit where you can, and apologies for anyone I’ve missed.  I’m temporarily becalmed myself, after a wonderful family visit.  Take care all, and have a good week.

Jo’s Monday walk : The end of the world

What would you expect to find at the End of the World?  Certainly not a gift shop selling exceptional marine sculptures!  But I was very taken with ‘Nemo’ and his friends, even though I’d come all this way to admire a lighthouse and gaze out in the direction of the Americas.  Cabo de Sáo Vicente lies at the south westernmost tip of Portugal, and indeed of Europe, just 6 km around the coast from Sagres.  It’s a spectacular location, the cliffs rising almost vertically from the Atlantic to a height of 75 metres.

Peer hard at the clifftops and you might observe some tiny humans, just to give you some idea of scale.  Not being especially nimble of foot, I usually remain behind the camera on these occasions.  Opening time is at 10.00 and fortunately this seems to coincide with the time at which the sea fog starts to roll back, revealing the stacks in all their beauty.

As you round the bay approaching the lighthouse, your eye is snagged by the Fortaleza de Beliche.  I never can resist a good fortress, and as we were a little early for the lighthouse it made sense to go there first, though not quite sure what we’d find.

More enticing views, and a rugged path down the cliff, but my right flipflop chose this moment to part company with its sole.  Obviously a warning!  Running repairs meant that I could at least slow shuffle as far as the lighthouse.  Still, a 16th century fortress, once under attack by Sir Francis Drake, no less, was a welcome addition to my walk.  Access to the chapel is no longer possible as the site was closed due to erosion in the 1990s.  Seabirds glide around the cliffs and dolphins frolic in the water below.  Here, nature reigns supreme.

The promontory of Cape St. Vincent (Cabo de Sáo Vicente) was regarded as sacred ground as far back as neolithic times.  The Ancient Greeks dedicated a temple here to Heracles, and of course, the Romans were here too.  Naval battles aplenty were fought offshore, but it’s easy to imagine this tranquil place as having magical qualities.  The setting sun hissing into the ocean was once thought to mark the edge of the known world.

The present lighthouse is 24 metres high and was built in 1846 over the ruins of a 16th century Franciscan convent.  It guards one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and is among the most powerful lighthouses in Europe.  Much later we could see it from our hotel in Sagres, as dusk fell.  But it’s time for a much needed coffee stop, a little more artwork and some great entertainment, watching people clamber onto the giant chair for a photo opportunity.  And yes, the coffee and pastries were extortionate, but they were awfully nice.

When we left there was a whole array of takeaway coffee and burger vans setting up in the parking space outside.  Understandable, but, as there was no admission charge on the lighthouse, I didn’t begrudge spending a little in the coffee shop.  If they’d sold flipflops in the gift shop I’d have bought those too.  My one disappointment was not to be able to ascend the lighthouse.

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Sagres was an interesting experience and I loved the sea breezes, but I’m keeping posts minimal for now.  Many thanks for your continued support.  Life remains hot, and busy.  Apologies if I’ve missed anybody from the following round up.  Enjoy!

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Let Drake take you on a voyage of discovery :

Another day in paradise

When waiting turn idyllic

Slow walk

Carol shares the beauty of her native Australia :

A Walk to Remember

Up, Down, Up

And Rupali always shares the gift of love :

Weekend 99: To heal

Midsummer seems so long ago, but you’ll enjoy this offering from Ulli :

Prehistoric Midsummer at Woodhenge

Who doesn’t love poppies?  Margaret’s an early riser :

It’s Worth Going Walking Quite Early…

Janet’s away on holiday, but she left this treasure before departing :

Monday walk… castle walk

And it’s a while since Sandra wrote this.  The blackberries may be ripe now!

Same place, different week

Eunice walks most weekends, in a lovely area, so if you visit her you’ll be spoiled for choice :

Heysham – a walk in three parts

Brinscall to White Coppice walk

I don’t know if you know Aiva, but she does some fabulous walks in Ireland :

A fantastic Walk of the Weekend : the Killaspugbrone Loop Walk in Sligo

And finally, out and about again, Cathy takes us on an irresistible tour of street art :

A mural walk in Washington on a hot July day

Wherever you are, I hope that life is treating you kindly.  It certainly has its ups and downs.