Jo’s Monday walk : to Gatão and back

Once upon a time there was a railway link with Amarante from Livracão, 13km away, on the Douro. I had read that it was a wonderfully scenic route, so when Michael discovered that it had since been turned into a walk and cycle track, well, you know where we were headed, don’t you? Perhaps not the whole trail, but certainly a good part of it. Easter Sunday, and it was another lovely morning. I had thought that we might watch the procession first, but all was quiet in the town and the other half wanted to get going. Reluctantly, I trooped after him.

The town was mostly asleep or dozing as we made our way past silent shops. A chocolate bunny or two winked at me from shop windows, but I determinedly carried on. A tired old railway station and a turning circle marked the beginning of the trail. Not the most auspicious start, but a tunnel provided some diverting artwork, and soon we were out among green fields strewn with poppies.

And then the fun began. As we walked we could hear music in the distance, cheers and shouts of laughter, and the sound of fireworks exploding in broad daylight. To our enormous surprise, up through the woods, one by one, came a band carrying their instruments, spilling out onto the path before us. They were obviously on their way to join the procession, and acknowledged us with polite ‘bom dia’s’. I hovered with my camera, desperate to take a photo or two, but not wanting to give offence. I was so pleased when a gentleman carrying a cross turned towards me and offered to pose.

We were invited to join them, but continued on our way, laughing quietly to ourselves. I hadn’t missed the procession after all. Shortly afterwards a sign suggested that we stop, look and listen, but I was fairly confident that no trains were heading our way. The trail became increasingly interesting as we got further out of town.

We passed deep gullies filled with tall pines, open expanses brimful of vines, old stone oast houses, all manner of rock formations, wildflowers, and tame ones in the gardens of lovely villas. Few people were about on this sleepy Sunday morning.

Rounding a bend we found ourselves looking down the tunnel of Gatão, a gloomy space which we hastened through.

Soon after that we came upon the pretty, but disused, railway station. Time to rest our legs on a bench and plan the return route.

But not before we’d taken a peep at the village, which lay just beyond the station. The church, with its fine belfry, looked out across the valley. And the nicest thing- beside the church, a beautiful garden, dotted with irises and, in pride of place, an Easter egg tree.

Isn’t it lovely? It had become quite hot already, and we would have been happy to stop at a good looking restaurant on the edge of the village, but they were all set up for an Easter family lunch. Not wanting to retrace our steps, the alternative was a bit of a steep slog uphill, with frequent pauses to admire the views across to the Serra da Marão.

We followed the road back into Amarante, enjoying the gardens along the way. White wisteria and delicate, pink and white cornus were a delight. Slowly heading down, past the cemetery, we started to wonder if we might find a riverside restaurant open. We were in luck, for the little cafe beside the market had a table right beside the Tâmega.

At 3 o’clock the church bells began to ring and a whole series of fireworks went off. They had been popping and banging whenever we were in earshot throughout the day. I answered numerous messages, sitting by the river, and was mindful of my friends experiencing a lovely Algarve Easter for the first time. It had been quite a special Easter for me too, and the holiday was far from over.

Fruit in port wine, and the cutest Easter bunny, rounded the weekend off.

I seem to have loads of walks to share, so I’m posting weekly again for a while :

………………………………………………………………………….

Starting us off with 5 beautiful walks! Anabel is spoiling us :

Our Glencoe walks

Somewhere wonderfully exotic from Sarah this week :

Wat Phou: walking in the footsteps of the king

A truly exciting walk, and a bit of a challenge from Drake :

Narrow walk on the gorge

Ups and downs

A last look at Prague with Teresa – honest! (just joking, hon)

Last Day in Prague (Part 2)

Did you ever see so much lilac? Sharing the joy with Alegria :

Centennial Lilac Garden, Niagara Falls

While Natalie contributes an armful of beauty too :

Sakuras and Fleurs de Villes 2022

Something I would have loved to do. Thanks, Brian, for highlighting this :

A Really Long Walk

Using all of her senses to capture the beauty. Share it with Sheetal :

All the Little Things, Bright and Beautiful

And talking of beauty, check out these azaleas with Rupali :

What’s better than a sunny Saturday?

I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather forest bathe with than Ann-Christine :

Thursday Thoughts – Hiking Stenshuvud

While on the other side of the world, Mel gets cross (not really!)

The Great North Walk – Day 1 -Sydney CBD to Macquarie Park

And Alison takes us to a viewpoint above the Swan River :

Sunset Heritage Precinct, Dalkeith, Western Australia

Back here in the Algarve, Andrew finds funny faces on a beach :

The Algarve – A Stroll Along Praia da Falesia

This wasn’t as pretty a walk as the last, but I hope it demonstrates that Amarante has plenty to offer. Over the Douro next, and a name you might recognise- Mateus Rose. Have a great week everyone, and happy Jubilee celebrations in the UK!

P.S. It’s a year today since my lovely friend, Marie, died. I’ll be out walking and lunching in her memory.

78 thoughts on “Jo’s Monday walk : to Gatão and back

  1. What a pretty walk, and how nice you got a glimpse of the Easter procession quite by accident! What fun that you got the special pose. And, as a special treat, you found the cafe by the river. Sounds like the perfect Easter. 🙂

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  3. Wide open spaces to walk and a slice of culture in between, and a lovely lunch to sit back and chat about your walk. Perfect Easter break away. I do love your Portugal walks. Not a tad envious at all 😉

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  4. This walk really, really makes me want to visit Portugal and get a taste of village (and in-between village) life. I find it all enchanting – the fireworks, the procession you just happened on (!!), the wildflowers, the railroad station – all of it!

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  5. You really did experience the best of it all, Jo. The beauty of the walk and catching a glimpse of the procession participants as well. It was really delightful to see the photo of the one gentleman happy to pose for you. You have some incredibly lovely places to walk, and this was very special. I can let my imagination take flight and picture the old railway in its hey day with many local visitors bustling about!

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  6. It wasn’t just meeting the musicians, it was where you met them! In the woods – what a photo opportunity. What’s not to find enchanting in that and my, doesn’t the man with the Crucifix look dapper in his. A beautiful walk, Jo, although exhausting. Oh for the day …. I speak for myself, of course. I shall be in your part of the woods next week, 3 nights at the Hotel Pousada Palacio de Queluz, 2 nights in Hotel Pousada de Viseu, and 2 in Hotel Pousada Mosteiro de Amares. I’ve never done anything like this before so it will be quite an experience. There are a lot of excursions laid on, wine tastings, walks, etc. but I’m not sure what I shall be able to cope with. First day is a walking tour of Lisbon. I may have to opt out of that as I’m not sure how my legs will stand up to it, but we’ll see. I’m travelling with a friend and she won’t mind if I choose to spend some time just resting and reading. I’ll keep you posted!

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  9. An Easter egg tree! I didn’t know it existed so this has been my discovery of the day, Jo. No wonder I look forward to your walks, you make it fun and informative.
    Also thank you for the shout out. Much appreciate it.

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    • I have seen a couple of Easter egg trees this year, Sheetal, but they’re always a lovely surprise, and this one was in the most beautiful spot. So peaceful, that valley! I loved it. Thanks so much for your company.

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  10. Oh my, Jo, this is the most scenic walk I’ve ever seen! I’ve never seen a winking chocolate bunny flirting with me as I walked by! How cute! And the band members’ capes. What serendipity. The water, reflections, bridges. The entire post is stunning, Jo.

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    • I thought it might be a boring walk, Maggie, as we were partly in a railway cutting, but it turned out to be anything but. I ended the day with a huge smile on my face.

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  12. I’m glad you got your reward for pressing on. So many things to make me smile here, including the Easter egg tree, the dogwood and the girl with the human-sized rabbit!

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  13. A lovely walk with a lot of variety Jo. I love that you discovered the band in the woods, the tiles on the wall at the old station are really pretty and I love the colouful Easter egg tree 🙂

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  14. Another lovely walk – love the sight of the colourful poppies. And what a surprise to find a band in the woods (your very own procession)! Ah, and love the tile work along the way (and of course, the Easter egg tree).
    When you mentioned the chocolate bunnies at the beginning of your trail, I thought that it might have been a good reason to hang on for a while until the shop opens 😊 … happy to see a photo of that at the end of your post!

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  15. What a gorgeous walk Jo and made all the more special because of the surprises. It’s great when things go to plan and you find the restaurant right where you need it. Those flowers are gorgeous too and the old station is just so quaint

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  16. Oh thank you for taking us on this walk Jo. That’s what I miss here in Singapore – processions during Good Friday and Easter. We have those in the Philippines but I seldom visit during the Holy Week. Anyway, those flowers are really pretty.

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  17. This is a lovely walk, Jo. We have many rail trails here too, converted to walking and cycling tracks. It’s a great way to repurpose the spaces. It must have been fun for you to see that band coming towards you.

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