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 :
Somewhere wonderfully exotic from Sarah this week :
A truly exciting walk, and a bit of a challenge from Drake :
A last look at Prague with Teresa – honest! (just joking, hon)
Did you ever see so much lilac? Sharing the joy with Alegria :
While Natalie contributes an armful of beauty too :
Something I would have loved to do. Thanks, Brian, for highlighting this :
Using all of her senses to capture the beauty. Share it with Sheetal :
And talking of beauty, check out these azaleas with Rupali :
I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather forest bathe with than Ann-Christine :
While on the other side of the world, Mel gets cross (not really!)
And Alison takes us to a viewpoint above the Swan River :
Back here in the Algarve, Andrew finds funny faces on a beach :
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.