A grey Castelo Branco

The rain finally caught up with us in Castelo Branco, but we’d given it a good run for its money and had been delighted with our weather in Northern Portugal. We were homeward bound and lingered just long enough to visit the gardens of the Episcopal Palace. The skies darkened and we skirted around puddles.

I feel sure that the gardens would have been enhanced by bright blue skies, but still we gazed in curiosity at the rows and rows of statues. Weathered and worn as they are, there is still a formidable army of them.

Angels, saints and sinners, all seem to be represented here. The Palace was built on the order of the Bishop of Guarda in 1596 and served as a winter residence for the bishops of the diocese. The gardens were added in 1725, and remain largely intact, though the invading French army in 1807 are believed to have carried off some of the more valuable bronze and granite pieces as spoils of war.

The white castle in the azulejo panel didn’t look at all white in its distant perch on a hill, and we declined the opportunity to take a closer look as the rain quickened our footsteps. The Bishop’s Palace is now a museum.

It seems a shame to end on such a damp note, but we had obviously overstayed our welcome. Indeed, the car wipers swished most of the long drive home, and even our lovely Algarve was tinged with grey. But what an adventure! Didn’t we have good times?

Braga, with its fabulous Easter processions and Bom Jesus do Monte, lovely Amarante with the river flowing through it, kind, gentle Lamego and its rival Sanctuary to Braga, not quite feeling it in Viseu but loving the heights of the Serra da Estrela and mysterious Monsanto. And let’s not forget little Obidos, where it all began. I hope you enjoyed it. We certainly did.

Jo’s Monday walk : Moody Monsanto

It was early afternoon as we drove towards Monsanto, and the clouds were beginning to gather. There it was, perched on a hill high above us, and we had no idea how far up there we could drive. I wasn’t remotely tempted to leave the car in the designated parking at the bottom, so we sat with a couple of chicken pies, contemplating the options. Actually, we asked some locals if we were allowed to drive further up. The answer was a very pleasing ‘Yes, you can, but if you’d been here yesterday you couldn’t. The village was closed for a festival!’ Timing, it seems, is everything.

So up we drove, as the rocks towered over us, until we found a space we could squeeze into, and then we started to climb. And climb! And climb some more. Initially I was so entranced by the huge boulders and rock formations as not to mind. Claiming to be the most ancient settlement in Portugal, it’s certainly one of the most extraordinary.

The proximity to the Spanish border is all too obvious when you see the cannons positioned on the walls. It doesn’t seem probable that anyone would scale these heights to mount an attack, but Monsanto is located on what was once a major invasion route.

Legend has it that such is the calibre of the villagers that, desperate and faint with hunger from a long ago seige, they killed their last calf, filled its belly with rice and flung it from the ramparts. So impressed were the attackers that they packed up and left. On May 3rd each year, flower baskets are thrown from what remains of the battlements to commemorate the event.

Can you see the castle on the top? We’re barely halfway there.

The houses huddle between giant granite outcrops, tortured by but moulded around the huge grey boulders. We wend our way amongst these oppressive creatures, stopping to peer into the cave that once served as a pigpen.

It’s a relief to have the unrelenting grey broken by a spontaneous burst of colour- flowers, an azulejo panel or a cheerful doorway. I stop to admire some crafted dolls in the window of one of the few shops that I can find.

As we climb higher, we overtake an elderly gent carrying two pails of cement. We exchange greetings, and then stop to chat when we realise that his English is good and he appreciates the opportunity to pause in his labours. He is single-handedly converting an old house, high on the hill. He tells us that the early morning birdsong is worth all his efforts. I can picture him, shrouded in mist in the quiet of the morning in this incredible place. A white cat very pointedly ignores us, obviously prefering birds.

We’ve often thought that villagers in Portugal must have stronger than normal legs. ‘I don’t need to climb up to the castle’, I say, foolishly. But I am following, not leading, and before I know it things are going a little wrong.

We are scrambling up between the rocks and soon the way back down looks more perilous than the way ahead. I duck to squeeze between two monsters, cursing quietly to myself. Just what I need at the end of the day. At this rate the coming rain will overtake us.

And then, just as the legs feel they will give out, we are there. The castle that I didn’t want to see is right in front of me. To add insult to injury, a young family skip towards us, not a bit out of breath from the climb. There must have been an easier route?

Determined not to be impressed, I look around. The most important thing is the way back down. And no, we don’t want to retrace our steps. But the path forks for a much easier route down the hill. How did we manage to miss it, coming up? Suddenly, sunlight floods the valley, and my sense of wonder is restored.

It’s so easy to see the charm in the bright sunshine, but I can’t imagine living here. Perhaps a weekend cottage for that sense of peace, away from it all? We find the perfect specimen and not a tourist in sight.

What a day it has been, traversing the heights of the Serra da Estrela and then Monsanto. The adventure is almost over, but we still have to find our last bed for the night, 50km south in Castelo Branco, and the almost certain promise of cake.

But first, a few walks to share :

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What country would you say this was in? Fortunately, Teresa knows :

Esztergom

It’s strange, sometimes, the places you’ve never been to. But I can usually rely on Sarah to have been there for me :

A visit to Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain

Sharon lives in a beautiful part of the world, but you do have to keep an eye on the cows :

A Walk From Shap

Not so far away from Sharon, please say hello to Cherryl :

A Walk by the Sea: Morecambe

Did you know that Christopher Columbus was born in Calvi? Drake did :

In the mood

I was fooled by this one first time around, but I was in the wrong country!

Gonubie Beach (East London)

I’ll hopefully show you a little of Castela Branco in the week, and maybe do a round up of the trip, for life has moved on a pace or two since then. Wishing you all good times a plenty. See you soon!

Serra da Estrela, Northern Portugal

Perhaps I should explain my reluctance to applaud the city splendours of Viseu. We had booked accommodation for the first half of our trip, around Eastertime, but after that I wanted to keep things fluid. I love the Douro valley and had ambitions to continue on to Barco de Alva at the Spanish border, and en route see the Paleolithic rock art at Vila Nova de Foz Côa. This can only be done by guided tour. You might know Julie Dawn Fox? She had sold me on this UNESCO World Heritage Site and her knowledge is sound. I was also desperate to see something of the Serra da Estrela- the highest mountain range in Portugal. Time for a reality check. I’m often guilty of pushing too hard, and don’t do compromise well. I was offered a route that took us through the Serra and back in the direction of home, with the iconic village, Monsanto, dangled as bait. Just for once, I jumped at the chance.

Out in open countryside I was happy again. Vines galore, rolling hills, white and yellow broom, and a smattering of woodland sent my spirits soaring. As we neared the National Park and the mountains loomed, my husband asked ‘do we go up and over the top?’ I didn’t think so, I answered hesitantly. Wrong! From Seia we followed the road in a series of hairpin bends, higher and higher till my ears were popping. Fortunately he isn’t a nervous driver and doesn’t mind the challenge. It was never boring!

Personally I was beyond excited as we skirted close to the barriers. The rugged scenery was on a monumental scale and I could see for miles. Only a couple of other travelers shared our route and I was able to leap out a time or two to try and capture the grandure. Shivering at the sudden drop in temperature, as the wind blasted across the water.

The rocks had been sculpted into shape by the weather, and leaned precariously against one another for comfort. I huddled in my t-shirt, spellbound in their presence, and then sprinted back to the car. Higher still, we were astonished to see, far above us, an observatory on the heights. Although I had read about the area and knew that, at 1993 metres above sea level, this is the only place that consistently sees snow in Portugal, I was still amazed to see ski lifts dangling.

And drawing closer, to see shards of ice on the floor. This when I had recently left temperatures in the high 20s. The wind cut through me as I raced around, gaping in astonishment. Leaping back into the car I wasn’t surprised that the temperature gauge measured just 6C. I think the experience is what’s known as ‘life affirming’.

As we glided back down the mountain, the sky cleared to a vivid blue. I regarded with envy some of the villas with their far reaching views as we neared the town, Covilha. It looked quite interesting but we still had far to go to reach our final destination that day, the legendary Monsanto. Join me on Monday for a scramble up a hill?

Jo’s Monday walk : Viseu

Can I take you for a walk somewhere I didn’t like, this week? That’s a little unfair to Viseu. We had just come from lovely Lamego, driving through the serra, with lemon gorse and white heather covering the hills. I wasn’t ready for a bustling city. I wanted to stay in that beautiful countryside. But we were heading south towards home, I had heard good things about Viseu, and it seemed a logical choice for a one night stopover. This was, without doubt, the smartest accommodation of our trip, and yet I had a distinct slouch to my step as we set off to explore.

Probably I should have sought out another Rita, like the lovely lady who showed us Braga, but time was short so, armed with a map, we followed our noses. Our receptionist had pointed out ‘must see’ churches but, truthfully, there were churches everywhere and even I can tire of azulejos sometimes. Honestly!

You can read the captions if you open the gallery

Hard not to feel a little reverence when you step out of bright, noisy city streets and glaring sunshine into the peaceful gloom inhabited by these lovingly created works of art.

We wandered through a busy pedetrianised shopping area and out of the other side to Praca da Republica, where a sweeping wall of tile panels and Restaurante Rossio caught my eye. And another church!

It was tulip time and a small army of lady gardeners were giving full attention to the immaculate flower beds.

Looking at the map I observed that the River Pavia flowed through the city. It’s always my instinct to follow water so we headed downhill in search of a riverside walk. It was actually a bit of a disappointment, being more like a canal at the point where we joined it, but it opened out to a more pleasing vista.

And then, something of a surprise, we came upon the tracks of a steeply rising funicular. We hung about hopefully for a while, but no tram materialised. Nothing for it but to climb the hill, back to the city.

If there was a sight in Viseu not to be missed, I knew that it was the Catedral da Santa Maria. Not especially inviting with its dark granite exterior, the approach is across a huge courtyard. Far more attractive, the Igreja da Misericordia which faces it, but the guide book suggests this is not worth looking inside. Timewise, that made sense for us. By contrast the Cathedral offers cloisters lined with battle scenes, and richly knotted vaulted ceilings.

I have to admit, I was impressed. And the jumble of narrow streets behind the cathedral were a pleasant wander too. I could almost have fancied a little genteel shopping.

But it was time to find our way back to the hotel. Himself had a notion that the Parque do Fontelo would bring us quite close, so we headed for leafy green. You could say that what transpired next was the highlight of the day. We were treated to a shrieking, noisy display from an ostentation of peacocks. Yes, really!

It has to be said that I didn’t really dislike Viseu. It just wasn’t my first choice. And now I’m feeling remarkably generous. I can offer you Doce de casa, a few mini chocolate eggs, or even breakfast, courtesy of the hotel. Help yourself!

Time to put my feet up for a while and share a few walks.

Teresa takes us to her much loved and familiar places :

Let us go for a walk

Something I haven’t tried, but I did tell Sarah I don’t like tea… I hardly think it matters :

A walk in a tea plantation

I do like an intrepid yomp with Mel, especially from the comfort of my sofa :

Walking in a Whole New World – The Pipeline Track from Glen Davies to Newnes, Wollemi National Park

Or I could cheat, and hop a train, if Drake will allow it :

In walking distance

Just short of a mountain, these views are superb, Carol :

Up The Hill

Ending, as I always like to, in a garden with Jude. A double dose :

Garden Portrait: The Garden House Part I

Garden Portrait: The Garden House Part II

Come back next week for a high point in our trip? Have a good one!

Jo’s Monday walk : seeking Sanctuary in Lamego

That’s what I call opening with a fanfare of angels. Somewhat battered ones as they’ve been around since the 18th century, when Nossa Senhora dos Remediós was constructed. Standing as it does on a hill overlooking Lamego, at the end of a wide avenue of chestnut trees, and reached by an elaborate azulejo-panelled staircase, I wasn’t sure if this stairway to heaven would disappoint. Modelled on spectacular Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, I thought that it might be inferior. How very wrong I was.

It was a crisp, bright morning when we left our apartment in search of breakfast. Sunny cafe Maia on Largo de Camoes caught our eye and we settled in a corner to watch a flurry of deliveries arriving as Lamego woke up. The torrada is huge so one piece goes a long way, which is fortunate as we had a bit of a climb on our hands.

The motto translates ‘I’ll be whatever you give me that’s love’. Not a bad sentiment to start the day.

As the sign suggests, we were a long way from home, but seldom have I been happier than on that sunny morning. At peace with the world, and the world was certainly peaceful in Lamego. As yet, not a coach trip in sight as we mounted all 611 steps. Plenty of time to stop and stare at the beauty all around.

The thought of ascending on my knees, as the pilgrims do each year, did not occur to me. Starting on the last Thursday in August, the celebrations begin, continuing into mid-September. At 8am on 6th September an image of Our Lady is carried from her church to the Igreja das Chagas. There she stays, in adoration, for two days. On the 8th she is transported back, in a carriage pulled by bulls, and accompanied by children clothed all in white. I would love to see this, and the Battle of Flowers that ensues.

And then we were at the summit, surrounded by statuary and heady camellias, looking down upon the city.

Was it sacrilegious that the final blue panel reminded me of Titania and her fairy court? Certainly magic was at play.

And so to the church itself, with its unexpected Wedgewood blue ceiling, and soft azulejo panels. It was my husband who realised that there was an additional room, with gleaming Madonna.

Satisfied that we had seen all, I remembered that my Rough Guide recommended a stroll back down through Parque dos Remediós, a green and leafy space. A perfect foil to the Baroque extravagance of the church and its surrounds.

We emerged by a huge and beautiful cemetery, which overlooked the whole of the parish.

I know I’ve made this post something of a cliffhanger, but I hope you’ll feel as I do. I was prepared for Bom Jesus do Monte to be stunning, but I had no idea that the Sanctuary at Lamego would be every bit as beautiful and more. I’ll finish in traditional style, with something sweet.

I’m on the last lap of my journey now, but there’s still a surprise or two in store. Join me next time?

But first, a few walks :

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This is a fine place to start. Thanks, Drake!

Middle of nowhere

Wise words from Rupali :

Prefer learning through observation than judging

Teresa visits some wonderful places!

Sightseeing in Vienna

Sarah makes a habit of going to beautiful places too :

A walk along the Corniche in Muttrah

And Alegria makes beautiful videos of the places she visits :

The Carter House, Port Colborne, and Anne of Ingleside

While Carol hunts down some great street art :

Street Art in Townsville

Terri is simply tickled pink!

Sunday Stills Monthly Color Challenge : Tickled #Pink

Have a great week! It’s Santo António’s day here today. I’m sure I can find a procession.

Castle and Cathedral, Lamego

Having made a conscious decision to save sharing the Sanctuary in Lamego for next Monday’s walk, I thought I might tell you about the rest of our day. Our legs were already tired from our morning’s efforts, but we decided to visit the Cathedral, then pause for lunch before our ascent to the castle you see above.

It’s obvious that Lamego was once a very wealthy place. Baroque mansions seem to stand on every corner, though some are now in a poor state of repair. In 1143 it was the site of Portugal’s first Parliament and, sitting on a valuable trade route between east and west of the country, prosperity came from satin and velvet as well as the wine trade. Founded in 1129, the Cathedral is basically a Renaissance structure, with a surviving tower from the 13th century.

The cloisters are a thing of beauty, and I sat for a while in a glittering gold alcove, giving thanks for the life that I have.

We had earned a rest from sightseeing, but we needed to make a choice. Not so easy because many of the cafes and restaurants appeared desperate for customers. Recovery from Covid has hit this part of the world quite hard. Eventually we succumbed to a great double act. A super keen young waitress who proclaimed proudly that she could speak French and Spanish (but no English) and an elderly lady who waved her arms a lot, through a torrent of Portuguese, and piled every delectable thing she could on the counter for our inspection. We hadn’t the heart to say we weren’t really hungry, just needed to sit a while.

But then it was upwards, again.

Entry was through the Porta do Sol, dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Graca (Our Lady of Grace) and we climbed steadily within the castle walls, looking down on rooftops, ramshackle and robust by turn. The steps up the castle keep didn’t accomplish much, but I was happy to smile and wave back.

The ancient stone houses were full of character, but we were disappointed to find that the 13th century cisterna, which had once supplied the town with water, was closed, despite a leaflet with enticing photos and the opening times.

We left by Porta dos Figos, dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Guia (Our Lady of Guidance), glad that the route home was mostly downhill. Later we were to have an encounter with Raposeira, the closest thing to champagne you will find in Portugal. Maybe it was that which made us fluent in the local tongue, but we had a great evening, chatting to some old lads, who may or may not have understood us. But it didn’t really seem to matter. International relations were restored.

Jo’s Monday walk : kindness in Lamego

I really wanted to linger a while in Peso da Regua, spellbound by the scale of the river and the boats, but it was hot and much busier than we remembered. After serene Casa de Mateus, it was a shock to the system. So, after a quick bite to eat and a longing look at the sparkling Douro, we trundled south across the bridge, heading for our next destination, high in the Beira Alta.

The Douro region is all about the grape and vineyards, but we were on a mission of a different kind. I had read of the Sanctuary at Lamego, and was curious to see and compare it with Bom Jesus do Monte.

But first we needed to find our accommodation. You would think that with today’s technology that would be a simple matter. Not so! We parked quite close to where it was indicated on the map, and then succeeded in going round and round in circles, trundling our suitcases over the cobbles. The area was a mix of delightfully archaic and modernised, and we could not at all fathom where Rua da Seara had hidden our apartment. Finally we were approached by an elderly lady, who had watched our progress with amusement. And here we come to the kindness of strangers. Without making us feel like village idiots, she patiently led us in the correct direction. Five minutes later we were delivered into the hands of our host. And how we stared when we stepped through the heavy metal door. It hid a wonderful stone stairway and a beautiful conversion job. Even better, a little treat had been laid out for each of us.

You can imagine, we were impressed. Now, should we defer gratification till we’d been for a stroll around? No, don’t be silly- of course we didn’t! A little fortification never hurts before you go exploring.

We had noticed a tiny chapel at the end of our street and made a note to look inside, but by the time we had put the kettle on and eaten our cakes it was closed. As we peered through the railings a young woman in a car pulled up, and called out to the senhora. ‘You won’t regret it- it’s beautiful’, she cried to us. With a rattle of keys the caretaker pulled back the door. And, though dimly lit, it was!

There wasn’t any doubt but that this was a religious place. The shop windows displayed madonnas and religious texts and I lost count of the number of churches. We smiled at the mannequins and the price tags on some of the ‘fashion’ items from another era. No amount of ‘sales’ were going to clear this stock.

But there was an old world charm to the place, and we liked it a lot. Steeply downhill on Rua Olaria (Pottery Street), we smiled at the cat playing with the ball of wool, and strolled a little beneath the chestnut trees leading to Cathedral Square.

Almost enough excitement for one day, a circuit of the block and the extraordinary range of architecture brought us back to our apartment. Much easier to find second time around.

As dusk descended, we lounged a while before sallying forth for supper. It had been a satisfying day.

And still we had castle, cathedral and Sanctuary to look forward to.

It wouldn’t be Monday without a few walks to share. What an emotional Jubilee weekend it was!

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A walk for all you garden lovers – thanks so much, Susan!

Cooper-Young Annual Garden, 2022, Memphis, Tennessee

A gentle walk in the woods with Teresa :

A Walk in Badger Weir

A city I know pretty well, and Sarah does it justice :

A city walk in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

On the other side of the globe, Mel battles on!

The Great North Walk – Day 2 – Macquarie Park to Hornsby

Nautical connections, from Drake :

Footprints seen from above

Jet enjoys nature in the city :

Seattle’s Green Lake

A heatwave in Toronto? Natalie has the answer :

5 Easy Walks to Cool Off

Riding high on a tide of emotion. The Jubilee and Rafa’s amazing success in Paris. I wish you all a great week!

Casa de Mateus

It’s 10 years since we were last in the Douro region, with limited time and on public transport. The drive from Amarante was glorious. Avoiding the toll roads we swept high into the hills, my ears popping and eyes thrilled at the bright yellow gorse and pink heather that clothed them. Bypassing Vila Real, we sought out the rural beauty that is Casa de Mateus. Though Mateus Rose wine is far from being a favourite, I wanted to see the iconic house and gardens that grace each bottle. They were every bit as splendid as expected.

Our primary interest was the gardens, but a half hour tour of the house was conducted with humour by a personable young man, who obviously enjoyed his job. Chinoiserie and exotic tables and cabinets graced many of the rooms, but it was the richness of colour and carvings of the chestnut wood ceiling that impressed me most.

Outside the sun beamed a welcome, and the carefully trimmed hedges invited us to come and explore. We wandered among the statuary and intricately styled par terres, pausing to admire a ruby red rhododendron in all its glory.

Paths led in several directions, giving a lovely overview of the patterned terraces and out to the countryside beyond. Rosey camellia dotted the trees and, hiding in a nook, we were surprised to come upon a chorus of alpenhorns, filling the woods with sound.

We didn’t tour the vineyards, but contented ourselves with a stroll beneath the blossom. A couple of donkeys were oblivious to the beautiful crops they grazed beside, and to us.

Finally we returned to the front of the grand house, and the mirror lake with its emotive sculpture.

A description of the house and grounds is to be found here, but I thought you might like this video of the gardens. Although it’s in French it has English subtitles.

Onwards to an old friend, Peso da Regua, next and, later that day, lovely Lamego.

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 :

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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.

Jo’s Monday walk : Parque Florestal de Amarante

How about this for an entrance?

There are few things in life more lovely than a walk in nature. Add water to the equation and I’m completey ‘in my element’. Parque Florestal was right on my doorstep in Amarante. Who wouldn’t be tempted? The Saturday morning market lined the riverbank- just a quick peep, for it would likely be gone when we got back. The river is quite wide at this point and is spanned by some stepping stones for the fearless, as the water gushes past them. I was mesmerised by the rush of water but not so brave, or foolish, as I might once have been. We would save a closer look for later, and followed the path into the woodland beside a gently gurgling stream.

Stone benches were heavy with moss, the light through the trees scarcely bright enough to capture them.

Beyond the sound of gushing water, all was peaceful and calm. We had the place almost to ourselves, unless you count a grazing goat in a field blazing with sunlight. But I’m rushing ahead! Let’s enjoy the dappled shade and myriad of wild flowers.

The river flowed quietly beside us. Ahead we could see an overhead bridge, surrounded by forestry, with rocks studding the surface of the water. Beautiful, isn’t it?

And part way along this path, the most wonderful surprise. My only surviving uncle, in Poland, phoned to wish me ‘Happy Easter’! In Polish, of course. He speaks no English and I struggled to remember a few phrases in response. But it really didn’t matter. I was smiling as though he could see me, and he chattered on, as he does. A link to a wonderful time in my life.

Remember that goat? On our way back his owner appeared. I’m not sure if he was pleased to see us or not, but we saw so few people that morning that I smiled and waved anyway. The trail ended at a peaceful wooden deck, with a bench where you could sit and listen to the frogs and, just maybe, spot a river otter.

We retraced our steps along the riverbank to the cascades and the stepping stones, but opted to cross over the bridge and see them from the other side. My balance isn’t up to making the crossing the daring way.