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.

In the evening we ate at Tasquina da Ponte, a very local little restaurant with wooden benches and great desserts, right by the bridge. The steps up to São Domingos were atmospherically candlelit, in readiness for the Easter procession.

It all looks so peaceful and calm, but what you can’t see are the rally cars, lined up on our side of the bridge. The closing ceremony for a weekend of racing was taking place, and the cars were revving their powerful engines late into the night. It all made for an Easter to remember, with one more episode still to go.

Another of those places I love to mooch around. Many thanks again, Sarah!

Faro’s old town: sights and impressions

Natalie has a few architectural treasures to share :

Weekday Walk: Exhibition Place

Lavender, or something sweeter? Drake takes us to Grasse in France :

Scents in the nose

I don’t think I ever saw a more magnificent display- thanks so much, Alegria :

Magnolia Alley Niagara Falls- Love at first sight

Teresa had such a good time in this city!

Day 3 in Prague

Last Day in Prague- Part 1

Join Alice for a nice gentle stroll, or sit a while :

Benches on the Halifax River

Say goodbye to Berto and Corna and the beach :

Bye-bye Langebaan (for now)

Listen to the sound of the waves with Mel :

Stretching My Legs in the Booti Booti National Park, Forster NSW

Or be an escape artist with Indra :

A City Escape

You might gather that I was smitten with Amarante. And there’s still another walk to take there, on a disused railway track. Join me next time and we’ll do it together. Meanwhile, have a great week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Bom Jesus do Monte

You remember lovely Rita? Not the meter maid, but the excellent tour guide who showed us around her beautiful city, Braga. When I was deciding where to stay, I thought about being outside the city and staying close by Bom Jesus do Monte. The prospect of waking up there in mornings full of birdsong was very appealing. But I wanted very much to watch a couple of the Easter processions, and returning to Bom Jesus late in the evening might not have been so desirable. And so we stayed close by the cathedral, and saved the Sanctuary for our last day in the city. And this is where Rita comes into the picture. She suggested that we might take a very pleasant walk along the river, following the signs for Bom Jesus, approximately 5 kilometres away. Sounds like the sort of thing Restlessjo would enjoy? Absolutely! For now we’ll ignore the fact that the Sanctuary stands on the summit of a very high hill.

There was very convenient parking for the car beside the river Este. What could be better? A whole different and beautifully relaxed outlook on a busy city. We crossed and recrossed the river, enjoying the reflections in the water and our ever changing surrounds. A tiny chapel with beautiful doors and a froth of ferns inside. Homes for stray cats. Allotment gardens, street art and azulejo panels.

It’s not very wide but the Este gurgles along happily, irrespective of football heroes adorning the walls and willows dangling in the water. The university campus accounts for the many sports activities on display, and we are regularly passed by joggers and cyclists.

A cluster of bright irises catch the light, and picnic benches loiter in the shade. We part company with the river and its clear signage, and wonder which way next. But there is only one way it seems. Upwards, following the road. Bus stops antagonise, with never a trace of a bus. We wouldn’t! Would we? Well, perhaps, if one just happened to roll to a standstill beside us… but temptation is never presented. I encourage the other half with the thought that a funicular can carry us those last crucial metres. And so it does!

And we look down on this amazing panorama of the city, spread before us. Surely we didn’t walk all that way? I am enchanted with the dark red camellia that blossom everywhere, and the magnificent swathe of wisteria. I had not expected that Spring would be so colourful in the north of Portugal.

The statues seem to point the way to the church and before it gets too busy we decide to venture inside. It is very beautiful, and the altar is like nothing I have ever seen, full of figures accompanying Jesus.

Out into the sunshine again, the gardens are equally dazzling, with grottoes, pools and beautifully trimmed parterres. We wander amongst them for a while, and then are drawn to a terrace with views down over the garden.

An icecream, gazing out over the city, prepares us for the journey back down. The more conventional way, via the steps. Commissioned in 1723, it took 60 years to complete the stairway at Bom Jesus do Monte. It is a pilgrimage site, Golgotha of Jerusalem on a grand Baroque scale. Each of the stairway landings has a fountain- the first symbolising the wounds of Christ, the next five, the senses, and the final three, the virtues. At each corner, chapels contain larger than life wooden tableaux of the life of Christ, leading finally to the Crucifiction at the altar of the church. Neoclassical in style, this was constructed between 1784 and1857 by architect Carlos Amarante.

It’s an impressive piece of work and we take our time, and then descend steadily through the wooded slopes.

He’s smiling, but we were actually quite tired by the time we had retraced our steps back to the city. And we never did see a bus!

Isn’t it strange that this wild extravagance of architecture was recreated years later at Lamego, in the Douro? It was on my itinerary, of course. And we certainly earned the cake.

Starting at home with an appreciative Sarah again this week :

A stroll around Tavira

A lighthouse and a lot of steps kept Teresa out of mischief for a while :

One step at a time

The gentle passage of time, in Paris, with Drake :

Golden evening glow

Terri says it with flowers :

Sunday Stills: Fabulous Seasonal Florals

Rosemay explains a little about the weather patterns in SW Australia :

Djeran Season: Star Swamp Walk and Banksias

At the other end of Australia, Carol instructs us on mangroves :

Beauty at Low Tide

Still in Oz, Mel leads the way!

Kicking up Autumn Leaves at Mt. Tomah Botanic Gardens

You’d have to agree that South Carolina is rather beautiful too. Thanks, Alice!

A Shoreline filled with Wildlife

Yay, Sharon’s ‘bagged’ another Wainwright!

Binsey

Starting where we finished, with Sarah, but the venue’s different :

In the footsteps of the Anasazi: Tsankawi

Where next? Not Lamego, just yet, but to a small town on the Rio Tamega, Amarante. I look forward to showing you around.

Jo’s Monday walk : Óbidos lagoon

What could be better than a sunny walk round a beautiful lagoon, with old friends who are happy to share their joy in a new home? The forecast was for rain, so we felt ourselves truly blessed. Did you see my Saturday post? Óbidos is a lovely little town, but we had been reluctant to believe that our friends would make the move north from their sunny Algarve home. So, when we decided that this was the year to finally witness Easter in Braga, it seemed the perfect stop off on our drive. And what a welcome we received! They had worked hard on the new place and we were their first visitors. We felt very honoured, and they were determined to show us exactly why they had moved.

By pure chance we were staying at Casa de Relogio, the same small hotel in the town walls that we had stayed in 10 years previously, in a grey, cool November. Though we had loved the Medieval Fair on that occasion, the other half had gout and limped painfully around the cobbles. And believe me, those cobbled streets are steep! Looking out on the surrounding countryside, bathed in sunshine, we could hardly believe our luck. We dropped our bags off and went to meet our friends, who whisked us off to the local beach at Foz do Arelho. A lovely spot, we had to agree, but it was Palm Sunday afternoon and it felt like half of Portugal were sharing the promenade with us. There are always compensations, though, and on our return to the hotel we were just in time to witness the Palm Sunday procession pass below us, from the roof terrace, while enjoying a complimentary glass of Ginja!

Fast forward to the following day, a swift shower caught us out but, by the time we’d had coffee, blue was creeping back into the sky. Raincoats at the ready, we set off for the shoreline opposite to Foz no Arelho, the lagoon at Óbidos. Nothing could be further removed from yesterday’s bustling promenade. In the distant past the lagoon is believed to have extended all the way to the town but, nature being prone to rearranging shorelines, today you need to drive there. The lagoon has an approximate area of 6.9 square kilometres and is surrounded by beautiful pine forests.

I seemed to be fixated on the roped fence which kept us from straying from the path, but the lagoon was flat calm and peace itself. We watched in fascination as a couple of divers bobbed to the surface, unsure for what they were fishing- clams, cockles, mussels, shrimp and green crab are all found in these waters, along with octopus and eels.

Rounding the shoreline we came upon a bridge. A few families had joined us by now, getting the youngsters out to burn off energy. Snippets of conversation, mostly in Portuguese, drifted to us through the silence. Nature was all around us, sublime in her beauty.

The lagoon is affected by the tides, a sand bar helping to mitigate the force of the Atlantic, just around the bay. We were hopeful that the restaurant at the end of the trail would be open but, it being a Monday, we were a little unsure. Huge smiles wreathed our faces as we toasted each other and the future, before setting off back around the trail.

A gentle breeze had started to blow and some youngsters were practising their kitesurfing skills in a shallow area of the bay. We watched for a while and chatted to one of them, who assured us it was great fun, if a little tricky at times. The landings certainly didn’t all seem to go to plan.

A family pootled about at the water’s edge as we made our way back to the beginning of the trail. Still fixated on frayed rope. The distance was about 8km there and back, but there are numerous trails through the woods if you wanted to explore further.

We could definitely see the attraction of the area. Can you? Here’s to friendship and many more meet ups.

No place like home, so I simply have to start with Sarah. Such a shame we didn’t meet :

A Spring walk by the sea in Faro

It’s no secret that Drake loves Paris, but his photos of Mont St. Michel are very enticing too!

City spring time

Partly at sea

Teresa definitely has a love affair with Prague. It looks stunning!

Day 2 in Prague

Loving the wildness of Carol’s latest share :

Namesake

While Janet shares the magnificent flowers of the torch cacti :

Monday walk….Here today, gone tomorrow

I really enjoyed a little reminiscence with Anabel, from her lovely part of the world :

Border Break 5: monumental walks

But Rupali was much closer, celebrating Semana Santa in Alicante :

Colours I enjoyed during Easter week

I feel sure I’d enjoy a walk in Suzanne’s company in this beautiful place :

Weekend Walks – 4th Avenue, Tauranga

And I think there’s something special about dogwoods, despite their name. Happy walking, Robin!

A visit with the dogwoods

If you really like a challenge and you’re in Maggie’s part of the world?

Chester Lake – Headwell Lakes Hike including Fortress Summit

I know some of you are going to bemoan the lack of cake! Hilary stuffed us full of her incredible curry, and there was dessert but I was too tired (or inebriated) to take the shot. Have a good week, all, and I’ll be back soon.

Jo’s Monday walk : Fonte de Benemola

This is such a magical time of year in the Algarve. Wild orchid time! Give or take a couple of weeks because it’s not a precise science. Luckily for us we were being led by a lady who’s something of an expert in flora and fauna, and her timing was spot on!

Some days are simply exuberant. The weather had been a little ‘mixed’, but the skies were clearing and heavy rain had guaranteed that the ‘fonte’ would be brimming. And so it was!

Stopping to eye up a rusted pump, I smiled at the shadows created through the single remaining wall of a ruin, before stepping out into bright sunshine. The path was damp and a little slippy in places but so worth the effort. The play of sunlight on the water through dappled shade was almost ethereal. Newly created ‘stepping stones’ give access to the opposite bank.

O Olho – the Eye

A dell fit for fairies, because what came next is purely magical. We had been watching the grass verges in hopes of sighting wild orchids, which thrive in this damp environment, and suddenly they were there in abundance. The bee orchid, quite hard to spot initially, and the naked man, flaunting his finery for all to see. We peered at them from all angles, amazed at the ingenuity of nature.

And then we were on our companionable way, trading reminiscences and memories, yet keeping a watchful eye, greedy for orchids.

The hills rolled away, and in the distance I thought I could see the outline of Rocha da Pena while, close at hand, vivid pink rock cistus lined the trail. Chunks of rock littered the grass, as though forgotten in a giant game of jacks.

No shortage of plants to admire, nestling in the woodland shade. Before we knew it we were back at the parking.

Fonte de Benemola, PR16, is a relatively short 4.5km walking trail, off EM524 between Tor and Querenca. For beauty and variety it’s hard to beat at this time of year. No cake! It’s not easily available in this location, but I do have a rather special share.

Chocolate fudge, anyone? Not my birthday any time soon, but this weekend we paid a visit to a lovely couple, in Obidos. The fudge is one of many memories we shared, from their days in the Algarve.

Prague twinkles like a star at night. You’ll enjoy it with Teresa :

Tour of Imperial Europe

I do love a river! And so does Anabel :

Border Break 4: Tweed and Teviot

Terri’s doing her best to keep us fit. Let’s get walking!

Fitness Friday: Five Popular Ways to Track your #Fitness Progress

Are you ready for Mel’s next adventure? Here goes!

The Great Ocean Walk, Victoria – Day 1

Feel the heat with Sarah, in colourful Costa Rica :

A short (hot} walk around Guiones

The Pyrenees make a fabulous backdrop :

Salty sand walk

Carcassonne! It looks forbidding but it’s always been a dream of mine, Drake :

History turn green

Helen is always so upbeat and cheerful! The English countryside obviously agrees with her, despite the grizzly tale :

Combe Gibbet, Gallows Down & Ham Village

I don’t plan to be around the blog much in the next couple of weeks. I’m fulfilling a long cherished dream to be in Braga at Easter, and to travel a little in the north of Portugal. Take good care till I’m back!

Jo’s Monday walk : above the Guadiana

The river beach at Alcoutim is a pleasant spot to begin and end a walk. Following the path alongside the Guadiana river, a left turn will bring you to the cafe and a few facilities. At this time of year it will be deserted, but in summer, hot and probably noisy. Or you can do as we did recently and walk around the back of town to reach the hills beyond. I had never previously paid attention to this wall. How could I have missed it, the quotes mingled with the life of these parts, told in azulejos?

The view beyond the wall is across to Sanlucar de Guadiana, on the opposite bank of the river, in Spain. Hotel d’Alcoutim sits in a quiet spot, overlooking the river from our side, and behind it a rough path leads upwards. The views down to the river easily take your mind off the climb, especially when the blossom lingers.

On up and around the hill you climb, the grass in sparse clumps, dotted with leggy asphodels and pretty yellow lupins. A ruin bides its time for a new owner, while a cat looks down in none too welcoming fashion.

A last sight of the river before we turn inland, much admiring the large white faces of the rock cistus that thrive in these hills.

Light clouds scud across the sky as we follow the dusty trail. An unexpected pool of water is home to a number of frogs, who leap hastily away at the tread of human foot. Tortured tree limbs arrest the eye.

Until a couple of weeks ago rain had been a scarce commodity. Dry river beds, for me, have an undefinable mystery. Pebbles crunch together with larger stones, worn smooth by the action of water. Striations of shale are beautiful to see. The sun barely crests the top of the hill, its rays spreading gently through the shadows.

Sheep range freely in these hills, but a watchful shepherd will arrive with his gun at the first suggestion of danger to his flock. In such a peaceful landscape it’s a shock when a shot rings out. We are warned never to venture into the hills on Sundays and Thursdays in the hunting season.

Wonderful to see the last of the blossom as we emerge from the valley, heading back towards Alcoutim.

High above the village, the castle that crowns Sanlucar de Guadiana on the far shore is visible in the distance.

The path brings us gently around the village, bypassing a few more sheep, and back to the river beach. And surely it’s time for a little refreshment? Like this very delicious chocolate profiterole cake…

The walk was a little under 9 kms, but if you’re feeling ambitious you could add on a visit to Castelo Velho de Alcoutim. It’s barely a kilometre beyond the village, but in a somewhat upward direction.

Drake has a pretty good idea of what works for me :

Recognisable

Pretty blue harbingers of Spring, beautifully captured by Rupali :

Crocuses aren’t supposed to go unnoticed

Doesn’t Teresa live in a fabulous place?

Being a Tourist in My own City…

A lovely, accessible riverside walk, with Shazza :

Keswick Railway Walk

NiNa discusses the health benefits of walking :

Take that walk!

But Sarah is high above the canopy. What a wonderful world!

Hanging bridges and butterflies

A bit of amazing cave action and rock art with Berto and Corna- a couple new to me, so please say hi!

Hiking at Cederberg Park Kromrivier- 2

And you may not know Kelly. Fancy a workout, anybody?

The Tracy Hill Trail, Red Bay, NFLD

Of course, you know Mel- she’s good at walking and talking, and planning too :

A Wee Wander in the Wilderness, Wellington, Central West NSW

Tackling the Great North Walk – 16 Days walking through the Aussie Bush and ‘Burbs

Alison is a little more relaxed, and I always enjoy a good garden :

Enjoying Essex – Hyde Hall Gardens, Chelmsford

Speaking of gardens, let Margaret take you along to the Valley Gardens on a lovely English Spring day :

Don’t take selfies! Enjoy the flowers!

Next weekend I’ll be back in England, quite briefly. The long awaited house purchase is finally happening and I can’t wait to see my son and his future home. You can be sure I’ll report back. Meanwhile, take good care of yourselves.

Jo’s Monday walk : Praia Verde and beyond

I usually try to vary these walks, but today I’m taking refuge in a happy place. I was smitten with Praia Verde from the very first time I saw it. The approach is through a forest of umbrella pines and, as you crest the top of the hill, you can’t fail to breath a sigh of delight. The pines tumble down the hillside, ending at a deck and smart restaurant. Once it was a more humble, beachfront restaurant with exceptional food. I can’t vouch for it now because I can’t afford the prices. Nor see any good reason to pay them when the money could be so much better spent. But I can still admire that view.

I saunter on down towards the beach, which idles away in both directions as far as the eye can see. Today I’m turning left, heading towards distant Spain. The tide is rolling out, and seabirds far outnumber us humans.

Already there are fishermen, waist deep in the water, fighting the sand to release the shells and molluscs it harbours. I shiver, though the sun is warm. Their bikes lie propped on the beach, forlornly waiting for home. And then, a treat! A rider gently coaxes his horse towards the water, pausing to smile and salute. On firm sand once more, he gallops off into the distance as I gaze after him.

The exuberance of walking on the beach carries me along, until I reach a boardwalk that heads a little way inland. Fondly known as the Chameleon Trail, these pine woods stretch from Monte Gordo all the way to the Guadiana River, the border with Spain. The little creatures are a protected species and you’d have to look very hard to find one.

On the boardwalk at Monte Gordo are a number of restaurants, and wooden benches at intervals. You can bring a picnic if you like, and watch the fishermen at work on their nets.

Finally the boardwalk leaves the beach, returning to the woods, though if you prefer you can continue on along the sands, until you reach Vila Real de S. Antonio at the mouth of the river.

The woods are lovely at this time of year, white broom and prickly pear lapping at the base of the trees. Several paths wind through them, as they wrap around the town. I emerge close to the lighthouse, and from there it’s a short distance to the river that divides Portugal from Spain. Where better to indulge in moist cake, laden with local figs?

For most of this walk I was accompanied by a lovely lady called Denise and her small but happy band of walkers, and I’d like to extend her my thanks for being great company.

Share the beauty of Tuscany with Alegria!

Montefioralle- A Tiny Italian Village Hidden Behind Stone Walls

And Corsica looks incredibly beautiful through Drake’s eyes :

Isolated cosiness

But I’d be very happy to walk with Sarah in Costa Rica too :

On the Pacific coast in Drake Bay

Teresa shares a day out with her daughter :

A Special Place

While Alice takes a walk with her granddaughter on a special day :

Presidents Day Walk

And Terri gives us a little encouragement to stay fit :

Fitness Friday: Five Fixes to save your Workouts

A positive bonanza of walks from Mel! She’s feeling adventurous this year :

Going Bush in the City – Introducing the Great North Walk

Life Out on the Wallaby Track – Learning about the Aussie Swagman

And a blast from the past with Vanessa!

Hiking to the top of Tibidabo Mountain in Barcelona

Janet might be feeling a touch prickly :

Monday walk… Chihuly-less

But Margaret is definitely wallowing!

Her Name was Mud

While Christie is walking in some famous footsteps :

Strolling through Key West: a walking guide to the southernmost city in the continental U.S

Not so easy to be light hearted in these times, is it? Lots of fund raising is going on, among my walking community and elsewhere. Few of us can imagine how it feels to be a displaced person. How lucky are we? Take care, till next time.

Jo’s Monday walk : the Alvor Estuary

By and large there’s plenty of good walking in the Eastern Algarve, but once in a while I like to stray a little further west. The landscape changes significantly, the sands becoming red-gold, backed by ragged cliffs. Between Portimão and Lagos, the Alvor estuary opens gently to the ocean. The Rocha Delicada Trail takes you around the marshland, rich with bird life, and out to the mouth of the river.

Across the estuary figures stoop to dig in the sand and shallow water, collecting shellfish. Back breaking work, but it’s free food. Weekends and evenings whole families come and join in, picnicking on the sands, while their dogs race around in high excitement.

The path follows the river and for a while you are surrounded by water. Rio Alvor joins with Ria de Odiaxere, and together they meander toward the distant ocean. The wetlands are at your back, and tiny figures form silhouettes on the silver shoreline.

It’s pure exhilaration being surrounded by such glorious nature. Leaving the sea to its own pastimes, the trail heads back then, towards the Rocha looming over the bay. An information board suggests what there is to see, if you keep your eyes open. The second half of the walk carries you away from the ocean, through peaceful farmland with horses grazing quietly.

The blossom lingers, as the shoreline recedes. The fields are a vibrant green, farmhouses prosperous or abandoned in equal measure. Dappled shade shields from the warm sun as we complete the circuit back to our start point, Mexilhoeira Grande station.

The station is simply a platform, with no facilities, so we can opt to drive into Mexilhoeira Grande itself, or continue around the bay to Alvor. The riverfront there is a pleasant place to relax, with some interesting metal sculptures by a favourite Algarve artist.

An apple tart with a caramel topping, in case you’re wondering. And the art, the work of Carlos de Oliveira Correia.

8km of mostly level ground. Perfect for a sunny Monday.

Where shall we go first? Let’s accompany Teresa!

Stopover in London

I don’t know the South of France at all, but Drake knows it rather well :

Walk a civilised path

Goat fence for whom

Newer and ancient in harmony

It’s still winter in some parts of the world, as Indra will tell you :

Snow-scapes: Of angels and freezing rivers

And Rupali is no stranger to the white stuff, but Spring is coming :

Enjoying the three states of water

Welcoming Spring

A Cornish winter is a little kinder, isn’t it Jude?

Mousehole : A Winter Walk

Rain is always either desperately needed or not wanted at all. Rainforests, though, are rather special. Let Sarah take you to Costa Rica!

Corcovado: a walk in a rainforest

But it’s sunshine all the way with Sheetal, in mystical India :

Strolling in Sarnath, India

It always gladdens my heart when a post features somewhere close to ‘home’. Thanks for this, Fraggle!

Wynyard Country Park – Sept 2021

It should have been Carnaval in the Algarve this week. No processions were authorised, but we did see some diminutive fairies and butterflies. Children can always find the joy in life, can’t they? Wishing you all a happy March!

Jo’s Monday walk : Pego do Inferno

If you’ve ever seen a promotional video for the Algarve, chances are you’ll have seen the image above. Pego do Inferno, literally Caught in Hell, was high on our list of must see places when we first came here. So famous was it that a boardwalk was built to make access easier. Sadly, fire ravaged the site not too long after completion and the blackened, ruined boardwalk had to be removed for safety. Although I was sad at the time, back in 2012, in retrospect it wasn’t such a bad thing. The setting is rural and peaceful, and coachloads of tourists would do little to enhance the scene. So much better to seek it out for yourself. Which we did, quite recently.

Still smitten by the almond blossom, I was in no great hurry to reach the waterfall. The trees are laden with oranges and the land undulates gently, passing an occasional property with quirky feature like the onion-shaped glass dome. Pego is in the parish of Santo Estêvão, about 7km from Tavira, and formed from the Asseca stream. There has been so little rainfall in recent times that we doubted that the small emerald green lake would still be there. Or whether we would even be able to gain access.

It needed a measure of bravado, or at least a sense of balance, to negotiate the steep path down. But the sound of falling water was unmistakeable, and spurred me on. Hanging on to tree roots and overhanging branches it was possible to edge your way down to the waterfall. Slowly the pool was revealed, with a rope swing suspended over the water.

Yes, you’re quite right! I resisted the challenge of shimmying out along the branch for that photo opportunity. Disappointed? Well, I didn’t have a change of clothes and I’m not the best of swimmers. Oh, yes, and I have an aversion to cold water.

Never mind, I can always charm you with biscuit cake! Oh, and in case you were wondering about the name, legend has it that long ago a wagon accidentally upended into the pool. Neither passengers nor vehicle were ever found. Caught in hell!

The walk is a 7.50km circular, just off the N270, north of Tavira.

walking logo

Terri’s word of the year is ‘walk’. It could be mine too!

Sunday Stills : the Power of the Elements

And we get to walk, and sing along with Yvette!

Walk with Me (Virginia Beach Street Shots) & A-O-K song by Tai Verdes

I missed so much of Ancona! Good thing we have Sarah :

A walk around Ancona’s picturesque old town

I. J.’s off the couch and exploring the architecture of Mumbai. Suits me!

Walking, waking

It’s quite easy to do here too. Drake is in Menton, in the south of France :

Hunting lemons in February

I have to say, I’m a little sorry for Rupali, but she remains cheerful :

A walk in fresh snow

We have some friends who hail from Canvey Island so I was tempted by this one. Great murals, Alison!

Enjoying Essex – Canvey Island – Esplanade

And great water sculptures and architecture from Cady. She loves Oslo and it’s easy to see why :

The Last Walk in Oslo: Tjuvholmen Neighbourhood

That’s it from me! Still super busy and enjoying life. Hope you are, too. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jo’s Monday walk : back to Santa Barbara

It’s blossom time! I can’t remember a year when the almond blossom was more prolific. It dances across the fields and along the gentle ridges of hills. From whitest white to a rosy pink, bitter almonds and sweet. Nowhere is it more lovely than in Santa Barbara de Nexe.

Remember that we walked with Faro a Andar last year? The first walk, up into the hills to Bemposta, the second, high above the village of Santa Barbara to the windmill of the stars. We weren’t sure if the pre-Christmas walk would proceed, but extremely hopeful that these walks for the community would resume this year. And so they have! Remember to check the meeting point before you set out. We foolishly assumed that this walk would start from the same place as last time, by the church in Santa Barbara. Fortunately we were a little early, but bemused to find nobody else there! Consulting the programme we realised that the meet point was actually Junta de Freguesia, at the opposite end of the village. With indecent haste we got there, just in time for a short warm up and brief explanation of where we were going, before we set off. A good sized group, multi racial, men, women and children. We were about to discover the world of water wheels, pumps and irrigation.

We walked out of the village, following a lane that looped back on itself. I started a conversation in my best Portuguese but, as so often happens, the young woman twinkled back at me and broke into fluent English. Of course, I should have asked her to continue in Portuguese, but I was interested to find out a little about her, and happy just to be conversing with a local. Her job was problem solving for foreigners buying property in the Algarve, which explained her ease with language. It was a pleasure to share the morning with her bright, cheerful smile.

The lane curved past a large water wheel and alongside a field rippling with olive trees. A tired old cottage didn’t look like it would take too much effort to bring back to life, but modern villas are a more popular choice in this neighbourhood. It was obvious that half of the purpose of the walk was to show off the luxuriant blossom surrounding the village.

Phones were out in force, taking photo upon photo of these delicate beauties. I hung back for a while to fully appreciate them. The next stop was by a water wheel, where our walk leader enthusiastically turned the handle to release a trickle of water. It was hot in full sun and a few cupped their hands to drink, while a lady explained the function and history of the local wells. We retraced our steps beneath the row of blossom trees, and started to climb towards the windmills.

We passed by an elegant couple of villas, tucked away behind sturdy walls. The views out to the distant coast were lovely.

All of Santa Barbara de Nexe lay spread out below us, the avenue of soft colour we had walked beneath clearly visible. Slowly we descended, in no real hurry to part company with the trees and their luxurious blossom.

Footsteps began to quicken as we re-entered the village, the prospect of a nice lunch not too far away. This circular walk is 8.48km.

Isn’t this the most beautiful season of the year? Yes, we need rain, but it will come when it’s ready. Meanwhile, let’s just enjoy!

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Because she lives ‘Down Under’, Teresa is often the first to contribute a walk, or even two!

The journey continues..

Australia Day Walk

Sarah is so good at capturing people on camera! I know you’ll enjoy this :

Gallery: a stroll through a Kerala village

Drake takes a thoughtful look at the city of Basel :

With colours in the thoughts

You don’t always have to walk far to find beauty. Especially with Margaret’s eye :

A Sunset Walk

Marsha always enjoys life, no matter what the challenge :

PPAC #32: Wickenburg Walk #2

This has to be one of the most enchanting walks I’ve ever been taken on. Many thanks, Alegria!

Walking on the Ocean Floor

While Rupali takes us walking on a rather chilly earth :

Memorable Moments

On a bright English day, Emma embraces the cold :

Hilly 9.5m- 15.5km Coastal Circular: Seven Sisters, Friston Forest and East Dean

The love affair with Chihuly continues. Thanks, Janet!

Monday walk…neon in the neighbourhood

And I kid you not! Cady will wear you out!

A New Day and a New Neighbourhood in Oslo

Riding on a wave of emotion this weekend. I have to congratulate Rafa Nadal for a simply unbelievable achievement. Vamos!

Jo’s Monday walk : Boa viagem!

Everywhere has memories, doesn’t it? I still remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cacela Velha, and the wonder I felt. So when I was thinking of a good walk to say goodbye to some lovely friends, this one came immediately to mind. Walks are memorable for different reasons, and I have to confess that for most of this one my camera stayed idle. I was too busy chatting!

Hilary and Mel have been part of the fabric of our life in Tavira for the longest time. Back in the Striders days, Mel’s long legs would carry him effortlessly up hills, while Hilary strode determinedly alongside. They scorned the Strollers level walks! Call that exercise? But still, friendships flourished between the two groups, and we all were agreed that some distant day we might become Strollers too. In their search for the Algarve idyll, Hilary and Mel moved out of Tavira to the village of Santo Estêvão. Hilary always had vision and enjoyed a project, while Mel was the practical guy with the willing hands to make it happen. ‘He likes to be kept busy’, Hilary would often declare, though Mel wasn’t always so sure. Between them they turned a rather ramshackle cottage into a dream home, weathering all the ups and downs that came along. They are kind hearted people, always quick to lend a hand if one is needed, and famously generous with their hospitality. An invitation to Hilary’s guarantees good company and wonderful food. The lady can cook!

What happened next came as a bit of a surprise. Despite loving peace and quiet in her life- aside from Mel’s hammering in his man cave- Hilary loves the bright lights of Lisbon and Porto, and they are regular concert goers. Couple that with an inability to tolerate the heat of Algarve summers, and it wasn’t long after their home was complete that Hilary started to look elsewhere. The west coast appealed and, after several exploratory journeys north, they settled on the area around Óbidos. With cooling summer breezes, and within striking distance of both Lisbon and Porto, it sits above a beautiful lagoon which, for me, is reminiscent of Cacela Velha. It just remained to find the right property, at an affordable price. Partly we were elated for them when this finally happened. Partly we were sad. But friendships are not so easily broken. We are assured that 3 hours of driving will take us to their new doorstep. And when it’s too chilly up there, they’ll be visiting us!

And so, to the walk! Our start point was the village of Conceição, just off the E125, in the Eastern Algarve. Threading between a few villas, we took a back lane out of the village and headed east. The lane runs parallel with the busy E125 but, for most of its length, feels like a different world. A pretty farmhouse advertises honey for sale and the surrounding fields overflow with orange trees. Purple columbine twines through the hedges and, in January, the almond blossom is already starting to bloom.

Over a level crossing, we continued on gravelled path, with ample shade from the trees. After a while a golf course is visible between them, and before long we are sandwiched between two, both with big ‘keep out’ fences. Not being welcomed in didn’t make them a less pleasant backdrop, but soon we turned right, towards the tiny village of Fábrica. Past a couple of substantial villas, a rough track leads towards the sea, sparkling on the horizon. A steep bank winds down between the houses, into the western end of the village, and the lagoon opens out before you. Conversation forgotten, out comes the camera.

A kiosk sits behind the low stone wall, and often we have nursed a coffee, or a small plastic glass of wine as we gaze across the water. At most times of year a ferry putters across the lagoon to the beach. In high season 2 or 3 compete for custom. Between times the ferrymen mull over the latest news with the kiosk owner. We were disappointed to find him closed on this quiet day, but the empty benches beckoned and a short rest was warranted. The day was warm and still, and natural beauty filled our vision.

Breaking the spell, we left the village, walking along the shoreline. The tide was on the turn, but it’s only a short distance along the water’s edge to the steps that lead up to Cacela Velha. A huge flock of gulls were wheeling around over the boats, moored in the shallow water. We stopped and stared, never having seen so many take to the skies at once.

But then, there was no avoiding those steps. Up and up they go. More often we would do this part of the walk in reverse, so that we descend, but that still leaves a hill to climb. The lanterna is a soft and pretty mix of pink and yellow, climbing beside us. Later in the year, the crimson oleander will outshine it. And it’s always worth the climb.

The Ria Formosa is spread out before you, as far as the eye can see. In the near distance Fábrica juts gently into the water.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked down on this scene, but I’m never disappointed. A quick look at the church and the well, still decorated in its Christmas finery, and then we turned right, out of the village, and headed back in the direction of Conceição. I had an urgent appointment with a chunk of cake.

Overall the walk is about 12km. We had a table booked with Rosalia, in Conceição, for our celebration. She always does us proud and I wasn’t slow to put my hand up for the Chantilly cake. It just remains to wish Mel and Hilary all the luck in the world in their new home. I admire them for making the move. Boa viagem- safe travels! – until we meet again.

To Mel and Hilary!
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Drake has a fondness for Aarhus, from his student days :

Crossing the old trail

I enjoyed Emma’s thoughtful comments on rewilding, as well as her walk :

Knepp Castle loop from Shipley Windmill : 11.3miles or 18km

Love the light in this one from Denzil :

The Royal Walk in the Geographical Arboretum

Teresa loves to share family and friends, always with a smile :

Roadtrip

Nothing wrong with doing simple things

While Rupali makes snow look very beautiful indeed :

Weekend 128: A winter walk (Pre-covid)

And Terri walks us through all the seasons of the year :

Sunday Stills: 2021 In the Rear-View Mirror, Nothing like the Present, the Future is Ours

Like Janet, I absolutely adore Chihuly. Easy to see why!

Monday walk….in a forest of beauty

Sarah shares more of the culture of Kerala, and some wonderful insights :

A walk In Fort Kochi, Kerala

But I can’t resist a canal walk with Ali. Even in the rain!

London Canal Walks – Limehouse Cut

A very different concept, from Lindy :

Walking with Eagles

And finally, don’t miss the glorious colours in this hike with Strafari :

A day trip from Strasbourg: hiking in Le Hohwald

Yesterday we managed another walk with Faro a Andar. Good to support a community based enterprise. I’ll be sharing it with you in 2 weeks time. Take good care, and enjoy life, till then.