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 : 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!

walking logo

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.

Jo’s Monday walk : would you believe it?

Happy New Year all! I’m back in the Algarve after an action-packed few days in Leeds, culminating in sitting on the plane waiting for the de-icer to arrive and gazing out at overnight snow. It arrived to bid us farewell! Christmas Day with the family was completely wonderful, but it was still rather nice to come back to sunshine.

One sunny day, before our UK Christmas adventures, a few of us had gone up into the hills near the Odeleite dam. Our plan was to walk the circular PR4 trail, which starts from the village of Odeleite. Just days before that, we had been to the village for a Christmas fair that never actually happened. Preparations had been abandoned midway when restrictions on gatherings were imposed. Imagine our surprise to find that the Nativity scene was now complete, and apparently waiting for us. Presepios appear throughout Portugal in the run up to Christmas, and usually remain until 6th January, the traditional Day of Kings. This one, I think, is a bit special.

The cats seemed fond of it too! There was a whole tribe of creamy coloured ones, regarding me with deep suspicion. So I took the hint and moved along. A steep hill leads down through the village, bypassing the church, until you arrive at the river.

A bridge carries you across, and a rough path leads to the start of the trail. Two trails in fact, as you have the choice of joining the GR15, a long distance route between Alcoutim to the north and Vila Real de S. Antonio in the south, and the much shorter, and circular, PR4. The GR15 runs for a total of 65km, so you should choose wisely.

The path climbs steadily away from the village till you reach a point where you can look back across the valley. We were pleasantly surprised to find water in one of the dips as there had been little rain and the reservoir was low. The trail is easy to follow, though a bit steep in places, and marked by red and yellow stripes on convenient boulders or signposts. Cistus, the rock rose, were already starting to bloom on the hillsides. Few people live in these hills, but the odd characterful residence catches your eye.

Most of the farms have guard dogs but, thankfully, most are chained or behind gates. There’s always a moment of uncertainty when a strange dog comes toward you, barking loudly but wagging its tail. We were untroubled on this particular day, and soon had lovely vistas through a sea of umbrella pines. The sky was full of interesting squiggles, and we were at peace with the world.

When the trail eventually flattened out again we were in a wide plain with a bewildering number of sheep. Light and dark, old and young, mingled unconcernedly together. The little ones were mildly curious, their seniors totally focused on food.

It wasn’t long before we rejoined the river, and followed it along to the weir and a former mill. An ideal picnic spot, we felt.

There are few things I like more than following a river, especially one with sinuous twists and curves. Standing stock still and staring hard into the shadows. Might a kingfisher dart past? Is that a heron amongst the tall reeds? Certainly there are fish, blowing bubbles.

But like all lovely walks, eventually it comes to an end, and we haul ourselves back up the hill, into the village. We have the choice of three restaurants, unusual in such a small place, and all at the top of the hill. We opt for the one we haven’t tried before, O Campones. (Peasants) The indoor space is crowded but a large sun terrace looks out to the reservoir. A couple of tables of workmen scarcely look up from demolishing their platefuls. We ogle the menu greedily. We’ve made a great choice.

The tragedy? The restaurant was closing for the holidays the following day and had sold the last of their desserts. Those dreamy chocolate profiteroles! Something tells me we’ll be back. It’s well worth a 10.4km walk!

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A choice of trails with Maggie and Richard in this wonderful, watery landscape :

Cape Breton & The Cabot Trail

And for those of you who love a snowy adventure, why not join Drake?

Walking and still standing

Sarah does a stunning job of walking us through these palace gardens :

A walk in the gardens of Seville’s Real Alcazar

I’m not the only one who made it to a light show this winter. Follow Jude to the Eden Project for a beautiful spectacle :

Eden Lights

And who should I find in my Reader this morning? Cady’s back, with a bit of sunshine!

Vigeland, the Sculptor’s Park

Hope you all had a great Christmas, and didn’t over indulge at New Year. Alas, I’m a bad example! See you soon!

Jo’s Monday walk : A tale of regeneration

We’ve done a lot of walking lately, and it’s almost become a tradition to say farewell to friends returning to the UK with a walk, and a relaxed, happy meal together. Nothing too taxing this time, for one had recently pulled a hamstring moving furniture! There are miles of boardwalk along the Algarve and, as we all love to be beside the sea, this was the obvious choice. I had already booked the restaurant and arranged our meeting place when the other half came up with a different suggestion. The Parque de Lazer is close by, he said. You could collect those pine cones you’ve been wanting for ages!

Did anyone mind the last minute change of itinerary? There were no dissenters but I had my suspicions. So, armed with a bag for the cones, off we went! As you can see, another idyllic, blue sky, Algarve day.

It proved more interesting than we might have expected. How could I have forgotten already those fires that swept across the Algarve in the summer? We were back in the UK, but worried for friends who lived very close to the conflagration. A change in the direction of the wind and they would have been in grave danger. These woods have a high percentage of eucalyptus trees, which burst into flames and blaze with wild abandon. A very scary sight, and not one you would wish to be too close to.

Great emphasis is laid here on clearing the ground around your house, if you are a country dweller. It pays very great dividends in creating a fire break. As we strolled through the woods we marvelled at the devastation around us, and yet, there was no doubt that nature was fighting back. With a little help, perhaps. A logger was busy disposing of yet another fallen eucalypt.

The more observant of you may have noticed something? A distinct lack of pines! I had been deluded in thinking I was coming here to collect pine cones. It had been that kind of week! But still, the sun was warm and there were many beautiful patterns on the surviving eucalyptus trees, twisted, mangled and blackened though they were.

Impossible to be out of sorts on such a day. Bands of cloud drifted overhead, tangling in the trees. We chatted about the months to come, and when and where we might meet again. Some are moving house. Some have already moved. There are several choices of trail through the park, which is just off the E125, beyond the village of Santa Rita. We followed one that was just a little more than 7 km.

And in no time we were back at the car park, appetite at the ready for lunch. This time I struggled womanfully with the two slices of almond cake that arrived for my dessert. I really could have used a little help, or opted for something a bit lighter. As it was, we had the best of both worlds for we decided a little after dinner stroll on the boardwalk would be a good idea. Lots of smiling, happy faces.

And to add to my happiness, one of our group has since brought me a bag of pine cones. He won’t need them in his new home.

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Pretty lights are good for the soul. If I were in Belgium I wouldn’t miss this show. Thanks for sharing Denzil!

Enjoy a winter walk in Bokrijk

And what a pleasure it would be to join Drake in the Vosges :

Illuminated darkness

Or celebrate with Indra’s grand daughter :

Celebrations

Rupali cooks with love, and some other wonderful ingredients :

Random 51: Celebrating Culture – A Culinary Walk

Teresa does a little reminiscing this week :

Back in Cebu

Memories don’t come more magnificent than these from Sarah. Or wet!

Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders

Vines can look really beautiful in the autumn :

A day trip from Strasbourg: Mittelbergheim

The countdown to Christmas is on, isn’t it? I hope to be walking next week. Take good care of yourselves till then.

Jo’s Monday walk : Santa Barbara de Nexe

The second of our walks with Faro a Andar was not quite so strenuous, but we knew that it involved windmills, and where are they always sited? At the top of a hill, of course! But the sky was blue and smiles broad as we congregated by the village church, in Santa Barbara de Nexe. The size of the group was much reduced and there were no children this time. Was that a bad sign? We hoped not.

Looking around us with interest, for this was not a village we knew much of, we headed away from the church and almost immediately turned right and began to head uphill. A path led out of the village, beside a stone wall. Beyond this we could see Monte Figo rising, whilst in the nearest field a couple were harvesting olives.

There followed an interlude without much chatting. Better to save breath for the climb ahead. Can you see the windmill on the hilltop?

To be fair, the views were beautiful, gentle clouds gliding across the sky and the windmills growing progressively closer. The coast was a distant glitter, and below us even Santa Barbara was beginning to look small. I paused to admire some scarlet flowers and try to peer at the villa hiding behind them, before continuing upwards.

Eventually we reached the windmill of the stars. I imagine it would be beautiful up here on a night. Now, if I was a shepherd or goatherd… Can you see that grey windmill in the distance of the last photo? We expected that we would carry on to that point, but the walk leaders opted to turn back, after a short talk about our surrounds. Perhaps the track was too rough. We might try it ourselves sometime. But we were happy enough to follow an easy route back down the hill, a procession of trees accompanying us. Gurning, mangled olives, full of character and holes. Almond trees, wispily waiting to bloom. A cottage, complete with alfarroba.

And then we were back at the church, passing a house I had serious designs upon. What do you think? Behind a lovely flowering hedge it had a veranda facing out to the far distant sea. Mistakenly I thought it was single storey and very manageable, but approached from the side it was on two levels and the garden was huge. Absolutely not in my price league, and ever practical Michael declared that you’d have to be very fond of church bells.

We had spotted a couple of cafes and thought that we might have a drink together before going our separate ways. Sadly, one was full to the brim and the others closed. No cake today! Instead a look around this quiet but well-heeled village, making notes for a return.

Ending by the cemetery. Wikipedia tells me that the impressive church was constructed over a 12th century chapel, but that human settlement in the area goes back over 30,000 years. I wasn’t able to see inside the church, but found a video celebrating the local Saint’s Day on 4th December, 2019. Unfortunately this year’s concert was cancelled again due to Covid.

In January, Charolas are performed locally to celebrate the new year, by groups of singers accompanied by simple instruments- accordion, castanets, tambourines and triangles. I have to wonder if these will be allowed next year. No New Year fireworks will take place in Faro, or on the bridge at Tavira.

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Saying a very beautiful goodbye to Autumn with Drake :

Just around the corner

While Teresa takes us on a whistlestop museum tour :

Edinburgh to Glasgow and back

A little bit of magic with Alethea, remembering lovely Sue :

A Magical Walk with a dragon, a coyote and a blackbird

A more down to earth kind of magic in the streets of Triana, with Sarah :

A walk in Seville’s picturesque Triana district

Not so far away, Rupali continues a love affair with Barcelona :

The astounding interior of Gaudi’s building

Marsha always finds so much joy in life. It’s quite simply infectious :

FOTD, Fan Of, Monday Walks, Changing Seasons: Remembering Fall

You could do worse than these show-stopping views from Janet!

Monday walk…Mt. Lemmon

The next Faro a Andar walk is scheduled for 19th December, but currently I have no idea whether it will take place. I hope you enjoyed this one. Have fun with your Christmas preparations, and take good care.