Jo’s Monday walk : Levadas da Ilha do Rosario

Hark back to my birthday weekend in Silves. Remember it? I found a levada, and lost the amethyst from my engagement ring. Not much of a swap, really. I’m still waiting for the stone to be replaced, but hopefully it soon will be. On that bright morning I had no idea that disaster might befall. Many years previously we had followed a route just outside Silves, which we thought to be this levada walk. With no clear signage and not a whole lot of levada, we were never quite sure if we’d got it right. Here was our chance to try again, but with the benefit of Wikilocs and Google maps.

We drove out of Silves on the N124 and parked by the Mira Rio restaurant, just 5km out of town. A lightbulb moment- we’ve been here before! We decided to do the walk in the reverse direction of our previous attempt, and this would at least guarantee us a stretch of the Rio Arade to walk beside. Triumph! Not only did we find the levada and the magnificent tidal river, but we managed to follow it for quite some distance.

With the sun glittering on the water it’s hard not to relax and savour the unspoilt countryside that surrounds you. Gentle hills rise from the river banks, but the walk is level, following the sinuous curves of the levada. After a hot summer there was little water to be seen, but the deep channels testify to the years of patient irrigation that keep this valley green.

It came as a bit of a surprise to cross a narrow road where, hidden among the trees, stood a rather grand building with a turret. Hardly a humble levada keeper’s abode. Back on the path, the valley spreads out before you, tall grasses tantalising in the whispered breeze.

Tucked into yet another curve of the river, a tiny marina dozes, with Silves sitting serenely on the horizon. At this point the levada parts company with the river and heads inland. We marvel at a muster of storks, circling above the river, before we too turn inland. We pass a few homesteads, alerting a dog or two. At one the owner comes out and gives us a nod, but mostly we are disregarded. Of no relevance in this wide landscape.

We follow a gravel path and then, to our alarm, a gate appears before us, firmly closed. We look at each other, dismayed. Where did we go wrong? Without a great deal of conviction I turn the knob. A satisfying click and the latch opens. It’s never fun to have to retrace your steps. We step through and close the gate behind us, and continue up the lane unhindered.

Soon we have the choice to continue on to the N124 and follow it back to the car, or mount a hill for views over the valley and back down the other side. It’s a no brainer, isn’t it? Sure enough we are rewarded with the high rise of Portimao in the far distance, while below us the river flows. At a cluster of houses a lady smiles softly at us, and we gesture and exclaim at how beautiful it all is. And descend slowly to rejoin the levada at our start point. Where, surely it’s time for cake?

The total walk is a little over 7 kilometers. I found this very tranquil video of the walk, with rather more water in the levadas, orange after recent rains, matching the ochre soil here. Thanks for keeping me company.

A good friend plans to take this walk next Spring, so I’m leaving her a link to Wikilocs here. Exactly which walk we did long ago remains a mystery, but we started and ended at the same point, this time with a great feeling of satisfaction.

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Aggie made me want to share her post, written from the heart :

A walk to remember

And I simply had to share these glorious views from Italy!

Liguria: A Fabulous Hike to Monte Grande Mountain Top

Denzil demonstrates what a beautiful place Belgium is for walking :

Gendron-Furfooz-Celles 18km Hike

And Drake wanders in Pere-Lachaise cemetery :

At the end

While Margaret takes me back ‘home’ :

A morning walk with the rangers at Studley Royal

And Teresa treats me to a fabulous tour of the Scottish Highlands :

The Scottish Highlands

Sarah is delighted to be traveling again. Seville was a good place to start :

The bliss of returning to the air

And Rupali takes up the theme in Oslo’s pretty Christmas streets, and beyond :

Blissful Travel – Getting back to Normal – Part1

Blissful Travel – Part 2 – Barcelona

Always a delight to wander with Jude. These gardens are simply fabulous!

Garden Portrait: The Bishop’s Palace Gardens, Wells

I seem to be back in the Jo’s Monday walk groove, but there are no guarantees. Join me whenever you like. Take care till then!

Silves : storks galore, and other stories!

So, how was the birthday? A day of sunshine and smiles. Silves was as beautiful by night as I had anticipated. Earlier that day I had gone walking with friends, in the hills high above the Guadiana at the Spanish border. After a toastie and glass of wine down by the river, we said our farewells and drove to Silves, an hour and a half away. In total contrast, this town is situated in a tidal plain, on the River Arade. Our hotel was chosen because it looked directly across at the lovely red castle on the hill.

Scarcely had we left the hotel car park than we were admiring storks, perched precarioulsy in none too sturdy trees. With complete abandon, these creatures build their nests wherever they choose, and return to them year on year. We had seen few of late, in and around Tavira, and were happy to find them congregating here.

As we walked around the town, stretching our legs, we found more and more of them. The family high on the metal canisters seemed determined to stay, despite the best efforts of a bulldozer clearing the building site below. ‘Derelict is best’ must be the motto of one pair, whose pals seemed to have abandoned nests and hope, for another, better year?

But proudly, in the centre of town, a longstanding chimney plays the genial host. Having exerted ourselves in the morning we felt due a rest, and had arranged to talk to our son, who is slowly recovering from Covid. Whose idea was it to walk to the windmill on the outskirts of town? Don’t look at me! Restless doesn’t always have to be taken literally.

It was quite decrepit too, when we got there, but along the way we managed to talk to James. Cooped up, but coping. I felt much better for talking to him. By the time we’d made the ascent evening was starting to fall. Wearily back in town, we sat a while, admiring the rosy hues glinting off the pink tiled building. Time to make our way through the dusk, to our hotel and the pleasures of evening.

Which included a wonderful tiramisu. Next day dawned bright and beautiful and after breakfast we completed a levada walk before returning to Silves, just to sit in the sun. It wouldn’t be Silves without a bit more street art, would it?

All in all a highly satisfactory weekend, until we came to sit for one last glass of wine before heading home. As my gaze fell on my ring finger I realised that the amethyst in the middle of my engagement ring was no longer there. A gaping hole looked back at me. Of course, I retraced my steps as far as I was able, but without much hope.

I guess a trip to the jeweller’s is on the cards this week. Thank you for all your good wishes, and for always being such good company. See you again soon!

Jo’s Monday walk : street art and a little wine

Isn’t this the most striking image? And absolutely not where I expected to find it. When my youngsters visit, I always try to find something a bit special to do. So it was that we were walking through Silves, en route to a wine tasting. It’s a favourite town of mine and I do enjoy a stroll through the narrow streets, looking out for any painted electricity box that I might have missed. I found a few!

It’s a beautiful setting, with fountains below and dramatic castle perched up high. And my daughter was heard to say ‘Ooh, look! This blue building matches my hair’. She wasn’t wrong!

We had decided that it was a good idea to have a substantial meal before embarking upon a wine tasting, and I had found just the place. O Porco Goloso, or The Pig Gourmet, almost shouted at us as we drove past it into town, and my daughter was highly amused by the name. It proved a great choice, both for the food and the welcome. So much so that I’m going back there for my birthday, on Friday. But that’s another story! And so, to the wine tasting….

We had been to the area tasting wine previously, and knew that the terroir produced good wines. Looking for something a little different, I chanced upon Convento do Paraiso. Boating up the Rio Arade a couple of years ago, we had gazed at the surrounding vineyards and wondered who lived behind the walls of the gated properties. We were about to find out.

That’s Silves in the background

Not sure if we could walk up the lane to the vineyard, we collected the car and crossed over Ponte Romana, turning right and staying close to the river. When we reached the forbidding gates there was no obvious means of entry, so we carried on around the side of the property. Newer gates didn’t encourage entry either, so I gave up and phoned for help. Vanessa answered cheerfully and within minutes drove up and let us in. The tour began, right there among the vines. It was a hot day for October, with just a trace of breeze. The harvest had been completed back in August, but Vanessa encouraged us to trawl the vines, looking for tasty specimens. With a little effort we found, tasted and pronounced our verdict. And then back into the car to escape the heat, down at the wine cellar.

The current owners of Quinta de Mata-Mouros, as the farm was known, are Vasco Pereira Coutinho and his family. The building was formerly a convent, dating from the 12th century, and there would have been some vines there even in those times. However, in 2012, Coutinho joined forces with the Soares family and they set about developing fine wines, using traditional processes but combining them with modern technology. The results are very fine indeed.

We tasted both the still fermenting wine and a selection from the red, white and rose available. The surroundings were beautiful, and our young hostess couldn’t have been kinder. We chatted for quite some time, and established that she was new to the wine trade but keen to learn, and enjoying every moment. That much was very evident. There are already plans for accommodation in the grounds, and in time this will be a wedding venue. I’ll be back to see how it develops. Meanwhile, I really can’t leave you again without cake.

How did he describe it? A kind of zabaglione cake? Anyway, it was delicious. And my husband always likes a good apple pie.

That’s it till next time! Have a great week!

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Always nice to be introduced to someone who appreciates our beautiful world. Please say hello to Malcolm :

Mousehole

Whoever said ‘Paris is always a good idea’ wasn’t wrong. Let’s share it with Teresa :

A Day in Paris

Sarah turns up another interesting place to wander. Not what you might think!

A stroll around Las Vegas

And somewhere you might be more familiar with?

Gallery: a walk along Brighton’s prom and pier

Who doesn’t enjoy a nose around a food market? Certainly not I. J., but it was hot!

The municipal food market in Bhuj

I didn’t mind puffing and panting up the hillside after Suzanne. Love the views :

A Stroll – Maungawhau/Mt Eden

But it was restful in the gardens with Ju-Lyn, and the sound of tumbling water :

Beautiful rocks

A problem for Rupali, even though her surrounds are beautiful :

Getting back to routine after vacation

Meanwhile Drake is always in search of adventure :

Downstairs

Some parts of Australia are incredibly beautiful, don’t you think? Thanks, Rosemay!

Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks- William Bay National Park, Denmark

No more visitors on the horizon, but life is still very busy. I’m planning to post a fortnightly walk, and still have lots of stories to share. Take good care of yourselves till then!

Monday Mural