Pedralva to Carrapateira – 12.5 km

We woke to the sound of heavy rain partly because the Portuguese don’t seem to bother with gutters. Any rain pours straight off the roof onto the cobbled streets making a lot of noise.

At breakfast, the staff were delighted with the rain and proudly announced that it was raining all over Portugal. The rain’s badly needed as the rivers and land are very dry. We made it clear that we didn’t share their enthusiasm but, on a positive note, we’re growing slightly immune to the pains in our feet and legs.

Our route took us out of Pedralva, along a wide track signposted ‘Carrapateira 10km’. Inntravel like to take more scenic routes and obviously felt an extra 2.5km would be well worth the effort. We considered taking the shorter, more direct route before agreeing we were more likely to get lost.

The path took us along a lush valley, past an organic farm with an unusual feature.

Hopefully you can read the sign encouraging hikers to have a swim. The water was very grey and mucky so we declined the kind offer…..

Soon, we left the nice flat path along the valley for a steep, grassy track covered in cistus. The cistus will look amazing in the spring, today in the rain it was a energy sapping trip hazard.

We wound our way up around the valley with the weather alternating between torrential rain and mildly pleasant.

After we’d survived the challenge of the cistus, we joined a steep wide path which promised a view of the sea at the top. No such luck in today’s weather but we could just about see it as we went over the brow of the next hill. In the distance you can see the beach at Amado where we were aiming to stop for lunch.

By now it was raining very heavily and we were soaked. As we were over halfway we decided to shelter under a tree and treat ourselves to a break of fruit juice and a banana. We heard footsteps and met our first serious walker of the holiday. Helen, from Quebec, was trekking in Europe for 3 months, had started out on 12th January and was expecting to walk 300km in Portugal before heading across to Spain. Interestingly, she said it was much cheaper for her to visit Europe than British Columbia which seems bizarre. We parted company, colder and damper from standing still, and round the next bend were treated to our first glimpse of Carrapateira.

We headed down towards the beach through groves of recently coppiced eucalyptus.

The cloud lifted as we approached the beach and, although the cafe was closed, we found a reasonably dry bench to sit at and have lunch. We passed many camper vans in the car park and although a popular surfing area there was no one out surfing today.

As we headed uphill away from beach and along the cliff, the views opened up and became quite dramatic.

We followed the road round to a restaurant renowned for its fish (It was closed!) and took a path down by some restored fishermen’s storehouses. These were relocated when their original port was destroyed. The huts and quay were rebuilt with an EU grant although there was no sign of any fishermen using them.

Our final few km started with a walk through fields of agave, originally planted to weave rope from.

Followed by the welcome sight of Carrapateira through the mist.

We decided to stop in a small cafe in the square for a coffee, yet again another cafe owner who didn’t seem very impressed at having any customers. She was very grumpy and, despite a ‘No Dogs’ sign on the door, there was a grubby little dog clearly very much at home.

Cost of one bottle of beer, a pot of tea together with a slice of local orange pie was €3 (£2.60).

Suitably refreshed we headed out of town to our hotel, it’s set in a valley about a km outside Carrapateira.

There are a couple of lounges with large comfy sofas, a log fire and we have quite a nice view from our terrace.

The rest of our itinerary includes two circular walks, if the sun shines we may just stay here and read!

Vila do Bispo to Pedralva

Only 15km today, about 5 hours walking.

Breakfast wasn’t served until 8:30 so we had a leisurely start which our legs and feet welcomed.

Our packed lunch was handed over and we decided to travel light. Water was decanted into our water bottles and fruit juice in glass bottles was poured into the empty plastic water bottles! We set out in the rain past this lovely little front porch.

The first stop was in the next village of Raposeira, another essentially Portuguese village and past a field of very scary sheep. Look at those horns and penetrating stares.

The biggest lure of the village was an open cafe. There’s a theme with Portuguese cafe owners, they don’t seem particularly keen to have customers.

We had a tea and coffee, under the watchful eye of the security guard (with mismatched eyes), at the exorbitant cost of €1.50 (£1.30).

We wandered up though Raposeira and out into the valley, past lines of flowering eucalyptus trees. We’re not sure if it’s just the tree for sale…

The tracks today have generally been wider and flatter under foot which has been very welcome although still plenty of uphill climbs.

Our route took us towards a reservoir and the hamlet of Vale do Passo which was abandoned when the valley was flooded.

A flock of sheep and goats kept us company on the walk down to the reservoir.

Lunch was eaten overlooking the reservoir, before heading down the Vale do Passo, through a wooded valley of cork oaks, eucalyptus and cistus. You could certainly smell the eucalyptus in the air. It must be overpowering on really hot days.

The cork oaks started to fascinate us.

We became a bit obsessed with them. The cork can be harvested from the trees every 7-10 years without significant harm.

The bark regrows and provides a renewable resource used in the wine industry (hic), flooring and the centre of cricket balls. As we walked through the valley, we came across trees with numbers on, we assume indicating the year of harvest. At this point someone became bored with spraying 8…

This tree had been harvested earlier and was showing signs of re-growth.

We had a lovely flattish walk along the valley to Pedralva, our home for the night. In fact, today has been a walk of mainly wide paths with fewer hills than the last couple of days.

Pedralva was once a thriving, but poor, hamlet. As tourism boomed in the area, villagers moved away for a better life. A stressed advertising executive decided he needed a change of lifestyle and went into property development. He discovered Pedralva and is slowly tracing owners of properties and bringing the village back to life as an eco friendly complex.

This is our home for the night

The view out of bedroom window

After a short walk we found the cork taken from the trees. Now many corks are made out of plastic, it’s also used to make souvenirs.