Algarve. September 2018
Helen Rose Outdoors
The annual holiday of the walking club this year was to the Algarve. I have been to Lisbon and the area north of it but never to the Algarve. The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is known for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. Along the southern coastline there are whitewashed fishing villages on cliffs overlooking sandy coves. The region’s western Atlantic coast and rugged interior are less developed. We had five walking days and one day in the middle to do our own thing – I went to Lagos that day.
Lagos to Burgau
On the first day we took the bus from our base at a comfortable family hotel in Burgau to Lagos to walk back along the cliffs to Burgau. I really liked the painting of the bus shelter of older ladies. Very colourful, just like our group! The walk was from the centre of Lagos and the paths were good although sometimes precipitous as we were on cliff tops. We visited a light house and continued on to a lovely beach to have lunch. This is a holiday so we have plenty of coffee and refreshment stops at cafes. The weather was warm with some cloud so it was good for walking. We continued towards Praia de Luz and up a hill where there was an obelisk. We finally found the very steep descent path into the town and then it was straight to Burgau where some of the group were anticipating Happy Hour at the Beach Bar.
The walk on this day was intended to be at Monchique but due to the terrible forest fires in August and the devastation caused, the walks were changed to the Silves area. We had a circular walk near Silves at Ilha Do Rosario through orange groves with fig and almond trees alongside irrigation channels similar to the levadas in Madeira. We were walking near Falacho and Vale De Lama and came to the confluence of the Arade and Odelouca Rivers. We had our bus to take us to Silves where we spent the afternoon. The town dates back to Palaeolithic times and in 1189 King Sancho of Portugal conquered the town with the aid of Northern European crusaders. Sancho ordered the fortification of the city and built a castle which is today an important monument of Portuguese heritage.
I was most impressed by how colourful the Algarve was with its Mosaic pavements and even paintings on the Telecom boxes.
On our free day from walking, we took the bus to Lagos and went on a small boat to sail into the caves below the cliffs. It was interesting to see the cliffs from the sea that we had walked along the top of on our first day. There were many kayakers out and on one occasion we turned around a rock and almost collided with a group of kayakers coming towards the boat. The boatman was very skilful in avoiding them. After the boat trip we walked around the old town, seeing the city walls and admiring the tiles on the front of buildings. Lagos is a historic centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery and at one time was the centre of the European slave trade.
One day we travelled to Cabo de Sainte Vicente to see the most south-westerly lighthouse in Europe. According to legend, the name of this cape is linked to the story of a martyred fourth-century Iberian deacon St. Vincent whose body was brought ashore here. I liked the modern metal sculpture dedicated to St. Vincent. We returned to Burgau and started our walk to Salema where I walked along the beach to see the Dinosaur footprints on the rocks. They were first discovered in 1995 on a flat rock at the western end of Salema beach. At the hotel, we had our very own dinosaur descendant in the form of Maria, the seagull, who had a broken wing but was waiting for treatment at the local bird sanctuary which was overwhelmed with victims from the forest fires.
On the last day, the walk was from Vila Do Bispo to the western coast and a beach at Castelejo for lunch. On the way we passed cork oak trees in the nature reserve. Cork is an ancient industry ans Portugal is the largest producer in the world today. On this coastline the ocean breakers are strong and many surfing schools train on the beaches. I tried paddling but the waves were so strong it was difficult to stay upright and bathers tended to have the feet taken from under them by the waves. There was a red flag that day so not many people were in the water. On our beach at Burgau, it was much calmer and many of our group had a daily swim in the sea. We returned to Vila Do Bispo for coffee and ice creams as the weather was hotter than the earlier part of the week. It is a sleepy village but has a lovely church and bougainvillea spills from the houses.
A truly wonderful trip organised by Peter B and all the other committee members. Our walk leaders did a great job and we appreciate it.
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This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary
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