8. Vila Nova de Milfontes – Almograve – Zambujeira do Mar
We hired a car.
My leg is getting better but there is still sign of infection. I have at least another two days at the clinic and certainly no walking or swimming until after my Monday appointment at the earliest.
We’ve booked all of our accommodation already so it does make sense to amble along in the car. The added bonus of this option is that we still see some of the people we’ve met already.
Last night we walked back down to a little sandwicheiria that served quiche and salad and oh it was nice! Just up from the old castle… well worth a visit for spinach and cheese quiche. Gerry opted for mini chicken pies and almost caused a cultural faux pas by ordering just one! Ever the gentleman he quickly apologised and ordered two. But no matter the food here is scrumptious and the service very jolly.
We ate and watched nervously as Euro Milhoes played out on TV… nervous because the first number was one of ours and we hadn’t bought a ticket… we needn’t have worried.
As we ate a pretty little cat and a charming old dog came by to say hello. The dog looked up at Gerry and proceeded to beg for his supper… he was so cute you just couldn’t refuse. The doggie left with pie and the cat had a neck rub.
This morning we collected the car, kept my clinic appointment and drove off on our new adventure. Driving out of Vila Nova we saw a couple of walkers following the path out of town, across the estuary bridge and back along the coast. The guide says this is a busy road and it also looked very hot. There is another option of bypassing this bit of road walking and taking the ferry across the water. The cost is 5€ each and we reckon it would save maybe 3km of not great walking … guess which way we were planning to take!?
But that wasn’t a choice we needed to make now; we had the car. I’m driving as Gerry didn’t bring his driving license. I usually don’t bring mine and it was a very last minute, spur of the moment addition… but I’m very glad I have it. We also worried that, as we don’t carry a credit card when walking, the hire company might say no. Gerry wondered if they would insist on a credit card only but there was no problem with our debit card. We have a VW Up. It’s quite small but perfect for me. We dropped the packs in the boot(or should I say pack… it really is quite a small boot so the other pack is on the back seat) and we headed off to the beach on the other side of the estuary.
As we sat with our cold drinks a couple of familiar faces from Porto Covo walked by… it’s really nice to start seeing the new friends we’ve made along the path. We say hello and chatted before wandering back along the sea shore and to the car.
This time we went in search of Almograve. The beach is at the end of the little town, beyond the sand dunes. We parked the car and went exploring. We could easily pick up the trail markers and walk along the coastal path. There are also paths down to the beaches and coves but they are either steep or have lots of steps and my knee doesn’t like either so we stick to the easiest paths… it’s still stunning though no matter where you walk.
Next we follow an old potholed road, just in from the coast. On either side there are fields and it honestly looked like they are growing lawns… surely not? There was also some kind of plant nursery with row after neat row of flowering shrubs… and even a baby eucalyptus tree farm. We drove by a group of workers planting by hand and we decided that it must be very hard work farming in this environment. The soil is like sand and you can taste the salty air… and everywhere is so arid from the hot sun. As beautiful as it is, farming wouldn’t be my choice… but crikey I respected the folks that worked this land.
We drove on to the lighthouse at Cape Sardao. The guide says this area is a nesting site for over twenty species of bird. These include Jackdaw, Shag, Common Kestrel, “pure” Rock Dove, White Stork, Peregrine Falcon and Black Redstart. It says the Rock Doves are especially interesting as they are the original species from which all the feral pigeons in the world descend. Next we stumbled upon the tiny fishing harbour of Entrada da Barca… we actually followed a hand painted sign pointing to a restaurant O Sacas. Another fab little fish restaurant tucked away from the crowd but nonetheless packed with Portuguese in the know!
I ordered pork and had terrible food envy for Gerry’s tuna salad. As we were eating the two Americans we’d met over breakfast yesterday walked in from the trail. They looked hot! We chatted for a while and they agreed that there was no way I could walk this trail with my knee.
I remember telling them about our UV umbrellas. I fished them out of our packs and asked if they wanted to borrow them; after all we’re in the air conditioned joy of a car so they might as well make use of them. I wasn’t sure if they said yes just to be polite but we drove by a few kilometres down the road and they were still up and in use so I’m guessing they were welcome. We’ve arrange to meet them in town later but we’ll offer them again for tomorrow if they found it helped. It was 36c today and there is absolutely no shade; it would be impossible for us without the brollies. Horses for courses though as we met a couple today from Arizona who said the heat didn’t bother them at all. The nurse cleaning my knee today laughed at us paddling in the cold water! I laughed and said we’re English so the sea feels like a bath… and she understood and laughed with me. I guess one man’s poison and all that… now that we are travelling by four wheels this hot weather is glorious.
Our last stop of the day is Zambujeira do Mar. We were a little early for check in so we parked beside our hotel and wandered down the road to see the coastal views. The first thing we spot is a Rota marker so we followed it along the cliffs and through the sand dunes.
There were boardwalk paths that lead off the route, affording spectacular views of the rock formations as well as the coastline. The air is heavy with a mix of the salty sea spray and sweet heather that is blooming in purple mounds everywhere. Actually there is a surprising amount of vegetation and plants around. The sand in places is almost orange and the layers of rock in the cliffs is stunning. I’m so glad were getting to see at least part of this trail.
We’ve been following the notes and references on the Rota website… we found this bit of information staggering
If you look carefully along this coastal stretch it is easy to see past climate change written in the rocks. The sandstone was formed when the sea was at least 100m, (330 ft), lower than at present, with the beach over 60 km further west.
Prehistoric settlements have been found here with remains of colder climate animals and shellfish, clear signs of a colder, drier past, but it is equally possible to find signs of times when the climate here was warmer, wetter and more tropical, displayed by impressive reddish tones in the sand and sandstone, resulting from the accumulation of iron oxides.
We’re staying at Rosa dos Ventos. it’s just a few metres off the trail as you arrive in town. We have a double room and it’s simple but comfortable. There are several other hikers here and it has the feel of an albergue. What is great is that breakfast is included but already in the room… and OMG a kettle! These two non-hiking hikers wasted no time in making a cuppa!
All in all its been a very nice day