Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park.

Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park

Distance 20.75 km (gpx), Elevation gain 611 m, Elevation loss 618 m

This hike took us into the pristine unspoilt heart of the land of Arrábida. Nature embraced us and showed us her slightly spiky side.

The day started with geometrically-lined picturesque vineyards of Azeitão. Stray goats were trimming fancy cypress-tree fences of neat-looking wineries on the way to their pasture. Since we hit the road early, the sun was still low and gentle. Its rays delicately painted in gold the gracefully curved trunks of cork oaks. As we entered the forest, cobwebs were still hanging between the branches on both sides of the route, tickling our skin as we passed.

Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park
Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park

During the ascent to Formosinho we walked up along a river of stones with gravel desperately wobbling under our feet. Closer to the peak the trail turned into a bald steep path on the slope. Our feeling of imminent fall was immediately offset by breathtaking views of hills and valleys painted in all shades of green. As we climbed to the top, the rich blue of the distant sea joined the palette surrounding us. On the peak we took a short break to cool off under a prickly but generously shady wild olive.

Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park
Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park

Little did we know that for the next hour or so "prickly" would be the chief epithet for this part of the trail. We decided to wade through the bushes because the prospect of sliding down smooth boulders seemed less appealing yet. We didn't turn back even after meeting a French trail runner whose legs and arms were thoroughly scratched. "The trail is like this but it's manageable", he tried to encourage us. We ploughed our way through the thorns on the plateau and then downhill until we finally got to a wider path.

Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park
Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park

After a short stroll along that trail we discovered a gem in a grove. Quinta Del Carmen was its name — a marvelous serene spot just off the road to Casais da Serra. We rewarded ourselves with a relaxed picnic under a sprawling pine tree. Besides shade and tranquility it also offered us an unexpected gift. We got to forage for cones with pine nuts — tiny treasures to bring back home.

Now, as I'm writing this post, all of our scratches have long since healed. Hopefully we will remember that day with a feeling of achievement and gratitude. As for the pine nuts, we are still keeping them as a precious present.

Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park
Ascent from Azeitão to Formosinho peak. Arrábida natural park

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