Showing posts from 2024

Hiking in Serra da Estrela. Linhares da Beira. Amiable encounters

- Do you mind if I take a picture of you? - Not at all. Especially after you’ve asked permission! That's how my brief conversation with a shepherd began. He seemed happy to chat and tell me a little about his life. These human interactions are the most precious moments of travel. That is why on our trips around the world we always combine walking in nature, hitchhiking and staying with locals. That particular day was filled with pleasant encounters as the path led us to the village of Linhares da Beira. We were lucky enough to not only meet the friendly shepherd, but also talk to Maria, the owner of a cozy café, and run into a familiar face from the town where we used to live . Since we left, our friend has gotten a job in the county council and is now trying to improve the region’s tourist facilities. Our hike, a comfortable ten-kilometer loop , gave us plenty of time to wander the labyrinth of medieval streets and explore the village. We ventured off the well-trodden pat

Hiking in Serra da Estrela. Abandoned mines. Lagoas de Figueiró da Serra

The day at the farm began with a magical misty dawn. The fog, like a softly spun shawl, wrapped everything in its tender embrace. I stepped out of the van and paused to listen to the morning song of small birds piercing the air through the thick white blanket. We had a leisurely breakfast as the mist gradually gave way to sunshine. It was going to be a relaxed day of swimming and easy hiking. We set off towards the lakes we had seen the day before . This time we followed an unmarked, partly overgrown trail that zig-zagged through the fields with a few ruined cottages scattered along the road. Locals suggested we explore former tungsten mines just above the lakes. We took their advice literally and followed a path that led us to some abandoned structures that we had spotted on Google Earth. As it turned out, we had discovered a deserted quinta with a concrete reservoir and red brick towers that looked very much out of place. Those were quite unusual for this region where houses are

Hiking in Serra da Estrela. "Veredas e Barrocas" trail. Figueiró da Serra

The day before, we arrived at our friends' fertile farmland near the picturesque village of Figueiró da Serra. This idyllic spot is cradled within the embrace of the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, a place that suffered a catastrophic fire two years ago. Since that tragic event, nature has shown its resilience and the slopes are now a vibrant tapestry of green and yellow. But blackened, charred trunks of dead trees still protrude from the lush undergrowth, their skeletal forms etched against the sky. These are stark reminders of the ferocity of the blaze, a dance of death that consumed everything in its path. Our friends who have returned to their ash-covered land have since joined forces with the local community to form an association called Veredas da Estrela . Their mission: to protect the fragile ecosystems and fortify them against future fires. The term 'veredas' , known locally as 'bredas' in the Serra da Estrela region, refers to narrow trails carved into t

Hike to Espichel cape. Lagoa Pequena and Lagoa de Albufeira. Portugal

Distance 22 km (gpx) , Elevation gain 312 m, Elevation loss 190 m On that hike we found ourselves drowning in a sea of soft sand and wading through a maze of sharp reeds. Yet, we managed to catch the last bus home from a distant cape as the sun began to set. Here’s a recount of that exhausting but rewarding day. In my ongoing quest for hidden natural swimming spots around Setúbal, I was captivated by the sight of two lakes on the map, situated to the north-west of town: Lagoa Pequena and Lagoa de Albufeira . With a quick investigation into public transport, I discovered an accessible route: a morning train to Coina, followed by bus #3540 to the Observatório das Aves . From there, I charted a 22-km hike to Cabo Espichel (the southwestern corner of the Setúbal peninsula), a journey that was supposed to follow the marked E9 route (or so I believed). As we rode the bus, a wave of concern swept over me. The endless fences lining the road seemed to suggest that our exploration of na