Monday, 23 May 2011

Portugal walk 1 - Mata de Conceicao

I've spent the last week in Portugal - a holiday certainly but a holiday themed around getting some 3 Peaks training in, particularly on hills, something, as I've mentioned before, that is difficult to find locally.

different scenery than usual

The first walk, on my first full day there, should have been somewhere between 4-5miles but ended up as a 3.75 miler in Tavira National Forest (or Mata de Conceicao). The reason for the disparity in distance was a combination between the slightly vague guidebook walking directions, and our inability to follow them correctly. The walk should have taken us through a forest, alongside a river, and uphill to a 'trig point' before bringing us back to the start point. Our mistake came when we picked the incorrect one of two paths we could have taken - the book instructed us that the trig point should be on our right, which it was. It only dawned on us some time later that it would also have been on the right had we taken the other path..... We were however very proud of ourselves for finding our way back safely and withough incident. (well, other than a slightly hairy moment when we had to pass what at first appeared to be abandoned chests of drawers. Sadly the increasingly ominious hum as we got closer told us that it was in fact a large collection of bee hives - looking back on my GPS device this was unsurprisingly the part of the walk which saw the fastest pace.)

scary bee hives

Nonetheless this was a lovely walk which some great scenery. When I arrived in Portugal the weather was somewhat dubious, I flew in after what had been described to me as an 'apocalyptic' storm. The weather had warmed up significantly in time for the walk which was a welcome development. Slightly disappointingly however the heavy rain had turned what I suspect are usually glistening rivers to a brown, muddy colour. An early part of the walk involved crossing a ford. It appears that usually there are stepping stones to use. However, the rains had swollen the river to such an extent that these stones were now covered with water. Excited about the opportunity to finally test out the waterproofness of my walking boots I waded through first. Unfortunately the water was so deep that it came over the top of my boots, leaving me with wet, muddy feet, boots and socks for the remainder of the walk.

crossing the (deeper than it should be ) ford....

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