Walking

WalkingMany people do not think of the Algarve for walking or hiking.
This is partly because most tourists see only the coastal strip and have not seen the nature reserves further East, the Mountains which are behind the coast or some of the rural villages.
Also walking for pleasure is not well developed here – you won’t find waymarkers or designated footpaths like we have in the UK such as the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast.

There are a few books in the apartment which have nice walks, drives and combined trips – some examples are below.

It is important to follow these designated walks since otherwise you may end up in someone’s smallholding and distances can be deceptive.

Possibly the most important thing is to take plenty of water – the heat can take you by surprise – plus sun cream and a hat.
You do need to wear walking boots or sturdy shoes for most, so bring them along, and it is worth wresting long trousers so you don’t get bitten by anything!

HillsThe best months for walking are March, April, May, September and October, although the mild winters make this a good time for those who are not just fair weather walkers.
In June, July and August you should really only do the coastal walks or ones in the nature reserves, unless you are used to walking in the heat.
Be prepared, be sensible and read the guidebooks on tips for walking safely, comfortably and enjoyably.

Something to look out for is a regional trail - Via Algarviana. This is part of the trans Europe route from St Petersburg in Russia.
It is 240km in the Algarve and expected to take 15-20 days.

Sunflower Guide – Algarve has 20 walks spread across the Algarve from the mountains of Monchique to the nature reserve of Castro Marim.
I have a copy of this book.

Within half an hour’s drive of the apartment, you could try:

• Walk 17 – Estoi circular. Full walk 9.4 miles but there are shorter options from 4.3 miles. This encompasses the Roman ruins at Milreu and the Palacio do Viscondede in Estoi, currently being converted into a parador but you should still be able to see the mosaics in the gardens. This is a moderate walk with an elevation gain of around 220m, with a good viewpoint at 313m.
• Walk 18 – Sao Bras circular. Full walk 6.7 miles but there are shorter options from 4.1 miles.. This is an easy- moderate walk but some of the paths are rather stony. Note that Saturday is also market day. This is a walk on the edge of the Barrocal – the limestone area – with some quite different vegetation from that area. It also gives the opportunity for a picnic by the river and an old watermill.
• Walk 19 – Tavira National Forest. Full walk 5 miles but there are shorter options from 3.1 miles. This is an easy-moderate walk with a tricky descent towards the end. This is very close to the village and takes you through eucalyptus forest.
• Walk 20 – Castro Marim Nature Reserve - 7.2 miles. This is a moderate walk and pretty much flat – good for bird watchers.

This book has 16 other walks and 5 drives, some of which are further afield – if you want something a bit more strenuous, there are 3 walks up in the Monchique hills.

AAA Algarve - this book also contains 7 walks including:
• Walk / Drive 4 – Villages and Countryside of the Barrocal – up to 4 hours with a 5km walk included around Fonte de Benemola – starts from Loule ( about 30-40 minutes drive).
• Walk 5 – Tavira – this is a walk around town of around 1.5-2 miles.
• Walk 7 – Quinta do Marim – around 2 miles in the nature reserve.