Fisherman's Trail Portugal Portugal Main

Day 2: Vila do Bispo to Chabouco

Today was “only” 27km, but perhaps the most spectacular 27 kms I have ever walked. I know I am repeating myself, but the coastline is spectacular. One beautiful view is replaced by the next, one descent, at times dangerous, is replaced by an equivalent ascent and new spectacular views.  

I slept well, waking up occasionally, checking my watch and turning over to sleep again. I was up by 6.30, unheard of when home in Denmark. My son sent a MMS, with a rising sun and snow at their summer cottage in Denmark, here in Portugal it was already 11 degrees and a promise of 17 later in the day.

Breakfast was at 8.30 so I killed a couple of hours with a shower and reading the news. Breakfast was okay, but not up to yesterday’s standards. I was on the road by 9.15.

Vila do Bispo is surrounded by hills on all sides, so it was an upward start and 8km back towards the coastline through a dry heath landscape.

Finally upon reaching the coast the fantastic views started. The first descent was very steep and very rocky, not really a path. It was a day of up and downs with over 450m of ascent and 350m descent, but non of the others as steep as the first descent. I am not good going downhill, I always hope that the difficult bits are on the way up, not down. On the beach it was clear to see the stratified cliff that have been formed by the constant battering of water.

At one point there was a warning that one must not walk over the beach if the tide was in, evidently because the current and undertow can be so strong. There was no risk of being washed away today.

I made it to Carrapateira around lunch time, but could only find a restaurant and a bar, and all I wanted was a cake and coffee, so I continued. Carrapateira is a small white painted village next to a massive beach, with a backdrop of sand dunes and a lagoon and a windmill on a hill overlooking the town.

I walked barefooted along the beach for what must have been a kilometer. The sand was wet and therefore relatively easy to walk on. Little did I know that I would soon be walking through ankle deep sand.

I was just past half-way, and with all the ascents and descents it had already been pretty tough. I always find it tough on the second day of walking, but the next 10 kilometers through the sand dunes was a killer. The views were still amazing as I passed Praia de Vale Figueria, one of the most famous surf beaches along this part of the coast.

With five kilometers to go, the ankle deep sand changed to red sandstone and eventually roads, as I moved inland and towards the hotel I had booked for the night. As yesterday, as I walked inland the landscape changed from sand to agriculture, many of the fields had been ploughed and looked ready to be planted. made it to the hotel Barranco da Fonte in Chabouco by about 6pm. Almost 9 hours to walk 27 kms is witness to the fact that this is a challenging stage.

It had been a long and tiresome day, and despite the many amazing views, it was great to be able to lie on the bed and recuperate and take a shower. I am the only guest, but I was certainly made to feel welcome.

The owner made an omelet with salad and crisps for dinner, which was excellent. We chatted and he explained it was beginning to pick up after an always quiet January. He explained it was too cold for the Portuguese or Spanish to take vacation. Given the sun burn on the back of my legs and today’s maximum temperature at 18 degrees, I find that hard to understand. This is the perfect time of year – sun, warmth and very few tourists. But it did remind me of the group of racing cyclists that passed me this morning  – it was 14 degrees and they had the same clothes on as a Danish cyclist would have had on in Denmark today – and in Denmark it is zero (and snowing so nobody is out on their racing bike).

I met a number of fellow walkers, all except one walking towards Sagres. Most said hello and continued along the path, whilst a few stopped up for a short chat.

I was asleep by 21.30, fretting that I have a 34 km stage tomorrow, and if it is through as much sand as today, it may be a challenge.


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