Fisherman's Trail Portugal

Day 6: Almograve to Porto Covo

Today was a big day. I had booked a room in Porto Covo, 36kms from where I stood this morning. Normally, 36 kms would be within my walking range, but today the big unknown is the sand, and not least how deep it is. Loose sand slows me down by ca. 1km per hour, so if there is a as much sand as people have told me, it might be a bit tight. Time will tell.

I was up at seven o’clock and at the local supermarket/café by 8 o’clock. It was already busy with local people on their way to work. I bought a coffee and croissant and a ham and cheese sandwich to take with me. I met a group of Germans and we chatted a bit with one of them. He wished me good luck and I was on my way, in brilliant sunshine – they promised up to 15 degrees later in the day.

Most people split Porto Covo to Almograve into two legs, staying overnight in Vila Nova de Milfontes. Almograve to Vila Nova is 16kms and on to Porto Covo another 20 kms, so I feel it would two short stages, and often there isn’t a lot to see or do in the small towns along the coast to fill in the time.

The walk to Vila Nova de Milfontes was fairly straight forward, the paths were fine and the sand not too loose, so it was possible to make good progress. After 11 kms I was already very close to Vila Nova de Milfontes, that sits at the mouth of the River Mira. The problem is, that the town sits on the other side of the river from where I was coming.  In order to cross the river, I needed to walk a couple of kilometers inland and up to a bridge, cross the bridge and then a couple of kilometers back towards the mouth of the river where the town is situated.

Due to its close proximity to many beaches, the town is popular with the tourists during summer where the population swells. Based on the number of Indian and Asian shops I passed, there seems to be a large migrant community as well.

Happy to have completed the first 16 kms, I stopped for a coffee and cake before walking through the center of town and continuing north along the coast, passing a number of hotels that seemed to be fairly empty. It wasn’t yet noon, so I still had more than six hours to complete the remaining 20 kms.

I hit the sand with about 15kms to go, initially it wasn’t too deep, but twice, between 25 to 28 kms and then again between 29 to 31 kms, the path moved away from the coast and behind sand dunes. The sand was ankle deep, but luckily, there were often parallel paths that walkers had made a few meters to the side of the path, where the sand wasn’t as deep, and easier to walk through. I took a break overlooking yet another fabulous cove, ate my sandwich and aired removed all the sand from my shoes.

I met a few people, including an American couple staying in Vila Nova and doing a 10km circular trip – a bit surprised by the amount of deep sand.

All in all, I made good progress and at around 16.30 I was ca. 4km from Porto Covo, at an old fort (picture below), the Fort Nossa Senhora da Queimada – built at the end of the 17th century. A twin fort was built on the island one can see in the background. Neither seemed to be currently in use.

  

There was a restaurant next door. I stopped for a coffee, soft drink and a biscuit cake and to rest my feet, looking across at an island opposite the fort. As I left the restaurant, I met an American walking towards me. He told me that he had just landed in Lisbon from the US, taken a bus to Porto Covo and started walking. He planned to walk to Vila Nova de Milfontes. I told him that I’d just come from there and had left ca. 4 hours ago and that the sun would set in an hour or so. I certainly would not want to be walking along these paths in the dark, many of the paths close to the cliff edge, but he didn’t seem bothered and walked on.

I arrived at the guest house at around 17.30. It was unmanned, but the owners husband and kids were there and helped me get in – evidently I had received a mail with the instructions and codes to get in, but hadn’t checked my mail. I dropped off my stuff and walked down to a small square looking over the sea, hoping for a brilliant sunset – I was disappointed.

Back at the guest house I showered and went out for dinner at a local restaurant. As the restaurants didn’t open before 19.30 I walked around town, but it was getting cold, so it was great to be the first guest at 19.30, and soup, fried fish and flan as desert.

It had been a good walking day, great weather and again lots of fantastic scenery. Many say that this stage is the most beautiful, but I’d say far from it. Perhaps it’s because this is the first stage for most people and the first time one sees the spectacular coastline. All stages were spectacular, but the further one walks, the more used one gets to yet another spectacular view.

I slept well until about 3 in the morning when there was lots of shouting, door banging and a car speeding off. It felt as though it was within the guest house, but given I’m staying in a residential area, that may not have been the case. I fell asleep again and woke up with a new plan.

One of the things that really surprised me whilst walking through the sand is the the amount of vegetation that is able to grow and bloom in conditions where one hardly expects there is any nourishment.

 

 

 

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