Country lanes. Farm tracks. Cork factory.
On day seven we walked from Silves station to Alcantarilha station. There was a short stretch along a main road which was quiet because of Easter Sunday. We soon turned left onto an unmade road along the western perimeter fence of a cork factory. The route then climbed to a low ridge with good views. At about mid day, our way became confused and we finished up in a dead end orange orchard. Away from urban centres the Portuguese don't often build fences so, guided by a farm worker, we were abe to go through the orange trees, down to the valley floor and up the other side where we picked up the route again.
We carried on along the platform in the direction of the train and then turned right to cross the track. We carried on along this road and then took the first turning to the left (10 minutes). We crossed the track again (2 minutes) and then took the next right along a main road (35 minutes). Next we took the second left just past a transformer (45 minutes) and passed a cork factory to our right which we remembered from staying at Quinta Julia near Silves some years ago. The track carried on uphill now and came to an end at a T junction where we turned right.
The view of Foia is now to the north west so we are making progress. We had an elevenses stop here and I discover that my flask is empty. I failed to set it up this morning while making the breakfast - definitely time to book into a home and on the very day when we have chocolate eggs too. They taste wonderful with a cup of coffee. Luckily Neil took pity on me and gives me a cup of his. I have the lid to drink it in of course (1 hour).
We carried on to a multi-junction where we bore right on the main track (1 hour 5 minutes). Here we went right, left and right again to enter the lovely village of Sonhos. At the next crossroads we probably with hindsight should have turned right but decided to go straight ahead and downhill on an un surfaced track into an orange orchard (1 hour 30 minutes). As this seemed to leading nowhere in particular, we took the next left which seemed to be the more used of the two tracks and there met up with a man pruning his trees. We greeted him and then asked if there was a way out. He explained the route. We carried on until the track came to an end and then turned left and headed back uphill until we got to the top.
Here we turned right and then at a little building left again. At the next crossroads, we turned right and wondered if this was the same track we had rejected earlier (1 hour 50 minutes). At the next crossroads, we we went straight across towards Vila Nina. We wonder whether this village is Dobra. The Hildebrand map isn't bad but many tracks are missing and it's hard sometimes to know exactly where you are (2 hours 5 minutes). We get to a point where the main track swings round to the right but we carry on straight. Here we have lunch and afterwards when we set off again see strawberries ripening under plastic tunnels and peach trees with fruit already beginning to set.
We reached another multi-junction (2 hours 30 minutes). We turned right and then immediately left. At the crossroads soon afterwards, we turned left (2 hours 35 minutes). We went straight across the next crossroads and then turned right (2 hours 55 minutes). At a T junction, at we went left and followed the railway line towards the station. The track becomes surfaced as it gets to a village (3 hours 15 minutes) but then fizzles out. We are so close now that we head into an orchard work our way down to the line (horse tracks and later vehicle tracks encourage us and we soon get to the line (3 hours 35 minutes).
We came down off the ridge too soon and arrived at the railway line a mile or so from the station. Instead of walking along the main road, we took a track north of the railway. This was another dead end but there was a fairly obvious small trail leading to the station through another orchard, across the tracks and onto the end of the platform.
We cross over the line at a signal and then follow it to the station (3 hours 45 minutes). We must have turned off one too soon but got to our destination nevertheless. Today in the train Mini noticed I had an Easter egg in my hat which was attached to a strap. She had put it there before setting off for me to find when I packed everything up. But I failed to see it and hoisted the bag up, walked to the station and tossed it down on a seat in the train without noticing anything. I'm glad it didn't fall out. I notice that Retretes is the word used for toilets at Estombar station - quite a nice word for them.