Country lanes. Farm tracks. Wild lands.
This was one of the longest stages. Our route was contorted by the terrain and our avoidance of the motorway and other major routes. We also had to find a place to cross a small river. The map bore little relationship to the new roads. Perhaps we should have bought a newer map. Towards the end of the walk, we had trouble finding a way to get across the main east-west motorway.
Margaret had a day off. To get out of the station and over to the street on the far side, we followed local custom and crossed the track using the sleepers provided and, once over, turned right along the road. There is a perfectly good crossing which we saw later on but it was flooded so we were glad we had done what we did. Our road soon became a track following the railway and then leaving it (10 minutes). Soon it ran parallel with the road we wanted to cross and then came to an end, so we scrambled up the bank, crossed the road and then scrambled up the bank on the far side. This was more problematic as there was a low fence to climb over but Neil did it easily and I did it hardly (15 minutes).
We tuned right and walked parallel with the railway line and the main road until we veered away. At a crossroads we turned left (35 minutes) and wound our way through orchards. At the next T unction, we turned left again (45 minutes) our rule being that in the mornings we go north and east and in the afternoons we go south and east.We had a break here and then carried on turning left and the next T junction and then the second right where there was a transformer on the corner (1 hour). We then aimed to go through a valley between two highish hills. There were two bridges across the river in the bottom of the valley and hoped to use the southern one as this was much more direct.
Our track now divided but we bore left (an olive tree marks this spot)(1 hour 10 minutes) and headed uphill until we reached a T junction. Here we turned right into the lovely village of Cerro do Roque. We crossed straight over the main road to Tunes and Lisboa (1 hour 20 minutes) and carried on along our track. There was now a large quarry on our left with water in the bottom of the diggings. Soon we passed a factory where they made concrete joists. There was a storks' nest on the chimney (1 hour 30 minutes).
It was when we reached the next main road that we made our big mistake. We went straight across a staggered cross-roads and this eventually brought us back in a loop down to the main road by which time we thought we might as well turn left, head north and use the northern bridge at Paderne. If we had turned right at the main road we might well have located the southern bridge or perhaps not! So we carried on under the motorway (1 hour 40 minutes) and into the village of Purgatorio which is a sad name for village. Here we bore right following a sign to Lisboa and over the northern bridge over the River Quarteiro (2 hours) and a second little river.
Then we turned right towards the Font which was amazing because all the washing areas had running water constantly flowing through them (2 hours 20 minutes). We had lunch beyond the Font and were joined by an old lady in a fantastic straw hat. She was looking for snails. Then, being gluttons for punishment, instead of following the sign to Boliqueime as any sensible person would do, we turned right again to the castle (2 hours 25 minutes). Neil has a more up-to-date map than I have and was insistent that we must not cross the coastal motorway too early so, when we saw that the castle was beyond the motorway, instead of crossing underneath, we headed left up a track starting strongly enough through olives (2 hours 40 minutes),but which later frequently disappeared, leaving us to clamber up terraces and skirt fences to reach the road we should have stayed on (3 hours 5 minutes). This toil across rough terrain was rewarded by the discovery of the best orchids we saw on this visit.
We continued straight along here through the village of Barradinha until we got to another main road. Here we went left and right straight across to enter the village of Cerca Velha (3 hours 20 minutes). We turned right opposite the Mini Mercado Concalves (3 hour 25 minutes) and when the road swung left, turned right onto a track (3 hour 30 minutes). At the next T junction, we turned right and at the following one left. It was on this stretch that three ladies going in the opposite direction greeted us, asked us if we were English and told us they were Portuguese. We have seen only one pair of foreigners the whole time we have been walking and they passed by us on the road below us today while we were having lunch.
When we got to the Quinta do Cerro Grande, we skirted close to the northern wall of the garden and then onto a goat track heading downhill (3 hours 25 minutes). When we got to a T junction with a proper track again, we turned left. We carry on down this track in the bottom of the valley going parallel with the motorway. We ignore a right turn (4 hours 12 minutes) and enjoy the completely wild surroundings. We are encouraged when we enter the district of Biliqueime (4 hours 30 minutes) and eventually reach a surfaced road which we hope will cross the motorway.
We turned right and stayed on it as it wound left and right uphill and down and eventually came to another T junction where we turned left (5 hours 5 minutes). We felt that with a more judicious choice of route we could have avoided the circuitous nature of this stretch. At the next T junction, we turned left and over the motorway at last (5 hours 20 minutes).. Imagine our amazement, when on the other side we came to a few houses and some uninhabited shacks. Our first little path took us parallel with the motorway heading west so we aborted this and tried a side-turning heading south between walls. Then at a cross-roads, we turned right (5 hours 30 minutes). Here we were protected from some unusually assertive dogs by a lady with a broom.
At a triangular junction, we bore right and passed a Sagres Beer distribution outlet (5 hours 40 minutes). We were now in the village of Recanto. We turned left at the next T junction (5 hours 50 minutes) and went straight across the roundabout (6 hours). Finally we took a left fork into Boliqueime station (6 hours 10 minutes). Today we had to change trains in Tunes which meant we missed dinner. I must check egret beaks, as the white ones can be differentiated this way and I have forgotten which way round it is. We are looked at reproachfully by the conductor on the train as our trousers and sandals are muddy. Neil decides this is why it was originally considered polite to sit with your knees together - to hide dirty trousers. On the way home we get the donkyuler train. We see white and grey storks - girls and boys?