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rota dos pescadores

Path of the Fishermen

The lightness of being is something we never stop yearning for. We trudge along in our hiking boots through deep sand. We get noticeably more tried, and grumpier. We don’t talk much, saving our energy for each step. The path isn’t easy. Our shoes, feet and rucksacks get heavier and heavier. It’s hard work following the waymarkers, a row of little wooden posts in the sand. For days, we’ve been plodding along following this numbered line. Our companion to the west is the sea, wide and wild, an unforgettable backdrop. We ramble through rugged rock formations surrounded by magical flora that draws its nourishment from the salty Atlantic wind.

son and fatherShortly before Almograve, we really do lose our way when we stray from the path. No more wooden posts in the sand, all gone with the wind. From far away, we can see the village below us. To our left, we can hear the breakers roaring. High dunes separate the beach from the hinterland, which is what caught us out. The pine forest came to an end and we kept going along the path; at some point after post number 325 there were no more waymarkers. We head across country, with the village three kilometres away as the crow flies, downhill to a stream, where the village is now two kilometres distant, but there’s no way across. And so we stagger along like a couple of film characters dying of thirst. Pure adventure. Why does there have to be so much sand on this earth? Why is there no way of getting from one side of the stream to the other? One more kilometre to the village of Almograve. Then one of us – the other one, the younger one to be precise – finds a way, and builds a kind of bridge with a tree trunk. The dogs can already smell us. They bark, bare their teeth and charge towards us. We’re in the middle of the tree trunk with the dogs on the other bank. There’s no way back. Onwards, no matter, somehow we’ll manage. Then their owner comes along with a compost bucket in his hand. Somewhat unsure, he watches our acrobatics, then he smiles and calls his animals off. One question, one answer. The man tells us how to get to Almograve. Saved. That’s what Portugal is like: a friendly person always turns up.

Father and son take a week’s break together, and decide to go on a hike. What is better than packing your rucksacks, stepping out of the front door and setting off? From (Caldas de) Monchique, they hike straight across the hills to Chilrão, via Besteira and Moinho do Sogro to Odeceixe. The next day, they join the Rota do Pescador heading north, along the coast, climbing up the cliffs and down the sandy beaches. The target for the day is Zambujeira do Mar, and the high points are the steep, stony cliff top paths up high along the Atlantic, alternating with shady paths along the streams as they flow into the ocean. In Azenha do Mar they stop for lunch. From Zambujeira they continue to Cape Sardão. In the harbour of Porto Barca, the two of them use a rope to climb up the steep cliff to the coast. Great hiking and wild impressions of the west coast of Portugal. Crying seagulls and sea spray keep them both company. From Almograve they walk to Vila Nova de Milfontes, where they have a break and stare at the ocean for as far as the eye can see. They walk past a field where the turf is grown for Real Madrid and Benfica. They decide to go for a swim, at Praia das Furnas. In Paparoca (Milfontes), there’s a good meal waiting for them. On the penultimate day, they walk through Aivados to Porto Covo, with Sines in sight. This is where the hike ends. They buy two tickets and get the bus back to Monchique. A wonderful trip. You can feel your body. Your head has been freed by a breath of fresh air. Portugal: nature on your doorstep.

“Father and son take a week’s break together, and decide to go on a hike. What is better than packing your rucksacks, stepping out of the front door and setting off?”

“Great hiking and wild impressions of the west coast of Portugal. Crying seagulls and sea spray keep them both company.”

Further information (also on the Rota Histórica): www.rotavicentina.com

About the author

Uwe Heitkamp, 53 years old, started working after university in daily newspapers and from 1984 on in public tv broadcasting companies such as WDR (Collogne), NDR (Hamburg), SDR (Stuttgart/Baden-Baden) in the ARD (first programme), wrote several books and directed the cinema movie about the anti nuclear movement in Germany in 1986 (Wackersdorf). After emigration in 1990 he founded 1995 the trilingual weekly printed newspaper “Algarve123”  and later the online edition www.algarve123.com. Heitkamp lives for 25 year in Monchique, Portugal. He loves mountain hiking and swimming in streams and lakes, writes and tells stories of success from people and their sustainable relationship between ecology and economy. His actual film “Revolutionary Roads” tells the 60 minute story of a long walk crossing Portugal. 10 rural people paint a picture of their lives in the hills of the serra and the hinterland. The film captures profound impressions of natural beauty and human life. Along which path is the future of Portugal to be found? (subscribe to ECO123 und watch the documentary in the Mediatec)

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