The Historical Way Stage
The beginning of this section treats us to scenery in which the mountain range spreads as far as the coast, ending up on the beach. Rocks, hillsides, streams or plains in deep valleys, are some of the features that make up the aesthetic landscape and constitute a mosaic of habitats with distinct ecological functions. En route to the interior, on the way to Vilarinha and Pedralva villages, along the riverbanks, there are tamarisk, willow, ash and Portuguese oaks. On the drier slopes, grow cork oak, maritime and stone pines, oleaster and olive trees. On the steepest slopes, you can admire the natural vegetation, virtually untouched by man, with dense scrub under the cover of cork trees. In this undergrowth strawberry tree, white heather, scotch heather, Viburnum tinus, rock rose, lentiscus, wild asparagus, laurel and gorse are in abundance.
Next to the wind farm, which you will pass after Pedralva, you can find some temporary ponds. These constitute a habitat of prioritary conservation, since they are environments with a very original flora and fauna, adapted to a life of 3 to 6 months in aquatic environment and the rest of the year in terrestrial environment. The ponds are perhaps the richest habitat in biodiversity in Southwest Portugal, fundamental, for example, for the reproduction of most of its amphibians. The ponds are free from predators of eggs and tadpoles precisely because they are temporary (they dry up in summer), so they are a safe place in which to lay eggs. The most emblematic species of the ponds of Vila do Bispo is Triops vicentinus, an endemic tadpole shrimp from the Southwest Portugal. With its 70 pairs of legs and 3 eyes, it can be considered a living fossil, since it is contemporary with the dinosaurs and has remained unchanged for almost 200 million years! From autumn to spring, in addition to thousands of tadpoles, the ponds are populated by birds, tortoises, mammals and plants. In April and May the flowers offer a palette of colours: blue forget-me-not, yellow narcissi, lilac hyacinths, purple orchids, white marigolds. In summer, this island of diversity goes into aestivation presenting a deserted and desolate aspect.
When crossing the forest perimeter of Vila do Bispo, go quietly and use binoculars because wildlife sightings are likely, especially birds.
Where to start
At the main square (Largo do Comércio), going up towards the Land and Sea Museum (Museu da Terra e do Mar).
Vila do Bispo
At the Church, in the direction of the soccer field.
Rules and Recommendations
Refreshments along the way
At km 9.5, you’ll pass the village of Pedralva.
During the winter and periods of heavy rain
Between Vilarinha and Pedralva, you can choose to cross the valley (not possible in case of heavy rains), or take a very beautiful trail through the mountains.
Pay attention to the signage as there are intersections with several Circular Routes.