Circular Routes Stage
Between sandy soil and slate hills lie two different landscapes, two complimentary habitats.
The northern part of this route is predominated by sandy soil undulating smoothly, where pine trees, aromatic brush, wild orchids, and rare plants reign. You will also walk through open fields of agriculture, where swallows, bee-eaters and shrikes capture insects and where birds of prey hunts mice and reptiles.
On the southern part of the route, the relief becomes more steep, with deep valleys that have been excavated by torrential water on rocks and slate. When not covered with pines or eucalyptus, the hillside is a magnificent forest of cork trees, strawberry trees, and an enormous diversity of bushes and flowers. In the areas where the vegetation is more abundant, it is common to find traces of carnivorous mammals like genets, Egyptian mongooses, badgers, and the foxes. After rainy nights, it is even easier to detect their footprints and feces, marked on the paths under dense vegetation.
The road travels along and sometimes across temporary water lines like the Amoreiras Creek and the Atalaia and Carrascalinho Ravine. In the areas that are the most moist, there are wild grape vines, willows, honeysuckles, Portuguese heath, and the common hawthorn. It is common to find man made ponds or dams, constructed by farmers in order to save water. The summer can last even longer than the average four months, so these reserves of water are essential for cattle and for the crops. These ponds also have a critical role for the wildlife of the region. If you observe the ponds discreetly, you may see the European pond turtleand the Spanish pond turtle,both species protected by European legislation.
The flora of the northern part of the route growing over the sands contains the Dianthus broteri, a wild clove endemic to the southwest Iberian Peninsula, which flowers in the spring and can be spotted frequently along this route. Equally endemic and abundant, especially along the sides of the route, is the Cynara algarbiensis, which is also particularly beautiful during the springtime. Along the route, other rare plants protected by European law can be spotted: the Thymus camphoratus,which occurs exclusively in the southwest coast of Portugal and nowhere else in the world, and the Euphorbia transtagana, a well hidden plant, also endemic to the southwest of Portugal.
Where to start
At the fork to Serominheiro.
Rules and Recommendations
There are no refreshments available along the way, except a cafe at the starting point.