Senhora das Neves

Circular Routes Stage

5 / 8 / 13 Km

Surrounded by hillsides with magnificent cork tree forests, it is in the valleys (Vale de Figueira, Vale Fojo de Baixo and Vale do Poço) that the fertile lands of this route lie. At the summits (Senhora das Neves and Serra da Estrela) rare plants can be found, such as the Centaurea vicentina, endemic to southwestern Portugal. In numerous springs, tanks and wells, the abundant water gives life to the soil of these valleys. On the well of Vale Figueira, one can read the verses written by the people, showing their gratitude for this fertile land – “May God maintain your purity, in this valley of enchantment, you are a well of richness… “.

This route is rich in wild plants, which bloom throughout the year. In the winter you can find the hyacinths or the Iberian Milkvetch. In the spring, lavender, brooms, gum rock-rose, sage-leaved rock-rose, purple phlomis and hawthorn flourish. In May comes the sea squill, the oregano, the Cardoon, the Lady’s glove and the Mediterranean Fleabane. The strawberry tree, calamints and Lithodora prostrataare almost always in bloom. The heaths are especially abundant. The white heaths dominate the shrubs when they are in bloom. They include the Portuguese heath (Erica lusitanica), which flowers from December to March, after which the flowers of the tree heath (Erica arborea) appear and bloom until June. Tree heath is rare, so make sure to take the opportunity to appreciate it along your winter walks. Don’t forget to look for some of the most common birds along the route – the corn bunting, the blackbird, the great spotted woodpecker, the partridge, the cirl bunting, the european robin and the shrike.

It’s said the Virgin Mary once appeared at the top of this hill, so the people built a little chapel at the foot of the hill to worship her. The story goes that they had been gathering stones to build the chapel, when one day the stones miraculously appeared at the top of the hill. So that is where they ended up building the little chapel. In this sanctuary, probably built during the eighteenth century, vestiges of ancient defensive walls can be found from a once fortified settlement from the High Middle Ages – Islamic Period. A rectangular tank dug into the rock, with channels for directing water, is quite intriguing. Did the tank relate to the worshipping of water or other religious purpose? Could it have been a small grave? To this day it remains a mystery.

Where to start

Ribeira do Seissal
Between Seissal stream and the path ascending to the Chapel of Senhora das Neves, in a parking area with a Rota Vicentina information board and sign plate.

Datasheet

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: 3 / 3 / 4

Extension: 5 / 8 / 13KM
Approximate duration: 2 / 3.5 / 5hours

Accumulated ascent: 0M
Accumulated descent: 200 / 350 / 500M

Maximum ALTITUDE: 277M
Minimum ALTITUDE: 110M

RECOMMENDED Season: September till June

Rules and Recommendations

THE CIRCULATION OF MOTOR VEHICLES PUTS WALKERS AT RISK

AVOID DOING THE HISTORICAL WAY ON A MOTOR CYCLE OR IN A JEEP, LOOK INTO OTHER OPTIONS

DO NOT LIGHT FIRES

SEVERAL FARMS AND CATTLE HERDS ARE PROTECTED BY GUARD DOGS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION

BE CAUTIOUS WITH CATTLE. ALTHOUGH GENTLE, THEY DO NOT LIKE STRANGERS APPROACHING THEIR CALVES

THESE TRAILS PASS BY PRIVATE PROPERTY. RESPECT IT AND CLOSE GATES AND FENCES YOU WILL FIND ON THE WAY

THERE ARE VERY FEW SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE TRAILS. BRING WATER AND FOOD SUPPLIES WITH YOU.

IN SOME PARTS OF THE TRAILS YOU WILL HAVE TO CROSS PAVED ROADS. BE CAREFUL!

YOU WILL FIND SEVERAL LOCATIONS IDEAL FOR PICNICS. DO NOT, IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LEAVE TRASH BEHIND

BE FRIENDLY WITH THE LOCALS, TELL THEM WHY YOU’RE THERE AND SHARE EXPERIENCES.

Tips

You can also start the hike in the village of Monte da Estrada.

Refreshments along the way
In Monte da Estrada or Ribeira do Seissal.

Warnings

This course has three options, so be aware of the different markings.

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