The paddy fields of Campilhas

Circular Routes Stage

8 / 13 Km

It was in the years of the Second Republic, that big dams were built in Alentejo. This walk allows you to see both irrigated and dry farming of the land, with beautiful cork oak forests that are home to rich flora and fauna. Spring is especially generous to this specific route, tinting the fields with colors of all kinds in a feast for the eyes, while the birds create the perfect soundtrack to accompany this picturesque scene.

Along this route, you will cross wheat fields, meadows, oak forests, eucalyptus, cork oak and stone pine forests, all on gently undulating land.

Some very old cork trees are truly majestic, opening their branches to the nests of the chaffinch, tits, hoopoes, owls and eagles. The platforms built in these trees, where local hunters wait for boars, prove the rich abundance of the animals in the area. You can also find traces of otter, badger and fox. Encounters with the partridges, corn buntings, and European stonechat are common along the way. From the beginning of the rainy season until the end of spring, the temporary ponds are in their aquatic phase, drying completely in the summer, and offering an abundance and diversity of tadpoles. These ponds are essential for the reproduction of frogs, toads, salamanders and newts (amphibians). In fact, because the ponds are temporary, these habitats do not even have fish or crayfish, which are typical habitual predators of the eggs and the larvae of the amphibians.

A common insect in the spring and early summer, is the red-striped oil beetle, (Berberomeloe majalis). It is large (measuring on average 5cm long), black and may have red streaks on the abdomen. The female lays eggs in a small hole in the ground. The larvae ascend up through the herbs to the flowers and await the arrival of a bee, or other insect of that order. They then cling to the legs of the bee, hitching a ride to the victim’s nest, where they begin their parasitic feast, eating eggs, larvae and food that was intended for the larvae of the bees. After several metamorphoses, the adult emerges to the outside world and becomes herbivorous. When it feels threatened, the red-striped oil beetle expels a reddish liquid with a toxic substance – cantharidin – that can cause irritations in the skin and is poisonous if ingested.

The water lines, with their fantastic galleries of European ash and willow trees, act as ecological corridors for the dispersal of plants and animals. Their effect is enhanced by the different vines of ivy, honeysuckle and common smilax and riparian shrubs, which eventually overtake the gallery with vegetation, providing an excellent place for feeding, refuge and reproduction for many animals. At the edges of the eucalyptus forest, it is easy to observe two endemic species that are exclusive to this corner of the Iberian Peninsula: the Cynara algarbiensis and the Centaurea vicentina. In the spring, the roadsides are filled with wild peas, Shrubby Everlasting, pale flax, narrowleaf lupin, spade-moths and wild orchids of the genus Serapias. In the autumn, along the canal and the water lines, the hawthorn is filled with vibrant red, edible fruits. In the shrubs the carqueja predominates, along with the tojo-gatum, the sage-leaved rock-rose, the gum rockrose, the flax-leaved daphne and the Columbian waxweed (Cuphea carthagenensis).

Where to start

Campilhas’ Dam
At the north side of the dam.

Datasheet

Degree of Difficulty: Very easy / Easy

Extension: 8 / 13KM
Approximate duration: 2 h 30 / 4 h

Accumulated ascent: 0m
Accumulated descent: 150 / 200m

Maximum ALTITUDE: 120m
Minimum ALTITUDE: 70m

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

Warnings

This route has two variants and overlaps on a small part the Historical Way. Be aware of the signage.

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