The Historical Way Stage
Today, you will be walking towards the south western tip of Europe. This is a magical place where one can almost hear the echoes of the voices of sailors and pilgrims. Monumental cliffs, outstanding views over the coastline and a privileged area to watch the natural phenomenon of autumn bird migration.
On this section, the very high cliffs provide unique scenery. Ornithologists and birdwatchers are attracted to Sagres by the autumnal migration of soaring birds and seabirds, which amount to more than 5000 individuals from more than 300 species. In fact, Sagres is the stage of the Birdwatching Festival that takes place annually in October.
Migratory species can be seen, such as whinchats, wheatears, subalpine warblers, spectacled warblers, booted eagles, black kites, European honey buzzards, short-toed snake eagles, hawks, red kites, lesser kestrels, Eurasian hobby, Eleonora’s falcons, hen harriers, Montagu’s harriers, western marsh harriers, black storks and different species of vultures. Less often, the Iberian imperial eagle and the golden eagle appear. In addition, several seabirds can be easily observed, like the scopoli’s shearwater, great black-backed gull, great skua, sandwich tern and common terns. Most passerines migrate during the night, resting and feeding during the day. Other species migrate during the day, as in the case of eagles, storks, flamingos, wagtails or bee-eaters. Among the resident birds, it is worth mentioning the little bustard and the red-billed chough, which have in Vila do Bispo the only breeding center in the south of Portugal. The merlin can be found here in the winter.
The vegetation dominates this trail following along the cliff. It crosses the Sagres Biogenetic Reserve, a sanctuary for botanists because of the rare chalk soil plants and species unique to the world, some of them previously thought to be extinct. The undergrowth is dominated by gorse, heath, thistle, Lithodora lusitanica, rosemary, thyme, violet and hyacinth. You are about to finish the Historical Way of Rota Vicentina, but before you’ll pass an area called Vale Santo. For centuries, it was part of the pilgrimage route of the devotees of Saint Vincent, whose journey finished at a monastery, where nowadays the lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente is located.
Where to start
Vila do Bispo
Next to the Church, heading towards the market.
Cabo de S. Vicente
At the lighthouse of Cabo de São Vicente.
Rules and Recommendations
This is an area of particularly strong winds. Get ready for northern blows
Cabo S. Vicente » Sagres
From the lighthouse to Sagres, you can continue through the Fishermen’s Trail, along 7 km or opt for a taxi.
There is no supply point throughout the whole route, bring enough water and food.
Pay attention to the signage as there are intersections with several Circular Routes.