Walk 8 – Esteveira (near Aljezur)

By Paul McKay [email protected]

In his bimonthly column, Paul McKay takes readers along some of the routes less travelled in the Algarve as well as well-trodden but still enjoyable paths.

The route – A circular route on the nature reserve

Start/Finish – Esteveira

Easy, no climbing.

Time – approximately 1 1/2  hours

Source – Walking the Algarve by Julie Statham

We have been experiencing a few irritating problems with our dog Ela of late. She has been nipping up the mountain behind our house, abducting the odd unsuspecting hen, carrying it down to another neighbour’s house and generously gifting her catch to them, wagging her tail excitedly.

The said chicken, although alive, is often a little dishevelled and confused, not to mention mildly terrorised. Neither neighbour is particularly chipper about this situation, so we have come to an amicable arrangement.

The solution is that the dog is confined between 5pm and dusk, thus enabling the local poultry to be released during these hours to peck around safely without fear of imminent molestation and enforced transportation.

The reason I tell you all this is because it has an implication for the walks. Whenever possible from now on, all walks will be on dog-friendly territory, with appropriate warnings as to suitability. Today’s walk is absolutely perfect for dog walking, the only danger being some steep cliffs, which, if you have a particularly imbecilic hound (sorry husky owners), could lead to its early demise.

The West Coast

If you live along the south coast and have never made the drive out west, you have no idea of the incomparable beauty you are missing.

The coastline to the west is completely different, huge sandy beaches are backed by magnificent rocky cliffs, with the whole coast dominated by the incredible roar of the Atlantic.

The air, the sounds, the views are a short drive away but it is a completely different world. Many of you made the decision to move from northern Europe to live in the Algarve, so treat yourself – what’s a 45-minute car journey?

Getting to the start of the walk

The road journey from Bensafrim to Esteveira is particularly beautiful, passing many tranquil picnic spots, ‘alternative’ cafés and restaurants.

Follow the A22 westwards to its end, then carry on through Bensafrim, following the road onto Aljezur. Drive through Aljezur, turning left at the roundabout to drive past the new Intermarché and on to Rogil. At the end of Rogil there is a sign left to Esteveira.

This surfaced road ends after about five minutes and there is a small parking area to the right opposite a bus stop.

The walk

From the bus stop you have to turn left to follow the track that passes between the two cottages (dog alert!!) and towards the sea. In front of you, a stunning V-shaped valley opens up and a river can be seen meandering gently towards the glittering Atlantic.

At this point, the path begins to descend and a small path can be seen climbing up towards the cliff-top. You have to follow this and keep to the path that sticks firstly to the north with views to the north, then creeps along the cliff edge offering stunning views out across the Atlantic.

Eventually this path turns back inland where views to the south open up. The path all but disappears at this point, but loosely runs between farmland (to the right) and a pine forest (left) to eventually rejoin the original track between the car park and the two cottages.

A little ploughing has hidden some of the path but the farmer did not seem concerned as we crossed the land where we imagined the path to have been.

This small piece of cliff-top, covered in dunes, is incredibly beautiful, with a wide variety of plants, still green and flowering when we did the walk in late September.

The scent of herbs is overpowering at times and whichever direction one looks in, all that can be seen is the wild Atlantic coast and unspoilt natural vegetation. There are a number of paths criss-crossing the area, enabling one to explore without damaging the fragile nature of the area.

The highlights, if one is forced to choose, are a couple of flat shelves, where the scenery can be truly appreciated, particularly the one you reach first, which, I am informed by the guide book, affords views as far as Sines on a clear day. Almost any part of this walk would make a stunning spot to rest for a while, relax and enjoy a picnic.

On the way home, as you have come this far, it is worth visiting some of the wonderful beaches around Aljezur. Praia da Amoreira is signposted on the way back, just before you enter Aljezur. This is a wonderful beach with the wide estuary of a river taking up the south end of the beach.

Another spectacular beach is Praia da Arrifana, approached once you have passed through Aljezur. It has a few restaurants as well as some small cottages dotted at the far end of the beach.

This was the beach we visited and, despite the signs to the contrary, allowed the dog to run free. Our reward for such foolishness was to witness the dog make a beeline to the lifeguards’ tent, halt directly in front of them, look out to the ocean contentedly and deliver the biggest, smelliest, steaming stool she could manage.

After some humiliating fumblings with a carrier bag, we scurried shamefacedly back to the car, depositing our load in a convenient bin en-route.