View from the top of the climb
View from the top of the climb

Walking from Mesquita

The long village of Mesquita (divided into ‘Alta’ and ‘Baixa’) is situated to the east of São Brás de Alportel.

The village used to produce olive oil from the numerous olive trees that surround it, but that is long past and now the olive mill and its storage troughs (‘lagares’) have been converted into a comfortable restaurant.

Behind the restaurant begins a very interesting and beautiful walk – the PR1. It is a circular route of almost 9km, sometimes stony underfoot, with overall climbs of 235m.

The village is sited on the Barrocal limestone, and the beginning of the walk takes you through narrow walled paths with fields of olive trees on either side.

An abandoned 'nora'
An abandoned ‘nora’

You climb gently up to Monte Negro where you will find a typical well (‘poço’) which still shows wonderful details. From there, your route goes between fields as it drops down to the busy N270, which you must cross to go straight ahead.

Soon in front of you, there is a wonderful view north over the Bengado valley below and the hillsides of the Serra do Caldeirão in front. These hills are formed from schist-type rock and the valley acts as a buffer between this and the limestone, with the river Bengado exposing over thousands of years an underlying red sandstone.

Your path becomes a wide stony track as it descends into the valley to cross the river, rises and you make a right turn onto a wide dirt road. Not long after, you bear right onto a surfaced road, but not for too long before you make a left turn to follow the margins of the river.

Your path becomes very, very straight and this marks the remains of an old Roman road that passed through the valley.

Between the houses
Between the houses

Today the valley looks very neglected, but you can catch glimpses of one or two fields that are being used to grow crops and many more that have been abandoned. You can also find, as you follow the trail, abandoned old water wells (‘noras’) that the farmers once used for irrigation in the height of summer.

You emerge from the river margins onto a quiet road which you now follow all the way up to the main N270, where you will see an information board about the area on the left. Cross the road and walk up the small road opposite.

Stay on this road as it gently climbs and bends around to the right. Soon after, you will see red and yellow markings indicating a turn to the right onto a track. To your right, you can see fields again that are partly abandoned and, again, old water wells.

After 150m, you will pass a small stone cross on your right. The cross itself has been replaced quite recently, but it stands on the original base which has the date 1860 and the outline of a skull!

Fields near the end of the walk
Fields near the end of the walk

You continue along the track for another 300m before making a turn to the left. Now you have a moderate climb. Towards the top of the climb, it is very easy to miss the markings that indicate a right turn to continue up to the highest point of the walk (286m) where you have amazing views south to the coast.

From here, you drop down between some old houses to a small, surfaced road where you turn right and, shortly after, you take a left turn onto a stony path that leads you down to the small hamlet of Mesquita Baixa. You can be forgiven for thinking that you have made a wrong turn because the route becomes very narrow and passes between the houses (with several barking dogs!).

You arrive at a road, where you turn right to walk up to the old village well. Just before the well, turn left onto a narrow path that is almost hidden. This has a gentle climb up before levelling out and your route now passes along small country tracks as it takes you between fields of olive, carob, and orange trees.

Trail near the start of the walk
Trail near the start of the walk

The final 1.5km of the trail is easy as you wend your way through countryside that has an understated beauty back to your starting point.

Julie and her colleagues lead walks every Tuesday morning and every other Friday. All are welcome. There is a nominal charge of €5 per person and this includes a donation to charity. Full details at or in the diary section of the Portugal Resident.

 Coming up

February 21: Let’s Walk from Purgatório

February 28: Let’s Walk along the river near Silves


By Julie Statham
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Julie Statham has been walking throughout Portugal for more than 20 years and now acts as a walking advisor and guide for various companies in both Portugal and Europe. She has a background in earthsciences and a Ph.D. in geochemistry from Bristol University, UK.