After 3 days of hiking in the inland of Portugal, I finally got to start hiking along the Atlantic Ocean. The Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal starts at Sao Torpes and runs all the way to Lagos. It takes you down a whopping 226.5 km along Portugal’s Atlantic Ocean coast, even beyond the southernmost tip of Cabo de Sao Vicente.
The Fishermen’s Trail is part of the Rota Vicentina. Also part of this Rota Vicentina is the Historical Way, which runs down through the interior. And because I started on the Historical Way (insert link) a few days ago, I skipped the first stage (10km) of the Fishermen’s Trail and started today in Porto Covo.
So still, I will 216.5km hiking along the Atlantic Ocean with the most beautiful views along the way!
Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal
Stage 2 – Porto Covo to Vila Nova de Milfontes – 20 km (8hrs)
This morning at MUTE hostel, I started with a nice breakfast and then walked back to the point where I started following the signs in the opposite direction yesterday. Namely, I found myself walking on the Fishermen´s Trail just a little below Porto Covo. The stage officially starts at the tourism office and that is just before crossing at a little beach. So after this, you keep following the coastline all day.
You soon walk on the beach in front of Ilha do Pessegueiro, a pretty little island with a fort on it. I saw it yesterday and was curious how close you would get. Not very close, but of course it appeals to the imagination to see such a fort on an inaccessible island.
So it also surprised me when after this I had to go inland a bit and was sent against the direction myself. Only to be sent in the right direction again immediately afterwards. The path I walked there was slightly less muddy than the rest so in itself this was welcome. When I came out of this section, I was allowed to walk on duckboards. Always great fun! This is a section between two large car parks and after a while another kind of building. Along the way I come across all kinds of campers from all parts of Europe.
After this, I found myself walking high over the wild coast of Portugal with abysses to my right of sometimes 100 metres. So really paying attention, not walking while daydreaming or taking photos. I walked with the hiking poles and had a slow pace through the sand in which I sank deep every step. My knee, which has been bothering me for a few days, is doing fine. The slightly slower pace is good for it. Yet again, it is strange that I still overtake a couple and she ‘compliments’ me on my pace. I walk with about 10 kilos on my back, she with about 5 to 6.
On a nice rock that asked me to sit on it, I take a break. I can sit nicely on it and it is slightly hollowed out so I can put my bag on it so I can lean my upper body against it. Totally super! When I have just sat there for a while, the Indian man walks up with a Brit. They compliment me on my seat and then walk on.
Hiking along the Atlantic Ocean
Safe and Healthy Travel
I find it strange that people walk together so quickly. He started alone from MUTE hostel this morning and so met this man along the way. I also bump into people but don’t stick around, somehow then I find I have to respect their privacy but also want to keep setting my own pace. Enjoying a chat here and there but it’s still my journey. I walk around thinking about this for quite a while afterwards. What is right? Or more so why is it right for me?
You learn from another, you also learn from yourself. Travelling alone has taught me so much about myself. Where is the right middle ground?
Of course, I am now working towards a trip I want to take with others. So in the future, I will be able to travel less alone. I may also have less of a need to travel alone. The path I was on has brought me exactly what I needed. How nice is it to realise that?
So I walk for some time thinking about that but obviously keep paying close attention to where I am walking. Still, I miss a postsign twice and almost walked inland. As soon as I see / notice this I turn around and find the path again.
Around 2 o’clock I walk into Vila Nova de Milfontes and check into my hotel. What a super hotel for just 40 euros! I just manage to join the lunch buffet which closes at 3 pm. Then I check my room and it turns out I just have an outdoor pool on my terrace! After washing some clothes and taking a shower, I explore the town a bit.
What a gem again. The Mira river separates the village from the rest of the coast. I think I’ll have to walk around it a bit tomorrow but that’s a worry for tomorrow. Now I am sitting delightfully on the elevated terrace of hotel typing this.
Stage 3 – Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve – 15,5 km
After a nice breakfast at my hotel in Vila Nova de Milfontes, I left with a light sunshine and cool temperature. Out of the centre and down just before the roundabout to come out via a path to the bridge that crosses the river Mira. You can skip this one and go by ferry. I think it only goes in summer because I didn’t see it this morning or yesterday. I did see the place where it leaves from.
Now I had a nice view over the river and the Atlantic Ocean. A bit after the bridge left into the nature reserve, a bit of moorland and then a stretch with some abandoned properties. Super nicely painted!
This stretch I walked together with a German woman, she walked a lot slower and I did not see her later. This German woman also walked behind me the whole time yesterday, when I was already eating lunch she came by and we waved to each other. So this morning we spoke to each other briefly. That’s how you bump into each other at different times each time. So nice!
After this I descended to the river and where the ferry would moor on the other side, a little further the path took me to the left. I walked along the coast again, at first it was still meadows and overgrown dunes but slowly but surely the sand began to soften and the vegetation lower.
Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal – Safe and Healthy Travel
It did take a very long time for the ocean to come into view. Some parts were almost like going through the jungle, a jungle of bamboo. Very nice paths but sometimes very densely grown. Once I was walking along the coast and it was open again, the Indian man and the Brit came up behind me again. They had got stuck with the bag several times…. Yes, you really had to squat sometimes to get through the path and pass under the trees.
After another hour along the coast, the route took me inland and I was already walking towards Almograve. As I walked under the trees in the narrow path, it had rained slightly and once I was over it burst into a heavy downpour. I sat inside eating a sandwich at a local joint. Meanwhile, the Indian guy and Brit came in. Later, the Frenchman I saw the 2nd day on the Historical Way. Shortly after, a young woman I hadn’t seen before. Last, the couple from Switzerland also came in.
Hiking along the Atlantic Ocean – Safe and Healthy Travel
Stage 4 – Almograve to Zambujeira do Mar – 22 km
Set out this morning after a simple breakfast at the youth hostel in Almograve. You can make a right-hand detour around the village but I went straight through and then left. That saves 15 minutes I read and I had already seen the part of that village yesterday. So straight to the coast. Just before it, turn left down a long wide road.
It took a while before I got back to walking on nice sandy paths with the beautiful views of the coastline. There you do immediately walk a lot slower but that doesn’t matter. I have plenty of time. At a nice spot I grabbed my selfie stick and took a picture so you can see how you walk there. It wasn’t long before the Brit and the Indian man arrived. Let them pass by as I continued walking and a bit further on I also did some yoga exercises. My lower back is quite stiff because of the backpack. And while I was at it, I also did the headstand again.
Yoga on the Rota Vicentina – Portugal
After walking some more I left the coast and suddenly found myself in a forest. Strange, no more wide views and the murmur of the ocean disappears immediately. Of course it’s autumn here too…although it doesn’t always feel like it. The moment the sun comes out, it seems like a summer day. So nice!
In the village.. I don’t know the name. A cup of coffee would’ve been nice but the whole terrace was full of Asian men. I estimated them to be Nepali before and again. How strange that such a small village seems overrun by Nepalis. I Googled that and then I did read that some 200,000 Nepalis now live in Portugal. More than 50,000 came to Portugal this year alone. Portugal has too few people to get the work done and so that gives Nepalis a good reason to come here. People from Bangladesh too, I read, and particularly Hindu people. How strange? What other link do they have with Portugal I wonder?
But I walked on and ate a piece of cake and my banana on a bench in the sunshine. Also fine, that cup of coffee will come when I’m over 🙂
After this, I was led back to the coast and walked a fairly monotonous road along the coastline with occasional views of the ocean. Only at the end, after a small settlement of fishermen and another long boring road did I find myself walking on nice paths again. Here again, I had a great view of a beautiful inaccessible beach while the sun was also shining!
Hiking along the Atlantic Ocean – Portugal
In Zambujeira do Mar, I first had a nice lunch, 5 mackerels…. They were really tasty but I always make such a massacre of them. I never learnt it properly somehow. The day before yesterday I had other fish and I managed to dismantle them pretty well…. These little ones reminded me of the massacre I left in Lisbon years ago with the sardines too…. But yes, I did eat well I have to be honest. Especially those potatoes! So simple but so tasty!
Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal
Stage 5 – Ambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe – 18,5 km
Left Ambujeira do Mar without a cup of coffee. I searched briefly in the city centre and found nothing open. Later I heard from the Brit/Indian man and the German woman that they did have another cup of coffee and then just in a different street from where I had looked….
The weather was super and after descending to make another steep climb up, I was warm enough to take off my sports jacket and shortly afterwards my jumper. Nice walking in shirt in December. The path curved off and went through a forest and finally a very long stretch along a fence behind which there were horses and alpacas. After this, we did come across another fine stretch of walking along the Atlantic Ocean. The views and abysses remain impressive!
The views were again wonderful and I took a nice break along the route overlooking the Atlantic Ocean after an hour and a half. I did some yoga exercises and sat on my flip-flops for a while. (There are no benches anywhere, so if you come, bring something you can sit on if you like.) During my break, first the Brit and the Indian man came along…. Shortly after, the German woman also came by…and then I continued on my way too.
After this, I walked with the German woman for some time. After about 45 minutes, we met the others again who then took a break. The German woman joined them and I walked on. Along the deep chasms and beautiful vistas…. I then stood each time looking around me and at one point there were many storks. They were sitting on the rocks just off the coast. How artful it is how they land on their nest. Amazing to watch, you see them come flying in with their legs right under them navigating into the wind and right on the nest. Really super! As I stood watching, I was overtaken by the men again.
As I continued walking I soon came to a village and there on the terrace were the men, we could have lunch here. Finally I could order my coffee…and a salad to go with it. Delicious! Super nice sunshine there and a little rest on the feet. (I always take off the shoes and preferably the socks too, but now that I’ve taped some parts, the socks are stuck to them so I leave them on)
Meanwhile, the German woman came to catch up with us again. That way you kind of walk together all day. She had already had lunch so she kept walking. The last stretch was another beautiful path over the high coast to the coastal village of Odeceixe. Suddenly you find yourself on a high cliff facing this white town. Below it is a fine beach and a river going inland. We then had to walk along that for 4km, inland…. To get to Odeceixe where I and the rest also had the overnight stay. Also end point of this stage.
Hiking along the Atlantic Ocean – Safe and Healthy Travel
During sunset, I walked all the way up and sat by the mill. There were all lights around it and I had hoped they would come on…. Unfortunately, this was not yet the case. After this, the four of us had pizza. And oh yes, the Frenchman I’ve been seeing from the beginning is also there. He is camping and really stays at a distance every time. He doesn’t interfere with anything at all, he’s even worse than me in that hahaha!
After this stage, I will almost skip 2. It is going to rain and then to walk a stage already known as one of the lesser ones is not really my cup of tea. The German decided earlier (few days ago) that she was going to take a bus or taxi a bit further down the road. I decided I would go with her. The route, Fishermen’s Trail continues for 4 more stages after my booklet ends and then I am more likely to do those stages. These are more southern and so more likely to have nice weather…. I hope!
With this, then, I close this blog with the first stages of the Fishermen’s Trail, hiking along the Atlantic Ocean. I highly recommend it. I think it’s super to see that rugged coast and be able to walk the beautiful trails of the Rota Vicentina each time.
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