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LIVE from the Camino Caminho Nascente from Tavira - Spring 2021

peregrina2000

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Your talking about cork reminded me of the biggest change I saw the last time I was in Évora — many stores selling everything, from umbrellas to carry-on suitcases, made of cork.

We have a friend who owned a cork “plantation” but wound up selling it because of the amount of theft. She used to explain that it was an excellent investment because of the huge time delay between planting a tree and getting cork from it, and that the trend was only going to continue because few investors are willing to invest in something that won’t give any rewards for at least 20 (?) years. So cork must be getting more and more expensive

And so I’m guessing that cost is the real reason why so many wine producers are going to non-cork substances for their “corks.” But it surely doesn’t seem to be in short supply as you walk through the streets of Évora and see the many products all made of cork. So I guess I don’t understand the economics, but that’s ok. 😁

Love your description of the place in Evoramonte, @jungleboy. In fact, I had to look it up and see that you probably enjoyed an atmospheric dinner outside looking over the Alentejo plains, wow just beautiful! I am assuming, because the letter from the owners shows a guy in a kilt, that it is an expat operation!

I am keeping track of the Alentejo spots you have been to. If I ever get back to a regular Lisbon visit again, a return trip to the Alentejo will be high on my list. Especially in spring, it is such a beautiful part of the world during those months.

Bom caminho from one of your many devoted followers!
 
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Pilger Franz

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Podiensis-Norte-Ingles-SdC; Francigena; Touron.; Bretagne; Lemovic.; Lana; Lusitana (Este)

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 17: Evoramonte to Estremoz (~24km).

Let’s begin with a final look at the view from Evoramonte - which Wendy described as the most stunning view she has seen in Portugal - before we start walking:

E88A6448-F9BE-421A-8747-1A7AC28821FE.jpeg

We left late today (around 9am) because of breakfast at The Place which only starts at around 7:30 once the bread is delivered. That worked out well because it was overcast in the early morning but the sun came out in time for the start of our walk.

For the first couple of hours, in particular, the trail was beautiful and green as we passed cork forests, olive trees and wildflowers. I’m not sure why but the last part of yesterday and the first part of today were especially picturesque and greener than usual in the Alentejo - and this, of course, culminates in the stunning view from Evoramonte over precisely those areas.

Yesterday I found it hard to capture the beauty of the scenery in photos because the best parts were in the middle of the day when the light is not conducive to taking good shots. This morning the conditions were better so hopefully these pics give an idea of the scenery.

1A825D22-0BFB-4C6E-BA81-B6099E40B12C.jpeg

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72D7BBE4-ECDA-4110-89C7-70AE4BB5B391.jpeg

Unfortunately by lunchtime I had easily the worst allergies of this camino so far. I took an extra pill beyond the one-per-day that had been working until today but it didn’t help. I sneezed my way through the second half of the stage and it wasn’t fun.

We arrived in Estremoz at about 5pm and for various reasons we have decided to take another day off tomorrow. Even though it’s only been three days since the last one, this will give us time to explore Estremoz, do some camino admin (grocery/washing/booking) and recover from our various ailments.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Love your description of the place in Evoramonte, @jungleboy. In fact, I had to look it up and see that you probably enjoyed an atmospheric dinner outside looking over the Alentejo plains, wow just beautiful! I am assuming, because the letter from the owners shows a guy in a kilt, that it is an expat operation!
Yes we did enjoy a great dinner overlooking the plains! And yes, it’s a Scottish/South African operation and Vicki (the Scot) is very welcoming and gives lots of personal attention. It is really a wonderful place, the accommodation highlight of this camino so far with all due respect to the Alvito castle.

I am keeping track of the Alentejo spots you have been to. If I ever get back to a regular Lisbon visit again, a return trip to the Alentejo will be high on my list. Especially in spring, it is such a beautiful part of the world during those months.
Or you could just walk the Nascente and see it all! 🤣

I think The Place in Evoramonte is a ‘must’. It’s the only accommodation in the small village inside the castle, so it’s the only one with the views (plus the hospitality/comfort are wonderful too). There are many little chapels (ermidas) on the plains nearby and you can do a guided walk that takes in some of them.

I also really like Mértola and think you would too for its vestiges from many historical eras. And a great rural option with a car would be Mesquita, the albergue village. A couple of the houses in the village have been renovated for short-term rental and there are also walks that you can do from the village in addition to visiting Alcoutim on the Algarve side.

P.S. Wendy will wade into the thread tonight or tomorrow (she likes wading, good for the feet!) to join the discussion about cork.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
I am reading and reading and remembering the way... thank you for reporting!
Thank you :)

36 km is really a large bit! I had a break at the Quinta São Jorge. It is noted at km 712 in http://www.jakobus-info.de/jakobuspilger/96-spain-lusitana.htm - ok, too late for you. Perhaps you will find other good hints.
The only Quinta São Jorge I see on Google Maps is too far east (in Corval) to be the one you’re talking about. We looked and asked several people and couldn’t find any places to break up this stage. O Meu Monte could have been an option but they say they have a two-night minimum and didn’t answer when we called several times.
 
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Pilger Franz

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Podiensis-Norte-Ingles-SdC; Francigena; Touron.; Bretagne; Lemovic.; Lana; Lusitana (Este)
The Quinta São Jorge is near to La Nossa Senhora da Tourega and left hand to the N380.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
The Quinta São Jorge is near to La Nossa Senhora da Tourega and left hand to the N380.
OK, so it’s on/near the N380, the parallel road to the west from the road the arrows take you on. This is the way @Friend from Barquinha suggested, and it’s also close to the megaliths and ruins of a Roman bath. So I think diverting the camino this way would be a good idea even though it’s longer. I am in contact with the organisation responsible for the camino and we are supposed to have some kind of debrief after I finish, so that will be one of the points to discuss.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 18: A rest day in Estremoz with over 300km now behind us (but 700km+ to go!).

Estremoz is quite a fascinating place and even though our recent pace has been pretty slow, we’re really happy to have taken a rest day here. It’s a walled hill town with additional interior walls forming a castle and there’s definitely a day of exploring to be done.

B6AC54AD-3DBF-46EC-B7B0-F96E1F375FE2.jpeg

Yesterday afternoon we entered the old city through the Évora gate (which still has a drawbridge!) and our first impression was that everything was a bit dilapidated and rough around the edges compared with the previous historic towns we’ve been in. Parts of the walls are overgrown and unkempt in this area, there are some abandoned buildings, and overall it seems like a poor neighbourhood - but it’s still very interesting to explore. Other parts of the old town are much more elegant, so there’s a nice atmosphere range for curious pilgrims!

The castle itself contains a Torre Menagem (keep), a Pousada (Parador equivalent), a chapel of Saint Isabel (the Portuguese queen who did the camino and died in Estremoz, although her tomb is in Coimbra), a Manueline prison which has been very tastefully converted into a bar/restaurant (where we ate a very good pineapple curry for lunch today) and a municipal museum with the official stamp!

Apart from all of this, there is a fantastic new azulejo museum in Estremoz that just opened last July and houses the biggest private collection of azulejos in Portugal. It’s very well presented and lit, it’s housed in a palace with azulejos in situ, and there’s a free wine tasting at the end (and what self-respecting pilgrim isn’t up for some wine at 10:30am?). It’s been a while since I’ve been to the tile museum in Lisbon but I don’t think it could top this one - I was super impressed. Here’s one photo with lots more on Instagram.

819D547D-B367-479F-A545-CD213AE42D56.jpeg

We also visited a workshop to see Estremoz’s famous clay bonecos (‘dolls’, but more like figurines in this context) being produced and displayed. They were a lot more elaborate than I had expected and we were lucky that the artist had one Santiago left on display that has been sold but not shipped.

DA8CDBC7-667D-435F-8CEE-BCABEECD9936.jpeg

Back to the trail tomorrow. It’s a bit unfortunate that the next several days all seem to give us options of walking less (15-20km) or more (30km+) than we’d ideally walk with nothing in the 20-25km sweet spot. So we’re likely to take the shorter options - at least for the next two days, and then we’ll see how we go after that.
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Your talking about cork reminded me of the biggest change I saw the last time I was in Évora — many stores selling everything, from umbrellas to carry-on suitcases, made of cork.

We have a friend who owned a cork “plantation” but wound up selling it because of the amount of theft. She used to explain that it was an excellent investment because of the huge time delay between planting a tree and getting cork from it, and that the trend was only going to continue because few investors are willing to invest in something that won’t give any rewards for at least 20 (?) years. So cork must be getting more and more expensive

And so I’m guessing that cost is the real reason why so many wine producers are going to non-cork substances for their “corks.” But it surely doesn’t seem to be in short supply as you walk through the streets of Évora and see the many products all made of cork. So I guess I don’t understand the economics, but that’s ok. 😁
Yes, we also see all manner of cork products in Lisbon souvenir shops, including umbrellas, shoes, and now face masks. I was under the impression that the cork industry was in trouble because of wineries switching to cheaper materials, so I assumed that was why they were diversifying with other products. I'm pretty sure I read that in a guidebook years ago.

But according to David, who gave us the tour of his cork factory, those souvenirs make up a very small percentage of cork production, while the bulk of their businesses is still from wineries. Apparently they haven't suffered that much, because even though some wineries have switched to plastic, the production of wine overall has increased. And cork remains the only real option for good quality wine that is going to be kept bottled for more than a year or so, because it's the only material that is just porous enough to allow the wine to breathe.

But yes, cork is more expensive, so that's the main reason some wineries have stopped using it. In reaction, the cork producers now also offer cheaper corks made from the leftover scraps of cork glued together. These don't have the same breathable properties as whole cork, but they can compete in price with plastic.
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
According to David, who gave us the tour of his cork factory, those souvenirs make up a very small percentage of cork production, while the bulk of their businesses is still from wineries. Apparently they haven't suffered that much, because even though some wineries have switched to plastic, the production of wine overall has increased. And cork remains the only real option for good quality wine that is going to be kept bottled for more than a year or so, because it's the only material that is just porous enough to allow the wine to breathe.

But yes, cork is more expensive, so that's the main reason some wineries have stopped using it. In reaction, the cork producers now also offer cheaper corks made from the leftover scraps of cork glued together. These don't have the same breathable properties as whole cork, but they can compete in price with plastic.
Another short digression...Agree with all the above. Apparently, the use of synthetic corks has peaked!

Another use: cork flooring is now in vogue again, with design emphasis on good old Midcentury Modern from the 50s and 60s. I grew up in a house from that era with cork flooring. Now, have just done a small apartment updating, and lo and behold, when we chose to use cork flooring (soft, quiet, warm underfoot--great stuff!) it was made in Portugal.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
I also thought I might take this opportunity to note that seven of our last eight stages have ended in historic towns - those being Beja, Cuba, Alvito, Viana do Alentejo, Évora, Evoramonte and now Estremoz (with São Miguel de Machede being the exception).

This is a significant concentration of historic towns and cultural heritage in a pretty small area, especially for a region that is known for being underpopulated. Five of the seven aforementioned towns have medieval castles, all have interesting churches from various eras, there’s a Roman temple etc. It’s been pretty great to see these impressive monuments day after day.

If I think back to the regular CP, it doesn’t boast this kind of concentration of historic towns. From Lisbon to Porto, there are the big three of Santarém, Tomar and Coimbra, but between these places there aren’t really many (any?) places on the route with castles or other medieval heritage. After Porto the number of historic towns increases, but I’m not sure it surpasses what we’ve seen in the last 10 days.

All of this is to say that this really is a terrific camino. It obviously lacks pilgrims and pilgrim amenities (which may rule it out immediately for some - and that’s fair enough), and not speaking Portuguese would likely pose some difficulties, but apart from that it has everything you could want in a camino: good way marking, picturesque countryside, mostly rural walking, a good combination of villages and towns, cultural heritage from many historical eras, and an opportunity to explore an off-the-beaten-track region of Portugal. Plus soon it might even have a Wise Pilgrim app! ;)
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
I also thought I might take this opportunity to note that seven of our last eight stages have ended in historic towns - those being Beja, Cuba, Alvito, Viana do Alentejo, Évora, Evoramonte and now Estremoz (with São Miguel de Machede being the exception).

This is a significant concentration of historic towns and cultural heritage in a pretty small area, especially for a region that is known for being underpopulated.

If I think back to the regular CP, it doesn’t boast this kind of concentration of historic towns. From Lisbon to Porto, there are the big three of Santarém, Tomar and Coimbra, but between these places there aren’t really many (any?) places on the route with castles or other medieval heritage.

All of this is to say that this really is a terrific camino. It has everything you could want in a camino: good way marking, picturesque countryside, mostly rural walking, a good combination of villages and towns, cultural heritage from many historical eras, and an opportunity to explore an off-the-beaten-track region of Portugal. Plus soon it might even have a Wise Pilgrim app! ;)
Great observations! The economic realities of Portugal are/have been such that this has always been an underpopulated part of the country. No big rivers, so no alluvial soils that are easy to farm. Killingly high summer temperatures. A tradition of large upper-class landholdings, rather than small farms.

Good context, though a few years old, from Lonely Planet:


This area was the breadbasket of the Romans, and later the Portuguese themselves. It was Moorish until the late 1200s. (Alentejo means something like "beyond the Tejo," which was the southern border of medieval Portugal.) And then after Portugal expanded south, these historic towns, especially those near the eastern border, in some cases became bastions against the Spanish, with whom the Portuguese often were at odds.

It's always been the beloved yet almost forgotten part of the country. Now it's coming into its own. Beautiful and with all kinds of possibilities!
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Caminho Nascente Day 18: A rest day in Estremoz with over 300km now behind us (but 700km+ to go!).

Estremoz is quite a fascinating place and even though our recent pace has been pretty slow, we’re really happy to have taken a rest day here. It’s a walled hill town with additional interior walls forming a castle and there’s definitely a day of exploring to be done.

View attachment 100283

Yesterday afternoon we entered the old city through the Évora gate (which still has a drawbridge!) and our first impression was that everything was a bit dilapidated and rough around the edges compared with the previous historic towns we’ve been in. Parts of the walls are overgrown and unkempt in this area, there are some abandoned buildings, and overall it seems like a poor neighbourhood - but it’s still very interesting to explore. Other parts of the old town are much more elegant, so there’s a nice atmosphere range for curious pilgrims!

Apart from all of this, there is a fantastic new azulejo museum in Estremoz that just opened last July and houses the biggest private collection of azulejos in Portugal. It’s very well presented and lit, it’s housed in a palace with azulejos in situ, and there’s a free wine tasting at the end (and what self-respecting pilgrim isn’t up for some wine at 10:30am?). It’s been a while since I’ve been to the tile museum in Lisbon but I don’t think it could top this one - I was super impressed.
Thank you for the heads-up on the tile museum! My partner is a ceramicist and made tiles himself for many years, and we're always up for Portuguese tiles...

I just looked up the website, and this is a very big deal in the tile world. We have been to the Lisboa museum, and this looks like a far more extensive collection, with connections to Spanish sources as well as Portuguese ones.

 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Thank you for the heads-up on the tile museum! My partner is a ceramicist and made tiles himself for many years, and we're always up for Portuguese tiles...

I just looked up the website, and this is a very big deal in the tile world. We have been to the Lisboa museum, and this looks like a far more extensive collection, with connections to Spanish sources as well as Portuguese ones.

Your partner (and you too I’m sure) would love it. It’s really beautifully done and yes, there’s an introduction panel to both Spanish and Portuguese tiles and the ground floor shows the development of tiles from both countries in and after the Muslim period - this was my favourite part.

One of the staff said they had 10,000 visitors last August (the first month after opening), which sounds to me like a decent number for a rural museum during a pandemic.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 19: Estremoz to Sousel (~19km).

Today was a short and pleasant day. It was a very rural stage, with no villages between the start and end points, and most of the trail was dirt. The scenery mostly consisted of olive groves and cork trees, but it wasn’t as beautiful as it was around Evoramonte.

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There weren’t too many noteworthy things about the stage, although we did cross an old railway line a couple of times. According to the official guide, the hope is that one day this entire stage will be an eco path along the tracks.

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Sousel is nice enough but fairly nondescript. One quite interesting detail for pilgrims is that an abandoned building in town has two large shells sculpted onto its façade, with swords above them (apparently something like this also exists in Salamanca). The guide suggests that the building was once an albergue.

2E7CA6CE-A916-43AD-A47C-EBF44D6F9005.jpeg
 
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Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Caminho Nascente Day 19: Estremoz to Sousel (~19km).

Today was a short and pleasant day. It was a very rural stage, with no villages between the start and end points, and most of the trail was dirt. The scenery mostly consisted of olive groves and cork trees, but it wasn’t as beautiful as it was around Evoramonte....

There weren’t too many noteworthy things about the stage, although we did cross an old railway line a couple of times. According to the official guide, the hope is that one day this entire stage will be an eco path along the tracks.
We noticed this abandoned railway line just north of Vale de Peso, where we stayed a couple of years ago on a road trip. The tiny town had an abandoned olive-packing plant; presumably the reason for the rail connection. I get the feeling there were a lot of state-subsidized businesses in rural parts of the country prior to 1974 that just don't make sense anymore, and their premises are abandoned everywhere. And same was true for the rail network. Although they *are* re-connecting some parts of the country that were abandoned by rail, in some areas--this one likely one of them--it just doesn't make sense.

But an eco-pista would be great!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Nick and Wendy, thanks so much for sharing 👍. I’m loving your reports.
This is MY type of camino.
I’m hoping you’re recording accommodation details for those following your footsteps on the Nascente. Your Caminho from Lisboa last year was a great source of info for me in Oct 2020.
Maybe its time for me to get serious about learning Portuguese while I’m in ‘wait mode’ ;) for the next one. Thanks again, Grace.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Hi Grace, nice to hear from you again. If you like solitude and a bit of adventure, this is a great camino! Having at least a bit of Portuguese would be pretty essential though so maybe you should indeed get serious!

And yes, I am keeping track of stages, accommodation and prices so I’ll put it all in one post at the end.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Huh, not so beautiful as the day before? Your pics must be lying, then!
;)

The guide suggests that the building was once an albergue.
Here's to it becoming so again!
This looks like a gorgeous camino, and now I find myself wondering if it can be linked with the Camino da Geira. Portugal has never really pulled me, but this may change that.

Thanks, Nick and Wendy, for keeping us in the loop!
🙏
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
learning a lot about cork production and seeing some cool items like giant dice!
I can't imagine that cork makes a fair die, but as a novelty piece of furniture, I think it's cool.
On a boat that I sailed on many years ago, one of the seats was an old cork float from the boat's tunny fishing days. It was just the right height for sitting at the dining table and quite comfortable to sit on. There must have been so much demand for cork in those days - from wine producers, fishing boats, and other customers. The industry must be a fraction of the size that it once was?
 
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Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
There must have been so much demand for cork in those days - from wine producers, fishing boats, and other customers. The industry must be a fraction of the size that it once was?
Oh yeah--there are several huge old, abandoned cork factories in various towns that have been turned into public space like malls or community centres. The industry is coming back a bit now, but I think until a few years ago, I think a lot of the raw, peeled-off cork was shipped offshore from Portugal for cheaper processing.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
This looks like a gorgeous camino, and now I find myself wondering if it can be linked with the Camino da Geira. Portugal has never really pulled me, but this may change that.
It’s a long camino but that link can indeed be done and that’s our new (third) plan now. The Nascente is about 30 stages Tavira-Trancoso, then 7 stages on the Torres Trancoso-Braga, and then the Geira.

Thanks, Nick and Wendy, for keeping us in the loop!
🙏
You’re welcome! 😊
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
There must have been so much demand for cork in those days - from wine producers, fishing boats, and other customers. The industry must be a fraction of the size that it once was?
The last house I owned, in NZ, had cork flooring in the kichen and entry - from (I was told) Portugal. The house would have been built in the '70s, and the cork wasn't little tiles, but had obviously come in rolls, about three feet or a meter wide. It was lovely to look at, and lovely on the body - as when in the kichen, on one's feet for extended periods.
Now I guess such floors would be a huge luxury.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 20: Sousel to Fronteira (~17km).

Today was a lovely day in the countryside! As has been the case for most of the Alentejo (except that day into Évora!), almost the whole walk was on dirt roads. For much of the stage the scenery was more like that of a week or more ago: open plains with overgrown golden brown grasses dotted with the occasional tree. But a few times we entered completely different green patches with olive trees (not many cork trees today though). Here’s a look at this contrasting scenery:

46D55EE5-D8BC-45E0-ADC4-4144B0E13341.jpeg

4C32A57B-BBC9-48B8-9E96-112AA1EF572E.jpeg

The last part of the walk was on an eco path on the disused train line (as I mentioned yesterday as a future possibility for that stage), and that will be the case for about 15km tomorrow too.

We haven’t explored Fronteira yet but it doesn’t seem like a super interesting place. We’re staying at the fire station - actually an annex across the street that the bombeiros provide for pilgrims for free. We have a small and spartan but perfectly adequate twin room with an attached bathroom.
 
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Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Caminho Nascente Day 20: Sousel to Fronteira (~17km).

Today was a lovely day in the countryside! As has been the case for most of the Alentejo (except that day into Évora!), almost the whole walk was on dirt roads. For much of the stage the scenery was more like that of a week or more ago: open plains with overgrown golden brown grasses dotted with the occasional tree. But a few times we entered completely different green patches with olive trees (not many cork trees today though). Here’s a look at this contrasting scenery:
Coming up on a river, just after Fronteira; what looks on the map like a slowly meandering one. You're probably into different soils now, more alluvial, which perhaps the olives like more than the cork trees do!?

And looking at the area through GoogleMaps and their photos (2010) this photo of the abandoned railway station in Fronteira, lovely as all the Portuguese stations are, reminds me of the Canadian prairie towns. They, too have abandoned railway stations and grain elevators as transportation and farming have changed so much over the years. The same is true in Portugal! The Portuguese stations definitely have way more charm.

1621396198565.png
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
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Coming up on a river, just after Fronteira; what looks on the map like a slowly meandering one.

The early morning view of the river from the bridge was very nice!

8F2A1EEC-4556-4B51-A8CA-9CDD970F1F5D.jpeg

And looking at the area through GoogleMaps and their photos (2010) this photo of the abandoned railway station in Fronteira, lovely as all the Portuguese stations are, reminds me of the Canadian prairie towns.

View attachment 100521

What I found interesting was the station was very well kept up and had even been restored pretty recently, judging by the new-looking roof tiles, even though the train line has been abandoned for decades. I guess the station has passed into heritage status beyond any functional use. But yes, it was nice and I should have taken a photo of it.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 21: Fronteira to Cabeço de Vide (~15km).

This was a really short day to begin with and because we left earlier than we had been in recent days, we were in Cabeço de Vide before 11am and at our accommodation at the sulphur baths outside town by about 11:20.

The trail today was entirely on the eco path. This made for very easy walking, and the tree-lined path gave us the most shade we’ve had on this camino (though it wasn’t hot during the walk). On the flip side, we didn’t get as many sweeping views of the countryside as usual because of the trees and the fact that the path (given its former life as a railway track) is cut into the landscape sometimes, meaning there are banks rising up on one or both sides, so it’s more restrictive than normal. This is what the eco path looks like:

10819CE9-327C-44F8-9F91-57994E99627C.jpeg

As for whether locals use the path for walking/cycling, we didn’t see a single other person on it either today or on the shorter section yesterday. Of the beings we came across today, this cow-like horse was the clear standout!

99BF8181-6A7C-4450-BC12-422F2B8E3334.jpeg

The sulphur bath area is a funny place. It’s apparently the only one in all of Portugal but currently the baths can only be used by prior appointment because of COVID-19. So there’s not much point to being here at the moment except that the bar attached to the hotel at the baths charges only €0.80 for a glass of wine. We were originally quoted €38 for the room but when Wendy asked for a pilgrim discount, they agreed and are now charging us … €10. So we can have 35 glasses of wine and call it even!

In hindsight, we should have gone further to Alter do Chão today. But on the bright side, we’ll have all afternoon there tomorrow to explore the castle and other sites, and we’ve booked accommodation in a restored convent so it’ll be nice to have more time there too.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Your photography still amazes. Beautiful!
Thank you! 😊

If you’re still thinking of doing this route later in the year you will get to see all this beauty for yourself!
 
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peregrina2000

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The Castle in Alter de Chao is beautifully restored, and one of the few I've visited in Portugal where it's not terrifying walking 'round the ramparts at the top. Guardrails, which by no means are standard everywhere! Well worth a visit.
That’s similar to my experience in both Spain and Portugal. My anecdotal observation is that the guardrails go up only when EU funding has been given, so it will be interesting to see if there are any signs about EU funding for this castle. I have been there, but remember it only vaguely — I’m telling you, this thread is re-awakening my love of the Alentejo!
 
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jungleboy

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Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
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Be careful after the Cabeço de Vide (sulfur baths) and after Alpalhão (before Nisa) with the cows and oxen that graze. After Alpalhão we were attacked by the bulls.
I also inform you that after Alter Pedroso, I advise you not to follow the path on which you are marked (follow the road). There is a closed and high gate, which is very difficult to get through.
Two of these three things were on today’s stage. There were some loose cows near the trail on a couple of occasions, but they seemed pretty scared of us and quickly moved away.

We decided to take the marked path after Alter Pedroso anyway to see the megaliths and because asphalt is really bad for Wendy’s feet. The gate was locked but a pedestrian gate has been built into the left side so we opened that and went through with no problems.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
This really is looking like a camino I would love. Let's encourage a few more pilgrims so that people like me can occasionally enjoy some English speaking company.
We have loved it. We have now walked about the same distance as Lisbon-Porto and I very much prefer the Nascente. If you like open spaces, lots of countryside, being off the beaten track, castles and small historical towns, different eras of history, and a bit of adventure/trailblazing, this is a brilliant choice.

The downsides at the moment are that you will meet no/few other pilgrims, there’s no albergue network, there are often very few places for coffee/food, and pilgrims with no Portuguese might struggle at times.

As for encouraging more pilgrims, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. At the moment, hardly anyone has even heard of it (as most of us hadn’t until a few weeks ago!), so just getting the name out there and having discussions about it here is a first step.

The route has only been fully way-marked for two years and we’ve been in the pandemic for more than half of that time. Realistically, it’s not going to become popular overnight but there’s so much potential for it. @peregrina2000’s comment way up-thread about a new route needing bottom-up champions to promote it was very interesting, since this is a top-down initiative. I have been in touch with the Caminhos de Santiago Alentejo and Ribatejo and I’m hoping to have more dialogue with them and to collaborate in some way. I’m also providing content for a @wisepilgrim app and will publish content on my website when we’re finished. So hopefully all of this will help a bit!
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Two of these three things were on today’s stage. There were some loose cows near the trail on a couple of occasions, but they seemed pretty scared of us and quickly moved away.

We decided to take the marked path after Alter Pedroso anyway to see the megaliths and because asphalt is really bad for Wendy’s feet. The gate was locked but a pedestrian gate has been built into the left side so we opened that and went through with no problems.
Google Mapped Alter Pedroso--never got there! Got to say, this is one time when the photos attached to a Google Map location are really worth looking at. This looks like a beautiful place--and I guess, starting to climb out of the flats of the Alentejo...


Bom caminho, you two. You really are covering some gorgeous ground.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
The Castle in Alter de Chao is beautifully restored, and one of the few I've visited in Portugal where it's not terrifying walking 'round the ramparts at the top. Guardrails, which by no means are standard everywhere! Well worth a visit.

That’s similar to my experience in both Spain and Portugal. My anecdotal observation is that the guardrails go up only when EU funding has been given, so it will be interesting to see if there are any signs about EU funding for this castle. I have been there, but remember it only vaguely — I’m telling you, this thread is re-awakening my love of the Alentejo!

Re: EU funding, there are information boards at the castle giving details about the restoration but I forgot to pay attention 🤦‍♂️

At the Viana do Alentejo castle, we were forbidden from going up the previously accessible ramparts (no guardrails). The castle receptionist said there had been injuries and even deaths at castles in Portugal owing to people falling while trying to take selfies. The worst one I’ve seen for safety in Portugal is Óbidos, so I wonder if the ramparts are off-limits there too now. Despite the lack of guardrails, walking on the walls is such a highlight of being there.
 
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Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
The worst one I’ve seen for safety in Portugal is Óbidos, so I wonder if the ramparts are off-limits there too. Despite the lack of guardrails, walking on the walls is such a highlight of being there.
Marvão, which someone in another thread was complimenting in the last day or so, is another one that is very scary too. Quite like Óbidos.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 22: Cabeço de Vide to Alter do Chão (~14km).

Yet another lovely (and short!) walk in the Alentejo countryside.

With the eco path ending at Cabeço de Vide, we were back in our familiar and comforting overgrown grasslands for part of the day, although there was some variety as well. Alter Pedroso was the only settlement we passed but it was a real highlight, with a lovely church, some ruins of a castle and as @Friend from Barquinha alluded to above, beautiful views over the countryside and down to Alter do Chão.

0873DC7C-59DF-4B00-B2F3-D136CEA13BDA.jpeg

We also passed a megalithic structure that @Friend from Barquinha had alerted us to. It’s right on the camino!

Alter do Chão has a good castle and a nice historic core, but the real highlight for us has been our convent-hotel, which is a steal at €60 for a room. The convent dates from 1617 and is now a 4-star hotel with a pool, which we happily used upon arrival on what has been probably the warmest day on this camino so far at 30 degrees Celsius.

There’s a Roman villa here that can only be visited with a guide and that wasn’t possible today. But given that we have another short day tomorrow, we’re going to do the tour at 10am and then get moving. It gives us more time to spend in our convent and gives me a chance to take some more photos of the castle and town, so in the end it looks like it will work out pretty well.
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 23: Alter do Chão to Crato (~13km).

Yet another short day, and an unusual one as we visited the Roman villa in Alter do Chão and didn’t start walking until after 11am. The villa was worth the visit (if unspectacular), so we were happy with our decision.

Part of the walk was on paved road for the first time in days, but soon we were back on dirt roads/paths. We passed a eucalyptus forest for the first time in weeks, and walked over a medieval bridge and a Roman bridge, so it was an action-packed 13kms!

We ate our picnic lunch under this rail bridge, with wildflowers bursting out of the river.

9CCFE160-7582-4550-A0CE-7C0B97A50F14.jpeg

Crato is more interesting than I had expected. It has a small historic core of narrow alleys and Évora-style white-and-yellow buildings, including a few abandoned ones. It’s also a centre for the Order of Malta in Portugal, and you can see a bit of all of this in this photo (note the Order of Malta cross on one side of the pillory):

34774234-6A27-4B0A-8D8D-DE3D556AE85F.jpeg

Tomorrow will be a bit longer and cooler, but it’s also forecast to be cloudy all day. Hopefully the sun peeks out every now and then!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 24: Crato to Alpalhão (~20km).

The great adventure that is the Caminho Nascente continues!

Barely 2km beyond Crato, the monastery at Flor da Rosa is ‘the most important fortress-church in Portugal’, according to the official guide (a bit optimistic, perhaps, given that the cathedral in Lisbon is also a fortress-church). I had never heard of it but it was certainly impressive and the sun came out just long enough for me to take a satisfactory photo on an otherwise overcast morning:

DF7A40ED-B89B-46C1-A4F6-1EB590B2FF51.jpeg

Unfortunately the monastery didn’t open until 10am, and since we arrived before 8, we decided to keep going without seeing the inside. But it might be worthwhile returning another time.

A short section of the trail soon after the monastery was one of my favourite stretches of the whole camino. We walked over a tiny old footbridge and then on a barely-discernible single-track path overflowing with wildflowers.

974C68A3-B59F-4BE2-8426-1DA5D8056E3B.jpeg

Later on, the trail was so overgrown that we weren’t so much trying to find it as trying to create it. There was literally no path at times so we just hacked our way through the weeds until eventually reaching a path.

At Vale do Peso, we got lucky with a bread van for the second time on this camino. We had fillings for sandwiches but no bread and there was no shop in the town, contradicting the official guide. But a friendly tavern owner said the bread van would be along soon and sure enough, it came!

Our destination for the day, Alpalhão, is a pleasant village without any specific attractions. Our accommodation is in a very nice room with a stone arch and doorframe in an 18th-century building, so we’re happy to relax here for the afternoon before going out to eat at a rare and welcome rural Portuguese restaurant with veggie options on the menu!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Do any of the places you’ve stayed or been stamped keep track of pilgrim numbers? It would be interesting to know how many have come before you and Wendy. Bom caminho, Laurie
In a few days we’ll come to Amarelos, which apparently has some kind of albergue. According to this article, it opened in May 2018 and had 9 pilgrims stay in 2018 and 24 in 2019.
 

Pilger Franz

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Podiensis-Norte-Ingles-SdC; Francigena; Touron.; Bretagne; Lemovic.; Lana; Lusitana (Este)
We ate our picnic lunch under this rail bridge, with wildflowers bursting out of the river.
As I learnt earlier you are looking for railway tracks, not only for those out-of-service.
The bridge where you had your lunch bears the only railway line - actually still in service - connecting Badajoz (Spain) and Portalegre - Entroncamento - Lisbon (Portugal), once daily.
After crossing the railway two ancient roman bridges give safe a ground for pilgrim's pace.

 
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Holly Mitchem

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Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016, del Norte 2019
In a few days we’ll come to Amarelos, which apparently has some kind of albergue. According to this article, it opened in May 2018 and had 9 pilgrims stay in 2018 and 24 in 2019.
Well I got up this morning in California and started reading your posts of this so-far wonderful camino from the beginning. Just a thank you for posting your detailed descriptions and splendid photographs! Tt has really set my weekend off on the right foot. Bom caminho!
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)

As I learnt earlier you are looking for railway tracks, not only for those out-of-service.
The bridge where you had your lunch bears the only railway line - actually still in service - connecting Badajoz (Spain) and Portalegre - Entroncamento - Lisbon (Portugal), once daily.
After crossing the railway two ancient roman bridges give safe a ground for pilgrim's pace.
For future reference, jungleboy, that's a very nice little daytrip or quick over-nighter out of Lisboa. One commuter train Lisboa-Entroncamento; transfer to the little diesel-powered-passsenger car in Entronc; and off to Crato or Portalegre or Elvas. The cross-the-border bit to Badajoz was closed because of Covid; not sure if that bit has been restored yet.

When in Portugal, we're one-stop-on from Entronc, in Barquinha, on this line, and boarded there. We really enjoyed the trip! It's a brief and relatively easy way to see this under-explored and beautiful part of the Alentejo.

The schedule is on this CP page https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en/train-times

From the regional schedule for the line, you can see that there is a connecting bus from the Portalegre station, out in the middle of nowhere, to Portalegre, and strangely, from the Crato station into Alter de Chão (south) rather than north into Crato. The bus to/from Portalegre was free, to encourage visitors. Don't know about the other one. (Note that the timetable on the link above is slightly different than the third-party screenshot I show below. Best to check ahead.)

1621715010191.png
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
We have loved it. We have now walked about the same distance as Lisbon-Porto and I very much prefer the Nascente. If you like open spaces, lots of countryside, being off the beaten track, castles and small historical towns, different eras of history, and a bit of adventure/trailblazing, this is a brilliant choice.
Thanks again for all your commentary and the brilliant photos. It is a gorgeous part of the country.

Are you still planning your original route as you continue north, now that you're climbing a bit out of the plains?
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Thanks again for all your commentary and the brilliant photos. It is a gorgeous part of the country.

Are you still planning your original route as you continue north, now that you're climbing a bit out of the plains?
Thank you :)

Our latest plan (the 3rd one!) is to finish the Nascente at its end point in Trancoso, switch to the Torres for about seven stages to Braga, and then walk the Geira e dos Arrieiros to Santiago.

Well I got up this morning in California and started reading your posts of this so-far wonderful camino from the beginning. Just a thank you for posting your detailed descriptions and splendid photographs! Tt has really set my weekend off on the right foot. Bom caminho!
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your weekend! :)
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
When I was marching there in spring 2019 the path was under construction and the surface was loose sand.
Which surface is it now?
It’s sandy but not loose - easy to walk or cycle on. The difficult part is before Fronteira where for about 2km the path is ballast (rocks from the train line).
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
I was just looking up these two intrepid explorers' future route, as they continue north, and found this Unesco Heritage page discussing Portuguese caminho routes. It had some historical context that I hadn't come across before and thought others might enjoy reading it. It seems the ways have collectively been suggested for World Heritage Site status.

Bons caminhos e bons sonhos (dreams)!

 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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It’s sandy but not loose - easy to walk or cycle on. The difficult part is before Fronteira where for about 2km the path is ballast (rocks from the train line).
Ballast...never heard the word before. Yep, that was what was used on the Primitivo on an unusually steep section under a stretch of powerlines. I barely managed staying up on my two feet without sliding on those deep, large course stones...so glad I had poles! I think that for me it was the scariest section on any Camino I've walked, and I wasn't even off-piste.😉
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 25: Alpalhão to Nisa (~14km).

Today was a glorious day weather-wise with barely a cloud in the sky all day and a max of 21 degrees Celsius.

It was also another typically lovely walk in the Alentejo countryside (and 2km on the road). There were no villages/towns on the trail today so it was all very rural as we’ve come to expect. Fortunately we didn’t have any issues with aggressive cows this morning despite a warning up-thread and by a restauranteur in Alpalhão last night.

215BCD64-28A4-4FD9-9EE0-0B39E593851C.jpeg

The second half of the walk was the nicest, as there was more vegetation than usual. There were also a lot of large boulders near the trail, something we’ve started to see in the last 2-3 days. Finally, there was a nice river crossing, tackled either by hopping on top of the elevated stones on the left (as I did it) or by going barefoot in the water (as Wendy did it).

CA3AB5AD-1C36-4910-ADCA-4BFE854C5C4E.jpeg

Nisa is a nice little town that plays up its pottery heritage. The most relevant example of this for us was that there were a couple of way-marking shells on the trail today made in homage to this pottery tradition, which I thought was very cool.

F2C427CE-0CCE-43EC-91E8-D421CA0EB58E.jpeg
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
A few musings about camino routes, nomenclature and things of that nature.

Starting near Alpalhão yesterday and continuing today, we suddenly started seeing way-marking signs and information boards for the Caminho Português Interior, and specifically the ‘Nisa stage’. It’s the first time we’ve seen mention of the CPI and it’s strange because its usual starting point in Viseu is 130km further north from here. One of the information boards even referenced the CPI as existing on the Tavira-Nisa-Viseu-Chaves axis, which it clearly doesn’t as it’s also marked as the GR40 route which we haven’t seen at all, and in fact we followed the GR15 route for several days in the beginning.

I think this goes back to previous confusion about camino routes/names and possibly a lack of overall ‘ownership’ of the camino. The owner of our hotel in Nisa is knowledgeable about the camino and told us that signage in this area was previously done at a district level and one district would have arrows until the end of its jurisdiction and the next district would start its arrows in a completely different place, thereby not creating a continuous route. I even wonder if the CPI is signed from here all the way to Viseu or instead if the signs we’ve seen around Nisa were just Nisa’s way of trying to get in on the camino act in pre-Nascente times by pretending that it was on the CPI!

Now that the Caminhos de Santiago Alentejo and Ribatejo have taken control, re-signed and renamed these routes (the Via Lusitana from the 2009 German book as the Caminho Nascente, part of the Caminho do Este as the Caminho da Raia), there is greater continuity, as well as greater knowledge and recognition of the camino, but still a bit of confusion here and there.

A final point is that Nisa is still keen on the camino and has put up two Jacobeo banners like this one around the remains of the castle!

18ED1C20-994F-429E-AAD4-4A6E0E6994C3.jpeg
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
I was just looking up these two intrepid explorers' future route, as they continue north, and found this Unesco Heritage page discussing Portuguese caminho routes. It had some historical context that I hadn't come across before and thought others might enjoy reading it. It seems the ways have collectively been suggested for World Heritage Site status.

Bons caminhos e bons sonhos (dreams)!

That’s super interesting but again there are nomenclature issues arising from that document. What they’re referring to as the ‘Portuguese Eastern Route’ is exactly the Caminho Nascente and not the Caminho do Este / Raia.

The English version of the official guidebook calls the Nascente the Eastern Way (the Portuguese version calls it the Caminho Nascente and not the Via Portugal Nascente which I’ve also seen), which I think adds further confusion precisely at a time when the opportunity to properly consolidate names is upon us!

P.S. ‘Intrepid explorers’ :)
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
That’s super interesting but again there are nomenclature issues arising from that document.
Definitely. Remember that this document dates from 2017, back when the Portuguese government was starting the application process for Unesco Heritage. This would be before the Alentejo govt started getting serious about the caminhos. I know from my area here in Vancouver, Canada, where we are applying for an area to have a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, that working with Unesco is a multi-year project and no doubt involved plenty of research before they even applied, likely going back to 2014 or so.

What I found particularly interesting about that webpage was all the historical sites that they identified as being related to the caminhos to Santiago. I hadn't seen all those itemized in one place, before.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
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One of the information boards even referenced the CPI as existing on the Tavira-Nisa-Viseu-Chaves axis,

My understanding is like yours, and the Gronze web page bears this out. The CPI starts in Coimbra, up to Viseu, then over to Verín and onto the Sanabrés. I suppose there could well be a Tavira - Nisa- Viseu variant, but all of the wikiloc tracks I could find go from Viseu north. I don’t think the Coimbra-Viseu section is well developed either.

Your anecdote about each district drawing their own routes and the routes not connecting made me chuckle. But you know, it sounds like the very same thing is happening now, not between two districts in the Alentejo, maybe, but between the Alentejo/Ribatejo and Beira/Douro/Minho, etc. and whatever else comes north. The map you posted in #12 shows that pretty well.

It looks like such a lovely route, I really hope it takes off.
 

Isca-camigo

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Various ones.
The route from Tavira has been known as the Caminho de Interior, but that became confusing around 2011/12 when the route formerly known as the Caminho de Lamego got a big input from local authorities who waymarked it again and called it the Caminho Portuguese de Interior, it's only in the last 4 or 5 years have I seen the Camino from Tavira referred to the Caminho de Nascente which was also the name of the route from Tomar to Fatima.
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Your anecdote about each district drawing their own routes and the routes not connecting made me chuckle. But you know, it sounds like the very same thing is happening now, not between two districts in the Alentejo, maybe, but between the Alentejo/Ribatejo and Beira/Douro/Minho, etc. and whatever else comes north. The map you posted in #12 shows that pretty well.
Not just caminho routes, but most other tourist initiatives as well! Portuguese bureaucracy is notorious for this. And various ministries do not all have the same regional borders, and towns with traditional links have, at various times, been assigned within different regions all over the place...this is true near us, between Golega and Vila Nova da Barquinha, which are walking distance apart, and historically linked, but in entirely different administrative areas!
 

futurefjp

Camino enthusiast.
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
Wendy and I are in Tavira on the Algarve coast of Portugal and we’re excited to begin walking the Caminho Nascente tomorrow!

Our original plan for this spring was to walk the Mozárabe/VdlP just after Easter, but that wasn’t possible because of restrictions in Spain and the Portugal/Spain border closure. We came up with a few other plans for Spain for later in the spring but in the end, there was too much uncertainty so we decided to just walk in Portugal instead. As was the case with our CP last autumn, a primarily Portuguese camino makes sense for us again in these COVID times because we already live here, we don’t need to travel far to get to/from the camino, we’re familiar with the current virus situation and restrictions (which have been largely lifted), we have public and private health insurance etc. So another Portuguese camino it is!

The Caminho Nascente is a recently created camino from Tavira to Trancoso that is about 500km in length (and not to be confused with the camino of the same name that links Fátima with the Camino de Santiago). Our plan is to switch from the Nascente to the Caminho do Este at Guarda, two stages from the end, and walk another week or so to Chaves and the border with Spain. If the border is open by then, we can link up with the Sanabrés to reach Santiago. If not, we will return home to Lisbon and we will have walked the length of Portugal, if nothing else!

There’s very little information available on this camino (e.g. just one thread on this forum out of 55,000+ total threads!) but we have found a couple of helpful sources that have allowed us to map out a rough stage plan. I’m not sure if the entire Nascente is way-marked but at least some sections are and I have GPS tracks on my phone as a backup. For accommodation, we’ll look into options a few days in advance while we’re walking. It wasn’t hard to book places for the first few days (mostly budget hotels plus one hostel) but I assume it will be a bit more difficult once we move into more remote areas.

Our first stage tomorrow is about 26km due east from Tavira to Vila Real de Santo António, just across the Guadiana river from Spain. From there we turn northwards for the long journey to (hopefully) Santiago.

I’ll provide updates here and photos on Instagram. As part of Wendy’s Galego learning project, she is going to vlog about the camino on her new YouTube channel: Wendy Speaks Galego.
Mértola is a wonderful town. Does this Caminho go through it?

I'm on the Way again from the 9th - picking off where I left off in Figuiera de Foz back in December 2020...
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Mértola is a wonderful town. Does this Caminho go through it?
I agree and yes it does. We had been to Mértola before for the Islamic Festival but took a rest day there on the camino to enjoy it again.

I'm on the Way again from the 9th - picking off where I left off in Figuiera de Foz back in December 2020...
Bom caminho! Hopefully less rain this time ;)
 

jungleboy

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Caminho Nascente Day 26: Nisa to Vila Velha de Ródão (~21km).

Today was a milestone day because we crossed a are no longer in the Alentejo. After three weeks in this fabulous region, we are now in the Beiras, and more specifically the Baixa Beira.

With mountains nearby, today was the hilliest and most forested stage of this camino, and very different from all previous days in the Alentejo. Unfortunately it was overcast pretty much all morning (and rained a bit too, our 3rd day of rain out of 26). That was a real shame because we couldn’t enjoy the views as much as we would have if it had been sunnier.

But by the time we reached the highlight of the stage, the rain had stopped and it was more or less sunny. It hadn’t really occurred to us until a couple of days ago that we would have to cross the Tejo river, though of course that’s pretty obvious given that Alentejo means ‘Beyond the Tejo’ and the river therefore serves as the regional boundary.

It wasn’t just an ordinary river crossing, though, as the scenery is stunning here because of the ‘Portas de Ródão’ - giant rock formations on each side of the river. There’s also a medieval castle high atop one of these rock formations on the Beira side, traditionally said to have been built by the Visigothic king Wamba!

53E54FBE-1770-42EA-AC8B-7081D6641B22.jpeg

At this point in the writing of this post, at about 5:15pm, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder how long it takes to hike up to the castle?’ Google said 1hr 17mins on the switchback road, but I figured there’d be a more direct path and decided to go for it! There was indeed a marked trail and in the end it was about 4km each way and totally worth it as the views were absolutely spectacular and I had the castle (just a tower) all to myself!

26E399FE-C7EB-44C6-9EDD-9829CBB6CDC4.jpeg

77B488A3-3DE1-459C-AF26-C94D414F7AF3.jpeg

The other thing you can do from Vila Velha de Ródão, the town on the Beira side of the river, is take a boat trip through the gates, but Monday is the boatman’s day off so unfortunately we missed out. Despite its name, Vila Velha is a modern town containing seemingly nothing of interest except its location - but the location is enough to make a visit very worthwhile!
 

jungleboy

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Francés 2017
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I've spent an early morning catching up on your journey so far; beautifully told! Looking forward to more. It sounds like a great route. Happy trails!
Thank you! It is indeed a great route but very undiscovered as you can tell - we are yet to see another pilgrim after nearly four weeks.
 

Friend from Barquinha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Caminho Nascente Day 26: Nisa to Vila Velha de Ródão (~21km).

Today was a milestone day because we crossed a are no longer in the Alentejo. After three weeks in this fabulous region, we are now in the Beiras, and more specifically the Baixa Beira... It hadn’t really occurred to us until a couple of days ago that we would have to cross the Tejo river, though of course that’s pretty obvious given that Alentejo means ‘Beyond the Tejo’ and the river therefore serves as the regional boundary.
Welcome to north of the Tejo!
 
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Caminho Nascente Day 26: Nisa to Vila Velha de Ródão (~21km).

Today was a milestone day because we crossed a are no longer in the Alentejo. After three weeks in this fabulous region, we are now in the Beiras, and more specifically the Baixa Beira.

With mountains nearby, today was the hilliest and most forested stage of this camino, and very different from all previous days in the Alentejo. Unfortunately it was overcast pretty much all morning (and rained a bit too, our 3rd day of rain out of 26). That was a real shame because we couldn’t enjoy the views as much as we would have if it had been sunnier.

But by the time we reached the highlight of the stage, the rain had stopped and it was more or less sunny. It hadn’t really occurred to us until a couple of days ago that we would have to cross the Tejo river, though of course that’s pretty obvious given that Alentejo means ‘Beyond the Tejo’ and the river therefore serves as the regional boundary.

It wasn’t just an ordinary river crossing, though, as the scenery is stunning here because of the ‘Portas de Ródão’ - giant rock formations on each side of the river. There’s also a medieval castle high atop one of these rock formations on the Beira side, traditionally said to have been built by the Visigothic king Wamba!

View attachment 100911

At this point in the writing of this post, at about 5:15pm, I thought to myself, ‘I wonder how long it takes to hike up to the castle?’ Google said 1hr 17mins on the switchback road, but I figured there’d be a more direct path and decided to go for it! There was indeed a marked trail and in the end it was about 4km each way and totally worth it as the views were absolutely spectacular and I had the castle (just a tower) all to myself!

View attachment 100912

View attachment 100913

The other thing you can do from Vila Velha de Ródão, the town on the Beira side of the river, is take a boat trip through the gates, but Monday is the boatman’s day off so unfortunately we missed out. Despite its name, Vila Velha is a modern town containing seemingly nothing of interest except its location - but the location is enough to make a visit very worthwhile!
Wonderful photos, Nick and Wendy. Thank you very much for this post. We loved walking along the Tejo valley north from Lisbon but this part of it looks beautiful.
Bom Caminho
 

Isca-camigo

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I don't know if I missed this further up on the thread but are you using the app for this route and if you are is it any good?
 

jungleboy

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I don't know if I missed this further up on the thread but are you using the app for this route and if you are is it any good?
Yes, we are using it. The official guide is a better resource but it only covers the Alentejo stages, so this app is about all we have for the rest of the Nascente. Some things are already out of date and stage descriptions are pretty limited but it’s better than nothing!

Also it’s curious (and lucky for us) that of all the Portuguese routes, the Nascente is currently the only one that this app covers! Three other routes - the CP from Lisbon, the Torres and the CPI - are ‘coming soon’.
 
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Friend from Barquinha

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None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
Also it’s curious (and lucky for us) that of all the Portuguese routes, the Nascente is currently the only one that this app covers! Three other routes - the CP from Lisbon, the Torres and the CPI - are ‘coming soon’.
Probably because those Alentejo tourism offices are the first ones off the mark, and got a good share of the government funding that's helping with the App, at least for this first year.
 

jungleboy

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Caminho Nascente Day 27: Vila Velha de Ródão to Amarelos (~14km).

One stage list I read had today and tomorrow being 19km each, but it turns out both are around 14km so we could have combined them into one day. But in the spirit of this slow camino, we kept it at two days.

I find that the slow pace of walking in general as a mode of transport means that you don’t often detect significant changes in landscapes day to day on camino. But the change over the last two days has been quite dramatic. Today was a hilly day of pine and eucalyptus forests with green mountains in the distance, a far cry from the overgrown, golden-brown plains of the Alentejo. The cork trees have completely disappeared and the olive trees are mostly gone too. It’s been a nice change of scenery (literally), and having glorious weather today didn’t hurt either.

1664B618-A3EF-4EFE-ABD4-CE23E87BE9B0.jpeg

Amarelos is a village of about 60 people. To coincide with the opening of this part of the Nascente in 2018, the local sport and cultural association began accepting pilgrims in an albergue of sorts (the one I mentioned a few posts up, which housed 24 pilgrims in 2019). It’s a former barn that was converted into a space for the village festival and now also for pilgrims, with three fold-out, makeshift beds. There’s a bakery in the village and they’re cooking us dinner tonight!

4C0B646D-7A91-40C5-BF15-A1F2B82DB7B1.jpeg
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
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In a few days we’ll come to Amarelos, which apparently has some kind of albergue. According to this article, it opened in May 2018 and had 9 pilgrims stay in 2018 and 24 in 2019.
To complete these numbers since we are now here and have seen the register: 4 pilgrims stayed here in 2020 and 9 so far this year, including us. That makes 46 overall since May 2018, and we are the first ones with non-European nationalities (although that’s obviously a bit misleading).
 

jungleboy

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Caminho Nascente Day 28: Amarelos to Castelo Branco (~14km).

Yet another short day, and unfortunately it wasn’t the best stage. In general, this has been a very rural camino but today it wasn’t. Most of the first half of the stage was on a dirt road either close to or alongside a major highway, which made it difficult to enjoy the pine/eucalyptus forests and distant mountains the way we did yesterday. Then the last 8km was on asphalt, starting with a secondary road with no traffic but also very close to the highway, and then passing through the industrial and commercial zones of Castelo Branco, and then the rest of the outskirts of town before finally reaching the historic centre. It was easily the longest town entrance on this camino.

So it wasn’t a great first impression but the town grew on us a bit during our afternoon exploration. There’s a castle (as you might expect) at the highest point in town and while there isn’t much left (two towers and some ramparts), it was built by the Knights Templar and I’m always interested in things relating to the military orders.

F63CD90B-9DF7-461C-B183-04D473F8ECAD.jpeg

There’s also a garden attached to the former bishop’s palace which has hedges, fountains and statues of Portuguese monarchs and other figures. We were the only people there and it was a fun place to wander around.

A190874F-4E69-4917-A2A7-2141D53D13F7.jpeg

Tomorrow we were going to walk 28km to Soalheira but the only accommodation is with the bombeiros and they are not housing pilgrims at the moment because of the pandemic. So instead we have another short day of about 15km, but this will allow us to stay in what looks like an interesting place (Castelo Novo) the day after that, and get back in sync with the normal stages the day after that. Only eight days left on the Nascente!
 

Friend from Barquinha

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None yet; perhaps the Portugese (2021?)
I suspect now that you've passed on to Beira Baixa from the Alentejo, the serious $$ and other support from the government tourism departments, national and district has kind of disappeared from the various towns' groups interested in popularizing the Caminho Nascente.

They're probably working on getting up to speed, but judging by Portuguese bureaucracy, it may take a few years...I think our lot, in the Ribatejo, were next in the funding queue after the Alentejo. Those guys were very fast off the mark! Partly because they had SO little tourism before.

Bom caminho e boa sorte!
 

jungleboy

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I suspect now that you've passed on to Beira Baixa from the Alentejo, the serious $$ and other support from the government tourism departments, national and district has kind of disappeared from the various towns' groups interested in popularizing the Caminho Nascente.
Yes, that will be interesting to monitor as we continue. So far the signage is still good and there are whispers of an albergue in a few days’ time!
 
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Caminho Nascente Day 28: Amarelos to Castelo Branco (~14km).

Yet another short day, and unfortunately it wasn’t the best stage. In general, this has been a very rural camino but today it wasn’t. Most of the first half of the stage was on a dirt road either close to or alongside a major highway, which made it difficult to enjoy the pine/eucalyptus forests and distant mountains the way we did yesterday. Then the last 8km was on asphalt, starting with a secondary road with no traffic but also very close to the highway, and then passing through the industrial and commercial zones of Castelo Branco, and then the rest of the outskirts of town before finally reaching the historic centre. It was easily the longest town entrance on this camino.

So it wasn’t a great first impression but the town grew on us a bit during our afternoon exploration. There’s a castle (as you might expect) at the highest point in town and while there isn’t much left (two towers and some ramparts), it was built by the Knights Templar and I’m always interested in things relating to the military orders.

View attachment 101063

There’s also a garden attached to the former bishop’s palace which has hedges, fountains and statues of Portuguese monarchs and other figures. We were the only people there and it was a fun place to wander around.

View attachment 101062

Tomorrow we were going to walk 28km to Soalheira but the only accommodation is with the bombeiros and they are not housing pilgrims at the moment because of the pandemic. So instead we have another short day of about 15km, but this will allow us to stay in what looks like an interesting place (Castelo Novo) the day after that, and get back in sync with the normal stages the day after that. Only eight days left on the Nascente!
Curiosity killed the cat: why are you interested in things relating to the military orders? Why do I ask? Belicose interests frighten me. I do not intend this to be a bone of contention. Hindsight sheds a light on history and it will be helpful for me to get an insight into your reason for interest..
 
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jungleboy

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Francés 2017
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Curiosity killed the cat: why are you interested in things relating to the military orders? Why do I ask? Belicose interests frighten me. I do not intend this to be a bone of contention. Hindsight sheds a light on history and it will be helpful for me to get an insight into your reason for interest..
Pondering this question made the last 4km of today’s stage more contemplative than usual! ;)

At a basic level, I’m an amateur medievalist, so I’m interested in most things about the Middle Ages, whether that be Romanesque architecture, medieval manuscripts, castles, the Camino de Santiago, military orders etc.

Generalising some more, I’m anti-war too but I don’t think that precludes me from being interested in things that may involve war. The Romans, to take one example, were among the most bellicose people in history. Therefore, should we not take any interest in them? On the contrary, the Romans have fascinated people for centuries and continue to do so.

Turning to the orders, they were created to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land and the Iberian Peninsula around the time of the Crusades. I would think this most basic tenet of the orders would be of interest to us modern pilgrims - for example, the second phase of the network of hospitales on the camino (1100-1250) was largely controlled by these orders and helped facilitate the pilgrimage.

Given their task and their times, it’s perhaps inevitable that waging war became part of the remit of the orders. From the opening paragraphs of Desmond Seward’s ‘The Monks of War’: “The knight brethren of the military orders were noblemen vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience, living a monastic life in convents which were at the same time barracks, waging war on the enemies of the Cross.” It’s true, I think, that the military aspect of the orders has contributed to their intrigue: the image of the warrior-monk is inherently interesting simply because of the juxtaposition present in that very concept.

A final point related to this camino is that I’ve been surprised at how often the various orders keep popping up. The Order of Santiago itself was very prominent in these lands (reconquering most of them for Christianity) and we can see the legacy of this on camino (e.g. the castle at Mértola, which was built by the order). There’s a church in Tavira built by this order which still contains a 16th-century wooden vaulted ceiling. The vault joints have symbols carved into them, including crosses for the Order of Santiago and the Order of Christ (the order that was created in Portugal as a successor to the Knights Templar after the latter’s dissolution and under whose banner many of the Age of Discovery voyages took place). The Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who subsequently moved to Rhodes and then Malta, had an important seat of their Portuguese operations in Crato, a town we stayed in a few nights ago. The Maltese cross is still on the town’s coat of arms and its pillory and the connection to the order is a big part of the town’s identity. Finally, the first reference to Castelo Branco (previously known as Cardosa) was in a Papal Bull in 1245, ratifying the ceding of the city to the Knights Templar, who then built the castle that started this discussion.

I just find all of that interesting.
 

jungleboy

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Caminho Nascente Day 29: Castelo Branco to Póvoa de Rio de Moinhos (~15km).

There is not much urban sprawl north of Castelo Branco, meaning it was a more pleasant exit than yesterday’s entrance. We started pretty late and soon we were in rural areas with landscapes that more resembled the Alentejo than our first two days in the Beiras - the overgrown grasses and cork and oak trees were back, with not a pine or eucalyptus tree in sight. We crossed a couple of streams and saw river turtles, which was fun although most of them dove into the water as soon as we approached rather than pose for selfies. Here’s a brave one who stayed on the rock!

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Unfortunately, the entire stage was on asphalt on secondary roads, but Wendy’s feet held up pretty well.

There was only one village to pass through - Caféde - and there’s a Santiago chapel on the road in. A Google Maps discovery was a Roman bridge near the village, about 600m off the camino. We made the detour and had our picnic lunch while sitting on the bridge.

231D9FA6-2EBF-4C4B-8751-43930467E760.jpeg

Póvoa de Rio de Moinhos doesn’t have a huge amount going for it but there are some handsome stone buildings and a church. We are staying at a very nice casa rural here that is technically closed but the owner is a lovely lady who agreed to let us stay and gave us a big discount too. One interesting thing she told us is that she has a meeting next week with the local council and the camino organisers about what they can do here (e.g. a possible albergue), so it’s good to see that wheels are in motion for the creation of more pilgrim infrastructure even outside the Alentejo.
 
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jungleboy

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Caminho Nascente Day 30: Póvoa de Rio de Moinhos to Castelo Novo (~19km).

After a couple of indifferent stages, today was an outstanding day. It was a very rural stage mostly on dirt roads in the countryside with mountains approaching. Apart from the usual cork and olive trees, we also saw a small vineyard, a rarity so far on the Nascente. But the best part was something we have never seen on camino before: cherry orchards! The cherries are in peak season right now and the picking is in progress. We were given a huge bowl of them by the woman we’re staying with and they’re absolutely delicious!

5FED58FA-C5C1-46A6-A129-1F9F0A625FEE.jpeg

The rejigging of our stages a couple of days ago meant that we are spending tonight in Castelo Novo, which turned out really well. It’s a beautiful little village at the base of the mountains and is on the ‘historic villages of Portugal’ route. (Side note: we briefly considered walking this route last year but it’s made more for cyclists than walkers as the distances between the villages are too long.) From the castle, there’s a great view over the rooftops and surrounding countryside.

02AE4E21-143F-4DC5-A252-F2519325D65B.jpeg

We struggled to find accommodation as there isn’t much here to begin with. We called around and we were down to our last option and were lucky that they had space and waived the normal two-night minimum because we were pilgrims. Similarly, the only restaurant in the village is only open for lunch outside of summer but agreed to open for us tonight, so we are thankful on both counts.

Tomorrow will be a long day as we get back in sync stage-wise but the forecast is good and we’ll hopefully get great mountain views in the morning so I’m excited about it!
 

jungleboy

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Caminho Nascente Day 31: Castelo Novo to Ferro (~33km).

Wow, what a day! Just one of those epic stages that we won’t forget.

The first part of the day was one of the most spectacular stretches of the Nascente. From Castelo Novo, we climbed from 600m to 1000m above sea level through boulder-strewn mountains with wildflowers and ferns (a first on this camino) growing on the side of the path. It was quite unlike anything we’ve seen on any camino. Pictures probably don’t do it justice but here are a couple (the path in the first photo is the camino).

11EA00D6-1812-4701-92A8-CBDC46CF7358.jpeg

217C6650-FEC0-41A1-9D52-89926192DB35.jpeg

From the top of the pass we descended (eventually to 400m) via the village of Alcongosta, Portugal’s cherry capital. Oh my goodness, the cherries! They’re absolutely everywhere right now. A man invited us into his (rather weird) cellar and offered us 2kg of cherries for €5. We can’t really carry any cherries obviously so we declined, and soon after, in addition to the plantations, we saw some wild trees and took the opportunity to pick cherries off them by the handful! I must say that my appreciation for cherries has gone through the roof in the last 36 hours.

Unfortunately it was also one of those days where you know by about 10am that the best of the stage is already over but you still have 20km left to walk. We had lunch in Fundão, walked to Valverde where a man stopped his tractor to offer us the chance to buy a farmhouse with 38 olive trees for €25,000 - last price. We declined that offer too and then walked 7km on asphalt before stopping for a Coke with the old men’s afternoon beer club at a café in Pero Viseu. We climbed back to 700m and then back down to 500m at Ferro, where there is an albergue (of sorts) with a double room for €7/p but with only one pillow (calls on our behalf to acquire another one were unsuccessful).

No sooner had we arrived after 10.5 hours door-to-door than some schoolgirls knocked on our door and asked to interview us in Portuguese for a project they are doing on pilgrimage. That was quite fun and their teacher showed us pictures of the launch of the Nascente three years ago in Évora, attended by the Portuguese president Marcelo who posed for photos with the supposed walking stick of Queen Isabel when she did the pilgrimage in the 14th century.

Needless to say, we’re completely knackered now and although tomorrow won’t be as long as today, we want to arrive in Belmonte in time to see some of its attractions before they close so we’ll try to leave early. Boa noite!
 

Isca-camigo

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For about 7 months I have messed around with possible start locations for my 24/25 days in August and September. I have found alternative starts to the Camino Torres, I have split up the definite days I have into two, 10-12 on the Caminho Geira and another route but for some reason I have have been reluctant to look at Castelo Branco as the start of s 24/25 day Camino to Santiago via the Geira, bit by bit you change that attitude.
Lots of hugs Peregrinos.
 
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peregrina2000

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we want to arrive in Belmonte in time to see some of its attractions before they close so we’ll try to leave early.
Ooooh, Belmonte! The pousada is one of my favorites in Portugal, but it is out of town a ways and I’ll bet you won’t want to add the kms. When we were there, there was a small tour group of Americans who were on a “Jewish sites in Portugal” tour and we ate dinner with them in the Pousada. I can’t remember much of their itinerary except I am sure they were going to Castelo de Vide, where you might also be going!

I remember the mystery Roman tower on the edge of town and it is (or was) beautifully lit at night.

Loving every bit of your posts! Bom caminho, Laurie
 

jungleboy

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For about 7 months I have messed around with possible start locations for my 24/25 days in August and September. I have found alternative starts to the Camino Torres, I have split up the definite days I have into two, 10-12 on the Caminho Geira and another route but for some reason I have have been reluctant to look at Castelo Branco as the start of s 24/25 day Camino to Santiago via the Geira, bit by bit you change that attitude.
Lots of hugs Peregrinos.
Sounds like a good plan! ;)
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Ooooh, Belmonte! The pousada is one of my favorites in Portugal, but it is out of town a ways and I’ll bet you won’t want to add the kms.
We thought about the pousada because we were considering a rest day in Belmonte tomorrow as it’s our wedding anniversary. But all the sites in Belmonte are closed on Monday so in the end it didn’t make much sense, and we’ll spend our anniversary in the albergue in Trinta instead!

I remember the mystery Roman tower on the edge of town and it is (or was) beautifully lit at night.
You almost tempted me but since it’s on the camino, we’ll see it tomorrow morning. I always like a mystery Roman tower!

Loving every bit of your posts! Bom caminho, Laurie
Thank you, only four days left on the Nascente now!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 32: Ferro to Belmonte (~22km).

The caminhosdesantiago.pt app describes today’s stage as an ‘easy nature path’, and that about sums it up. There were no ups and downs like yesterday until the final, fairly gentle ascent into Belmonte. It was a pleasant stage, though there wasn’t anything extraordinary about it. We passed some cherry plantations in the morning and made a cherry-picking rule that anything on the camino side of the fence was fair game. One horizontal branch full of cherries extended about two metres onto our path and we would have had to have swerved to avoid it! So we took a few cherries instead and could have almost done it Pac-Man style.

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There are more villages in the Beira than the Alentejo; today we passed through four whereas in the Alentejo one or even none per stage was the norm. Today’s villages weren’t especially interesting, although one thing we were thankful for was that all of them had water fountains (and in general there are a lot more water fountains here than in the Alentejo). We appreciated the fountains as it felt quite hot today even though the maximum was only 29 degrees Celsius.

Belmonte is one of the ‘historic villages’ of the Beira and once had a large Jewish community, so there are several things to visit. Unfortunately the synagogue was closed and last entry to the Jewish Museum and Church of Santiago were both earlier than indicated on Google Maps so we were unable to go into either. Instead we took it easy, drank some cider and admired the castle, which seemed like the better tired pilgrim way to spend the afternoon!

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peregrina2000

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We passed some cherry plantations in the morning and made a cherry-picking rule that anything on the camino side of the fence was fair game.
That is one beautiful cherry picture. I have had so many experiences like that, and yum yum yum, Iberian cherries are delicious!

I remember walking with a French peregrino who told me that under EU regulations, anything that hangs over or intrudes into the public right of way is up for grabs. So I think your cherry-picking rule is consistent with the law. I learned this in the context of strawberries - we were walking by a huge plot, and some of the strawberry plants had wiggled through the fence and were on the public right of way. And he assured me it was lawful to pick and eat them. It sounds silly, but I think these rules are sensitive to protecting the farmer’s income!

Four days left on the Nascente, can’t wait to learn where you are headed from there!

And please do give me your theory on the mystery tower!
 

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 33: Belmonte to Trinta (~25km).

Another great day today in the always surprising Beiras! Unlike the Alentejo, the scenery always seems to change here; no cherry trees today sadly, but we’re seeing more and more vineyards and a lot of greenery in general.

The most intriguing part of the day was the Roman tower, which Wendy described as the most impressive Roman ruin we’ve seen in Portugal.

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And please do give me your theory on the mystery tower!

The information panel at the site speculates on possible functions and lists five: military camp, prison, temple, forum or villa. I think it’s very clearly a military structure and not a civic/religious/residential one, which rules out the last three options for me. I also thought it could be a watchtower or gate or another part of a fortification system.

Leaving the tower, we walked among nice scenery and eventually had to climb back up to about 1000m again, with a lunch break in the nice village of Famalicão to break it up. This is the village from above:

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The scenery was completely different from the mountain stage just two days ago. Instead of boulders, today’s mountains were green and forested, giving us the most old-growth forest walking we’ve had since the fourth day of this camino.

There were two more villages at the top before we descended a bit to Trinta, where there is a legitimate albergue with 20 (!) beds. It opened last year and hasn’t seen 20 pilgrims in total, let alone in one night. Actually we are numbers 5 and 6, according to the registry, and the first non-Portuguese pilgrims. Currently there are a couple of construction workers being housed here while they’re working on a footpath/boardwalk project nearby, so at least the facility is getting some use before word gets out about this fabulous camino and pilgrims descend en masse upon this village!
 
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Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I remember walking with a French peregrino who told me that under EU regulations, anything that hangs over or intrudes into the public right of way is up for grabs. So I think your cherry-picking rule is consistent with the law.
I'm willing to bet a Euro that the EU leaves such things up to local authorities. That said, there are rules in many places that allow a bit of foraging. If you're looking for a religious out, try Deuteonomy:
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020

jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 34: Trinta to Guarda (~11km).

Today we awoke to something new on this camino: fog. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees Celsius too, so our 11km stroll was a bit chilly at about 13 degrees in the early morning. We descended below the fog line from Trinta, and then climbed back into the thick of it to reach Guarda, Portugal’s highest city at over 1000m above sea level.

The highlight of our little walk was the village of Corujeira (‘owlery’), so called because of an abundance of owls (corujas). There’s an owl museum in the village, and someone let us in to see a room full of owl figurines.

We were in Guarda by 11am but a combination of the fog/mist (which lasted most of the day), tiredness and a late check-in and siesta meant that we didn’t really explore the city as much as we had expected. The cathedral is impressive and there are still several medieval city gates, something I always enjoy seeing.

It wasn’t a great photo day but I went for a nighttime stroll and took this shot of the Blacksmiths’ Gate:

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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Caminho Nascente Day 35: Guarda to Celorico da Beira (~25km).

The penultimate day of the Nascente was a great stage and typical of our recent time in the Beiras: rural, mountainous and scenic.

Although it was completely overcast when we left Guarda, the first part was my favourite stretch of the day as it was a quick city exit and soon we descended about 400m over 7km with most of that section being on a Roman road - the longest stretch of Roman road I’ve walked on apart from possibly the Via Appia in Rome. It was also a mountain switchback road, unlike the straight, flat roads we tend to associate with the Roman Empire.

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After walking across the valley, we climbed to a mountain pass (occasionally on more Roman stones) among shrub-like scenery that was nicer than it sounds. A bit later, we came across a wild cherry tree bursting with ripe cherries, so we filled a bag and have been eating them ever since!

Another descent, a short ascent and another descent later, Celorico da Beira and its castle were in view. I did a rough count and figured we have seen 13 14 castles on this camino with another one coming tomorrow!

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