Igreja Matriz de Sao Lourenco

Just outside Almancil off the N125 lies the beautiful church of Sao Lourenco. Its interior is totally covered in ceramic tiles in blue and white,,depicting the life of St Laurence. Even the high cupola is decorated. The outstanding fact is that the earthquake of 1755 which devastated many towns in Portugal, only dislodged five tiles from the vault.
Sadly no photographs were allowed, but unfortunately Sarah did not hear this or see the notices.

Cachopo and environs

As our next area for walking was in this region we decided to do a field trip to assess the potential.
We had heard that the fires of last summer had devastated the flora so we needed to see how badly it had affected the environment. We stopped off on route at Parque da Fonte Ferrea, essentially a picnic site in the valley by a stream. In summer time it must be streaming with tourists but at this time of year it had but few and we walked up the river as far as possible, There were a few people and a camper van in the park but very quiet really. In summer they have quad bike tours of the forest and the machines were all lined up and ready for next season. It was all a bit artificial with man made weirs etcetera but at this time of year it was quite acceptable. 
Continuing onwards we noted that the whole area was badly scarred by last years fire. All the Cistus had been burnt along with the trees. Thousands of acres were affected. The trees seemed to be recovering but it will take a long time before it all gets back to normal.
We continued our journey inland towards Cachopo, but taking a detour on an interesting road into Castelao, a tiny village down a dirt track.  We wondered whether we should have taken this road but by then it was too late. The people of the village looked surprised to see us there, on a scooter of all things. They looked like Peruvians with all the clothing and hats. We resisted the temptation to stop and film and carried on out of the village on a proper road. This was the real way in to the place. Eventually we arrived in Cachopo and stopped for a coffee. By then we were getting cold so we took the main road back down into Tavira and then back to camp at Olaho..

Mesquita and a walk to the spring.

Another day and another walk from our book.
This one started at the Fonte de Mesquita and takes in some lovely countryside, some of it at the start could easily have been in Derbyshire UK with the stone walls and rock outcrops. Lots of wells and springs along the way made for a great walk through some beautiful landscape, and for once, a well marked trail..

Praia Do Barril

Praia do Barril is one of the sand bars off the main shoreline in the Eastern Algarve near Tavira.
The walk takes you across a bridge and then alongside a small train line and out to the semi island.
A very pleasant walk and cafes open and doing good business in the lovely sunshine. Great beach about six miles long, beautiful sand and lots of shells.
There is an Anchor graveyard here,as the pictures show and some good bird life.

Fonte Benemola and Querenca

Still staying at Albufeira camping and wanted to do the Benemola walk with a visit to Querenca as well.
When we arrived at the parking we were amazed at the information panel. It actually marked the route of the walk in our book. But also it had a longer route which I vetoed that day as I was not quite up to par so we settled for the shorter walk. Once again the route followed a river and was really peaceful. We stopped a long while on the river bank just watching the birds and resting in the sun. We will return to finish the walk another day. We carried on the Querenca which our guide book described as an uninspiring town. This was indeed an accurate description. Sterile was my version. Some plastic cows and a lot of new marble adorned what was probably once a pretty village square.
Very miss able.

Paderne Castle walk.

The walk to and around Paderne Castle was the last of our trails in the western end of the Algarve and we picked a lovely day to do it. We got to the start point , as we thought, but as usual we were not in the right place so it made the interpretation of the map a little difficult. We started at the Fonte in Paderne where there is a wild camp site full of Motorhomes. The trail took us along the river and eventually on to the correct track which proved to be very pretty. The castle was closed but is only a ruin so just a quick peek over the wall was enough. The river bank was full of bird life and very warm in the sunshine. A Roman bridge at the site of some old habitation was interesting as were some of the river crossings.

Leaving our winter base and our friends.

Today we left our winter home at Turiscampo Espiche and were very sad to be leaving all our pals behind
 We have made some great friendships over the last three and a half months and hopefully will be seeing many of them again. Peter and Shirley have become very good pals as have Max and Marion. Also our bird watching Pal, Ton and his wifeYvonne from Holland.  Eddy and Terri were our earliest pals and they left in November to go back to France to seal a deal on a house in the Pyrenees, where they want to set up a B&B. Keith and Carol we met very early on in our visit and they came by to see us off. Living the life we do, always on the road we hope we will catch up with them all again in the next few years.

Loule Carnival.

The Carnival of Loule is one of the best on the Algarve and we were lucky to visit it with our good friends Peter and Shirley. They kindly drove us in their car and the weather was good. The Main street is all closed off and a meagre two Euro gets you admission. We had a meal and a beer or three before we set off to the event. Lots of work had gone into the floats and everyone seemed to be having a good time. A very happy atmosphere prevailed over the town.

Praia Carvalho,Sarah's first swim of the year

The weather was so good, Sarah just had to have a swim. Praia Carvalho has always been a favourite of ours so we made our way there via the hanging valleys walk, Sadly when we arrived there was an enormous dead Turtle on the beach, but this did not put off my intrepid wife. In she went and had a good twenty minute swim. She tried to persuade me that it was not cold but stood more chance of bringing the turtle back to life than of me getting wet.

Foia trail

The Foia trail in our guide book alluded us two years ago as we could not even find the start. This time we asked at the shop. The friendly owner gave us directions to the starting point of the trail but asked us to call back and let him know if we could follow it, he seemed in doubt.. We should have known from past experience with our book that it would not be easy. The maps are to say the least vague and there is no actual description. At first all went well, walking down the road fro the top of Foia and even had some markings on the way. Things got less exact as we continued down the valley with a lot of guess work on Sarah's behalf and a bit of luck.  The final section took us down the main road and we had to guess where to turn off. The track was overgrown and not signed at all and we started to doubt whether we were correct. Then Sarah spotted the radio masts on the top of Foia so we just headed towards them. A great walk in some lovely countryside and well worth the effort. The shop at the top is an Aladdin's cave majoring on knitwear, most of which were cheaper than the wool needed to make them. Great value. The last picture is a house an English guy was restoring. He is intending to set up a B&B as a walking base for the area. He will do guided walks. Good luck.