We didn’t actually begin today’s walk straight from the convento. Our walking notes told us that although it is possible to begin the walk from our hostelry, one needs walking poles to negotiate two short, but very steep, descents on narrow, rough paths. We opted to have our host, Jonathan, drive us to Cabo da Roca instead.
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of continental Europe. Having gone to Land’s End a few years ago, Michael and I feel that we have seen all the wild west that Europe has to offer. Both places are exceedingly windy.
So wind was the weather note for today’s walk. Wind and wild headlands with precipitous drops to the ocean. Beautiful walking on a variety of surfaces, the worst of which was sand.
We had lunch on Adraga beach, which was a lovely spot, very few people and we were sheltered from the wind. However, as soon as we began our climb up from the beach to the headland above, we were slogging through deep, loose sand. It was fairly miserable.
Walking is an interesting way to see a bit of a country. You have to get your head around the fact that what you are taking six days to explore, most people would do in a day and a half . . . maybe two if they were slow travellers. But walking gives you lots of time to reflect on the very little things as you creep by: how many little bugs are foraging in a single thistle blossom, the composition of the stones, how exquisitely delicous a simple roll and cheese taste after a morning’s rambling and how incredibly refreshing an icy cold beer tastes at day’s end (and, at only 75 cents per glass, how tempting a second one is).
The length of these walks is very misleading. We have found that the terrain has, seemingly impossibly, more ups that downs and the ups can be dauntingly steep. An example of this was the final 200 meters to our accommodations. The walking notes use phrases like “rise on a stepped lane, you have good open views of the plain,” “swing left on a tiny path, rising steeply,” “bear left up the drive.” In each of these places, it felt as though we were climbing a ladder without the advantage of handholds.
We finally arrived at Quinta Colina Flora, our refuge for the next two nights. An American and his German wife run the quinta and were very welcoming hosts. After an afternoon’s rest by the pool, we went into the village to a very small restaurant for an evening of good food, wine, company and fado, the soul music of Portugal.