Sunday, October 26

A walk on the Algarve - Carveiro

Dawn. The sun's rays, already a reminder of the southerly latitude. An offshore breeze unexpected, but a welcome respite after a week of blue sky and mid 20s temperatures each day.

Waking early I decided to sneak out for a short while, to walk amongst the pitted red cliffs.

Amongst? For below the shadeless cliff top path marking the sudden drop down to the Atlantic I discovered a maze of steps, paths and tunnels leading down to hidden paths on the lower rock ledges edging the shoreline.
Rock, red pitted and pock marked. And through it all shards of sea shells clearly visible, deeply embedded in the strata. Surely a landscape more used to lunar exploration?

A solo daybreak walk then; Before the oppressive heat turned the cliff bowl into a cauldron of heat, at least for one more used to an UK climate.

I wandered for some while along traditional fisherman's paths. Some worn away through centuries of habitual usage. Others clearly revealing the local inhabitants' intent to bend this barren land to their human desires with carved steps and chilled dark tunnels popping up without warning as my exploration continued.

Above and behind me the small town, until recent times a quiet fishing village, now a thriving tourist escape, especially those from England and Ireland.

Its inhabitants slowly rising to meet another day of trade and trinket exchange.

But before me for the present the seemingly endless horizon of the Atlantic sea. And in the distance a five master schooner, sails furled, slowly motoring westwards towards its port.

I sit with my back to the wind, the sun now hot on my arms and face, as I watch the ship slip by. Its solitary behaviour matching my own as I carefully continue my exploration of this strange land. Acutely aware that a moment's lack of concentration amongst such rugged landscape could be harshly punished. A slip down to the sea and rocks below. Or worse to be swallowed up by one of the deep and dark sink holes that border the tracks.

Around me signs of night fishing activity. Discarded cigarette packs & bottles amongst abused tackle. A dangerous place then in the daylight. But possibly lethal at night for the unwary. Or drunk.

An alien and wild landscape. So unlike any place I'd encountered before. But, in common with those wilder places where caution is required, a deeply satisfying area to explore.

Finally that increasingly insistent voice of personal safety reminds me the odds had been played enough for so early in the day. Time to head back up the cliff paths.

Back to re-don the tourist disguise and greet an incautiously early cold beer before another day on the beach. Just one more lazily tanning holidaymaker to any casual onlooker. But inside me a quiet satisfaction in lifting aside one of the veils worn by this small Portuguese village. To have tasted a little of its truer identity. However briefly.

To travel; To experience a different culture and climate. And on this occasion a truly different landscape.


There are some beautiful pictures in this.The Algarve has some beautiful beaches and coastal walks, and thankfully not all of them have been affected by development. Carveiro is certainly one of our favourite walking areas!
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