GPS route – Walking Algarve – Tavira
6 mi. Moderate 126m Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo
Alquevinhos is a walk into the traditional life of our small tile producing community, because that is what Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo is famous for; Santa Catarina tiles. Alquevinhos is a hamlet in the Santa Catarina hinterland just between the village and the river Ribeira de Alportel that flows about 3 miles to the north. It lies between the green hills, a hamlet containing a couple of farmer’s houses with small hortas or vegetable gardens.
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Alquevinhos is a GPS route, created by us. We wanted to offer our walking guests a good idea of the area they are staying in. To be honest, our area might just offer the most varied landscape you can imagine in the Algarve. We have it all; the hills with amazing flowers in the spring, the scattered farmhouses in the valleys, the life bringing river, not to mention the panoramas, the absolute silence and the traditions of the country. Alquevinhos combines all of these characteristics.
Leaving Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, the walk follows the traditional road into the valley. The path is easy and although it rises slightly, it’s an easy stroll towards the river. Upon arrival at the riverbank, the walk takes a sharp right. In the winter after the rains, this is the “wet feet challenge” of this walk. Take a towel so that you can take your shoes off. After this, the path really starts to rise and this is where we meet “traditional” Santa Catarina.
Portuguese country life
The first little farm on the left belongs to Senhora Silvina. This 84 year old lady has lived here her whole life and she still stands guard over the track with her two dogs, chickens and cats; and there are “as estrangeiras” or strangers, as she calls her British neighbours who keep an eye on her. She walks down to do her shopping in Santa Catarina daily and drags her shopping bags 3 miles back up the hill. When she sees walkers she starts calling out to them, telling stories and looking for some attention.
The walk becomes a bit more challenging now. The first part after the river leads into the higher hills behind Santa Catarina. Scattered on the hills and in the valleys, small farms and large homes look as if a big hand has thrown them down from the sky. All ages of Portuguese architecture are represented; what unites the constructions is that they are all called “Quinta” or farm.
The second part of the GPS track offers amazing views towards the coast. There are plenty of spots for a nice cup of tea and a sandwich to aid enjoyment of the panorama. After the last steep climb, 5 miles down the walk, Santa Catarina awaits.