GPS route – Walking-in-Algarve – Tavira
6.4 mi. Moderate 243m Varzeas do Vinaigre
Bemparece is a 6.4 mile GPS walk through the hills behind Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo with restaurant O Cantinho da Serra halfway for lunch. Bemparece walk is a challenge! We have developed this round trip ourselves and the farmers in the valley decide every year to change the fields and the paths. Walkers choosing to take this route are definitely in for a surprise.
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One of the beauties of the Bemparece walk is that halfway into the route we have included a truly lovely little traditional Portuguese restaurant. The restaurant, O’ Cantina da Serra, offers drinks and excellent lunches on a nice covered terrace with amazing views towards the coast. In our attempts to map the area around our own village, Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, we discovered more and more how wonderful is the location of our chosen Portuguese home.
On deciding our routes, we realised that a nice picnic spot or restaurant halfway would make a good break; not only to give we old ladies’ legs a short rest but also because the places we find are not the most obvious to go to for any tourist. With a nice fireplace to warm you in the winter, a chair instead of a plastic bag to rest the ‘rear end’ on ….we like it! Also our Bemparece walk is an excellent example of what we mean by a good combination of exertion and relaxation.
Walk Bemparece combines valleys with hilltops and water with dry shrubs, which is an almost impossible challenge after heavy rain. The reason for this is that the route forces the walker to cross the Alportel River no less than 4 times: and mind you, no stepping stones are available.| Therefore, a good towel to dry your feet is a must on this walk as fording is easiest barefooted.
Starting point Varzeas do Vinagre
Park the car at the small bridge of Varzeas do Vinagre. For the first few miles you are surrounded by agricultural land. Farmers, pruning their vines in January, wave and smile at every passer-by. Different sized farmhouses are scattered throughout the valley and every now and then a surprising piece of “antiquity” is thrown randomly into a garden. In our case a sad looking Fiat 500 from the 60’s (did they exist then?).
After the start of the valley comes the first river crossing, followed by 3 more until we end up at Malhada do Judeu, a small 3 house community from where a clear path follows the river. After a steep climb, we reach the tarmac that we cross to descend into the next valley. Following the ridge of the hill, we end up at the halfway restaurant where we ordered the speciality of the house – Javali (wild boar stew). The owners of the restaurant also run the adjoining Medronho distillery. Their Aquardente, the typical Portuguese spirit, is of an exceptionally high quality. Needless to say, you shouldn’t try it when you still have to walk back 5 miles!!
The way back follows the ridge of the hill eastward. Halfway, a real challenge waits as where once was a path the farmer has made a new field so we had to plough through it to reach the lower running path that led us back to the car. It was a fantastic route, which is not marked, but with GPS we were able to follow the track without problems and so will our guests.