A walk that takes you to Cabo da Roca, Sintra, the westernmost point of mainland Europe. The 16th-century Portuguese poet Luís de Camões described the place "Where the land ends and the sea begins" (Onde a terra acaba e o mar começa). My dog Chance and I set off from our home in the village of Azóia to find a path that crosses the headland to Cabo da Roca. We made our way to the run down local football field near the Bar Moinho Dom Quixote, a restored windmill, and followed the dirt road at the back until we met a smaller path on the hillside. We looked up to see a couple of peregrine falcons circling high up in the sky. We continued on this path, traversing the hill and down to a copse and we crossed a small stream. It was a steep climb the other side to reach Cabo da Roca and its lighthouse where the cliffs stand 140m above the crashing waves of the Atlantic. You can now understand the meaning of those famous words by Luís Camões. It was busy with day trippers so we didn't linger and set off on the main road to turn left onto a track and head towards "Praia da Ursa" (bears beach). Two enormous sea stacks stand in the wild Atlantic Ocean, one of them at a certain angle looks like a bear posing with pride. There is a legend that, a few thousand years ago, when the Earth was still covered in ice, a mother bear and her young lived here. When the ice started melting the Gods told all the animals to leave the sea shore but the stubborn bear refused to do so, because she was born there and she would stay. The angry Gods transformed the bear into rock and her young into smaller rocks dispersed around the mother and there they stood, giving the name to this beach. We then returned to the main tarmac road for a short distance to then turn left onto a dirt track that eventually took us to the small quaint village of Ulgeira, past the old church and onto the tarmac road back to the village of Azóia and home, just in time for afternoon tea.
A great day out in this beautiful region of Portugal.
We now have dog called Chance and on our walks across the headland we often see a beautiful sight in the skies above, the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus brookei).
We never get tired of watching these amazing birds of prey, they can reach speeds of more than 320km/h in a stoop, making it the fastest animal on the planet. Adults have blue-gray wings, dark brown backs, a buff colored underside with brown spots, and white faces with a black tear stripe on their cheeks. It has long, broad, pointed wingspan and a relatively short tail and they have hooked beaks and strong talons. Their name comes from the Latin word peregrinus, which means "to wander".
Sometimes we see one close up perched on a telegraph pole at the side of the road.
They were on the endangered species in many areas in the 1970s and now thankfully the populations have recovered.
One of the many species of wildlife you can see on the walks in Sintra.
High above Colares lies the white washed village of Penedo. A pretty village with excellent views to the Atlantic Ocean, the Sintra Mountains and the Pena Palace.
Wander around the cobbled streets, walk into the shaded pine forests, rest for a chilled drink with 'Paulo' at the Cafe - 'Refugio de Cyclista.'
Lunch is served in a hidden restaurant behind the cafe daily 12.00 - 14.00 (not Sundays). Traditional Portuguese dishes served from the BBQ, or try the dish of the day - which could include rabbit, curry or fish pie - to include dessert and drinks only 5 - 7 euros!! (depends what you eat and how much of the local wine you drink!
A taste of real Portugal!
Penedo - Colares - SINTRA
Google map: tinyurl.com/yb5sqo2
Azenhas do Mar ("Watermills by the sea"), in the region of Sintra, is a charming village of whitewashed houses, trimmed in blue, built on the slopes of the cliff and a small river with waterfalls running down through gardens to the sea.
There are Interesting rock formations and natural seawater pools, plenty to keep the kids amused.
The watermills were a popular seaside retreat in the 1950s. They have recently been carefully restored, offering a restaurant, bar and swimming pool arranged on different levels.
The restaurant has a stylish seaside wood panelled interior with magnificent views to the Atlantic Ocean. It offers a great selection of fresh fish and seafood caught locally by one of the owners, and is complemented by an excellent wine list.
The snack bar, Terraço da Azenha, situated above the restaurant and swimming pool, has a series of small terraces with great views. Inside the bar, through a glass section in the floor, you can see the old workings of the mill. It offers a good selection of snacks including sweet and savoury crêpes.
Well worth a visit, and you will find great walks that will take you along the cliffs to the beaches of Praia das Maças and Praia Grande.
Off the N247.
A walk that starts from the picturesque village of Azóia and takes you through the forest to Peninha, a castellated fort-like building, on top of the mountain as you look up from Cabo da Roca. This historical site stands on the ruins of a medieval chapel - Ermida de São Saturnino and the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Pena. At the top there are superb views of Lisbon, the Tagus estuary and the Atlantic Ocean.
Distance about 7.3km (1h 50 min.)
Start early in the morning and take some water, as in the summer months it can be rather hot.
Monserrate Palace and Park, one of the most romantic sights in Portugal, a beautiful Victorian mansion rising out of vast botanical gardens.
Great meandering paths take you through the woods, rich in a variety of magnificent trees, past waterfalls, stepping stones and the chapel ruins coming out on to a vast hill of grass leading up to the palace.
A magnificent building recently restored, with a mix of Moorish and Italian decoration. There is a fantastic walk from here to the Capuchos Monastery, also known as Santa Cruz or the Cork Monastery, a quiet and tranquil place - a small monastery built in the rock. The tiny rooms lined with cork are a telling example of the humble and austere existance of the Franciscan friars who lived here.
Well worth a visit.
A day trip to Sintra is a must. Rather than get the crowded bus, those who can should walk up to Castelo dos Mouros, high on the hill above the town. The path starts near the Church of Santa Maria and winds up through woodland. You’ll feel like you’ve earned the magnificent views you get from the castle walls.
Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing). Journey time is less than an hour;
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