gr13 via algarviana, carrasqueiro-monchique, 104 km
GR13 Via Algarviana, Carrasqueiro - Monchique
It is our second day on the Via Algarviana. After a superb evening meal , warm bed and extensive breakfast at Quinta do Coração in Carrasqueiro we are facing the transition from the Serra do caldeirão to the Serra de Monchique passing through Algarve's barrocal area. This stage represents most variety on the whole Algarviana itinerary. After the vast landscapes of eastern Algarve yesterday, we find constant change in tracks, surface, vegetation and scenery today.
The wider mountain tracks change into many single trails along the limestone walls in the surroundings of Salir and Santa Margarida. The red and rocky trails are dry and well rideable. On wet days you may have difficulties here keeping the bike going while ploughing through the sticky clay. This fertile barrocal area is full of fig, almond, carob and cork trees. There are many farms and small hamlets that further west all seem to be occupied by the citrus culture. We are riding more small tarmaced roads through the orange grooves in between Alte and São Bartolomeu de Messines. It makes easy cruising until we climb up a bumpy cobled road a bit before Messines and then descend into a valley. The narrow path along the Meirinho river soon becomes unrideable and we have to do a fair bit of walking next to our bikes crossing the river twice and struggling up the steep path away from the river bed.
After passing through the town São Bartolomeu de Messines the surface changes back into the slate rock mountain tracks which we find along the Funcho reservoir and in the eucalyptus forest of the Serra de Slives. A difficult section of this stage are the short but steep forestry trails across the hill tops north of Silves. Speeding down from one takes you half way up the next, but full force and small gear is needed to make it all up. This is repeated several times and makes a serious warming up for the Picota climb that is waiting for us on the other side of the Odelouca river. This climb is totally different for being long and steady. It is the longest climb on the whole Via Algarviana and as we move higher up the slate rock changes into grey granite and the nice tracks into small but steeper tarmaced forest roads. After finally but happily having dragged our bicycles on top of the big Picota granite blocks unfortunalely we are left with hardly any view at all. The summit is a misty affair as usual and it is too dark by now to enjoy cruising down the wonderful Picota single tracks through the dense forest down to the village of Monchique. Another great day of intense biking comes to an end at Hospedaria Descansa Pernas...
Distance: 103,73 km.
Accumulated ascent: 2396 m.
- Technical difficulty: 3/5
- Physical difficulty: 4/5
- Scenery: 4/5
Points of interest:
- Caldeirão, Natura 2000 PTCON0059, www.icnb.pt
- Old water mill in the Seco river just before Salir
- Salir's 16th century main church
- Ruins of the 12th or 13th century Moorish castle and archaeological site in Salir
- Classified site of Rocha da Pena
- Barrocal, Natura 2000 PTCON0049, www.icnb.pt
- Alte's 8th century main church and 15th century chapel
- The springs of fonte pequena and Fonte Grande in Alte
- Cascade of Vigário near Alte's cemetery
- 13th century Abóboda water mill at the Alte river
- Casa Memória d'Alte museum
- 16th century main church of São Bartolomeu de Messines
- House of poet João de Deus in Messines
- Menhirs and tombs of megalithic times near Vale Fuzeiros
- Reproduction centre for the endangered Iberian lynx in between Vale Fuzeiros and the Funcho dam, www.aguasdoalgarve.pt, www.lpn.pt, www.soslynx.org
- Silves has an extremely rich historical, cultural, archaeological and natural heritage. The town itself is a little off the Via Algarviana track to include all of it here, but Silves would make an excellent Algarviana overnight location or is worth a separate visit.
- Monchique, Natura 2000 PTCON0037, www.icnb.pt
- Syenite geology of volcanic origin at Picota
- Monchique's diversity in vegetation includes for example rhododendron, chestnut and the classified Araucariaheterophylla (2), Platanus hybrida (1), Quercus Canariensis (1) and Magnólia Grandiflora (1)
- Monchique's 15th and 16th century main church
Food and drinks:
- Passing through the towns of Salir, Benafim, Alte and São Bartolomeu de Messines trekkers will find several cafés, restaurants and small supermarkets. Should one go up to Monchique without visiting Silves, then make sure to get sufficient supplies in Messines.