Still walking … when we get the chance

At the top of Picota in June

Well, it looks like 2021 is going to be another of those years when I fail to meet almost any of my New Year’s resolutions. For once, I didn’t even label them ‘resolutions’, preferring to note them down as ‘objectives’. Whichever, the only one I can absolutely tick off is ‘paint all garden walls white’ – which hardly counts as one of life’s big aspirations.

Why so little achieved? Honestly, this year’s been all about work. Not nine to five, Monday to Friday work, but freelance gigs which seem to stretch to fill the available time. Then there’s been the walking and running.

I walked from Lagoa to Estombar (and back) in September

Sometime in early January I signed up for two of Outdoor Active’s challenges: walking 1,500 km and running 750 km. I’m nearly there with the walking challenge (currently 96% completed with two months to go), but barely halfway through the running distance (52%). Before I started driving here, I used to walk pretty much everywhere (and of course there were those months during lockdown when local walking was all we had to do in our free time). Lately, I find myself walking far less and spending far too many days at the computer.

Salgados, Silves, Algarve
Many more of our walks are from our home these days

But going back to my 2021 objectives, I’m most saddened by my failure to keep this blog going. My relatively unambitious aim was to blog twice a month and yet I’ve managed seven all year. Another regret is my lapsed commitment to creating more Walkingworld routes (back in January I was aiming for 40 new routes by the end of the year). An easy explanation for both defeats would be that as we get to know our part of the Algarve better, there’s been nothing new to write about and no new walking routes to share. Which is partly true, of course. Like everyone else, we weren’t allowed to move freely during the early part of the year, which meant the majority of our walks covered old, familiar ground. And much as we love this area, there’s a limit to what you can say when you’ve done a walk twenty times!

Another favourite … walking to Albufeira in August

I’m hoping all that is going to change now autumn is in the air. A group of inspirational Algarve-based walkers recently set up a Facebook page called Hiking Algarve. The premise is simple: members post when and where they are planning to be walking and invite others to join them. There are currently 171 members, with more hikers joining every day. As the group covers the whole Algarve, some of the walks will involve too much travel; however, I’m optimistic about future opportunities in our neck of the woods.

I’ve joined the group twice so far. The first was a wonderful walk along the coast from São Rafael, down into Albufeira marina and then up towards Pateo and returning through the Algarve countryside. While the route was familiar to me from our Albufeira-based days, it was great to spend time with other like-minded women.

The breakwater at Alvor

On that first walk, I was persuaded to lead a circular walk from Porches last week while Harri’s parents were visiting (his mum enjoys walking and joined us). We started at 4pm to avoid the hottest part of the day so it was shorter than I’d have liked but there were six of us in all (plus Muffin the dog) and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Harri plotted the route for me so all I had to do was follow the GPX. There was one moment in the valley above Praia do Barranco where I wasn’t 100% sure which track to take, but thankfully Katrien stepped in and advised (she lives locally). Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever memorise the labyrinth of tracks and footpaths in that beautiful valley.

Walking in the hills north of Monchique

Harri’s parents were here for a week in all, during which time we walked and dined constantly, in and around here, Albufeira, Alte, Alvor, Silves and Monchique. Harri’s mum records her daily steps and has since informed us that she walked more every day here than she walked in their entire first week back. I guess it all comes down to the weather – and the company! At times I did worry that Harri was overstretching them a little, e.g. the 10 km walk we did from Monchique was pretty challenging in terms of terrain and ascent, with temperatures soaring to around 26-27 degrees. Fortunately, they survived to tell the tale and we enjoyed a delicious lunch and great service at Velochique, a bike shop come café in Monchique.

Finally … a downhill section

Harri celebrated his birthday while they were with us and the two of us did have a very long flat birthday walk from Tavira to Vila Real de Santo António and back planned for this weekend. The plan was to follow the Caminho Nascente from Tavira, then walk back from Vila Real the following day along the coast – around 56 km in total. Unfortunately, Harri’s been poorly this week (it’s not COVID, we did the test) so we’ve had to postpone, but there’ll definitely be a blog (or two) when we tackle that one in a few weeks’ time.

Our first-ever overnight stay in Portugal was in Vila Real (May 2015)

In the meantime, I’m focusing on the garden and am in the middle of creating a berm at one end of our small walled garden. Yesterday, we had a delivery of three cubic metres of topsoil. Unfortunately, the delivery truck was too big to get onto our drive so the whole load had to be poured on the cobbled lane. Guess what Harri and I spent the rest of the day doing (a 28 km walk would probably have been easier!). As I write, we are now tending three separate piles of topsoil – one on the drive and two more in the garden. So, we’re set for another busy day of shovelling, a far cry from the beach walking we had planned!

Must dash! Have a great Sunday everyone.

What started as one pile of soil is currently three!

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