The year 2012 was ending and some time had already passed since our last walk. There had always been something preventing us from doing a walk. Or it was the weather that was not cooperating, or it was us who had other plans…
I was discussing with a friend of mine that we had to arrange to explore new trails. He came out with this idea of doing a walk under the rain. Immediately, I asked him if he wanted to arrange something for the following Saturday and he accepted my suggestion.
Unfortunately, some other things came up and he had to cancel the walk. Meanwhile, I had already invited my brother and his girlfriend, too.
Everything was ready, we were planning to go to Vouzela (Portugal) to visit the town and to explore the pedestrian route “PR1 – Percurso da Nossa Senhora do Castelo” (Route of Our Lady of the Castle). The forecast for that day was sky partly cloudy and some showers. Therefore, we were carrying umbrellas and wearing impermeable clothing and footwear.
Around 10 minutes before the time scheduled for us to meet, my brother called me telling that he and his girlfriend were not going, it had rained a lot early in the morning and they were afraid the same could happen when we were in the middle of the pedestrian route.
Well, it was only me and JB We don’t like to use a car only for the two of us for these kind of trips, but we had everything ready to go and we wanted to go. So, on Saturday 29th December 2012, we went to Vouzela, just the two of us.
When we arrived in Vouzela there were some rays of sun coming through the clouds. We were trying to capture this sunlight in the pictures, just to show my brother that it was a beautiful day.
The Route of Our Lady of the Castle starts at the “Parque da Liberdade” (Liberty Park), then it goes over the pedestrian bridge over Zela River, which take us to the “Fonte da Nogueira” (Walnut tree Fountain). It is said that everyone who drinks the water from this fountain, also called “Fonte dos Amores” (Lovers Fountain), will for sure marry in Vouzela.
We followed the course of the river until we found the Roman Bridge. The route continued at our left and several meters ahead, we turned left again. We were now walking along the former railway line. We crossed the railway bridge of Vouzela, dated from 1913, and, a few meters ahead, we saw an old steam locomotive that was acquired in 1911.
As we were feeling very hungry (it was lunchtime) we stopped near the locomotive to have our home made lunch, a kind of white bean wraps.
With our energy restored, we decided to go first to the “Capela da Nossa Senhora do Castelo” (Chapel of Our Lady of the Castle). So, we turned a little bit back. It was then that we saw the informative panel that marks the beginning of the pedestrian route.
We passed by the Mother Church, also known as “Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Assunção” (Church of Our Lady of Asuncion), which was build in the 13th century. The Mother Church shows the architectural transition from Roman to Gothic style and has the peculiarity of having the bell tower preceding the church’s façade.
We began the climbing to the top of the “Monte da Nossa Senhora do Castelo” (Our Lady of the Castle Mount). We saw some kind of grottoes along the trail that caught our attention and that got us curious about its origin. But we still do not know what is it.
Chapel of Our Lady of the Castle is located on the top of the mountain and it offers a fantastic panoramic view of Vouzela and São Pedro do Sul.
Next to the stairs that take us to the chapel, we can see two anthropomorphic tombs. If it wasn´t for the signboard indicating its place, the tombs would have passed completely unnoticed by us.
We had the information of a geocache not too far from us. The GPS was taking us to the middle of the forest. At the beginning it seemed that there was a slight trail but then we found big rocks blocking the way and it seemed the GPS was a little bit “crazy” and we gave up thinking we might be going on the wrong direction. Beside that, I had marked on the map another place for this geocache. I found out later that the GPS was right, it was mine the mistake, I marked it on the wrong place of the map.
We tried to continue the PR1 but, because of a path that was on the same direction indicated by the signboard, we were not seeing the trail we were supposed to follow, just that path that would take us back to the top of the mount. After we had walked around and around, we finally saw the yellow and red marks that were guiding us.
We were now going down the hill, walking over a bed of brown leaves. After a while, we arrived at the “Parque de Lazer Olho Marinho” (Olho Marinho Leisure Park), where we find tables and benches for a picnic, a playground for children to have fun and there’s also a maintenance circuit with several training stations where we can do some physical activity.
There was another geocache in the Leisure Park but again, we were not able to find it. We were looking near the wrong tree. As it was getting late, we continued our walk without finding another geocache.
The scenario was getting more and more beautiful. The ground was completely covered by orange/brown leaves, it was beautiful.
We arrived at the former railway and our descend stopped, as well as the scenario changed, we had left the forest and there were green fields surrounding us. It was a beautiful sunny day and my brother and his girlfriend were missing it…
We were back to Vouzela! We passed by the former Train Station that is nowadays converted in a Coach Station. Due to the fact that the Station was built by a French company, it has typically French characteristics. We still can see the tank used to supply the steam locomotives boilers.
Time to visit the historic center, to buy some regional pastry and to, finally, succeed to find some geocaches.
Vouzela is famous for its delicious pastries made of an extremely thin puff pastry and filled with soft eggs, the “Pastéis de Vouzela”. Beside these pastries, the “Folar de Vouzela”, the “Caladinhos”, the “Raivas”and the Almendrados” also deserve some highlight.
Characteristics of the route
Arrival and departure: Park of Liberty (Vouzela, Portugal)
Scope of the route: panoramic, scenery, archaeological/architectural heritage
Extension: 8 km
Duration: 3 hours
Level of difficulty: easy/moderate