I invited my parents to join me an JB for a walk along a short pedestrian route, the PR 2 – Rota das Aldeias de Xisto da Lousã (Route of the Lousã’s Schist Villages), in “Serra da Lousã (Lousã Mountain).
This pedestrian route is 6 Km long and has the particularity of having a shortcut (PR 2.2) to avoid the hardest part of the trail, but it also avoids the two schist villages (“aldeias de xisto”), Talasnal and Casal Novo.
On 29th June 2012 we arrived to the “Castelo da Lousã” (Castle of Lousã) at almost midday. After a small walk in the area, we found a place to have our home made lunch.
We were ready to begin our walk. The trail begins in front of the Castle of Lousã, which was declared as National Monument in 1910. It’s believed that the castle, also known as Castle of Arouce, dates back to 1080. The Keep was built later on, in the 14th century.
The first point of interest quickly appeared, it is the “central hidroeléctrica da Ermida” (Ermida’s hydroelectric power station). We crossed the river and continued our climbing along a narrow path. Some sections of that path were really narrow! There was even a part with no path, just a hole on the ground, due to the landslide. There were several cherry trees along the path, but it was difficult to reach them. With some effort, my father was able to catch a few cherries.
We arrived to a fork in the path. The path on the right was the shortcut (the PR 2.2) and the one on the left (PR 2.1) was the one that would take us to the schist villages, namely Talasnal and Casal Novo. We chose to visit the villages.
Immediately after we had arrived at Talasnal what did my father find? A big cherry tree full of cherries! And what did he find next? A signboard indicating “bar”. He could finally have his daily coffee that he always drinks after lunch.
The bar was called “Curral”. Since it was a former corral, which in Portuguese means “curral”, the name couldn’t have been better chosen. It was a very cozy place, decorated with old objects on the walls and there were several messages left by the customers hanging from the ceiling.
Now that me and JB became geocachers, we went looking for the cache that is hidden in Talasnal. We had some troubles with the GPS, which was receiving a weak signal, but thanks to the tip and to the spoil picture we found it.
We enjoyed very much Talasnal and we were lucky to find a nice lady that told us some curiosities about the village. We got to know there´s only one old man currently living in there. Other people just stay there during weekends and holidays, just like her. On the past, people from Talasnal produced olive oil and honey. We still can see two former olive presses already in ruins.
It took around 40 minutes to go from Talasnal to Casal Novo. We found a black slug (Arion ater) that caught our attention. When the slug felt our presence, it started going faster and the amount of mucus left on the ground by the animal increased, perhaps to help the escaping.
We found a place with a magnificent view in Casal Novo, where we paused to take a snack. Then we explored the village, which is smaller than Talasnal.
We had been climbing all the way until we arrive in Casal Novo, now it was time to go downhill. The problem was that we had to go from 562 to 235 meters high in less than 1.5 Km. This part of the way was hard, the slope is very steep. We had to look for some sticks to help us.
After we had gone all the way down, we arrived to a viewpoint with a cross in its center, from where we could admire the Castle of Lousã, which is located in the middle of the mountains.
We continued our walk until we arrive to the place where the two pedestrian routes (PR1 and PR2) cross themselves. We decided to follow the other route (PR1) till the waterfall and then to came back.
We looked for another cache that supposedly was hidden outside a shelter, between the two windows. We searched and searched, but without success. We found out later (in the geocaching website) that the container had been placed inside the shelter…
We visited the “Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Piedade” (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Piety), which is formed by four chapels – “Capela de S. João” (Chapel of St. John), “Capela do Senhor da Agonia” (Chapel of Lord of Agony), “Capela do Senhor dos Aflitos” (Chapel of Lord of the Afflicted) and “Capela de Nossa Senhora da Piedade” (Chapel of Our Lady of Piety). The last one is located on the peak of the mount, which provides a stunning view.
A picnic park, a bar, a restaurant, a natural pool and public toilets are also found in this Sanctuary.
On our way back home we had better luck finding geocaches. We stopped in the town of Lousã to find our first multi cache!
Characteristics of the route
Arrival and departure: Castle of Lousã (Lousã Mountain, Portugal)
Scope of the route: panoramic, scenery
Extension: 6 km
Duration: 3 hours
Level of difficulty: moderate