During a weekend spent in Vila Real (Portugal), me, JB, my brother and his girlfriend followed the pedestrian route “PR2 – Parque Natural do Alvão-Trilho Agarez-Arnal” (PR2 – Natural Park of Alvão – Agarez-Arnal Trail).
We arrived at the Natural Park of Alvão in the morning of 2nd February 2013, and we looked for the beginning point of the pedestrian route. We knew that it begins near a picnic park. However, we passed by the picnic park without seeing any sign of the pedestrian route.
We decided to park the car on the parking lot that was located some meters ahead of the picnic park, and look for the pedestrian route.
Luckily, there are a few geocaches along this route and, because of that, we were able to know that we were on the right path. The last geocache of the pedestrian route (excluding the bonus cache) was hidden next to us.
Before we began our walk, we went next to the waterfall, where we sat to have a pleasant but freezing lunch. Despite of the sun, it was very cold! Mainly because of the freezing wind that was blowing. I tried to hold the sandwiches without wearing gloves, but I had to give up and wear them back.
With our batteries charged, we looked for the geocache that was hidden near us. We climbed higher and higher and then we realized that it was below us. There was no need for so much climbing. But at least we enjoyed the view.
We initiated our walk, going from the end to the beginning point of the pedestrian route.
The yellow and red marks that usually demarcate the pedestrian routes were absent for the most part of the route. Beside the route’s map, the coordinates of the geocaches were a good help for us to find the right path.
Following the paved road, we arrived to the village of Arnal, where my brother and his girlfriend didn’t resist to approach the Chapel to ring its bell. But, as there was an old couple near the Chapel, they were a little bit afraid of doing that. So, they waited for the woman to go inside the house and for the man to be concentrated on his work and then they rang the bell and run away.
We left the village behind and followed a dirt path that was flooded. Therefore, to avoid the water, we had to cross a private land cultivated with trees that had very large and strange trunks. My brother was even able to go inside one of those tree trunks.
We climbed the mountain, leaving behind the granite-diorite massif known as “Catedral de Arnal” (Arnal’s Cathedral). The “Escola Ecológica de Arnal” (Ecological School of Arnal), also called “Centro de Acolhimento de Arnal” (Welcome Center of Arnal), is the highest point of this trail. This Welcome Center, inaugurated in 1989, can accommodate up to 12 persons. From there, we enjoyed a magnificent view.
Following the trail, we observed a reduced forest cover and several rocky outcrops. The first house of the village of Galegos da Serra quickly came to sight. Next to that house we found a newly born baby goat that still had its umbilical cord connected to its mother.
We continued going down the mountain until we find an old watermill powered by a horizontal waterwheel. We were surprised by some rain drops during this part of the journey, but, fortunately, it stopped in a few minutes.
It’s a nice place there, near the watermill. I couldn’t stop imagining me there, on a Summer day, sitting on a rock with my feet in the water…
When we were arriving at the paved road we saw the small signboard that indicates the beginning point of this pedestrian route. We were looking for a bigger and more visible signboard. It was almost impossible to see it from the car without knowing its location.
Next to the paved road there’s a granitic outcrop called “Cabeço do Homem” (Man’s head), where a bonus geocache was hidden. Oppositely to what happened with the previews geocaches, this one took us a lot of time to find. But we found it and we were rewarded for our persistence! Inside the container there was a travel bug, the first one we found!
For those who don’t know what a travel bug is, it is a trackable item similar to a dog tag that can be attached to another item, such as a teddy bears, toy cars… Usually each travel bug has a goal, for example to reach a specific country or to travel 100.000 Km… Travel bugs are moved from cache to cache by geocachers in order to reach their goal.
Characteristics of the route
Arrival and departure:
N 41º19.355 W 007º47.536
(Agarez – Alvão Natural Park, Portugal)
Scope of the route: panoramic, scenery
Extension: 6.5 km
Duration: 2.5 hours
Level of difficulty: moderate