Peneda Gerês National Park – day 2

DAY 1: Braga, Pitões das Júnias, Montalegre (12th May 2014)
Hike: “Trilho de Pitões das Júnias”
Accommodation: Montalegre Hotel (79€/ 2 pax / 2 nights)
DAY 2: Xertelo – Lamalonga – Minas de Carris – Xertelo (13th May 2014)
Hike: Trail from Xertelo to Minas de Carris
Accommodation: Montalegre Hotel (79€/ 2 pax / 2 nights)
DAY 3: Montalegre to Gerês (14th May 2014)
Places visited: Misarela bridge, Fafião, Tahiti waterfall, Arado waterfall, Pedra Bela Viewpoint
Accommodation: Gerês Aparthotel (85.5€/ 4 persons/ 2 nights)
Restaurant: Lurdes Capela Restaurant (11€/ person)
DAY 4: S. Bento da Porta Aberta, Covide (15th May 2014)
Hike: “PR 1 – Trilho da Cidade da Calcedónia”
Accommodation: Gerês Aparthotel (85.5€/ 4 persons/ 2 nights)
DAY 5: Portela de Leonte, Torneiros (Spain), Lindoso (16th May 2014)
Places visited: “Pé de Cabril”, “Prado do Vidoal”, Hot spring of Torneiros (Spain), abandoned house (near Compostela, Spain) Lindoso

We had planned a long walk for the 2nd day of our trip to Peneda Gerês National Park (PNPG).

We wanted to climb to the highest mountain of PNPG. To go there one has to walk at least 20 km. Among the several possible trails, we chose the one that goes from the village of Xertelo, passes by a place called “Lamalonga”, then by the “Minas de Carris” (Carris Mines) and finally Nevosa Mountain, the 2nd highest mountain of mainland Portugal.

02_geres_trilhoAlthough we were at the hotel’s restaurant at its opening time (7:30) to have breakfast as early as possible, we had to wait about 15 minutes for breakfast to be ready.
Because of the numerous bends in the road, it was a 50 minutes drive from Montalegre to Xertelo. When we finally initiated our walk, it was already 10-15 minutes past 9:00.

As soon as we arrived to Xertelo, we were greeted by two dogs, which followed us. To be more precise, one of them was following us and the other one was going ahead of us. Like if they were guiding us and at same time they wanted to guaranty that nobody was left behind. At first, we thought that the dogs were going to accompany us just for a little while and that they would return to the village any time. But, to our surprise, they were with us during all day!

"Mariola"

“Mariola”

During the first 4-5 Km of the trail we walked along a dirt path, next to which we found a huge “mariola” that was almost 2 meters high. This was the first of many “mariolas” we passed by.

“Mariola” is a group of piled stones with a pyramid shape built by shepherds to mark their trails. Nowadays, “mariolas” are mostly used by walkers.

We left the main path just after we passed by a big group of beehives. When we turned right to another dirt path, we had the first meeting with Garrano horses, an ancient breed from Galicia and Northern Portugal. This path was gradually disappearing to give place to a trail that could hardly be identified, until it was completely gone. By that time we were just relying on “mariolas” to guide us. However, those “mariolas” we were following were leading us to the opposite direction of the one we were supposed to go. Instead of crossing the river, we were climbing its margin.

shepherd shelter

Shepherd shelter

We found a nice shepherd shelter that is a great example of how to take advantage of what nature gives us. If it wasn’t for the wooden door and for the small chimney, the shelter would be unnoticeable.

When we realized our mistake, we tried to approach the river to go to the other margin, but it was too late. There wasn’t any safe place to cross the river. So we continued walking North.

Everywhere we looked, there were only rocks and bushes. Trees were very scarce, just found near the river, where they are protected from the wind and have water available.

But then, right next to the river, there was a small meadow! Dogs were crazy! They ran and played with each other, really enjoying that place.

Meadow

Meadow

We didn’t walk much more to find a spot to cross the river. From there, we just followed the coordinates of a geocache that was hidden in the Lamalonga valley. Since there were huge mountains blocking the passage, we continued walking North for some more time before we turn West.

When we found a good mountain to climb, we went towards Lamalonga valley. Finally, we were back to the right path!

"Lamalonga"

“Lamalonga”

It was lunch time, so we stopped to eat. From the place we were, we had a fantastic view over the valley and we could see the ruins of the “Minas de Carris” (Carris Mines), the place where we were going next.

With our energy restored, and knowing exactly where we were going, we just had to try to choose the best way, for there was a lot of steep rock to climb. Once again, we followed the “mariolas”.

It was a long climb! We took almost 1 hour to go from the place we had lunch to the mine ruins.
It was when we arrived at the ruins that things got a bit complicated. We had to find the safest (or less dangerous) way to cross the mine building.
We walked over the building walls, then we had to jump to the floor. Luckily, there was a metal barrel next to the wall that was placed there to be used as a step.
We had no problems to go down. However, the dogs did not like the way we chose. One of them disappeared and some time later it joined us on the other side. The other one accepted my brother’s help to take it from the top of the wall to the floor.

Carris Mines

Carris Mines

At the time of the World War II, Allies and Nazis required wolfram to build their military weapons. In Portugal, wolfram extraction highly increased and new mines were created.
Carris Mines, created in the 1940’s, was one of those mines. This huge mine complex was composed of several buildings to host miners, as well as every required facilities.
After a glorious period, it was abandoned in the 1970’s.

"Mariolas"

“Mariolas”

Nowadays, the buildings are in ruins and one has to pay attention to the numerous holes in the ground, some of them hidden by the vegetation.

We spent there some time enjoying the view from about 1400 meters, exploring it and looking for a geocache. Then we went to the big water reservoir that was used to clean wolfram. Our wish was to continue walking on that trail towards Nevosa mountain. But it was getting late and we didn’t know how much time we were going to need to go back to Xertelo. We didn’t want to be caught out there after dark, so we didn’t go further.

We left the mine complex by a dirt path, which we followed for about 2 km. We turned left, into a small trail that was gradually disappearing until we had only “mariolas” and the coordinates of a few geocaches to guide us. 52_geres_lago

We found a small pond where one of the dogs did not resist to go for a bath.
Probably because of the slippery rocks, the dog felt in trouble when it was coming out of the water. For an instant we thought we had to help it, but then the dog found another way to leave the water.

Just before we reached a dirt path that would take us back to the village of Xertelo, we passed by a set of meadows where we saw several cows grazing. However, among those cows there was a bull that suddenly looked at us when we were approaching it. We immediately stopped and, very calmly, went back to find another way to cross those meadows.
On the opposite site of the meadows, there’s two ponds, known as “Lagoas do Marinho”.

56_geres_vacasWe had another meeting with cows. There were e few cows on the bridge over Cávado River, so we had to pass right next to them. Poor animals, they were so afraid of us…

Once we were in the dirt path, we quickly walked back to Xertelo. However, that was a monotonous walk.

When we arrived in Xertelo, we found a nice lady who sold us a delicious heather honey. We also learned the name of one of our four-legged companion – Roquete.

It was a great walk! The landscape is speechless, we were completely isolated from everything and we were very lucky to have the perfect weather to do that walk!

At the end, my brother got sun burns on his ears. We learned that sunscreen really protects us from getting sunburned. And I felt happy for knowing that I am capable of walking long distances on rough terrain without feeling exhausted.

Gallery

3 Responses to “Peneda Gerês National Park – day 2

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