Sector 9 of the Via Algarviana starts next to the Main Church in the very centre of the town of São Bartolomeu de Messines. The route takes you down the street that João de Deus, a famous poet in the region, once lived on, and crosses the entire town, taking you all the way to the railway line.
Having crossed the track in Bairro do Furadouro, the route initially takes you along a path flanked by drystone walls, with rural areas to the south and a cork oak forest to the north. Next you’ll go through Barradas and cross the EN 1079 road before reaching the hills, where the landscape changes significantly.
There, with Arade Stream already in sight, the Via Algarviana takes you along a strikingly beautiful path always alongside the long watercourse, one of the largest in the Algarve. On this hike, you will enjoy beautiful views of the river valley, its tributaries and the surrounding hill range.
Before you reach the wall of the Funcho Dam, you’ll find a picnic area, which is the perfect place to take a well-earned break. Recharge your batteries here as you’ll need all your strength for the next uphill stretch. From this point onwards, you’ll be able to admire the entire surroundings of the dam, the rolling hills and some ruins on the banks revealing the remains of bygone lives and activities.
Once past the dam wall, you’ll come to a 2km-long uphill stretch, which is undoubtedly the toughest part of this sector.
The Via Algarviana then continues along the Arade Stream, leading further into the hills. The route then runs along a valley covered with eucalyptus trees to Enxerim, where you’ll come across small ponds or reservoirs, vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. Go on to cross the Enxerim Stream and continue on to the national road, towards the charming city of Silves.
The route draws to an end in the old part of this historical city of the Algarve. You can't miss the old castle and the cathedral, with the unique reddish color which comes from the use of Silves sandtsone. Take your time and explore the narrow streets and the many hidden corners of this city!
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
This sector also provides considerably diverse landscapes. Located within the Natura 2000 Network, the “Arade-Odelouca” (PTCON0052) site can be found along the banks of the very end of the River Arade and the Odelouca Stream.
This site has become particularly relevant, in part due to the genetic diversity of cyprinidae fish found here, with the Chondrostoma almacai being of particular note. This is an endemic species that can only be found in the basins of the Mira and Arade rivers; they are classed as critically endangered.
Two dams were built next to each other in the Arade hydrographic basin, the Funcho Dam and reservoir, which will keep you company for a considerable part of the route, and the Arade Dam. Nowadays, these two reservoirs are used almost exclusively to supply water for farming, and have contributed to the propagation of citrus orchards. Having only been located on fertile, flat lands previously, these orchards began to spread thanks to this new abundance of water, also covering the slopes of the limestone hills, which were structured as terraces for the purpose, thus substituting the dryland orchards, which had previously “ruled” the Algarve’s economy. This is one of the reasons why a decrease in ecological value was registered in the area, resulting in a loss of biodiversity.
South of the Funcho Dam, you’ll be able to see the Iberian Lynx National Recovery Centre, built under the supervision of the company Águas do Algarve – Grupo Águas de Portugal, in order to compensate for the construction of the Odelouca Dam. The centre’s main objective is to prepare specimens of Iberian lynx from an ethological, sanitary, reproductive and genetic point of view, to be reintroduced into the wild in areas that constitute their historical habitats. This mammal (Lynx pardinus) is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and is an endangered species.
» REST STOPS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE ROUTE
The only cafés or shops along this route are at the beginning and end. As such, walkers are advised to plan ahead, taking enough food and water with them, taking into account the distance they intend to walk, the weather and the degree of difficulty of the route.
» CASH MACHINE
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And have a nice walk!