From the train station, this connection will take you down the road on the left, between the houses towards the old Loulé-Quarteira road.
Cross the road and go down a narrow trail, where you’ll get a glimpse of some traditional dryland orchards surrounded by limestone – drystone – walls. When you reach Poço da Amoreira, turn left and then right, down a narrow path that will take you up to the helipad.
You’ll then turn down a path with walls on either side, where you can sense the existence of the Cadoiço Stream. Go straight ahead, past the city’s allotments, which you’ll see to your right. Before you know it you’ll find you’re inside Loulé’s urban perimeter.
Take your time to look around the city and its cultural heritage and get your strength back by trying a traditional “folhado de Loulé”, a flaky pastry with a sweet custard filling. The municipal market invites you for a visit. The building, in Arab-inspired revivalist style, dates back to the early 20th century. Staying overnight in the city is also an excellent idea.
The route then crosses Loulé Municipal Park, a leisure area whose attractiveness and large shaded areas will come as a pleasant surprise. From there, head towards the Municipal Sports Pavilion, and then go down a small path on the right that will take you uphill. As you walk, you’ll get a sweeping view of the city, which you will now be leaving behind.
From here on, you’ll be heading down narrow trails that are sure to bring many surprises. When you find yourself on a wide dirt track, take a detour to see a geological formation called Penedos do Frade (Friar Rocks). Let your imagination and creativity run wild as you make your own interpretation of the sight of these strange boulders.
Back on the route, make your way to the Altura trig point (360 m), the highest point on the route. Go down towards the Mercês Stream, and then up the mediaeval paved road. At the top, you can take a detour to Querença to recharge your batteries. As you make your way back to the route, head towards the Fonte Benémola Protected Local Landscape.
At the Fonte Benémola car park, this connection intersects with the PR16 LLE – “Fonte Benémola” Walking Path. Once you reach the second car park, which is after the small bridge, the connection turns left and meets the PR12 LLE – “7 Fontes” Walking Path. The beauty and cool waters of the Fonte Benémola will be calling out for you to take a break, and you’re likely to find it impossible not to take a picture of the site.
Make the most of being here. Sit down, close your eyes and listen to all the sounds that surround you in this magical place. When you get to the last picnic area, the connection keeps going straight ahead along with the PR12 LLE, heading uphill towards Corcitos and diverging from the PR16 LLE, which turns left at the stream. You will go past wells with large wheels, along narrow trails and, if you’re walking this route in the spring time, you may well spot orchids growing alongside the path. When you get to the junction, the connection turns left, diverging from PR12 LLE, which turns right. From here, head towards the Rio Seco Stream, along narrow dirt tracks. Shortly after you’ve crossed the stream, you will reach Sector 6 of the GR13 – Via Algarviana.
Here you can head towards Salir (the recommended direction), or Barranco do Velho (the opposite direction), where you’ll find some basic services.
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
In terms of flora, Mediterranean plants are especially notable here, specifically the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus), kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), evergreen honeysuckle (Lonicera implexa), purple Jerusalem sage (Phlomis purpurea), juniper (Juniperus turbinata) and myrtle (Myrtus communis).
In terms of geodiversity, you’ll see Penedos do Frade: carbonate rocks that have been carved into various shapes by rainwater erosion, filled with cracks, cavities and depressions, forming a perfect viewpoint for looking out onto the hills. These rocks are said to represent mythical figures from Atlantis, forming a place of mystery for some, and one of worship for others.
The Fonte Benémola Protected Local Landscape is one of the most iconic places in the municipality of Loulé, located in the very midst of the Algarve Barrocal – the strip of land between the coast and the hills. The Menalva Stream flows through the protected area throughout the year, contributing to the richness and diversity of its fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of birds having been registered as nesting on the valley slopes and on the banks of the stream, alongside over 300 different species of plants.
REST STOPS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE ROUTE
More information: Vamus Algarve
In Loulé you can use the municipal urban network Apanha-me (free), which includes a connection to the Loulé-Quarteira CP station.
ALSO ACCESIBLE BY:
Trains: Loulé-Quarteira station. Site: CP - Comboios de Portugal
Note: Loulé-Quarteira train station is about 6 km from the city. The red line of the urban bus network Apanha-me runs between the station and the city twice a day.
Intercity bus: Rede Expresso.