This connection starts next to the old Vaqueiros primary school and intersects with Sector 4 of the GR13 – Via Algarviana and PR7 ACT – Up hill, Down hill. The route takes you through Vaqueiros, past the Main Church, then goes uphill to the left until you reach the highest point in the hamlet. Then, at the intersection, turn left and head away from the settlement. About 600 m later, Sector 4 of the GR13 – Via Algarviana carries on straight ahead while this connection turns right, along with the PR7 ACT – Up hill, Down hill, towards Pão Duro.
Along the way, the landscape is dominated by dense rockrose-covered areas (Cistus sp.) and scattered with groves of stone pines, known locally as “projects”, since landowners here will have received funding to plant them. The relief is rugged and rich in natural viewpoints across the landscape.
At the entrance to Pão Duro, the paths diverge for about 100 m, the PR7 ACT – Up hill, Down hill turning right and the connection left. At this point, you might want to make a small detour to re-energise in the small picnic area on the left. The routes then converge and diverge once again for another 100 m, and go on to converge yet again for about 450 metres. Once you’ve crossed the bridge over the Foupanilha Stream, the two routes leave the paved road and continue along the dirt track at the first bend, which is where the two paths diverge for good; the connection turning left towards Pêro Dias while the PR7 ACT – Up hill, Down hill, turns right.
From there you’ll find yourself going up hill, then down again to the Foupanilha Stream, which you’ll be able to ford. Small subsistence gardens line the riverbanks here. This route will have all your senses heightened to the sounds and smells around you, all of which convey a sense of tranquillity and perfect harmony with nature in its wildest state. Lose yourself in this feeling! The route will take you to the top of these hills, which provide panoramic views and the perfect opportunity to catch your breath. Next, the trail will begin to descend towards the Foupana Stream, which will be easier to cross this time thanks to the stepping stones here.
After about 1 km you will reach Pêro Dias. Carry on straight at the crossroads you’ll find as you approach the settlement, and head through the hamlet. At the first junction turn right towards the paved road, leaving Pêro Dias. The path then turns left after about 300 m, down a dirt track towards Barrada.
At Barrada, the connection intersects with the PR6 ACT – Living Memory, converging with it almost the entire way to Martim Longo, where the route ends.
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
One of the best preserved streams in the Algarve, the Foupana Stream is particularly notable along this route, with its rich riverside vegetation made up of ash, willow and oleander trees.
Along the Connection you’ll be able to spot holm (Quercus rotundifolia) and cork oaks (Quercus suber), which always deserve a mention, as the habitats they create are home to mammals such as cape hares (Lepus capensis) and European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which you may even spot, as well as boars (Sus scrofa) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes), which are harder to see.
Dozens of species of birds can also be spotted here, specifically Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata) and Dartford warblers (Sylvia undata), short-toed snake eagles (Circaetus gallicus), red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) and golden orioles (Oriolus oriolus), which can only be spotted in spring and summer.
» REST STOPS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE ROUTE
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