This Connection is unique in terms of its accessibility, as it both starts and ends at train stations. The train journey between the two stations is short, lasting only about 15 minutes, leaving you with no excuse not to explore the route, whether on foot or by bicycle, alone, with family or with friends. Get ready for a surprise, because while it may be short, this connection will take you through a vast diversity of landscapes.
As you set off from Ferragudo train station, which is in Parchal, this connection takes you through the streets of Parchal and Mexilhoeira da Carregação for about 3 km. Cross the viaduct over the EN125 national road, leaving the paved road behind as you follow the banks of the River Arade. The route then carries on to the right, along a trail that heads uphill. At the halfway point, stop for a rest and to take in the superb view over the Arade. Nobody could see this view and not want to take a photo to remember this moment by.
The route then follows a narrow trail, intersecting with a path that runs parallel to the A22 motorway further ahead. From here, the route continues towards the iconic Sítio das Fontes Municipal Park, the perfect place to stop for lunch and re-energise as you make use of the picnic tables there.
Back on the path, you’ll find yourself arriving at the Nossa Senhora do Rosário rice paddies in no time, where the birds are the real attraction. Grab this chance to take a break and, if you’ve got a pair of binoculars, try to spot the birds fluttering around the area. You’ll also be able to see Rosário Island in the distance. The connection will then take you up a small hill. At the top, we suggest taking a break to enjoy the view over the rice paddies and the twists and turns of the River Arade. Take a deep breath and consciously store this moment in your memory, making sure it’s immortalised. Soon after, the route will take you through the vineyards that have led to Lagoa being widely recognised for its famous, excellent-quality wines and strong wine tradition.
The path carries on for about 3 km, along the left bank of the River Arade, soon crossing into the municipality of Silves. As you draw nearer to the city’s legendary “Roman bridge”, turn left and then immediately right next to the restaurant. You’ll find the Arade is still keeping you company to your left, flowing past the back of the hotel. Turn right at the top of the path and when you reach the road, turn right again. Take care as you cross the road, using the crossing to do so, then head right, turning left a little further ahead onto a dirt track that heads uphill, fully immersing yourself in nature. It is worth stopping here to look back and take in the superb view of Silves Castle.
When this path meets the paved road, the route turns left, following the road for about 400 metres. Next, turn right and follow a dirt track for 300 metres. Before you reach the paved road once again, stop to take one last look back at Silves. The route then heads left along the main road for about another 700 metres. As you come closer to the roundabout, along the paved road, the route turns left, soon arriving at Silves train station – the end point of this adventure.
» HISTORIC, ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE
Mexilhoeira da Carregação
This Connection, although relatively short, crosses a surprising diversity of landscapes.
The Sítio das Fontes Municipal Park, in the municipality of Lagoa, occupies an area of about 18 hectares along the banks of an estuary of the River Arade, near the town of Estômbar. It has several springs, which are located at the westernmost end of the largest aquifer in the Algarve (Querença-Silves). Though it only covers a small area, it is a very special place, as it encompasses a huge diversity of environments representative of the Mediterranean landscape: marshland, bog, scrubland, a small temporary pond, abandoned farmland, plains and watercourses. This park deserves a day trip of its own, for you to relax and take in everything it has to offer – which is certainly plenty!
The Algarve isn’t commonly associated with rice farming, which is why you’re sure to be surprised by the Nossa Senhora do Rosário paddy fields you’ll see along this route.
In Portugal, the rice cycle begins in April with the cleaning of ditches and fields, which will then allow farmers to sow their rice seeds. Rice is harvested in September, using mechanical means.
This rice paddy, which is near Sítio das Fontes, is a popular location for bird watchers, so don’t be surprised if you spot people with binoculars around their necks and telescopes on their backs. Which is only to be expected since rice paddies are the man-made ecosystem with the greatest diversity of birdlife.
More than one hundred species of birds have been registered here, many of which are migratory, though others are year-round residents. Though some species can be spotted more easily than others, here are some of the most notable birds you might see: grey herons (Ardea cinerea), western swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio), western marsh harriers (Circus aeruginosus), streaked fantail warblers (Cisticola juncidis), Cetti’s warblers (Cettia cetti) and even kingfishers (Alcedo atthis).
Wine and vines are deeply ingrained in Lagoa’s culture, shaping the area’s landscapes. The civilizations that have made the region their home have always had a culture of wine and vineyards. This rich history can be seen in the local art, architecture, economics and commerce, cuisine and, of course, agriculture.
The Tinta Negra Mole grape, also known as Tinta Negra or Negra Mole, was the variety most used in the mid-20th century to produce Lagoa wine. These grapes’ high yields and alcohol content, as well as their resistance to diseases, made them a favourite among farmers and producers alike, at a time when quantity was prized above all else. However, excellent wines can be made from Negra Mole which, along with Trincadeira, is used to make DOC (Protected Designation of Origin) Lagoa wine.
Careful cultivation of the vineyards and the high quality of the grapes, along with technically qualified human resources and production technologies, raised the quality of the wines produced in Lagoa and Silves, making them highly sought-after. Dare to sample an Algarve wine made from Negra Mole grapes and you certainly won’t regret it.
» REST STOPS AND SUPPORT SERVICES ALONG THE ROUTE
» CASH MACHINE
More information: Vamus Algarve
Comboio: estação Ferragudo-Parchal, estação de Silves. Site: CP - Comboios de Portugal
Autocarro interurbano: site Rede Expresso.