Casa Ferrobo
Self Catering Cottages

Walking From Casa Ferrobo

Casa Ferrobo stands at the edge of a tranquil vale dotted by tiny villages where the passage of time has made little impact on their traditional practices and way of life. Time-worn paths thread to these hamlets through a landscape of old olive groves, little vineyards, and the ever-present cork oak woodlands. Winding past noras (hand-wheel wells) and rusting, donkey-powered scoop wells, walks meander through a secluded countryside drenched in spring wildflowers and vibrant with birdsong.

From this vale, hills ripple upwards into the twisted limestone Barrocal hills and the Serra da Caldeirão, rising to a modest 1800ft or so but with the punch of a miniature mountain range. Centuries-old carreteiros (donkey tracks), footpaths and a maze of forestry tracks penetrate this marvellous countryside.

We've researched a collection of SELF-GUIDED WALKS that will take you to some of the best places to appreciate the real Algarve. The routes reach deep into the countryside, climb to ridges with fabulous views and pass through many of the little villages that characterize the area. From February to May the hills are smothered in luxuriant wildflowers and shrubs - the cistus, lavender and yellow teline are breathtaking - whilst at all times of year the groves and terraces of wizened old olive and carob trees, orchards of almonds, figs and oranges and cool pine-woods invite gentle exploration.

On their walks, past guests have recorded well over 150 species of birds (many unfamiliar to British birdwatchers) whilst entomologists find our area a second-heaven, with invertebrates ranging from the showy Spanish Festoon, Swallowtail and Cleopatra butterflies to preying mantis. Small lizards are everywhere, taking the sun or hiding amidst prickly-pear cactus; the chorus of croaking frogs in lazy streams can be deafening. To us, the background whirr of cicadas and the magical call of bee-eaters is excuse enough to relax and recover beside the pool after a testing walk!

Most of the routes are circular and a clutch of them start from Casa Ferrobo itself. So whether you're inclined to a gentle stroll, intent simply on drinking in the unfamiliar birdsong, wild-scents and startling landscapes, or prefer to escape deep into the rural idyll that this part of the Algarve has by the bucketful, we've just the route to help you make the most of your stay.

The Walking Routes

The first five routes all start from Casa Ferrobo; the others explore further afield in the glorious countryside of central-north Algarve. We've been very circumspect in grading the walks, erring on the side of caution. If you're a fairly regular walker in Britain, then the routes are all a piece of cake – even the most challenging is akin to a modest ramble in the steeper Lakeland fells. Those new to walking will, we hope, find these an ideal introduction to the pastime – they're energetic enough to do you good and quicken the pulse, but the scenery and wildlife will prove such a diversion that you won't notice such exertions!

The walks are fully described in the "Welcome" folder you'll find in each of our cottages.

  1. A SHORT STROLL FROM CASA FERROBO - a short, easy stroll up the hill behind Ferrobo and a great introduction to the area's trees, flora and heritage. About 2 miles, easy.
  2. CASA FERROBO TO ALPORTEL - follow lanes and donkey tracks into the refreshingly tranquil and pretty countryside to the noth-west, where peaceful hamlets await your discovery. About 4½ miles, easy going. Click Here to view this walk
  3. MIRADOURA DAS CASTANHAS - visiting a grand viewpoint over the local area, this walk then climbs easily to a fantastic, wooded ridge walk before returning past tempting local cafes. About 5½ miles, easy/moderate.
  4. TAREJA AND THE VALE DE ESTACAS - explore the villages east of Casa Ferrobo prior to a stunning walk into secluded, wooded valleys overshadowed by saw-toothed hills. Lots of cork-oak heritage along the way as well. About 5½ miles, easy/moderate.
  5. FERROBO TO ARROTEIA VIA CERRO DE ALPORTEL - from Casa Ferrobo follow the route of Walk 2 for a while before picking up tracks through citrus groves and flower-smothered countryside to make the easy climb to Arroteia's great viewpoint. An easy 3¾ miles.
  6. TWO WALKS FROM BISPO - both walks start on a roller-coaster route to fabulous ridge-top views and the extraordinary, chasm-like valleys hidden amidst the twisted hills off the road to Barranco do Velho. The shorter option returns to the start through cool oak and pine woods; the longer route drops into a fertile vale before rising across the stark, eerily beautiful Maquis scrubland, an area possessed of magnificent views prior to returning on foot to Casa Ferrobo via a welcome café stop. About 3 or 7½ miles, moderate or moderate/challenging.
  7. PARIZES - The Via Algarviana is Portugal's only long-distance waymarked path, stretching from Alcoutim on the Spanish border to Cape St. Vincent, Europe's most south-westerly point. Parizes is a hill-village on the route; this walk explores the remote, deeply-incised valleys of the Serra da Caldeirão, discovering a ruined village and extraordinary views along the way from ridges high above one of Portugal's major rivers, the Ribeira de Odeleite. About 6 miles moderate going, with a long, steady climb to return to the start.
  8. TO THE FONTE DE BENÉMOLA - from the white hill-village of Querença, a walk into a sylvan dale lined with springs and reedbeds. Easy tracks wind out of this glorious wooded valley through old olive groves and soft-fruit plantations spread on a plateau dappled by oaks, with the usual unbelievable views across this secret Algarvean landscape. Some easy road-walking returns us to the tempting cafes beside Querença's lovely church. About 5 miles easy/moderate, with a shorter 2½ mile easy option just to the Fonte itself.
  9. QUINTA DO LAGO WALK - BIRDWATCHER'S SPECIAL - feather meets fantasy-land beside the endless Atlantic beaches of the central Algarve. Absurdly opulent villas crown sandy islands rising from the salt-flats just west of Faro. These flats and tidal marshes are home to myriad bird species, from Greater Flamingos and Stilts to Black Kites and eagles. Add a stroll along one of Europe's best beaches in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, and this ramble through this millionaire's paradise is an ideal introduction to the quiet side of the Algarve's coast. Up to 4 easy miles.
  10. FEITEIRA & THE CERRO DE FOIA DE ERVAS WALK - another terrific mountain-road drive finds tiny Feiteira, at the heart of the Serra do Caldeirão in the midst of a contorted, corrugated wooded landscape. The walk drinks deeply of this hilly countryside, plotting a way via excellent viewpoints on adventurous tracks, culminating in a memorable final mile through cork-oak woods watered by dancing rivulets. Around 5½ miles moderate/challenging going.
  11. ROCHA DA PENA - this is our take on one of the Algarve's best-known walks. Rocha da Pena is a veritable Table-Mountain, a monadnock of limestone thrust high above the surrounding landscape - locals have nicknamed it the Portuguese Ayers Rock. Adventurous paths and tracks climb to the plateau-like top and the reward of fabulous wildflowers and shrubs, great bird life (including eagles) and views to the coast. The return is through the utterly charming, time-warp village of Penina. About 4½ miles moderate/challenging.
  12. MEALHA - this remote hill village still has the extremely rare traditional little thatched, circular huts used to store hay and fodder. The drive to it via the charming mountain village of Cachopo is part of the experience; the other is the remarkable view obtained from the walk to the hilltop location of the Neolithic necropolis of Anta das Pedras Altas, from where mountains deep into Spain are visible as the distant horizon. About 3½ miles, moderate.
  13. A HILLY WALK FROM FONTE FERRERA - the Fonte is a local beauty spot, from where we climb to and through the extraordinary landscape of vales, ridges and hills you can see to the north of Casa Ferrobo. A marvellous combination of memorable views, utter peace, a wealth of birds and butterflies plus, in spring, an endless carpet of lavender, cistus and rock roses. About 4 miles, moderate/challenging.
  14. COVA DA MUDA - A ramble in the rolling countryside just a few miles north of Casa Ferrobo, taking in several secluded barragems (lakes), a terrific viewpoint or two and passing the gaunt skeletons of deserted farms, windmills and even a ghost village before finishing with a sweeping view over 30 miles of coastline. 6 miles moderate.
  15. BARRANCO DO VELHO RIDGES & VALES - one of Jenny's favourite walking areas. Starting with a mouth-watering stroll through open woods, the route soon starts its characteristic up-and-down nature, dropping into secluded valleys before finally reaching Barranco's pretty church. An energetic 5¾ mile walk, moderate-to-hard.
  16. MIRADOURO DO CALDEIRAO - a roller-coaster route starting from one of the highest Miradouro viewpoints in The Algarve, way up in the rugged Serra da Caldeirão northwest of Barranco do Velho. Remote villages and extensive views accompany this moderate 5¼ miler.
  17. TAVIRA FOREST & THE ZAMBUJOSA VALLEY - lovely walking through the tranquil stone pine and eucalyptus National Forest, then joining an adventurous track up the winding Zambujosa Valley, rising to a viewpoint over the distant coast before more cool woodland walking returns to base. 5½ miles, easy/moderate.
  18. TAVIRA COAST: FORTS & FORESHORE - an easy linear walk using local train and bus services at Tavira. An opening gambit past a string of handy cafés reaches the lagoon edge in the Ria Formosa Natural Park. From here paths snake along or adjacent to this watery wonderland (lots of easy beach walking, local character and birdlife), passing through the lovely unspoilt coastal village of Cacela da Velho (with a great old fort and church), ending in the little resort of Cabanas. 5½ miles.
  19. PEGO DO INFERNO - not far outside Tavira is this short stroll linking the secluded (although popular) waterfall and blue lagoon at Pego do Inferno ("The Pool of Hell") with the lively cataracts of Mohinos da Rocha, along the way passing through fragrant plantations of citrus fruits amidst rolling hills. 2 easy miles.
  20. PARIZES NORTHERN ROUTE - short stretches of the Via Algarviana trail take this route deep into the maniacally contorted green valleys between Parizes and tiny Castelão hamlet, lost in the hills, before a steady climb through memorable woodland with great views returns to a handy café. A fabulous 4½ moderate/hard miles (can be combined with Walk 7 for a long day's exploration).
  21. SANTA CATERINA - explore the flatter lands between Sao Bras and Tavira on this meandering route past orange groves and terrapin-inhabited brooks before striking across the dry, hot matos countryside, with its wealth of birdlife and coastal views. A very green final mile caps the walk to a T. 6 easy miles.
  22. THE COAST AT BENAGIL - Portugal's coast puts on a memorable show west of Albufeira, where multi-coloured cliffs, magnificent sandy coves, caves, blow-holes, inlets and islets are encountered on this easy there-and-back route from friendly little Benagil. There's an historic promontory church, too, and plenty of cafés. 6½ sun-kissed enchanting miles.

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