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 Walk Across Europe

2004-04-14 - Trip 2 - Leg 17

Portugal, Algarve East

Vila Real via Ayamonte to Lepe, Spain

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26.3 km today.
3.5 km/h average today.
7 hours 27 mins walking time.
131 km this trip.
273 km from start.
0 metres minimum height.
65 metres maximum height.
60 metres ascent.
45 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train, ferry and bus.

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Disused railway.

This walk is very straightforward but long.

Take a train to Vila Real. Then pick up the track which runs from the station forecourt and then head towards the railway line beyond the station. Follow this until you get to a road. Turn right here and follow the road past the bus station until you get to the ferry for Spain (10 minutes).

Cross over on the ferry.

Once in Ayamonte, follow the river towards the sea until you get to the harbour. Then turn left and stay on this street, Avenida Villa Real de San Antonio, across the Plaza de la Coronación, Avenida Andalucía, and Avenida Cayetano Feu. Once here you will see the bus station on your right (20 minutes). Go beyond it and head towards the saltings. Follow the road to the next roundabout where you will see the Via Verde Litoral heading east along the old railway line and parallel with the road (25 minutes). You follow this track all the way to Lepe. On the right is the Paraje Natural which is a haven for water birds of which we saw several different kinds. On the left on the main road is a signpost to Lepe 19km. The railway route is considerably longer.

Continue along the route ignoring all side-turnings until you get to a large transformer. Here you head onto a surfaced road (45 minutes) and soon after bear right on to an unsurfaced track again (50 minutes).

Continue straight across the next cross-roads (1 hour 25 minutes). We saw sheep grazing here. A road approaches the reserve from the left and crosses the track into a car park. Ignore it and go straight on ignoring any subsequent side-turnings. The saltings eventually come to an end and you enter a cutting. Then you pass some houses on your left. This is Pozo Camino (2 hours 15 minutes). Go straight across the next set of cross-roads.

The next target is La Redondela which a sign indicates is 3.4km and 55 minutes away (2 hours 25 minutes). You cross some more saltings. This second lot of saltings eventually comes to an end and you find yourself walking through orange trees, then nectarine orchards, mostly under cover and strawberry fields some in the open, some under cloches and some in poly-tunnels. Eventually you enter a cutting and pass under a bridge (3 hours 15 minutes). The next landmark is a bridge which you go over into Redondela (3 hours 30 minutes). Soon after this you get to a junction. Keep on your track by going up the ramp and down between red and white painted railings. The track now veers away from the road and goes very slightly uphill. The surface here is sporadically churned up by horses and cattle.

Eventually the track merges with another one coming from the right and the surface improves (3 hours 45 minutes). You go under a bridge (4 hours). We saw several rabbits on this stretch. It was also memorable for being very muddy and almost impassable without getting covered. You go under the main road (4 hours 25 minutes) and continue straight ahead ignoring side turnings. Eventually, as you approach Lepe, the track becomes roughly surfaced and later smoothly surfaced (4 hours 50 minutes). Head into the town continuing to go straight ahead.

When the track heads off unsurfaced again, you turn right off it and then left to get to your bus stop. Then, when you get to a T-junction, go left and then right. At the next T-junction, go left. The bus stop is opposite the kiosk in the little square (5 hours 30 minutes).

On this day, we left Portugal and started our trek across Spain. We walked from the railway station at Vila Real de Santo Antonio (A) to the ferry (B). After a brief wait we were on our way to the Spanish side (C). We walked through narrow streets in Ayamonte (causing GPS signal loss) via the Bus Station (D) to the edge of town where the Via Verde begins. This is a disused railway converted to a foot and cycle path. Cars and motor bikes are banned from much of this route and with a few exceptions, this seemed to be respected by the locals. We found a small shop at (E) and bought cheese. Neil forgot to pack this earlier. At (F) there was shade under eucalyptus trees and a good view over the water. We had lunch here.

In the afternoon, the railway left the marshes and went inland through strawberry fields and nectarine orchards under plastic to get an earlier crop. Both had ripe fruit. The fields were full of fruit pickers. At (G) the route deteriorated a little. It was sandy and churned up by sheep, goats and cows. There was a lot of water too, left over from thundery weather a few days earlier. We enjoyed the frogs plopping into the puddles as we passed. At (H) we located the bus stop. The 17:30 bus (Spanish time) took us back to Ayamonte where we cought the ferry and train back to our base in Tavira.

Being a disused railway, the gradients were negligable. The first half of the walk was close to sea level. There is one hill west of Lepe. The views are good if you climb out of the railway cutting at the summit. The ferry crossing is the smooth trace from about 1.8 Km to 3.2 Km. The GPS receiver wasn't being bounced up and down by walking.

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