Peneda-Gerês is Portugal’s only national park. The crescent shaped, 703 km2 park in northern Portugal was created in 1971 to preserve not only the indigenous fauna & flora but the traditional practices and way of life of the people of the region. The park has several way-marked hiking trails. Locations near the few major roads through the park are the most visited. Many of them are religious sites. Others, such as Soajo and Lindoso have clusters of espigueiros – small, traditional granaries built of granite which are still used by local farmers.
We started our short hike in Lindoso, a small village with a thirteenth century hilltop castle dominating the landscape and surrounded by espigueiros. Lindoso, once a front-line of defence is now a gateway to the national park. The guide from ‘Go2Nature’ (www.go2nature.pt) met us in front of the Lindoso visitor centre and we set off up the hill towards the castle and the granaries that surround it. All 67 of them are still in use and Lindoso has the biggest and the best preserved collection of them.
We walked through the village, tightly packed with little stone houses in an unsteady equilibrium between repair and decay and slowly climbed up to the woods above. Dogs barked and birds sang. We panted. “Wolves here often take sheep ” the guide said pointing to a pile of white bones. The village spread out below us and colourful wild flowers lined the footpath.
We could hear music and singing as we returned to Lindoso from our circular hike in the hills. Men were sorting the cereal harvest in to stacks for drying on the sunny and windy hillside below the castle before storing them in the granaries. Women were singing and some were dancing. Baskets of food and bottles of wine were being brought from the village for a picnic.
We left Lindoso and drove the short distance to a forest clearing and took a footpath up in to the hills which ran along a gurgling brook. We crossed a little dam in front of a waterfall – Stephen spotted nesting Dippers here – and climbed up to a ledge overlooking the brook. A family from the village was setting up a picnic lunch for us in the middle of nowhere! There were cold meats, fish, salads, cheeses, bread, sweets, coffee and wine including a rough home-made red from Vinhao. Glasses were filled and refilled, the sun shone, the brook gurgled and life was good…
We drove back to Paco Calheiros to get ready for the evening tasting at Quinta Ameal.
The visit was arranged by Mafalda Nicolau Almeida of Miles Away.
- “Thank you so much for this amazing article! Was a pleasure for me sharing this day with such amazing group!! A good souvenir!
– Isabel Sousa, Go2Nature, Portugal, 11 July 2016