Thursday, 13 August 2015

Portugal: Peneda-Geres National Park

Peneda-Geres was the first national park in Portugal and is still the most important one. As the name suggests there are two parts of it: Peneda and Geres, both beautiful, although Geres more popular probably due to the abundance of water sports on offer at the only lake in the area. We stayed in this part of the park as well for there were few campsites in the whole park, most located in Geres. However, we did visit Peneda and discovered that we liked it better and would've liked to stay at a campsite there. 

On the way to Portugal

Old Spanish-Portuguese check point, no longer in use.This is the main road from Spain to the North of Portugal and it goes through the national park.  There is now a little cafe on the Portuguese side and a car park for those who want to have a swim in the nearby river as it is not allowed to park a car on the side of the road and the local authorities ensure no one does it. You also pay a tax to use the part of the road that goes through the national park.


A very popular swimming spot

Our campsite in a village called Campo do Geres


Serra de Geres





Trying out a track that happened to be on our way to Vila do Geres, a nearby town.
I was about to write it is an abandoned house along the track but it actually has some tenants.

And here's one of them


Checking whether we'd be able to continue

And the decision was 'no' for obvious reasons.









Back on the road to Vila do Geres


An afternoon tea in Vila do Geres



Taking a detour back to our campsite through some lovely woods.






Roman road trails

There was once a Roman road that stretched 320km between Braga (Portugal) and Astorga (Spain). The trails have now World Heritage status. There are still some milestone along the trail – at miles XXIX, XXX and XXXI. Here's one of them.




Another little track not far from our campsite.






A refuge (?) at the end of the track

The popular lake in Geres part of the park


Relaxing at the campsite




SERRA DA PENEDES

We did a day's trip around Serra da Penedes. Soajo was our first stop. It is mainly known for its photogenic espiguerros – corn granaries – dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. They were created to dry and store corn that ripened late and hence was exposed to autumn rains that threatened harvests with rot. They are topped with a cross symbolising God’s protection of the harvest. And yes, they do look like a village graveyard. 

On the way to Soajo



Soajo - espiguerros





On the way to Peneda village



Apparently a very Portuguese cow - due to the horns


Peneda village

Peneda is considered the most beautiful village in the park and it is indeed very pretty. On the hot afternoon we visited it we very much enjoyed its historic church, Igreja Senhora de Peneda, however; for reasons other than its beauty or history: it’s the coolness of its interiors that we found very appealing.
Igreja Senhora de Peneda

The mountain Peneda in the background. It can be climbed with your own equipment.



Aaron's favourite afternoon activity...

Whilst the rest of us walked up to the church despite the heat.





SERRA DA PENEDES









Castro Laboreiro 



On the way to the Castle of Castro Laboreiro, XIIIC



  


On of the entrances to the castle



Views from the castle. The village of Castro Laboreiro in the background.

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