Cliff Walking in the Algarve, Portugal

Cliff Walking in the Algarve, Portugal

Breakfast starts at the hostel at 8:30 am. The troops were all massed ready for a leisurely scramble along the cliffs between Lagos and Praia da Luz. Scramble yes, leisurely well…..

The route along both the south and west coasts of the Algarve is covered with terrific walking paths and visitors come from all over Europe to wander along the scenic walkways. Our journey was just seven kilometres in a straight line however I had neglected to mention to my companions just how much up and down there was!

The sun beats down as we walk past the Lighthouse. We took the road route out to the lighthouse at Pont de Piedad that was easily covered in twenty minutes by all the team; a mix of Europeans, Aussies, Canadians and American students from the University in Seville. The views at this point are stunning and some Australians have compared the landscape to the twelve apostles in Victoria.

The road slopes gently uphill, eventually leaving the confines of the town and opens up into the flat plateau of the jutting coastline. To the left the views pan out all around the bay of Lagos, you can see the small range of hills above Monchique (inland) and back along the coast to Portimao and on a good day perhaps as far as Albufeira.

The highlights of the area are the stunning rocks, coves and caves that have been relentlessly carved and shaped by the pounding waves. Tourists come in droves on small boats to putter around the strange rocks and hold their breath as daredevil boat captains squeeze their vessels in and out of the narrow caves with each ebb and flow of the swell.

It is easy to spend hours just wandering around this wonderful spot but I had pain in mind so it was onward and upward and downward and upward…well you get the idea. The path meanders its way along the cliff top sometimes skirting dangerously close to the edge and often seeming to disappear into the bush only to reappear with yet another stunning view.

Hardy nudists love the privacy of the small coves and gather here in some numbers in the summer. Today they were absent; much to the disappointment of a few Aussie boys who claimed they only came for this reason. We carried on along the cliffs toward Porto do Mos a one time military area that was run down not too long ago and is now doing its bit to keep the construction industry of Portugal alive.

The path here is cut off. About ten years ago a hillside villa had an issue with its swimming pool and the subsequent seal failure cause the collapse of a huge section of cliff that cascaded down to the beach below. There were tourists on the beach at the time but I don’t know if anyone.

We took the winding road through the new developments until it led us to the bottom of the hill and to the beach itself. It was time to refill the water bottles at the café before making the ascent up the very steep cliff path that continued towards Praia da Luz. This section of cliff is made from a different stone and the weathering that the sandy promontory of Lagos receives is not the same. These cliffs stand hard and proud with sheer drops over two hundred feet below.

From the lighthouse you can look down on the famous Algarve Grottos. Looking inland you can see the remnants of old farmhouses and land divisions that marked the territory here when it was once the only source of income. If you look a bit further over you will find that the land is now all taken by the huge Boavista Golf Resort sprawling voraciously along the valley beyond.

The cliff path perseveres upward for another good hour of walking until we come across the geographic marking post at the summit overlooking the resort of Praia da Luz. It is a good spot to rest; the views are sublime going well past Burgau to the west and on to the far point at Sagres. Looking downward the whitewashed houses of Luz sparkle in the sun and the inviting beach is temptingly close.

A steep descent along a small tricky path turns into a free for all as we all employ various methods of getting down in one piece. Foolhardy backpackers we are, sliding down on bums or running headlong down hoping not to catch and ankle or slip on some loose stones. Breathless but uninjured we pick up the pace as the cool water is only a few hundred yards away. It is too much for some and the urge to swim takes over as several of our party race off along the path and upon reaching the beach strip off nearly naked to plunge into the refreshing ocean.

We all catch up in the end and to the dismay of the sunbathing families begin to disrobe on mass and cavort like mating seals in the breakers.

Job done we rested on the beach for a little longer before taking the bus back to Lagos and a good siesta.