Blog David MOnteiro

Arrabida Natural Park - a special walk

4:26 PM David Monteiro 1 Comments Category : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I'm at the top of the Arrábida Hills, around me a breathtaking view makes me wonder why I don't come here more often … I love this spot.

The look on my teammates faces is of who can't find words to express himself. The ideas my teammates can express are fragmented and disconnected.

We are at the summit of the Arrábida Hills called Formosinho with 501m, also the highest point in the District of Setúbal.

For many mountaineers reaching the Summits of the mountains they hike is always a goal in itself. I do not feel the call of that goal. I can say that usually I see the Summit has as interesting but I give more value to the entire journey the reach and return from the top.

This Summit is not difficult to achieve and does not represent any true challenge to overcome. So, why is it so interesting?

The type of view we can have here is so diverse and so full of details that there are few other ridges that give us such a variety of elements.

Here we see the sea, the mountains, other small ridges, the cropland with vineyards, the fruit tree fields, the urban sites … is so diverse that for each side we turn we have a unique setting.

The vision of the sea is the one that attracts me the most, there seems to be an endless beach. I felled in love-me with this 360-degree vision.

The surrounding area is very interesting and we have many point of interest around here.

For ease of explanation, I marked the Formosinho summit with a red dot and I divided the post in 4 quadrants and in counterclockwise I will speak of each quadrant at a time.

South/East Quadrant

The Tróia peninsula dominates the landscape, a long tongue of sand headed by some buildings I know to be with summer apartments. Around this peninsula we have a large sand outer ring  and on the ocean side it extends to an immense beach.
On the river Sado side, I imagine the dolphins we see there. I know they names, which gives us a pleasant sensation of familiarity with these dolphins.

The green dots that we see moving on the River are the new ferries that make the crossing between Setúbal and Troy. Always liked this crossing, is an excellent boat trip.

Tróia has a quite interesting roman heritage I will explore one day in a dedicated post.

Here I can not see all of the Sado River estuary but to by seeing this river mouth I remember some hidden places in the estuary which are authentic treasures, such as the archaeological station of Abul with their Phoenician heritage.

In this quadrant by the sea is where you will find the most impressive beach are of the surroundings. Portinho da Arrábida, Figueirinha and Galapos are really the best beaches around … crystal clear waters, fabulous.

North/East Quadrant
When I turn on eastbound I'm in the direction of Setúbal, despite not being able to see the city but see the end of its industrial belt which creates me mixed feelings. In my mind is contradictory the need for development with the awareness of a natural environment conservation of a diversified place as the Sado estuary.

Setúbal, where our famous 18th and 19th century writer Bocage was born and to whom is attributed a lot of anecdotes and funny sayings.

Looking in the direction of Alcochete, almost facing the north side, I try to see the Ribatejo plain areas but I can’t no longer distinguish the settlements.

North/West Quadrant

Here you can see Lisbon and from the city I can only distinguish little more than a jumble of houses that seem to be glued to the Sintra Hills, is the effect of a view from a far because in reality Strintra is a 30-minute drive from Lisbon.

In this direction I can see many vineyards and, although I have difficulty to distinguish them, but continuing to talk about wine, down there I know that two wine producers that are considered to be in the Gallery of the best wine producers in Portugal: Quinta da Bacalhôa and José Maria da Fonseca.

Somewhere there you can find Muscatel grapes used for the production of the famous wine Moscatel de Setúbal. The Moscatel de Setúbal wine is considered the best in Moscatel in the world. Moscatel de Setúbal wine is a fortified wine of amber color, which I love.

Watch this 2 minutes and 30 seconds funny and interesting video that pretty much explains the Muscat wine of Setúbel. The Moscatel de Setúbal wine

In the small village of Azeitão also find two other extraordinary products: Azeitão cheese and pies Azeitão.

The cheese of Azeitão is a small cheese made with sheep's milk, yellow colored and very soft, buttery, excellent for spreading on toast.

Tortas de Azeitão is a small cake rolled up, made from flour, eggs, and is delicious.

South/West Quadrant

When I turn to the quadrant W/S and face down, where we will to go to get out of here, I see some crosses on the silhouette of the hills to the sea. They belong to the Arrábida Convent complex.

By their modesty and quiet life, isolation and description, this convent always has an aura of mystery around it. Looking at the road we see a complex of old buildings and, further up, across the hills, a set of shrines and crosses that give us the feeling of being meditation cells of the monks of the convent.

The construction of the Arrábida Convent dates back to the 16th century and today covers four structures: the Old Convent, the New Convent, the garden and the Bom Jesus sanctuary.

A local curiosity refers to the existence of a chapel prior to the construction of the convent and it was a place of pilgrimages. Long time ago, four of the friars who came to join the convent, lived for two years in excavated cells. I am thinking of the lives lived here … is hard.

Toward the West we can't see the village of Sesimbra because is in between two hills. Sesimbra is a small fishing village with a very busy port and also has a beach that is filled with swimmers during the summer. Summer nights in Sesimbra are animated by the numerous restaurants that serve fish dishes grilled on the middle of the streets.

Continuing West we have the Cape Espichel, whose sea view is also fabulous and is an excellent spot for night photography on full Moon days.

Maybe it's time to walk down ... This is a great walk that I will repeat whenever I can, perhaps in the gallery of the most emblematic walks in Portugal.

One day I will walk up here to stay overnight and see the sunrise.