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Day 3, Cercal do Alentejo to Porto Covo, April 23

A flock of sheep on the path.
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The restaurant in the hotel was not yet finished, so a delicious and plentiful breakfast was provided at a nearby cafe. Long tables had been put together for the hotel guests—all of whom seemed to be hikers or cyclists. Some were folks we’d met earlier and some were just starting out. The trail splits here with the Historical Way continuing south on an inland route and an alternate connector trail leading to Porto Covo and the start of the coastal Fisherman’s Trail which was our chosen route.

The day was clearer but never got too hot as we headed towards the coast. The vegetation started out similar to the previous day with lots of oak and eucalyptus, as well as strawberry tree.

It was a pleasure to be on drier footing after our earlier days of mud. The track was broad, occasionally crossing, or briefly walking on, paved roads. We found a shady spot nestled on the side of the path where we tucked into our lunch. After the first two days of seeing very few other walkers, today we saw more people on the trail as well as more farms and houses that we passed by.

Pale pink wild geranium.
Striped geranium growing wild along the trail.

We inadvertently became shepherds when a flock of sheep that had wandered out from a field started following us. We were just starting to wonder how to deal with this, when the real shepherd saw what was going on and sent out his dog who quickly had the sheep rounded up and back where they belonged.

As we got closer to the coast the path became sandier and on each side was lined with flowering succulent plants which I would later look up and discover were called ice plants. I took many photos, thinking that might be my only chance. But, happily they were a flower that lined much of our way for the whole rest of our trip, coming in two varieties, a pale yellow that blushed pink and a hot pink. They grew in massed colonies spreading over the dunes. When I close my eyes and think of the trail, that is one of the most striking images that comes back to me.

Author Rosemary on sandy path.
Rosemary as the path turns to sand on the approach to Porto Covo.

We were ready for a cold drink at the beachside restaurant when we reached the coast at Ilha do Pessegueiro. Here, there was a choice to walk along the beach or to follow the road into town. We decided to opt for the quicker road walk knowing that we’d do the beach portion in the morning as this was one small piece of backtracking to get us into Porto Covo for the night.

Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived at Ahoy Porto Covo Hostel (40 € with shared bathroom), so we dropped our bags and had had a little wander around town. Porto Covo is a sweet little town; it all seems quite new and quite planned and I imagine in the height of summer it must be bursting. But now at the end of April it was quiet and amiable. We picked up some food and then found a lovely restaurant where we sat outside to enjoy fish, vegetables, salad and a delightful dessert of meringues in custard. We wrapped up the evening sitting on the hostel’s rooftop patio gazing at the stars. We made it an early night knowing that the next day—the first day of the Fisherman’s Trail—was meant to be long and arduous.