PAREDES WATERFALLS HIKING TRAIL (MORTÁGUA PR1 MRT)
The Paredes Waterfalls are located near to the small village of Paredes, in the municipality of Mortágua. If you just want to visit the main Waterfall then it´s an easy 4km route in total and you begin in Paredes village and follow the signposts for PR1 MRT. We wanted a longer hike so started the PR1 MRT at the beginning of the trail at Laceiras. If you start here the route is a 7km round trip and you get to view all the other smaller waterfalls as well as water mills and several bridges along the beautiful route. It is a lovely hike which follows a pathway through a dense lush green forest alongside the Ribeira de Moinhos up to the village of Paredes. It was so calming to breathe in crisp fresh air and listen to the tranquil sounds of the water and birds singing whilst hiking. There is plenty of shade too from the trees and the wildflower buds and blooms were very pretty. We visited in October and it was a fine sunny day.
GPS Coordinates: Start/End: 40°28’04.7″N 8°17’56.0″W
The “Misleading mess with my head” Markings
We arrived at Paredes village with no difficulty whatsoever and followed the signage which appeared good at first (red and yellow markings). We were also subconciously following orange ribbons which someone had taken a lot of time and effort to tie to trees every few metres. There were also white lines and arrow markings on the ground. After the village we passed through corn fields on the left and were faced with a stone bridge also situated on the left. The red and yellow paint markings on the tree directed us straight ahead but there was a huge sign with a black arrow pointing left over the bridge and orange ribbons also indicated this way. We followed this route over the bridge and got horrendously lost in the forest! At the top of the hill we should have turned right which would have led us to the waterfall in no time but the arrows and ribbons all indicated to turn left and there was no red and yellow markings so we ended up turning left and completed a huge loop and hiked an extra 4km so our 7km route turned into 11km! We eventually established the orange ribbons and white markings was a completely different trail possibly a dirt bike trail or maybe some challenge similar to the Duke of Edinburgh award. Note to myself: Stick to the red and yellow markings in future. If we get lost anymore we are going to have to change our names to Hansel & Gretel. I don’t actually mind the name change as long as we stumble across a house in the forest made from gingerbread. I am thinking that being Portugal it will be made of pastel de nata or salted cod fish which won’t have the same aroma (ha ha).
I am still mildly confused about the white lines on the ground. It looks like some form of white powder similar to chalk or flour. After walking several km out of our way I was hoping it was cocaine (just kidding!). I don’t need cocaine, a couple of espresso coffees suffice. This powder will obviously disappear with heavy rain so I can only assume there is an upcoming event in the near future. At one point I did think that maybe someone was messing with my head and that a mischievous person with a strange sense of humour has been having fun and moving the ribbons to piss us British hikers off (ha ha). Our minds started going into overdrive and I started to think that maybe the ribbons could be leading us to some weird ass communal cult. We would turn a corner and find a whole bunch of naked people around a camp fire. They would tie us up with the orange ribbons and Adrian would be forced to take on 10 wives and no one would ever find me alive again (ha ha). Luckily for us I just have a very vivid imagination and there was no cult lurking deep in the forest to kidnap or torture me. To be honest they would highly likely return me within 48 hours as I would do their head in with my silly antics (ha ha).
Signs to follow = Good
Signs not to follow = Bad
The most misleading award goes to ……….
You can clearly see the red and yellow sign in the distance yet the white line says do not cross – WTF! I don’t have the energy to be confused like this at my age (ha ha).
The tranquil trail
Although the highlight is the Paredes Waterfall there are several water course wonders to see along the way and we loved the smaller waterfalls and rock pools, various water mills, old ruins, picnic parks and corn fields. We made a point not to go into the corn fields. I have seen the films and it never ends well (ha ha). There are many species of fauna and flora including some magnificent varieties of trees. We saw some epic mushrooms, huge slugs and many frogs. The multiple pools were crystal clear with just a few leaves floating on the surface and would be amazing spots for a refreshing dip or some wild swimming in summer. There are so many different areas to swim in which is unique as usually there is just one rock pool at the foot of the main waterfall. I wasn’t captain brave as it was way too chilly for me on this occasion in October but I will be back next year with my bikini and sunscreen, for sure.
Helen the Mountain Goat
As usual with hikes to waterfalls there are rocks and mud underfoot with trickles of water from the stream which can become slippery so you need to be careful and wear footwear with a sturdy grip. We were well prepared this time and got to christen our new Mr & Mrs Merrell matching walking shoes which are so comfy and didn’t require any breaking in! I would say this route is of moderate-high difficulty depending on which route you take. We had the option of taking a more challenging adventure or an easier one and the nutters we are chose the harder one which meant a lot of me on all fours climbing over rocks and boulders like a mountain goat. It’s not a position I’m often found in much to hubby’s disappointment (ha ha). In the tricky areas you will find a safety rope so you can hold onto to prevent any falls. After the village and precarious route you will be faced with another 2 options. A 1.2km more tricky path or a 1.3km route via stone dirt track. The sign advised us to take the longer dirt track route if it had been raining. As it was a dry day we chose the shorter, more difficult route which takes you directly alongside the water. We only saw a handful of people on the hike going in the opposite direction and no one was at the waterfall so as usual had the whole place to ourselves.
I felt much happier wearing shoes with a proper grip as I didn’t have to hold onto hubby’s hand as much to stabilise myself so I could be more independent and take the lead for once and annoy him senseless by singing “Follow the leader, leader, leader” (ha ha). I bet he is fed up with the view of my chunky ass in his face! We are very accident prone and I know for sure that one day we will trip or fall in a forest and break a leg. One of us is going to have to carry the other to safety and it will likely result in an air ambulance emergency mission. I am praying it never happens and we try to be as careful as possible. When we are faced with a fork in the path and the difficult dilemma of “Do we turn right or left” we have a 50/50 chance of success but usually choose the wrong way which results in us having to backtrack and walk further unnecessary kilometers which isn’t a bad thing as I need all the exercise I can get at my ripe old age to burn off the calories as I love to eat Portuguese cake and icecream (ha ha). You will find yourself grabbing rocks occasionally so you may get a bit muddy but don’t panic as you can wash off in the waterfall. There is a much needed safety rope/wire in a couple of areas that you can hold onto to assist in climbing. I let hubby go ahead at this stage because if it holds his weight then it’s going to hold mine as I thankfully weigh less than him (ha ha).
The bark thief
We saw a man looking rather speepish and walking ahead of his partner. She was stealing bark from a tree. I’m not sure of the benefit of collecting bark but I know in Portugal Eucalyptus bark is used to make paper and it’s good for starting fires so maybe she wanted it as a fire starter for her log burner, who knows. We also saw a whole tree trunk stripped naked. I know it is illegal to cut down any cork oak in Portugal without special permission but I’m not sure which species of trees these were as I’m pants at identifying trees. I’m much more better at identifying Portuguese cakes and I don’t even need a cake identifying app just my well trained eyes and nose (ha ha).
About 2km into the journey and you will find the village of Paredes. Here you will get to view traditional schist houses and see signs of civilization. We stumbled upon the village communal washing room where the locals wash their clothes. I always find these places fascinating as it’s like a step back in time. The village of Paredes was fun to explore too with friendly locals, chickens and the largest pile of squash I have ever seen.
Fun and games on the final bridge
We were elated to make it to the final bridge and see the waterfall glistening through the trees.
Paredes Waterfall – The main event
We were in awe when our eyes met the Paredes Waterfall. I was hoping and praying that we would get the place to ourselves and my wish came true. It has different tiers so make sure you walk up the wooden walkway right to the top. Again there is a safety rope to hold on to assist you. Another stunning waterfall with frothy white waters cascading down the rocks to form pretty refreshing ice cold rock pools. I did not venture in this time as it wasn’t hot enough for me and the water was freezing. I didn’t want to hike back in wet knickers and encounter a chafing incident and I was not brave enough to go Au Naturel (ha ha). I am amazed at the many magnificent waterfalls in Central Portugal and this one was awesome and very different to the other waterfalls that we have visited. We ate another splendid Portuguese picnic with traditional cakes next to the waterfall and spent time here amongst the mesmerising calm atmosphere, capturing a sense of pure renewal. I have no idea how long it took us each way as we got lost. Our journey started at 12:00 and we arrived back to the car just before 16:45 but we did stop for several photos and spent a lovely hour or so at the waterfall. As I have said before, I don’t think my photos do this waterfall justice. Waterfalls always look much smaller in photos and you have to be there to experience the full force of nature. They are also much more powerful and dramatic in Spring time. I look a little dishevelled as usual on the photos as it was a long, tiring hike. I will never get any glamorous waterfall photos, they will always be a dirty muddy make-up free lady with fluffy hair (ha ha). We really enjoyed this hike and the natural landscapes were breathtaking.
Waterfall selfies – Double trouble
A perfect Portuguese picnic
Fresh tuna, egg, figs and Pão de Deus, Optimo! Pão de deus is one of my favourite sweet treats and it is sturdy so travels really well after being tossed around in the back of a rucksack and is still attractive and in one piece once we reach the waterfall, the same can’t be said for me (ha ha).
Fruits of the forest – Wild peeing, Death by berries and My purpose in life
On the way back we took the easier route which is basically just a dirt track and so much easier but not very scenic. I really needed a pee pee at this point and the sound of the river and water flowing wasn’t helping the situation. Hubby managed to discreetly have a pee earlier but I didn’t want to expose myself as I didn’t bring my privacy “Pissing poncho”. In the end hubby sheltered me with a towel but there wasn’t anyone around anyway to expose my lady bits to so all is good in the world of old lady wild peeing. I found some beautiful berries in the forest and said to hubby that I might eat them. He said that they could be poisonous to which I responded “There’s only one way to find out” (Meaning I will eat them). He said that there is another way – Google. Don’t you just hate nerds! I was actually only joking as I would never eat any bush berries as I would likely just end up dead then hubby will have to drag my heavy bulk out of the forest and I think he would be a bit sad because I bring zest into his life (ha ha). He used his nerdy plant identifying app to prove a point and low and behold the berries were in fact highly toxic for human consumption. After talking about death by deadly poisoning we got onto the topic of what our purpose in life is. We quickly established that hubby’s purpose in life is to bring home the bacon so to speak. To provide the financial support we require to put a roof over our heads and food on the table each and every day. It took a little longer for us to establish my true purpose in life and I’m not too sure that I have one (ha ha). This was a deep conversation for us as we usually just chat about nonsense and random stuff. Later on in the evening I spoke to my daughter Teanna on the phone and she said my purpose in life was to be a good mum and that I succeeded bless her. I saw a letter “S” on a wall and asked hubby to describe me in 3 words beginning with S. He took a while then said “Spectacular, Sensational and Sparkly”. I was a little upset as I wanted to be “Sexy”. It’s fine as I got my own back as my 3 words for him beginning with S were “Sweaty, Stupid and Short” (ha ha). So the moral of the story is not only do I not have a purpose in life but I’m also not sexy (ha ha).
A super Saturday and beautiful hike incorporating a spectacular waterfall and many other quaint Portuguese treasures along the way. Another amazing day enjoying the October Portuguese sunshine. Gosh I LOVE living here. Now I need to plan an epic trip for hubby’s upcoming birthday. His employer gifts everyone their birthday off of work so we need to make the most of this midweek treat. Let’s hope the rain holds off so we can have some more fun and games. It’s 2 days since our hike and the back of my lower thighs are agony! We did complete a 7km hill run yesterday ontop of the hike and today I’m paying the price and struggling to walk so I’m shuffling like a penguin waddle. Hubby is feeling the pain too, it must have been all the mountain goat climbing on all fours. Maybe I need to choose a flatter route next time but that would no fun and I like to challenge my ageing body hoping that it will perform magical things (ha ha).