CAMINHO DO XISTO DE SEVILHA HIKING TRAIL (SEVILHA, TÁBUA, PENACOVA PR2 TBU)
We really enjoyed the PR3 TBU trail so decided to embark on another local delight: PR2 TBU Caminho do Xisto de Sevilha (The Sevilha Schist Trail) 11 km circular route. The trail includes various points of attractions and the awesome aqua therapy of the Cavalos and Mondego rivers. I was most excited to view the famous volcanic rock formation “Pedra da Sé” and the flowing waterfall wonders of Sevilha. There is also a Roman road, captivating caves and quaint medieval and wooden bridges to cross. Part of the route takes you along an elevated trail with gorgeous far stretching views of the glistening Mondego River. I am still not back to 100% health but I am receiving private physio treatments to help my trapped nerve in my neck/back and I thought the hike would bring some much needed blood flow to my tingling and numb arm. I am confident that I will be back to my normal fighting fit perky princess self in no time, whatever that is (ha ha). Being amongst nature is my happy place and always makes me feel instantly better. We have experienced some weird thunderstorms recently and random rain so I was keen to see the fierce flow of water in the waterfalls. I don’t normally hike in June due to the heat but temperatures have been mild for this time of year.
GPS: 40.380296, -8.018478 / 40°22’49.1″N 8°01’06.5″W
Points of interest and distance from the starting point:
Ponte de Sevilha (Bridge of Sevilha) 160m
Moinhos de Água de Sevilha (Watermills of Sevilha) 170m
Pedra da Sé (Stone of the cathedral – Famous rock formation) 4500m
Via Romana (Roman Route – Roman Road) 5000m
Rio Mondego (Mondego River) 5200m
Departure and arrival point: Former Primary School of Sevilha – Current Youth Centre.
Info from Official Information Board & Leaflet
Some of the information translates a little weirdly as usual but I think it gives a great overall description of the trail.
The route starts in Sevilha, next to the old Primary school. Descend towards the river, cross the bridge and admire the waterfalls and some mills. Continue through woods and cultivated land, up to Pedra da Sé, a huge granite cluster that offers a privileged view over the Mondego River and all the surrounding countryside. Going down towards the banks of the Mondego river, pass the Roman Route, continuing alongside it. Following along the banks, pass through land that was once cultivated, structured in terraces supported by stone walls. Leaving the river behind, go up towards the plateau, finding some ruins of houses along the way. Here, depending on the season, the palette of colours and smells opens up and offers a wide variety of smells of country flowers. Now follow a road that will take you to the trails along the bank of the river Cavalos. Pass by small wooden bridges and explore the caves and large boulders as well as traces of water mills and irrigation systems. The trail will lead you back to the village of Sevilha.
During the whole route enjoy the magnificent scenery along the banks of the Cavalos and the Mondego River. At the Cavalos River, the Cascades and waterfalls are a constant when the water flow of the tributary stream of the Mondego increases and exceeds the usual channel. The clusters of granite stones appear several times on this route, creating caves and great shelter for shepherds – The Pedra da Sé is the best example of this expression of nature. It is a great viewpoint over the Mondego River and the lake created by the Aguiera dam. Pine trees, cork, cedars and oaks are abundant in this area, where birds like the woodpecker and the red kite make the river shores their habitat, as well as foxes, rabbits and wild boar.
Food for Thought – Gastronomy
There are lots of local options for cuisine including the following: Serra da Estrela cheese, cornbread and honey, Tábua style tripe, Lamb roast and “Chanfana” (Goat/Kid stew in wine sauce), “Tibornada” (Roast cod with baked potatoes), corn cobs and why not wash it all down with Dão wines and medronho liqueurs (Fruit brandy).
Sevilha is a small village in the parish and municipality of Tábua, marked by old houses of vernacular architecture and streets with typical Portuguese pavement. The passage through Cavalos River and the beautiful waterfall, old mills and medieval bridge stand out. Here runs the Cavalos River, that goes from Touriz to Tábua, receding into the Mondego River. The woods lead down to the fertile valley where the landscapes are striking shades of green.
Ponte de Sevilha (Bridge of Sevilha) & Moinhos de Água de Sevilha (Watermills of Sevilha)
We parked next to the old school which is now a youth centre. Within minutes we were at the stunning medieval stone bridge and magical waterfalls. Wow! what an amazing perfect tranquil little oasis. I said to hubby “Lets move to this village so I can eat my lunch here and chill everyday” (ha ha). I am totally amazed that there wasn’t another soul here so we got the whole place to ourselves. We arrived around 11.45am and stayed for an hour exploring every nook and cranny. The waterfall is so pretty and forms a little water walkway. I was eager to whip off my smelly trainers and socks and walk across the top of the fall. I enjoyed myself so much that I returned for a second go. I have put the videos on my CasaValhal Facebook and Instagram pages if you are interested. Hubby stayed firmly on dry land because he is boring (ha ha). I adore this place and the Waterfalls of Sevilha. How have I lived here for over 3 years, just a short 25 minute drive from all this glory and not found its existence before now? It was so gorgeous that I didn’t want to leave. We laid down our trusty picnic blanket and enjoyed our usual coke and protein bar here for energy. I survive on caffeine, protein and sugar. Such a perfect setting with the backdrop of the medieval stone bridge, watermills, waterfalls and rockpools with so many frogs and a perfect stream deep enough for a refreshing dip and cool off. I spent ages spotting all the frogs and trying to film them but failed in my mission (ha ha).
We are accidently colour coordinating again today. I love that although I’m feeling rather more than fragile, my shirt slogan says “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” (ha ha).
Pedra da Sé (Stone of the Cathedral – Famous Rock Formation)
Pedra da Sé is a huge granite cluster of high relief and is a timeless icon of the municipality. It is also a splendid viewpoint. Wrapped in ancient stories and mysteries (allied to the character of João Brandão), the origin of its toponymy is not agreed upon. How did this majestic rock get its name? Some folk say it’s because the stone came from here for the construction of the Cathedral of Viseu or Coimbra and this is why it is called Pedra (Stone) da (of the) Sé (Cathedral). Another possibility lies in the grandeur of the rocky complex itself, looking like a cathedral due to its dimensions. We were unable to explore every area of this place due to the small crowds of people but we both thought that the rear view of the rock resembled a large ass complete with bum crack and not so much a cathedral (ha ha).
One of the Rally spectator lookout points was at the Pedra da Sé. Luckily for us we could still access the famous rock formation but there were a few groups of folk waiting patiently on top of the boulders for the rally cars to zoom past. Once we left this area we were back to our forest calm nature and dazzling riverside views. I was completely covered in dust from head to toe and the Mondego River was too far down the slope to take a dip and clean off. Whenever I visit these fascinating rock formations in Portugal I always get weird vibes from that film “127 hours” where a bloke got his arm stuck and trapped beneath a gigantic boulder and had to cut his own limb off with a rusty pen knife. Luckily for me, I survived and so did my rock of a hubby!
Pedra da Sé Viewpoint Selfies
The views here are totally breathtaking and mind blowing!
Only us nutters could venture on a hike which was partially being used for a busy Motor Rally 4 X 4 event! As we walked along the dirt track an off road 4 X 4 vehicle sped past us saturating us from head to toe in dust. We just assumed it was one off adrenaline junkies enjoying their Sunday hobby. Then we heard the roar, saw huge clouds of dust in the air and discovered that various parts of the PR2 route was taped off. We had no clue if it was prohibited for just vehicles or pedestrians too but we continued on the trail. Before long we saw more taped off areas and mini roadblocks with GNR and Official Marshalls in neon vests. I got very concerned because whenever I see the Police I automatically go into panic mode and feel that I have done something illegal (ha ha). I was worried that the GNR would not let us continue on the trail and at this point we were about 4 km in to our hike and I really didn’t want to have to turn back.
We ended up having to sneak over the taped off areas which resulted in us walking directly into the rally vehicles path! It was more than a tad alarming and very dangerous but the GNR did not stop us. There seemed to be little pockets of areas along part of the PR2 that were being used as pit stops/refreshment and first aid stations. Groups of people were excitedly gathered at each location all standing behind the tape waiting for the rally vehicles to race by at a fast and furious speed. We joined the local Portuguese folk at a couple of the points and climbed up onto the gigantic boulders to get a closer look. Wow, what a crazy but exhilarating find! It reminded me of our recent car rally that we attended in Arganil. It was certainly a rare find and kind of made my day. A little break in the silence of our serene hike.
Pissing Pedro – The Official Tour Guide
As we were passing through the Village of Sevilha a small dog started barking at us from his little doggie house in his front garden. He then proceeded to follow us, take lead and he accompanied us for a whopping 2.5 km of the trail. He was our official tour guide and I named him Pedro. I was very worried that he wouldn’t be able to find his way home so I kept telling him to go home but he ignored my multiple requests. I had limited food and water so I didn’t want to have to share my supplies with him (ha ha). What concerned me the most was the fact that the Motor Rally 4 X 4’s were zooming past at such a high speed, Pedro nearly got hit on multiple occasions. It got to the point where we waved at the vehicles to warn them of the doggie danger. One vehicle thought the mad Brit was flagging him down so he stopped and I tried my best to explain that there was a dog on the path but I was lost in translation as usual. The bloke got a little angry and told us we had to go and grab our dog. We tried to explain that it wasn’t our dog but we failed (ha ha). I couldn’t catch Pedro as he was always a couple of feet in front of me unless he was stopping to pee. He wore no collar so it was impossible to grab hold of the little tike. This dog had a weaker bladder than menopausal Helena. He stopped to pee about a dozen times, maybe he was marking his territory or a scent to find his way home like Hansel and Gretel who left bread crumbs as a trail (ha ha). Anyway Pedro had 12 pees but Helena only had 2 wild pee pees in nature (ha ha). I was so relieved when Pedro retreated after the 2.5 km mark. I didn’t think he would make it home safely but at the end of our trail we saw the cheeky chappy chilling on the bridge (ha ha). I obviously would have stolen him because I have a tendency to pack up stray dogs in my car only to get shouted at by their owners before their front paws hit the back seat (ha ha). Unfortunately I could not steal “Pissing Pedro” because I was fully aware that he had a good home and owner.
RIP Mr Foxy
We stumbled across a dead fox which was so sad. I spotted him from a distance and was hoping he was just sleeping. RIP poor Mr Foxy.
Mondego River – Perfect Lunch Spot
We found the most gorgeous location for our picnic lunch overlooking the Mondego River and bridge. The bonus was it was a shady spot too! Take a moment to appreciate our epic view whilst we munch away on our sandwiches (ha ha). I unfortunately ran out of drinking water at this point!
Filthy, dusty, sweaty and way too hot at this point but still smiling (ha ha).
Via Romana (Roman Route)
The stretch of the Roman Route connected Bobadela to Santarém, passing through Tomar. Historians and archaeologists argue, to the contrary, that the section could be integrated into a path linking Bobadela and the route between Olissipo (Lisboa) and Bracara Augusta (Braga), meeting in the area of Mealhada. The route has a width of 4.7 m, extending its traces for a length of approximately 350 m. What a magnificent example of the municipality’s heritage and classified as a Public Property of Interest since 1990.
It’s incredible to imagine a step back in time to when this road was regularly used. It is wrapped deep in Portuguese culture and history. I am a bit of a weirdo and I have a thing where I like to get down at ground level and physically touch the old Roman stones of all the pavements, it’s like me connecting to the past and I find it very therapeutic. I also do it with dinosaur footprints too. In my head, I think I might magically quantum leap back in time like a Dr Who time warp (ha ha).
The caves are not listed as a point of interest but I think they should be as they are an incredible find and fascinating to explore. I was so relieved to have a little rest inside of the cool cave. I ran out of water at lunchtime as I only bought 1 litre with me as I didn’t expect such extreme heat due to our recent random thunderstorms and rainfall for June. I was so thirsty and hubby forgot his water and left it in the car boot so I couldn’t even steal his. I don’t know how he survived the whole 11 km just on 1 can of coke. I usually drink anywhere between 2-5 litres of water every day and I can’t walk, jog or run anywhere without water. Whilst in the caves I found my apple which I forgot to eat at lunchtime. I have never ever been so grateful to see a tiny apple in my whole life to get some moisture and juice in my dog bone dry mouth (ha ha). Hubby ate his at lunchtime so I saved him half because sharing is caring.
Cavalos Cascades, Bridges & Forest Therapy
We found more waterfalls! These are not listed as a point of attraction on the information board or leaflet although they are mentioned in the text. It was quite difficult to photograph these falls as the surrounding area was covered in nettles and prickly foliage. This part of the trail is so pretty with boulders scattered amongst the forest areas. We crossed a few old rustic wooden bridges and I obviously had way too fun on the sturdy metal bridge (ha ha).
Cascades of the Cavalos Selfies
What a magical find! I LOVE aqua therapy, I am pretty convinced that I was a mermaid in my previous life (ha ha).
Trim Your Bush
Some parts of the hike were totally overgrown to the point that we got whipped multiple times in the face and limbs with spikey bushes and plants. There were a fair few pesky bugs about too. We found a huge area of lush green ferns and had to literally wade through as they were taller than us both. It was so hilarious! Someone needs to trim their bush for sure but not me as my personal lady garden is river beach and bikini ready (ha ha).
Fly Tipping Disgrace
I hate fly tippers! I don’t see it often here in Portugal but when I do it annoys the hell out of me. Fly tippers are the worst kind of people as they ruin Mother Nature for everyone else. They abandon their trash in the most scenic locations to save themselves a few quid but it makes it incredibly dangerous for people and wildlife and not to mention a complete eyesore! I would love for nothing more than these criminals to be punished severely, just give me 5 minutes in a dark room with them (ha ha).
It wouldn’t be a Helena Hike without some form of chaos and drama. On this occasion I excelled myself. On part of the dirt track and boring route I decided to show hubby how slow I jog now due to my recent trapped nerve and groin injury (don’t ask!). As I jogged, I dramatically hit my left elbow on my empty water bottle inside my backpack and the pain was excruciating. It radiated all down my arm like an electric shock and I immediately jolted to an abrupt stop and cursed the air blue. At this point I was nearly crying and my Garmin watch made a beep and vibrating sound. Basically it connected to the emergency services because it either sensed my rapid stop and thought I had fallen and knocked myself unconscious or it heard me swear like a sailor, I panicked like crazy and I couldn’t press the button to cancel the alert. Hubby managed to save the day by declining the emergency help. Bejesus, I am a total bloody nightmare (ha ha). I now have 2 bad arms and so many sporting injuries that I think I need to retire from energetic hobbies and take up cross stitch or tai chi. I am never ever wearing this Garmin watch on another hike! It’s way more of a liability than I am (ha ha).
How it Ended – Fake Cornetto, Real Man
When we arrived back at our car the first thing I did was open the car boot and drink half a litre of thirst quenching water that was luckily still cold from our amazing picnic cool bag with freezer ice packs. Hubby did the same and I even poured a bit over his hot head to cool off (ha ha). Then we were going to visit the gas station for a much well deserved strawberry cornetto and coke zero but instead we made a pit stop at Lidl because we needed a couple of supplies. Hubby found his favourite fake Cornetto (Raspberry & Lime) so very refreshing and they came in a box of 6. The man is smiling and happy because he managed to purchase 6 Lidl ice-creams for the same price as 2 gas station Cornetto’s. He is catching on to my frugal ways. I have never savoured and enjoyed a car cornetto and coke so much in my entire life (ha ha).
Acts of Random Kindness
I decided to join in with this current craze. It usually involves little crochet artisan handmade gifts but hubby is the crochet queen, I can’t crochet or knit because I don’t have a creative bone in my body but hubby decided to teach me, god bless him he has the patience of a saint! I have fabulous ideas in my head but when I try to execute them in a craft or project I fail miserably and just make a shitty mess (ha ha). Hubby recently bought me a jewellery resin mould kit to make Pandora bracelet charms and it came with a free Kingfisher bird mould which turns into a trinket for a necklace. I’m not too shabby at this craft so I decided to make a few birds and leave them in strategically placed locations in nature with a little heartfelt message. Why bother, you may ask? Well, I like to brighten someone’s day and if it makes one person smile and feel good then I have succeeded in my mission. Sometimes it’s the small acts of kindness that make a random stranger’s day turn around from a shit day to a great day. My little message: “I’m not lost, I’m just alone, If I make you smile, Please take me home”. I am now on a new “Mission Impossible” to crochet tiny bumblebees and yarn bomb my little oasis of a garden. I have a whole new blog post on “Acts of Random Kindness” and you can find it here: https://casavalhal.com/acts-of-random-kindness/
What an absolute beautiful and spectacular hike and so close to our casa, just a short 25 min drive! We ended the trail back at the Sevilha waterfall and by 5pm there were a couple of attractive young females relaxing on the rocks in their bikinis. Hubby had a long lasting look and I told him to stop perving at the ladies. He denied all knowledge that he was staring at them and adamantly insisted that he was admiring the flow of the waterfall and chirping birds of nature (ha ha). Look while you can my love, enjoy the view because when you get home you are subjected to my ageing saggy ass and it’s not pretty (ha ha). We were the only people on the whole trail except for the small pockets of crowds (motorsport enthusiasts). We saw so many butterflies but no rabbits, we did see a dead fox which broke my heart. I’ve only ever seen 2 dead foxes up close and personal. The previous one was on my regular daily 7 km jog. I have however stumbled across multiple dead cats. I’m not a cat person, I’m more of a dog lover but I hate to see any animal hit and run over and left at the roadside like trash.
It was a lovely hike with so many beautiful flowers, lush green forests with scattered boulders and pretty butterflies. If I’m being totally honest, it was too hot to hike 11 km in the scorching Portuguese heat. I totally misjudged the weather for sure. Also in my opinion there were too many dirt track areas which I find boring as there is nothing to see for long stretches of pathway and I love to see tourist attractions and marvel at different wonders on my trails as I get bored very easily. There was plenty of forest therapy and as soon as I stepped foot back inside a forest area my mood instantly changed. We really are truly blessed to live in such a perfect natural paradise. The trail is easy-moderate with no major steep hills, high altitudes or tricky areas to negotiate. It is estimated to take 3 hr 30 min but we took a total of 5 ½ hours to complete with a long waterfall rest break and picnic lunch. The signage is good so we didn’t get lost.
I did have a few minor challenges with the small inclines and declines but only because I have worn out my hiking shoes so had to wear my regular stinky sneakers which have zero to no grip on the sole. The areas had lots of gravel terrain underfoot which I always slip on but luckily for me I had hubby’s help to hold my hand, drag and hoist me up and get up close and personal behind my butt and push as and when needed (ha ha). My favourite parts were definitely the surreal waterfalls of Sevilha and having the luxury of the whole place to ourselves, how romantic! Another amazing hike with my bestie amongst pure nature breathing in fresh clean air and feeling totally blessed as always. I’m a long way off from feeling on top of the world but I am grateful for having the energy to venture out in this glorious country I now call home. I have a sneaky suspicion I will be back to enjoy another picnic at the waterfalls and I might even bring a bottle of Dão red wine to raise a glass and toast the glory of nature (ha ha).
On UK Father’s Day we ventured on a beautiful day trip to Aveiro and I remembered to take my little Acts of Random Kindness! I left them on the pretty colourful baloiço (swing).