Coast to Coast

Fishermen’s Trail

The Fishermen’s Trail (Trilho dos Pescadores) runs along the coast in South West Portugal within the protected areas of the largely unchanged, untouched and wild Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Parks. From Porto Covo to Odeceixe it’s 75 km over 4 days.

The path follows the trails used by locals to get to the beaches and fishing spots and is part of the 450 km Rota Vicentina. It was opened in 2013 as an initiative of small local companies to promote economic sustainability.

Click here for the map.

Porto Covo » Vila Nova de Milfontes

15 June 2019

Porto Covo on the SW coast of Portugal, is about 3 hours by bus from Lisbon. It is a beautifully blue and white seaside village at the start of the Fishermen’s Trail.

Main plaza of Porto Covo
Porto Covo beach
It’s a fishing village – we had the best, freshest fish at a restaurant in town
Fishermen on the rocks
Rocky coves near Porto Covo

The first day was somewhat difficult with about 15 km in fine soft sand, not on the beach itself but in dunes high above the ocean. The 19.2 km took 6 hours including 5 stops to dump sand out of our shoes. The weather was warm, about 20℃ with a cool gentle breeze, perfect. “Probably one of the best coastal trails in the world” is so beautiful that we hardly noticed time going by.

We left early following the waymarks
Pessegueiro Island Beach
The trail goes along the beach for about 750 meters
Remains of a Roman fish salting factory on the Island
Exposed to the full power of the Atlantic waves Praia do Malhão is a popular spot with surfers
Cliffs at the southern end of Praia do Malhao
A once in a lifetime opportunity
Looking down on a stork tending to her young in a nest on top of a rock pillar in the ocean
Shoes soon fill with sand
The sand dunes’ diverse plant life is remarkable with a vast array of amazing colours and shapes
It might be hard walking through soft sand but with views like this time flies
The Fishermen’s Trail follows the trails used by locals to get to the fishing spots.
No wonder they say don’t walk this route if you suffer from vertigo
Vila Nova de Milfontes fishing port
After a long hard walk – bacalhau and potatoes

Vila Nova de Milfontes » Almograve

16 June 2019

This section at 15.5 km in 4½hours was a bit easier than yesterday but still almost half in loose sand. Not so spectacular, it often passes through coastal heathland. In places, the native vegetation has been obliterated by invasive Acacia Longifolia (Sydney Golden Wattle) deliberately introduced for dune stabilization.

Mira River at Vila Nova de Milfontes
Native heathland
Introduced Acacia Longifolia (Sydney Golden Wattle) is taking over in places
Different wildflowers today
A pair of birds soaring over the sand dunes
Between Vila Nova de Milfontes & Almograve
Striped rock at the end of Angra do Travesso Beach
There was about 7 km of loose sand to walk through today
Shoes don’t take long to fill with sand and feel about 2 sizes too small
Remains of lunch – grilled fresh sea bream

Almograve » Zambujeira do Mar

17 June 2019

Another wonderful day. The first half goes along spectacular cliff tops but the second half on a rough road away from the edge to avoid the eroded edges is not so great. By starting early, 7am, we had the trail to ourselves most of the day. It’s a special feeling being alone looking down into the ocean 100 meters below. The reddish sand is courser and rougher so a bit easier to walk on and less shoe filling. 21 km in 6 hours.

We saw 9 stork’s nests high above the ocean on the rocky coastline; 5 of them occupied.

It was a foggy morning but still spectacular
In a harsh, windy environment there are no trees
The red sand is a different texture, courser and rougher
It’s bit easier to walk on but it feels like sandpaper in the shoes
The iron rich red soils produce different wildflowers
Take care here!
Rocks laid down horizontally over aeons have been folded and distorted
The trail deviates inland through pine forest to avoid an eroded strip of coastline
Yellow, red, white, black all in the same area
Cabo Sardao Lighthouse came into service in 1915
Near the lighthouse we saw 9 stork’s nests (5 occupied) built on the rocky cliffs high above the sea
Nowhere else in the world can you see this
We couldn’t decide if these are two chicks ready to fly or two adults
Storks in the other nests we saw
Difficult to access Tonel Beach
Fishing boats tied together in a safe harbour about 2 km before Zambujeira do Mar
The Montes Claros 2014 Reserva should marry well with …
… the seafood rice
Zambujeira beach
Chapel of Our Lady of the Sea
The sun sets into the Atlantic at Zambujeira do Mar

Zambujeira do Mar » Odeceixe

18 June 2019

The day started out overcast, rain threatening, but cleared up after a while. Another coastal cliff walk a bit rougher, some ups and downs with sandy patches until the final 4 km into Odeceixe along a road. We saw at least a dozen stork’s nests; so many we lost count. 18.3 km in 5½ hours.

Fisherman heading out
Patterns in weathered rock
Stork in flight
Machado Beach is reduced to a thin strip of sand during high tide
An arrow to show the way across the pebbles which suddenly change …
… to low bushes
The old mill used water from this stream
Forces of nature visible in these twisted rocks
Some of today’s storks
A beautifully shaped rock in the ocean
The town of Odeceixe is about 4 km inland from the beach
Odeceixe is a nice village to finish the Fishermen’s Trail
Never Give Up
The best seafood we’ve had in Portugal: fresh muscles with garlic and coriander and Piri Piri prawns

The Fishermen’s Trail is incredibly photogenic through unspoiled wilderness and along stunning coastal clifftops. It’s the best, most scenic walk we’ve done. 75 km in 4 days is not so far but it isn’t easy; you have to work trudging through soft sand famous for aching legs and blisters. But we didn’t mind, the views are worth it. Congratulations to the developers of the trail. It is well thought out, well waymarked and almost completely free of rubbish. Already we are planning the return for the inland Historical Way.