PR1 SLV São Bartolomeu de Messines Circular

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This undulating and sometimes tough waymarked walk comprises two linked circular loops around the inland town of São Bartolomeu de Messines.

The first loop encircles Penedo Grande (248 metres) passing through cork-oak forests and pine trees. While the views from the summit itself are obstructed by vegetation, you only need to walk a few metres for panoramic views of the Algarve's rolling hills and a slither of the Arade Reservoir (Barragem do Arade).

Return briefly to Messines to start the second loop, following a short stretch of the Via Algarviana Trail before leaving town on a track running alongside the Algarve - Lisbon railway line (trains are few and far between).

Cross the (mostly) dry riverbed of the Gavião to follow the perimeter of a flood plain, then pass under the railway line to climb to the sadly dilapidated Ermita de Sant'Ana. On April 24 1834, this elevated position was the site of a bloody battle between the Miguelists (supporters of King Miguel I) and the Constitutionalists, whose many demands included a constitutional monarchy. There is a tiled commemoration plaque to mark the site where so many lost their lives. Stroll behind the hermitage to find a single picnic table with fabulous views.

Head downhill to reach one of the outer 'arms' of the Barragem do Arade. There is an optional detour to the picnic area on the outermost reaches of the reservoir itself. (NB: in September 2020, the low water levels meant it looked more like a river than a reservoir).

The final climb of the day crosses a beautiful wooded hillside to rejoin the Via Algarviana.

Back in town, your route passes the striking Igreja Matrix de São Bartolomeu de Messines (the town's main church), built at the beginning of the 16th Century and remodelled two hundred years later.

Step back in time to walk Messines' narrow cobbled streets where a signpost (to 'capela') directs you to the Ermida de São Sebastião, which dates back to the 16th Century.

Pass the town cemetery to return to your starting point.

Portugal - South Portugal - Central Algarve - Silves

Features

Ancient Monument, Butterflies, Cafe, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Great Views, Lake/Loch, Public Transport, Wildlife, Woodland