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#6 – Serra da Estrela / Torre – Portugal

By Matthias / 28summits on 2014.07.03 In The 28Summits Challenge

 When I told people I was going for a short trip to Portugal they thought of sandy beaches and surfing first. Once I told them about my plan to hike up to the highest mountain of continental Portugal, they usually looked quite surprised. I also would not have expected such mountains in a country such as Portugal, but I was positively surprised of the really nice mountains I encountered on my first microadventure.Serra-da-Estrela---Torre

(Based on the following file under creative commons license)

After flying to Porto I took a rental car the next morning and headed to the Serra da Estrela Natural Park in the back country of mainland Portugal. The highest peak of the Portuguese Republic is the summit of Mount Pico, a volcano on the island of Pico in the Azores. But as I focus my challenge on the continent I set off to the highest summit of continental Portugal: Torre, the highest point of the Serra da Estrela mountain range.

You can actually drive up to the summit of Torre with a car, but to turn this into a nice hike my initial plan was to walk up through a former glacial village from the mountain village of Loriga. However, after I have set off on the trail for a few hundred meters I ecnountered signs with “privado” and fences blocking the trail so I made the rational choice to go back instead of running into an angry Portuguese shepherd. I set off in the car again and headed up the mountain a bit to approach the village from a higher point. After I found a parking spot along the road I set off into the glacial valley and walked down towards Loriga.Torre_1

The trail lead me down the rocky valley along a small waterway that caused some small ponds and at one point I even encountered a small dam. In the winter season there is apparently a lot of snow or rain as one could see the high marks where the water usually stands.Torre_2

The trail was marked by a small red stripe and most of the way another yellow trail joined in as well. Despite those marks it was often hard to follow the trail as it was not well maintained and probably does not see many hikers. At least most Portuguese people I met on my trip did not really show as much enthusiasm for their mountains as I did.Torre_3

It was a wonderfully sunny day and I was glad that it was not too hot. My plan was to walk down the valley for a while until I would be able to see the starting point in Loriga. It was really fun to walk down the valley as the trail was quite wild and steep in some areas which turned into a fun climb on the way back.Torre_4

In the end of the valley one can see the outlines of Loriga and I was even able to see the small shepherds hut where I turned around earlier. After a short break with some refreshments on a big boulder I turned around and started the climb again. As I said earlier some areas are quite steep, but going up is usually easier than finding a good way to go down. I was able to gain height again quite fast and soon was at the crossroads where I started from.Torre_5

 

The trail goes on between small pools that are located between the rocky patches and green meadows. I was reminded of the Scottish highlands or the mountainous parts of Swedish Lapland when I was hiking through the area. On such a sunny day it was a really nice hike through this beautiful part of Portugal.Torre_6

When I was in Denmark I encountered the highest cows in Denmark and while heading to the highest point of the Serra da Estrela, I once again encountered cows close to the summit. On the picture below, one can see the radar towers on the summit as well as the ski lifts leading up to it. Even though one might not expect it, the Serra da Estrela is also home to  the Vodafone Ski Resort.Torre_7

But my goal was the small monument in the middle of the roundabout that marks Torre, the highest point of the Serra da Estrela. On top of the mountain one can also find a small restaurant that usually hosts the tourists throughout the skiing season and therefore was not crowded when I passed there.Torre_8

From the summit I enjoyed a very nice view over the mountain range as well as into the area of neighboring Spain. After I took my summit picture on top, I started the hike back to the car.Torre_9

I was walking along the road to see another part of the area instead of walking the same trail back. Along the road there was even a small patch of snow and ice left in a small valley that apparently does not see a lot of sun. Despite this I could not imagine this area being covered in snow in the winter season and was quite happy that I underwent this journey on a wonderful and sunny day.Route_Torre

Even though it was quite a short trip I enjoyed roaming the back country of Portugal and exploring the nice mountains they have. I can really recommend taking the time to explore this area when visiting Portugal, but of course also highly recommend to take some more time and also surf the great waves and enjoy the sandy beaches.

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About me

This blog is about my 28Summits Challenge with the goal of reaching the highest points of each member state of the European Union.

Matthias

My name is Matthias, I am 28 years old. Growing up close to the Alps I have been hiking basically all my life. I love being outdoors and exploring the nature. When I am not doing this I am working in media management or follow up on my other passion of cooking and baking.

On this site I will share my experiences along the road to achieve the challenge I set myself. Furthermore, I will blog about my other hiking trips as well as media about the outdoors.

/ Matthias

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