On the beach

I have visited the Brejo Largo beach, near Almograve (in southwest Portugal), so many times, that I have lost count. I still remember my first visit, around 40 years ago, as a teenager; back then, the beaches along this coastline were basically empty of people. Not so today, of course, but they have not lost their beauty and uniqueness.

Brejo Largo can be reached by foot, or driving along a dirt track that is sometimes challenging. Me, I still prefer to walk there from the village of Longueira, because the countryside is nice, with some farmland and pasture hugging the coastal sand dunes. One other reason for walking is that sometimes there are surprises along the way. Like the small pink flower that I found growing in the dune.

Dune flower.

My favourite time of the year to visit is probably Autumn and Winter, when the sunset is early and the light is softer. This time I arrived a couple of hours before sunset, and given that the tide was low, there were plenty of little rocky coves and tidal pools to explore. The low tide also exposed a few interesting volcanic lodes that have been intruded in the schist during the opening of the Atlantic ocean.

Overview of Brejo Largo beach, looking south.
Volcanic lode intruded in rocks.

In the last few years, this coastal area has seen a lot of sand being accumulated, creating different beach profiles and burying many of the previously outcropping rocks. Still, there are many rocks that still poke through the sand, creating the possibility of interesting foreground to background compositions. This means I was busy putting my Fujinon 14mm lens to good use.

Low tide.
Following the volcanic intrusion.

Walking along the beach, I made a few photos of the small tidal water rivulets running in the wet sand. Sometimes the soft wet sand played some tricks and my feet would be buried in it, but it was a small price to pay.

Tidal pools.

This time, the sky was clear, with no clouds, which makes it less interesting. Still, it was a nice blue colour and crisp, so I ended up including a sliver of it in my photos. As the sunset approached, the light became warmer, bathing the cliffs and the sand in wonderful golden tones.

Reflected cliffs.
Low tide sunset.

The only other person I saw was a fisherman, who ended up appearing in one of my sunset photos.

Fisherman at sunset.

Once the sun was gone, I slowly made my way back up the cliff. The wind was picking up and was cooling rapidly, but I had time for a few extra photos, especially from the long grasses blowing on the top of the dune.

Wind on coastal grass.

It is difficult to stop photographing in this place, because new things are always drawing the attention. At dusk, I was already close to Longueira, when I stopped again to photograph the lights above (Venus) and below (Almograve village). I know that I will return to this beach many times more, probably making similar photos to the ones I have made before; but that is fine to me, because the important thing is to experience the nature and the beauty of the place.

Venus at dusk

From Odeceixe to the sea

This article is about another trail that I have walked recently, and that belongs to the Vicentina route network. It is (circular) route number 14, and starts in the village of Odeceixe (see map below).

Map of trail number 14 of the Vicentina route, in southwest Portugal.

The path goes through diversified landscapes, mixing in rural and coastal scenery. Odeceixe overlooks the valley of the river Seixe, whose source lies in the Algarve foothills. Only a few kilometres to the west, the river reaches the Atlantic ocean in the famous beach of Odeceixe. The interaction between the land and the sea gives rise to unique ecosystems and to a way of life that combines farming and fishing.

The first few hundreds metres of the trail cross the village, leading all the way up to the windmill. The narrow streets and typical houses have their own charm. From here, the view opens up over the valley. It is worth taking some time to admire the scenery.

Typical Odeceixe street.
Panorama of the Seixe river valley, assembled from several photos.
Panorama of Odeceixe village, with the windmill on top of the hill. Assembled from several photos.

Leaving the village behind, the next leg of the trail crosses some pine forests and farms. Here and there, a few cows are grazing in the fields. Making a living from the land and the sea is difficult, and the local economy is increasingly dependent on tourism.

Grazing cows along the trail.
Small farm.

The trail is well sign posted, but pay attention not to miss the 90 degree turn to the right, that leads to the coast. From here, the path follows a narrow tarmac municipal road that crosses a land that becomes more influenced by the sea, with increasing coastal sand dunes and small trees that are bent by the wind. After reaching the coast, the trail becomes a simple sandy footpath, but it is easy to follow. The seascape is typical of the Vicentina coast, with tall dark cliffs and heavy seas.

Looking south along the coast, when the trail reaches the sea.

This section of the trail affords wonderful views of the cliffs and the sea, with the waves crashing against the rocks. These are very old rocks, that have been subjected to incredible tectonic forces and upheavals. It is worth spending some time admiring the numerous folded outcrops, especially if the tide is low.

Folded layers of rock.

The Odeceixe beach is always busy in the summer months, but in early December not so much. The view from the top is incredible, with the large area of golden sand ensconced between the cliffs. To the north, the mouth of river Seixe creates a small estuary.

Odeceixe beach.

From the beach the trail follows the valley, returning to the village. This is another wonderful walk that permits a close contact with one of the iconic areas of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast natural park.

Looking along the Seixe river valley, with the Odeceixe village in the distance.
An inventive add for selling donkeys.
Panorama of the river Seixe looking towards the sea, assembled from several photos.

Regarding photography, I always like to keep it simple on the trail. I only carried my Fujifilm X-Pro3 and Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens. When the scene required a wider angle of view, I took enough photos for later panorama assembly.