Hiking in Serra do Açor
The Schist Villages in the Serra do Açor have that transcendent connection to their landscape and past. Long have they been neglected and forgotten, but that is luckily beginning to change. People are moving back to these small, stone villages to repair – and sometimes to redesign totally – these ancient houses. Add to this a verdant, mountainous landscape, medieval castles and a fascinating history, and you’ve got all the right reasons to visit!
PR 1 AGN – Benfeita Schist trail – The freshness of waterfalls
Circular route that begins and ends in the Aldeia do Xisto of Benfeita, passing through trails of rare, natural beauty and by fantastic waterfalls.
This Schist trail is a circular route that starts and ends in the village of Benfeita. It follows farm tracks along irrigation canals and across steep terrain, which means there are great waterfalls along the way. After Sardal, the route drops down towards the cliffs of Pena taking narrow but clearly defined paths and carries on to Pardieiros over a trail of exceptional natural beauty. This section of the route follows the Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB) route, but has its own sign posts. To return to Benfeita the route follows the Mata stream, through farmlands still cultivated today.
Admire the stunning view over the valley at the top of the rocky ridge. Climb down to Fraga da Pena and discover an area with impressive waterfalls.
PR 2 and PR 3 AGN – Piódão, Foz d’Égua e Chaz d´Égua
A trip to the tiny village of Piódão takes you deep into the Serra de Açor (Goshawk Mountains), a remote range of vertiginous ridges, deeply cut valleys, rivers, and virgin woodland. The village itself is extremely atmospheric, set among steeply terraced slopes with its grey schist houses clinging to the verdant hills, but it can get busy with tourists.
To escape the crowds, and enjoy the serenity of this magnificent region, take the short signposted trail to the nearby village of Foz d’Égua or Chaz d´Égua, home to some lovely old stone bridges, schist houses, and a precarious-looking footbridge over the river gorge.
PR 4 AGN – Vila Cova de Alva Schist Walking Trail
The route starts in the Aldeia do Xisto of Vila Cova de Alva, following the riverbank and leading to agricultural paths, pine forests, terraced steps made of schist, and watermills.
The journey starts in Vila Cova de Alva and passes through some of the ancient streets filled with centennial architectural details. Visit the churches and the sanctuaries. During the walk enjoy the lush and, in some cases, rare indigenous vegetation. Experience the habits and traditions of the people who live along the Alva River banks, where this Schist Village is perched.
Get ready to admire the region’s best preserved, lush native vegetation as well as the panoramic view over the Alva village and valley.
In addition, you can practise mountain biking, canoeing, aquatic hiking and climbing in the Serra do Açor.