• Tarnie Simms

The most westerly point of Europe!

Cabo da Roca

Not having had time on the Saturday we made the trip to the Sintra region early on Sunday morning for the second time. We had a slight delay in leaving as we had to realign the steering which had been fighting us the day before. I should mention here that the car has no power steering as it is so you really don’t want it to be fighting you anymore then that.. Once the steering was fixed we were on the way. The drive down was much the same as the day before as the farmers fields passed by with orchards dotted throughout the countryside. It is a spectacular country and I would recommend taking the ‘avoid motorways’ option on google to explore what Portugal really has to offer.

We passed through Colares, which is a picturesque little town boasting quaint markets and cellar doors. I promised myself I would make the trip back here. We reached Cabo Da Roca around midday and although the view was wonderful it does pose a resemblance to Lands End in Cornwall due with it’s half assed attempt at being a tourist. We quickly made an exit from the carpark which was filled with Sunday motorbike riders and headed for the Atlantic coastal trail heading to the north of Cabo Da Roca. We decided not to follow a map but simply follow the trail along the coastline. This was fairly clear for the most part and if you find it is slightly ambiguous, take the trail closest to the coast, just watch your step as there are some sheer drop offs. The trail starts as a moderate walk, with slopes up and down but quickly becomes much steeper with the need to clamber over boulders both up and down hills. The views were breathtaking and we picked a picnic spot which overlooked Praia da Aroeira, which features amazing rock formations and caves that can be explored if you make the scramble down to the beach.

After around 3km the walk along the coastal path becomes more strenuous and more of a scramble for around 2km. There are increasingly steep hills to climb with uneven and unstable footing, slipping and sliding up and down the crumbling rocks. The climb is well worth it and the difficulty adds to the satisfaction at each peak you reach. The trails become more defined again and eases back into a more moderate trek still with absolutely breathtaking views and dramatic coastline. The path will continue as long as you want to walk it but we turned around to ensure we had enough time to make the drive in the daylight.

Our walk back took a slight detour as we ventured along a different path to see if there was a circular route back, this turned out to be unsuccessful as the path continued to head in the wrong direction. As we turned, Richard was adamant that there was a ‘path’ to rejoin the main track. Path can be defined here loosely as it was more of a goat trail, well really small goats anyway. Puffing and panting, scratched by thousands of brambles we made it to the top of the tough decent. What went up was much more challenging on the way down. The rocks slipped out from under your feet and we clung with our bums much of the time to ensure we didn't over balance. All in all Cabo de Roca is pretty for a moment, but I would stay for the Atlantic coast path, which was breathtaking, quiet and challenging.

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