Irrigating Cova da Beira [GRZ - MTB Sector 2]
Aldeias do Xisto Verified partner Explorers Choice
Irrigating Cova da Beira - Barco > Área de Descanso do Barco - GRZ: Stage 7Photo: Diogo Martins, Aldeias do Xisto
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Responsible Trails Criteria:
(last audit by RT at May 2020)
Waymarks > 2 - There’s a lot of marks missing. (GPS or mobile app needed)
Conservation of the path > 3 - Some degradation that can increase the difficulty of the trail
General conservation > 3 - some place present some degradation but with no negative impacts on the experience.
Information boards and signs > 3 - Reasonably maintained and with interest
Complementary boards > 1 - Nonexistent or without minimum quality
Safety and suport structures > 3 - Reasonably maintained
Local community integration > 2 - Does not encourage interaction / contact with the community
Landscape integration > 3 - Well integrated into the landscape but without relevant points of interest
General Safety > 3 - Presents several low risk situations
Track typesShow elevation profile
Rest stopsCasa Abraão
Belmonte Sinai Hotel
Fundão Archaeological Museum - José Alves Monteiro
Loja Aldeias do Xisto do H2otel
Casa do Bombo
Safety informationTake the necessary precautions for high temperatures in summer and slippery terrain in the winter. The levels of difficulty and times given are only indicative. They were calculated on a physical effort basis and do not include stops. Make your estimate by analising the technical data of path to be taken.
There is more than one intersection without signaling so we recommend using GPS or APP.
SOS Emergency: 112
SOS Forest: 117
Guarda Municipal Council: (+351) 271 220 220 |
Covilhã Municipal Council: (+351) 275 330 600 |
Tips and hints
Washed by the calm, clear, cool waters of the River Zêzere and flanked by leafy poplar, alder, ash and willow, the Valhelhas River Beach allows visitors to contemplate all the natural surroundings in one of the sublime corners of Serra da Estrela Natural Park. It is at the end of the Serra da Estrela Glacier Valley, the steep schist-covered landscape where the River Zêzere meanders through farmland, orchards, forest and riverside woodland. Throughout the year, these landscapes provide a variety of frames: in winter, snow covers the top of the hills, the autumnal tones and spring green provide unique environments and in summer, the cool translucent waters are a delight for beach goers. Also visit the Valhelhas Chapel, the Lagar Museum and the Philippine Bridge. As far as handicrafts are concerned, wicker basketry is the highlight. The Medronheiro [arbutus tree] and mushrooms are some of the main plant produce. As for the fauna, keep a look out for the kingfisher, one of the most colourful specimens of Portuguese birdlife. Mountain gastronomy has a very distinguished presence, with tables full of sausages, cheeses and migas [crumb-based dishes].
Situated about 22km from Covilhã, Vale Formoso is an old village where remains of the Roman era are still visible. The main activities of the resident population are fruit-growing, construction and carpentry, handicrafts and small shops. Since this is a nation of religious and popular traditions, the annual village festival is held in mid-august, the date being set each year, in honour of its patron saint, Nossa Senhora da Saúde, in a chapel on top of the hill. As for cultural heritage, we highlight the parish church, the community oven, Manueline windows and the old fountain. It also has a place of interest for tourists – the viewpoint, from where you can enjoy all the natural landscape and the neighbouring localities.
Borralheira is located in Teixoso Parish, whose settlement dates back to Roman times, as evidenced by some archaeological remains found in the Terlamonte area. Industry, agriculture, livestock, tapestry and embroidery, retail and services are some of the activities the active population engages in. The village has quite extensive architectural heritage. Worth noting are the parish church and the chapel of Santo Cristo, the latter classified as property of national interest. The cuisine is very rich and diverse. Oven broth, pan in the oven, roast mountain goat, parsnips, maize porridge and rice pudding are the delight of visitors and tourists.
The Alvares Bridge is located between Ferro Parish and Peraboa Parish, liking these two places to Covilhã City. This part of the river was onde used as a river beach by neighbouring populations. Families would gather there to fishing, have picnics, go swimming or even to wash clothes.
The Cherry Interpretive Centre, in the village of Ferro, is a space created in the historic village centre, inside a fully refurbished stone house, and highlights one of the most representative products of Cova da Beira. The Centre is open to the public and offers guided tours of the cherry trees, cherry harvesting and a visit to processing companies. It also has a store where all types of cherry derivatives are marketed: liqueurs and jams, among others.
In the village of Peraboa, the Cheese Museum allows you to learn about the manufacturing process of one of the best cheeses in the world: Serra da Estrela cheese, an internationally appreciated and recognised specialty.
The well known Pedrinha Bridge, from Roman times, located on the old EN 18 over the basin of the River Zêzere, connects Tortosendo, Boidobra and Ferro/Peraboa. A small camping park was built here and there is also a restaurant where you can rest and enjoy the local cuisine.
Being in the middle of Cova da Beira, nestling between the Estrela and Gardunha mountains, you will find a microclimate here that is excellent for the production of fruit, particularly peaches, which can be found all over the surrounding landscape. This fruit scenario mixes with ample meadows, once supporting the major wool industry that characterizes this region, as the many existing warehouses bear witness to. A freguesia do Tortosendo é um dos exemplos da antiga influência da indústria dos lanifícios na economia destas populações, que outrora enchiam de vida as aldeias que bordejam a serra.
Peso, also known as Santa Maria Madalena do Peso, is a traditional mountain village, situated on the right bank of the River Zêzere. Peso is proud of its natural, cultural and architectural heritage, especiallu the 12th century parish church, the chapels of the Divino Espírito Santo and Senhor dos Paços, the fountain and the Shrine of Nossa Senhora de La Salette. The local cuisine is rich and includes chickpeas with eggs, regional sausages, fried aubergines with eggs, stewd partridge, light bread and the famous brulhões. Peso is proud of its natural, cultural and architectural heritage, especially the 12th century parish church, the chapels of the Divino Espírito Santo and Senhor dos Paços, the fountain and the Shrine of Nossa Senhora de La Salette. The local cuisine is rich and includes chickpeas with eggs, regional sausages, fried aubergines with eggs, stewd partridge, light bread and the famous brulhões.
In Barco, visit the Mother Church, the Roman Fountain, the many Alminhas, the river beach, the olive press, the ruins of a Roman camp better known as the Cabeço da Argemela and the natural landscape, especially the Zêzere River. Indulge in gastronomic delicacies such as river fish, wild boar and the famous brulhões.
From this point, the GRZ goes towards the Valhelhas river beach, where it joins the main route (GR 33). Next, head towards the Philippine bridge over the Zêzere where you will join the EN 232. Follow this for approx. 1000 m before turning towards the river and entering the peach orchards that characterise this area. On entering Covilhã Municipality, the route briey joins that road again, then continues through walled orchards and farms until the Vale Formoso Panel.
Leaving Vale Formoso, the GRZ crosses two access roads to villages on the slopes before going into the Lageosa farm professional school. Continuing in this direction, the route now approaches Orjais, before crossing the EN 18 and moving to the left bank of the Zêzere. Leaving the road again and following the river though the orchards, cross it again to find the Borralheira de Orjais picnic park.
Staying on the right bank of the river, the GRZ approaches the railway line that is has been following in the distance. Shortly afterwards, it crosses the line and heads south along forest roads with a wide view over Cova da Beira. After crossing the motorway access via the underpass, the route again comes to a road which will take you to the Álvares Bridge.
After crossing the river, the GRZ approaches the motorway by road. They, along dirt tracks, the route follows the motorway and gives a distant perspective on the southern slopes of Serra da Estrela. After leaving the vinicity of the A23 motorway, shortly afterwards you will come to Tortosendo camping park, on the banks of the river.
On leaving here, the route crosses the Pedrinha Bridge and follows the road to the entrance of the A23 access road. From here, the GRZ continues near the river, passing first near the Tortosendo Industrial Park and later under the railway line, before continuing via agricultural paths along the riverbank until Peso, and crossing the access road to Dominguizo.
On leaving here by road towards Fundão, the GRZ crosses Zêzere and, after approximately 1400m, moves on to agricultural roads that run along this bank, separating the fertile from the river, until reaching Peso. Here, it follows the main road and then changes banks again to get to Barco.
You leave Barco on a secondary country road, a dirt track, which connects to Ourondo. The trail begins a climb that gradually gives you more sweeping views over the river. Once you reach the highest point on this climb, you will be confronted by a window into the history of these communities, with the village on one side, the old mines on the other and the curves of the river separating them.
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