The Wild Start [GRZ - MTB Sector 1]
Aldeias do Xisto Verified partner Explorers Choice
The Wild Start - Vale de Amoreira > Valhelhas - GRZ: Stages 3 - 3.1Photo: Diogo Martins, Aldeias do Xisto
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Responsible Trails Criteria:
(last audit by RT at May 2020)
Waymarks > 3 - It’s missing signs in at least one crossroad that can compromise the navigation without a map or GPS.
Conservation of the path > 4 - In a good overall status of conservation with some isolated situations.
General conservation > 4 - There aren’t any specific degraded areas identified.
Information boards and signs > 3 - Reasonably maintained and with interest
Complementary boards > 1 - Nonexistent or without minimum quality
Safety and suport structures > 4 - Well-maintained essential structures
Local community integration > 3 - Interaction / occasional contacts with the community
Landscape integration > 4 - Well integrated into the landscape and with points of interest
General Safety > 4 - Has occasional low-risk situations
Track typesShow elevation profile
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
Manteigas Municipal Council: (+351) 275 980 000 |
Guarda Municipal Council: (+351) 271 220 220 |
Covilhã Municipal Council: (+351) 275 330 600 |
Tips and hints
The River Zêzere rises beside Torre, at an altitude of nearly 1993 m. It gushes between the steep walls of the Cântaros and starts to take shape in Covão d'Ametade where it makes its way with great pride, as though getting ready to enlarge its flow to later deposit it, with all its force, in the River Tejo. The Estrela Mountain is Portugal’s only mountain where the glacial activity can be felt in such a unique way, imprinting itself in the landscape as polished rocks, erratic blocks, large coves, morays and glacial lagoons and deep U-shaped valleys.
The municipality of Manteigas, in the middle of the Estrela Mountain Nature Park offers visitors a diverse landscape with unparalleled attractions of great beauty and tranquillity, allowing intimate contact with nature. Water is a structuring element, allowing economic activities to develop around it. Investments made on thermal baths, at Estância Termal – Caldas de Manteigas, and trout farming at Viveiro das Trutas are but a few examples. Pastoralism and related activities gave rise to an industry linked to wool, which motivates the annual Expo Estrela. Places not to be missed include the waterfall at the Paulo Luís Martins Fountain, which never stops spouting its refreshing water, Poço do Inferno ["Hell Well"], the waterfall with approximately 10 m that originates in the gorge formed by the Leandres Stream, and the Penhas Douradas ["Golden Cliffs"].
It is worth making the most of the passage through the Amoreira Valley to visit Cruzeiro, the main church, the Alminhas Fountain and other fountains. The river beaches and natural landscapes are also striking attractions in this region.
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].
After travelling about 1 km on the EN 338, the trail exits to the left and goes down to the bottom of the valley along a narrow track that closely follows the Zêzere on its right bank until it crosses it to continue along an unpaved road on the left bank as far as the centre of Manteigas.
From this point the GRZ leaves Manteigas, continuing along the right bank of the Zêzere on a balcony path between beeches and oaks, with wonderful views over Sameiro and Vale do Zêzere. Before reaching Vale da Amoreira, the GRZ passes by the Sameiro river beach, where you can also find the Campsite and the Skiparque.
After the Vale de Amoreira crossing, the GRZ continues along an old track running parallel to the EN 232, beside the river on the side where the fields are. Not far from where the municipality of Guarda starts, the GRZ offers an alternative (GR 33.1) that crosses the road and goes up the hillside to come down afterwards among the pine trees towards the centre of Valhelhas. It's best to take this alternative route in the winter months or when it is very wet, when the Zêzere and Beijames rivers cannot be crossed at the ford. Following the main route (GR 33), the GRZ crosses to the right bank of the Zêzere at the ford and then afterwards crosses one of its main tributaries (River de Beijames) by the ford before going up the hillside, heading towards the Valhelhas river beach. They are just over 8km long.
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