Not far from Monsanto (which I’ve mentioned before) you can find the village of Penha Garcia. Today I’ll be telling you about my experience with a specific hiking trail in the area. After some looking around on the internet, prior to the trip, I settled for the PR3 trail – the ‘fossil route’.
Although it is only 3 km long and considered easy it proved to be more difficult than I was expecting and posed its own challenges – and it seemed to be the longest 3 km ever!
When I talked about the hiking trail I did in Gerês I mentioned a kind of dos and don’ts list. Well, next time I should remember to follow my own advice! We didn’t take any food with us because, well, it was just 3 km… Note to self: always take food, even if only some snacks. Ok, it’s a short hike but then you stop for pictures and “Oh, a pretty flower” and “Is that a bird of prey?” and “Hey, look at that!” and… you get the picture: what should have taken 1 hour or so can easily take 2 or 3 hours long.
So grab your camera and put on your trekking shoes – the journey starts here:
You follow the usual hiking signs, going all the way up until you reach the castle. Before entering the castle look down: yes, we’ll get there.
The trail keeps taking you down, where you’ll find a few old houses. These used to belong to millers and now they’re a sort of small museum. You can’t really see it here but there’s a relatively intricate system to control the water flow into the mill. They keep it in working order for educational purposes. If you’ve never seen a water mill this is a good chance to take a look at the engineering behind it!
One of the things this area is known for: fossils (this is the fossil route, remember?). One of the houses hosts some of them but if you keep your eyes open (and know what to look for) you can also see several fossils along the trail.
Maybe it was the work of some prankster or maybe some of the signs ahead were covered in foliage/had been eaten by an army of ants/taken as a souvenir by visiting aliens – I don’t know. What I do know is that after a while we had to, almost literally, walk on water:
This is a kind of swampy area and this is where I found myself thinking “Yeeeeah… this doesn’t really look like the right trail”. Actually, right after this there were no more signs or anything that looked like a trail, so we went back to the sign on the penultimate photo and headed back to the village.
Final verdict: It was harder than expected (especially because of all the extra strain on the knees while you’re walking down in the rocky terrain) and obviously the whole confusion towards the end was not a very good thing. All in all, however, it was fun and we got to see so many things we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. If your teenagers are adventurous and like fossils this could be an interesting option.