Caminha (Portugal) – Tui (Spain)
15 April 2018
29.9km (Brierley’s Guidebook)
44.3km (Our walk)
Our last day of walking in Portugal … if all goes well, we are sleeping in Spain tonight.
We were happy to see it was only 29.9km according to our Brierley guide book, but at the end of the day, we’ve had 44.3km on the clock 😳… by following an arrow we were not supposed to …
Some pilgrims takes the ferry here at Caminha and then walks from A Guarda via the bridge in Vila Nova de Cerveira. But we’ve decided to stay a bit longer in Portugal and take the riverside route, mostly pedestrian track and pathways.
A beautiful morning with the river Minho almost looking like a mirror
There were a couple of early morning locals busy setting up small stalls for a morning market next to the river Minho and they’ve showed us the way out of Caminha.
About 3km after we’ve left Caminha, we’ve got to Cementerio. It was such a quiet and calm morning and though we were not walking along the sea, we had the river in our sight.
The Chapel of Sao Bento in Seixas
Over the rail between Cementerio and Seixas
We know that the pathway is next to the river today and we were looking forward walking on the new “Ecopista” (2017) which was built especially for pedestrians and cyclists.
The river Minho in the early morning
The early morning mist coming from the river changed the pathways into a fairyland
About 7km into our stage, we’ve approach Lanhelas and thought it would be a good idea to walk off the Camino route to find an open café. At a small corner café, we’ve got coffee and also bought rolls and a packet of crisps (to eat later next to the river).
Me and Berto were busy talking as we’ve left the café and out of the corner of our eyes, we saw an arrow that directed us to the left that took us up hill for quite some time … Berto mentioned that it was strange we were walking up hill if we were supposed to walk alongside the river …
Walking up hill in Lanhelas after we’ve left the café … were we not supposed to go down hill to the river?
At first we thought it was just a detour back down to the river, but the arrows keep on directing us left and right and left and right … and more inland!
We know (now) that we should have taken the road straight down to the river the moment we’ve realised that we were going inland – the lesson to learn here is to trust your instinct! But instead, we’ve kept on following the arrows …. and kept on moving further and further inland.
And then it started to rain … 🤨… so, between getting rain jackets on and trying to follow the arrows, we’ve lost track of time … and literally the track 😝!
I did manage to take a couple of photo’s – between the rain and getting lost – but cannot tell you exactly where it was … but can confirm it was definitely between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira 😅.
Here are a couple of photo’s that were taken on our “unexpected detour”:
Between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira
Also between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira 🙃
As we’ve got to a high point, we could see the river in the distance. Berto decided that we should stop following any arrows and take the shortest route back down to the river Minho.
Now it was time to get back to the river Minho!
And then, eventually we were back by the river – just in time to see a big sign indicating we have reached Vila Nova de Cerveira!
What a relief to see we are now at Vila Nova de Cerveira
We’ve realised we have walked close to 15km (almost double the distance we were supposed to walk)!
The sun was out and we found a bench next to the river where we could just rest for a while after walking a “mini Camino stage” in an hour and a half!
It was only then that we’ve looked in our Brierley guide book that there is route called the “Caminho da Senhora do Norte” that continues from Lanhelas into Valenca on an inland path … that must have been the arrows that we were following …
We laughed at our own stupidity … missing one arrow and we’ve (unexpectedly) explored the inland between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira! Great, now that this confusion was sorted out, we could start walking the real stage 😁.
After “lost and found”, we’ve enjoyed the view over the river while having a roll filled with crisps 😋
I must admit, the path along the riverbank of Minho was pure pleasure for a hiker. For almost 8km you walk uninterrupted alongside the river on this pathway.
The river path alongside the river Minho
For almost 8km, the only “traffic” is the occasional pedestrian or cyclist that crosses your path
Facilities are few along the river (and we dare not walk off inland again 😏), so we’ve decided to have a small picnic at a recreation area near Montorros.
Picnic time … but our backpacks did not deliver much … only a few balls of cheese and two salami sticks …
We knew of a café that one can find at the Montorrosa recreation area (café S Paio), but that is normally only open in summer time. That was indeed the case and we’ve walked on.
The pathway (Ecopista) alongside the river continued
We then got to another isolated café (which is also, according to our Brierley guide book, only open in summer), but we’ve heard music and took a chance and knock on the door.
A young man opened the door and invited us in. It seemed as if they had a small family gathering in the café (probably the owner of the café) … but they did offer us coffee and we could also bought some cold drinks and chocolates. We were grateful that they had it in their hearts to help us out and thanked them for their hospitality.
Our suggestion is, that if you walk the Ecopista (and it is not in Summer time), make sure you buy something to eat and drink in Vila Nova de Cerveira. Vila Nova de Cerveira is about halfway between Caminha and Valenca and with (almost) no open cafes (in Spring), it is worth having some supplies to enjoy next to the river.
The Ecopista continued until we’ve reached Ponte medieval
The ancient stone bridge, the Ponte medieval da Veiga da Mira
From here the Camino follows the rail line all the way into the outskirts of Valenca. The yellow arrows took us through a mud bath in a deserted farming land and we, once again, had to deal with a muddy walk! Eventually we’ve got to paved ways that took us into Valenca.
In Valenca – what a day!
This was not yet the end of our day … we still had to continue another 3.4km to Tui in Spain … as if we did not walk enough already today!
We’ve took a brisk walk through the citadel (and wished we’ve had more time to explore this site), but after almost 40km, we were more than ready to get to Tui!
A quick walk through the citadel in Valenca
And then we saw the landmark that would indicate we were getting closer to the end of our Portuguese Camino … the International bridge between Portugal and Spain.
The bridge that would take us into Spain
The last photo on Portuguese soil – what an amazing country with such amazing people!
We’ve crossed the International bridge that runs over the river Minho and took us into Tui.
Berto on his way to Spain 😊
I suppose, if you stand in the middle of this sign, you are simultaneously in Portugal and Spain 😜
And then … without even a trumpet blowing, we’ve crossed the border and found ourselves in Spain.
It’s official – we are in Spain. Hola Espana!
We’ve immediately saw the signs and way marks that indicated we were still on the Portuguese Camino.
On the Portuguese Camino … in Spain
The first thing I’ve noticed, was that there were no more cobblestones. After walking hundreds of kilometres on cobblestones in Portugual, the even pavement under my feet was much better for my blistered feet 😌. Berto, on the other hand, loved the cobblestones … but he had no blisters!
I will miss a lot of things from Portugal, but not their cobblestoned walkways 😬… the even pavement was like a cushion under my feet
Before we even got to our albergue, we first head for a café where we had the biggest beers we could get!
After walking almost a full day and a distance of 44km, this was the best beer ever!
What should have been an easy walk of 29.9km (if you end the day in Valenca), ended on 44.3km. We did add an extra 3.4km by walking to Tui, but the other “unaccounted kilometres” must have been our “mini Camino” between Lanhelas and Vila Nova de Cerveira 😝.
Accommodation – Tui:
Our albergue was close to the café and we’ve checked into Albergue San Martin where we had our own room (this was a bonus after such a hard day!)
We were so tired, that we’ve just had enough energy to walk to the closest restaurant where we had pizza.
A cat under our table in the restaurant where we had pizza, received some TLC (and small pieces of pizza)
We went to bed early – it was not even dark outside … I will never forget our last day of walking in Portugal!
Just before I’ve closed my eyes, I was thinking about our amazing time in Portugal …
- We will miss their food,
- Their beautiful country (especially the ocean walk from Porto),
- Even those rainy days are imprinted in my mind
- And of course the warmth and kindness of the Portuguese people …
- But most of all … yes, their wonderful Pastel de natas 😍