Montalvão is a small, remote, hilltop village (and castle) close to the border with Spain. We were there to try out another of the walks, the PR7-NIS, in the new book published by the Portuguese Tourist Office. The walk is across the hills and down to the the Sever River, the border between Portugal and Spain.
PR7 – NIS; 7.5 kms, c.2.5 hours, moderate (steep down & up)
We parked in the square alongside the church, glanced over the roofline of varied chimneys, greeted the stork, and then set off between stone walls into the warm and beautiful countryside.
I enjoyed looking for different varieties of Cistus and along this part of the walk they were all white, small and large and with different size spots (Cistus Ladanifer), or even none at all (Cistus Salvifolius).
The hills here used to be planted with wheat, and grazed by sheep and cattle, but as these small villages have become depopulated the hills are now covered with pine and eucalyptus forests.
This is all that remains of the water mill at Nogueira, the first of the two mills on this walk. I assume these would have been used to grind the wheat previously grown on the surrounding hillsides. It was quiet and peaceful and we sat and enjoyed the warmth, and the wildflowers on the border of Portugal and Spain.
The path along the Sever River is fine at the moment, but it is narrow and I think that with increasing footfall will become dangerous and really needs duckboards, or shoring up to prevent it from sliding into the adjacent river.
The second watermill, Artur’s Mill, is also a ruin although there is decking and a wall to sit on. It was quiet, warm and peaceful and a enjoyable stop before tackling the very steep uphill path. It is fine as long as you pause for breath!
And once on the top of the hill there are again wonderful views – I think we were looking at Castelo Branco in the far distance. There was also an OMG moment when we encountered a small lake in the path.
The Chapel of Santa Margarida is a ruin on the outskirts of Montalvão and closed off so we did not venture closer.
And then we were back in Montalvão with its Castle which was probably part of the border fortifications strengthened by King Dinis in the 13C and 14C.