Normally the Alentejo is sunny in March and the hills are covered in blue, white and yellow flowers. Walking is very enjoyable, with an aromatic scent in the air. But 2018 has been different – cold, wet, windy, and the ground saturated by days of rain. Nevertheless, travelling means exploring and so we set off on what seemed on the map an interesting cross-country route from Flor de Rosa to Alter Pedrosa.
There were wide views, even in the rain, the countryside was incredibly green, and huge herds of cattle and sheep were everywhere on the hillsides and under the cork oaks. Then the road became a dirt road, and finally we reached a ford… The map was hopeless!
Not only was the way impassable but it had become clear we were on the wrong road, so we enjoyed the scenery and then turned round and went back the way we had come. It took half the time to return and it didn’t always feel like the road already travelled – somewhat spooky!
Alter Pedroso is a few miles outside Alter do Chao – a hilltop village with the remains of a 13C castle.
This was Roman territory – Abelterium (today’s Alter do Chao) was a settlement on the main road between Lisbon and Merida which crossed the River Seda on an impressive bridge. The Bridge of Vila Formosa, 1C/2C AD, still carried the main road until 2010! The river was in flood – much higher than in previous years.
It was cold and windy – time for a coffee break in Alter do Chao.