The PR6 in the Guadiana Natural Park begins at Azinhal, a small village on the IC27 about thirty minutes south of Beja. (A map of the walk can be downloaded here.) We chose this walk, which is along tracks, chosen because of the extremely wet weather which we felt would make cross-country walking unnecessarily unpleasant. We parked in a large open area next to the main road and set off.
11 kms, 2.5 hours of easy walking
The dirt road was good and took us through open countryside covered in white daisies, sheep, olive trees, and oak trees – and of course water everywhere! It smelt good and was just delightful.
The road junction was obvious and the path turned off to the right. The views were wide and it was a lovely day after all the rain – just gorgeous to be out and moving freely.
Shortly the track passes the former Mines of Balança. I know nothing of mining and minerals but it seems to me there were a lot of minerals here, although perhaps not in viable quantities for commercial mining. The mining concession was registered in 1869 This brochure gives interesting information about the mines: ‘…The Iberian Pyrite Range is world renowned for its wealth of volcanogenic massive sulphide, commonly known as pyrites.This metallogenic province forms an arc, with a length of about 300 km and a width of 30 to 60 km, covering part of Alentejo, the Algarve and Andalucia. The numerous occurrences of copper, iron and manganese ores in this area proved instrumental in forming the way of life ofthe people who lived here.These metal deposits were mined from the Chalcolithic period (3362-2156 B.C.), intensifying later, around the eighth century B.C., under peoples such as the Tartessians,the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians…’.
Another wet crossing and the track reached the edge of the settlement of Corte Pequena. The pub was really noisy but there was no other sign of life apart from the goats.
The way goes down the ‘main’ road lined with irises and white daisies, but no traffic, for a few minutes and then the path turns off on to the dirt roads again.
There is a short cut from the farmhouse on the hill (just beyond the mines) – you can see it on the horizon below, but I was pleased we completed the advertised circuit and saw Corte Pequena.
A little rest was needed and this warm wall was a welcome back rest! Then there were more watery crossings with wide open views before finally returning to Azinhal.
And so back into Azinhal.
While it was not dramatic this was a lovely, refreshing walk on a beautiful day in a period of almost daily rain! I can recommend this path if you are in the area.