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Walking in the Parque Natural de Montesinho

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There are currently a dozen waymarked hiking trails (pecursos pedestres) in the natural park, mostly short (half-day, from around 8km), and well marked and maintained, though you should always expect changes and variations over time. There are free, glossy foldout brochures for each, available from the park information offices – they are in Portuguese but the route maps are useful. Boards at the starting points (usually in village centres) also show the routes; the waymarks are the usual red and yellow stripes and arrows. The walk at Moimenta provides a good introduction to the scenery, though if we had to pick just one route it would be that at Montesinho, which is a higher, more dramatic rock-and-reservoir circuit. The Vilarinho route is also interesting, winding through the serra’s characteristic heather hills and oak woods, though the route-marking is less than perfect on this – you have to be prepared to cross a river or two and not panic when you lose the waymarks at times. The park has also marked out a two-day trail (55km) that loops around Vilarinho and Montesinho (where you’d stay the night) – this uses red and white paint markers (which sometimes duplicate parts of other trails) but there’s currently no walk brochure for this. Finally, if you were really keen to see more of the park on foot, consider staying at the Lagosta Perdida in Montesinho, which has prepared a series of self-guided hiking trails for guests that fan out from the village.

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