Day 19 – Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês

When we woke up this morning, the sun was glinting through the trees! After last night’s 50kph wind and rain, a glimmer of hope for the day! But the sun was soon shrouded behind clouds and mist and rain once again and we went back to bed for a bit.

By the time we decided that we couldn’t sit the weather out all day, it was 10am and we went for breakfast, packed up, sorted the bikes out and headed out in search of a shop in the drizzle. When we got to the shops, it was pouring down again and after getting supplies, we sat under the awning of the bakery and ate chocolate biscuits with jam waiting for the weather to improve.

At midday the downpour lessened to just rain and we set off in our waterproofs to sweat up the hill. We were leaving the valley we spent the day in yesterday to head into the mountains. We had 900m of climbing to do over 20km and Dave was worried that we’d need all day on it like when we were in the Picos. But as we started the climb, we were doing around 10kph… was the tough bit still to come?

Towards Castro Laboreiro

Towards Castro Laboreiro

We rode up out of town, past the usual mix of nice houses and semi-ruins, all with veggie patches and a few chickens – and lots of grape vines in this region! The clouds were lifting slightly and we could see the green valley below, Spanish villages stretched out on the north side of the river, Portuguese ones on the south side.

As we left the outskirts of town, the rain stopped and we took off our jackets and steamed under the dripping trees. The forest was lush and green, a mixture of conifers and deciduous trees with lots of oaks, their newly opened leaves bright and wet. We rode gently up between the trunks, across babbling streams, past rocky outcrops, purple heather and flowering gorse. The higher we got, the more spectacular the views of the valleys and of the clouds. The ever-changing weather gave us views of mountain peaks, then hid them from us, rained for a bit before bringing them back into view. There were lots of wind turbines on the hills, occasional villages, some small fields of sheep, areas of burned hillside and quite a few power lines. Not exactly wilderness but it was very beautiful.

Some sun!

Some sun!

At one viewpoint, we could see lots of barren hillsides stretched out below, nothing but heather and gorse except for the trees in the v-shaped valleys along the streams. The sun came out for a little bit and felt deliciously warm. Then the wind brought more clouds and wet set off again to warm up.

Lovely riding

Lovely riding

Fickle weather

Fickle weather

There wasn’t much traffic today but there were a lot of goats! There was a herder at work gathering his flock and they were spilling out onto the road. We inadvertently herded them ourselves as we rode past.

Me herding the goats

Me herding the goats

We really enjoyed the ride today, it was chilled out and the weather was pretty decent compared to how it has been! We only did 20km in the end and it didn’t take as long as we expected, but the next campsite is a long way away, so we pitched up in Lamas de Mouro for the night, just within the boundary of the national park, where we’re going to be riding for the next few days. It rained on and off this evening (pretty sure we’re going to be putting on still-wet laundry in the morning!) but it’s stopped for now and the forecast for tomorrow looks brighter.

Wooded campsite

Wooded campsite at Lamas de Mouro

– Anna

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