AH Almeida – AH Castelo Rodrigo
Great Bicycle Route
Almeida, Castelo Rodrigo
Places of passage: Malpartida, Almofala, Mata de Lobos, Convento de Sta Maria de Aguiar.
Leaving the Historical Village of Almeida by the bike path that goes around the wall, the route heads north on a dirt track, to cross the Alvercas stream and then follow grazing paths until it reaches Malpartida. The route crosses the EM604 and goes through plains overflown by birds of prey, approaching the Tourões river, a natural border with Spain. It continues on a dirt road, through grazing paths with gates, and then along farmland paths, crossing again the EM604 near Vermiosa and heading north through plots of land. The route passes Cruzeiro de Roquilho and returns to the EM604 tarmac on arrival at Almofala. It continues north, through cobblestone which then gives way to a dirt road and converges with the road towards Mata de Lobos. After a small stretch of tarmac, the route heads right to leave the road, going back to the dirt road, crossing plots of farmland until after Mata de Lobos. From there, the route changes its general direction. Going west now, it will cross the Aguiar stream and, together with the PR3 FCR route, it will climb up to the Historical Village of Castelo Rodrigo, which is already watching from above, passing by the Convent of Santa Maria de Aguiar.
Fauna and Flora
_ALMEIDA_ In this region, the Côa valley is characterized by a rugged granite slope with patches of vines and grain fields, but where the low and dense white broom undergrowth predominates and where the Spanish lavender and the Spanish wild marjoram have a significant expression. There are also some clusters of gum cistus, associated with metamorphisms of the granite in this place. In terms of avifauna, there is a mix of species typical of rocky shrub environments and species from cereal environments (such as the red-capped lark). The Seco river area is a wide area with slight slopes, where we can find white broom, pine forest, and fallow fields, with a significant Pyrenean oak patch, in a structure of bocage. Here we can see species such as the Eurasian golden oriole, the black kite, the spotless starling, and the European serin, among others. _ALMOFALA_ The reservoir of the Santa Maria de Aguiar Dam invites you to stop to enjoy the tranquillity and shadows of its surroundings, its picnic parks, and its birding facilities. In this respect, it is a very interesting area from an ornithological point of view, representing one of the best places in Beira Alta for watching waterbirds. Noteworthy here is the presence of the great crested grebe, the great cormorant, the mallard, and the grey heron. On the bank fields, it is possible to see the black-winged kite as it hunts. In the surroundings of the chapel of Santo André, we can enjoy the magnificent landscape that the valley of the International Águeda river has to offer. A river gorge made of craggy cliffs is one of the best places to watch the colonies of vultures and other cliff birds, such as the elusive Bonelli's eagle. _CASTELO RODRIGO_ Castelo Rodrigo is located at the eastern end of Serra da Marofa, an alignment that reaches 977 meters in the adjacent elevation. This higher ground gives us a fantastic overview of the area of Riba-Côa, Alto Douro, and the Iberian Meseta. It is a structure in a syncline, made up of quartz ridges from the lower Ordovician and shales from the lower Silurian. Paleontologically, there are reports of ichnofossils of the genus Cruziana in the quartzites and fragments of Neseuretus sp. in the shales from the lower Silurian. The deep valley of Côa surrounds this mountain to the west and south. Holm oaks resist in the highest and most exposed areas; just below them, we can find cork oaks. A few chestnut trees can be found in the more shadowy slopes. In some of its rock formations, the Eurasian griffon, a vulture, finds the perfect place to build its nest.