AH Belmonte – AH Sortelha
Great Bicycle Route
Leaving the Historical Village of Belmonte, the route begins by following the bike path next to the Castle. After descending for a little while, it crosses the national road and, shortly thereafter, it follows east, to cross the motorway and the railway. It crosses the Inguias stream together with the tar road and, already on the other bank, it goes up the valley as a dirt track. The route leaves this valley, which is now called Quarta-feira, and goes around Serra da Pedra Furada, thus revealing the Historical Village of Sortelha. Together with the local PR, it goes up drovers' routes and Roman and medieval stone roads, reaching the Castle’s west door, next to the old hospital.
Fauna and Flora
_BELMONTE_ Serra da Esperança, where the HV of Belmonte is located, is a hill mostly covered by shrub species but where some pine areas can still be found and where the fortified settlement of Castro da Chandeirinha was established, proving the ancient occupation of this area. The river Zêzere, with its source at a height of about 1900m, flows restlessly down Serra da Estrela, to become more serene as it passes through Belmonte, setting the tone for the ecology of the place. The different uses Man made of this river can be seen throughout its course and are particularly linked to the production of fruit trees, especially the famous peach of Cova da Beira. We are welcomed into Serra da Estrela by a wonderful mosaic of woods, composed of chestnut trees, birch trees, and even the imported Pseudotsuga (Douglas firs) trees, with a foliage that if full of different tones in the fall. _SORTELHA_ Since the HV of Sortelha is mainly a granite area, when we pass through the village of Santo Antóni, which is a schist area, we witness a clear change of landscape. There is a significant patch of Pyrenean oak, where Western Bonelli's warblers can be found and where chestnuts and heathers most often appear. The diversity of the avifauna is linked to the diversity of habitats, which means we will find bird species associated with the forest, such as the Eurasian jay or the European green woodpecker. Among the existing shrub species, we highlight the narrow-leaved mock privet, the common hawthorn, the broom, and the purple gromwell.