AH Castelo Novo – AH Idanha-a-Velha
Great Bicycle Route
Castelo Novo, Idanha-a-Velha
Places of passage: Atalaia do Campo, Orca, Aldeia de Santa Margarida, Proença-à-Velha.
This leg leaves Castelo Novo heading south along the A23 and then facing east as it crosses over the highway. Further on, it crosses the EN18, the railway line, and the bridge over the Alpreade stream, and proceeds to follow the stream from here to Atalaia do Campo. It then turns away from it, leaving the tarmac with a left turn towards the village of Orca. From this village, the route follows dirt roads until it reaches the EN239 and the Taveiro stream. It crosses the stream and leaves the tarmac to the left, to continue to follow the stream at a distance. It then goes up until it reaches the village of Santa Margarida. Leaving this village, the route turns right next to the Main Church, then it goes around some farmland, and it crosses the EN233. It passes the Nossa Senhora da Granja hermitage and continues south, on dirt roads, towards Proença-a-Velha, a land of history and heritage, where you can visit the Museu do Azeite (olive oil museum). The route leaves the village towards east, entering forest paths. It crosses the valley of the Torto river and begins to rise to near 390m, after crossing the Mourisco stream. It then passes the geodetic vertex of Sebastião José and begins to go down, crosses the stream of Rio de Moinhos, and follows parallel to the Ponsul River, reaching the Historical Village of Idanha-a-Velha.
Fauna and Flora
_CASTELO NOVO_ In the plain overlooking this village, near Atalaia do Campo, we find a mosaic of agricultural use dominated by olive groves, but with patches of rainfed crops and even oak. Next to the Alpreade stream, we can find the alder tree, the willow, and the narrow-leaved ash. Despite the strong human presence, birds such as the Eurasian tree sparrow, the corn bunting, or the stonechat can also be found. With the approach to the mountain range's “shell” where Castelo Novo is sheltered, we find a microclimate that enables fruit crops, particularly citrus. Next to the village we can see the black redstart or the blue rock thrush. This region is part of the Geopark Naturtejo, due to the interesting geological formations that exist here. It is also important to note the presence of Asphodelus bento-rainhae, a plant that is an exclusive endemism of the northern slope of Serra da Gardunha. _ALDEIA DE SANTA MARGARIDA_ Around the village of Santa Margarida, the highlight goes to the orange and vegetable gardens, surrounded by gentle slopes, open spaces suitable for grazing, olive groves, and cork oak forests, where the Iberian magpie, the great tit, the European robin, the Eurasian blackcap, the wild boar, and the fox can be seen. Also present are the Portuguese oak, the evergreen oak, the common broom, the Spanish wild marjoram, and the common hawthorn. The watercourses, such as the Ceife, Taveiro and Taliscas streams, and their riparian vegetation made up of narrow-leaved ashes, willows, and bush weeds, are biodiversity hubs that host otters, common kingfisher, and communities of amphibians (Iberian green frog and Mediterranean tree frog) and reptiles (Spanish terrapin). The rock outcrops and walls are littered with lichens and mosses. _IDANHA-A-VELHA_ Around this Historical Village it is possible to find bushweeds ("Tamujo"), a plant species characteristic of Mediterranean watercourses, and also some Spanish sparrows, Eurasian magpies, Iberian magpies, great grey shrikes, corn buntings, and black-winged kites. From here the landscape alternates between schist and granite, enabling in this Alentejo-like environment the presence of cork oaks, evergreen oaks, and Pyrenean oaks. Near Proença-a-Velha, the red-rumped swallow can be seen even in mid-October. From there, we enter cork oak forests with clearings where there are almost no shrubby species and the avifauna shows species such as the black redstart, the meadow pipit, the Eurasian jay, the European bee-eater, etc. We are also presented with fields of Spanish wild marjoram, where the white wagtail and the Eurasian blackcap can be seen.