AH Linhares da Beira – AH Piódão
Great Bicycle Route
Linhares da Beira, Piódão
Linhares da Beira
Places of passage: Vale do Rossim, Sabugueiro, Sra. do Desterro, Lapa dos Dinheiros, Valezim, Vide.
This is one of the most demanding legs of the entire Great Route (GR22). It starts together with one of the place’s Small Routes and rises up towards the Videmonte and Casais de Folgosinho plateau. Upon reaching this plateau, it crosses the entire ridge of the north slope, passing by Portela de Folgosinho, the lookout station of Santinha, and the abandoned house of the forest services, before reaching the tar road near the Rossim valley. There it meets the GR22 variant that links to the Historical Village of Belmonte. Before the dam and on arrival in Sabugueiro, a bike variant shortens the distance to avoid highly technical sections. The route descends along the Fervença stream and before arriving in Sabugueiro it separates again in both modalities. In Sabugueiro, the GR22 continues its descent, now following the Alva river, through the water channels of hydroelectric plants. It passes by the Natural Museum of Electricity, and its surrounding bush, and by the chapel of Nossa Senhora do Desterro. It leaves the course of the Alva river, going around the mountain, and goes towards the river beach of Lapa dos Dinheiros and the place with the same name, from where it continues through old agricultural paths to Valezim. This leg has two distinct parts. Outside Valezim, the route rises, crosses the EN231, and goes around the southwest slope of Serra da Estrela, always in a forest environment. It passes through the structures of the old forest nursery, right before reaching Portela do Arão. Shortly after this roundabout, the bike path differs from the pedestrian one, continuing on the right and enjoying the ridges. This is where the second part of the leg begins, now in a gradual descent along dense forest surroundings, until it enters the valley of the Alvoco stream and reaches Vide. After crossing the Alvoco stream in the centre of Vide, the GR for bikes continues in its own path, going up to the ridges and following a road halfway up the hill of Senhora das Necessidades. Below, the valley deepens into these slopes of dark brown schists, with which man has built the many kilometers of walls that support the lands used for agriculture. The same type of stone also allowed the construction of many schist houses along the way. But it is Piódão that, as a built ensemble, assumes itself as the corollary of this leg.
Fauna and Flora
_LINHARES DA BEIRA_ On the mountain plateau overlooking this Historical Village, we find some of Serra da Estrela's oldest agricultural fields. Here, already seeing the Mondeguinho, we find some high woods of deciduous species that accompany us throughout the slope of Linhares. From the height of 1300m - and already without any tree species - the vegetation cover is dominated by the heather and the juniper we find on the way to Malhão and Santinha. Near the Rossim valley, it is possible to see the rare black stork. On the north side of the mountain, the Mondego river shows a dense riverside gallery where the alder tree predominates, with the presence of willows and narrow-leaved ashes. In this place where we cross the river, we can see species such as: the wren, the European robin, the Eurasian blue tit, the white wagtail, and the Cetti's warbler, among others. _VALE DO ROSSIM_ In the waters of the reservoir otters can sometimes be seen, hunting the fish they feed on. These high-altitude waters do not attract a lot of waterbirds, but, in the fall, the surrounding area becomes very interesting to watch migratory birds, such as the song thrush, looking for the ripe fruit of the rowan. In the margins of the reservoir some plants with botanical interest grow, such as the Linaria elegans, an Iberian endemism. Another Iberian endemism, the Guadarrama wall lizard (Podarcis guadarramae), enjoys the sun-bathed granite blocks. The shores of the lagoon are flanked by willows and the adjacent woods are made up mostly of birch and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). The ridge that dominates the left bank of the reservoir culminates in a rocky area made up of big entrenched cliffs, the Penhas Douradas, which give the area its name. _VALEZIM_ The slopes surrounding Valezim have a dense forest cover of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), planted mainly from the second half of the twentieth century on. However, clusters of chestnut trees and common oaks (Quercus robur) border the village boundaries. The presence of these forest trees attracts an interesting diversity of bird species. Tits and woodpeckers look for food through foliage and tree branches. The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) can be found here, gnawing pinecones to enjoy the seeds they contain. The wild boars prefer the acorns and chestnuts they find on the ground during fall. In winter the meadows are crossed by the meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis). And in the meantime, in the cold flowing stream, the Iberian frog (Rana iberica) finds its preferred habitat. _VIDE_ The Alvoco stream, here in a quieter section, is bordered by a characteristic gallery of alder trees and willows. It takes shape in Alvoco da Serra, after being fed by several water lines that spring from the highest points of Serra da Estrela, ending its short and rugged itinerary in the Alva River, at Ponte das Três Entradas. Its flowing cold waters are inhabited by the brown trout (Salmo trutta), the white-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus), and the increasingly frequent great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). In the slopes surrounding Vide, we highlight the presence of plants such as the strawberry tree and the cork oak. But the largest expanse of forest is made up of maritime pine, which is regularly affected by forest fires. In this landscape, the great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) and the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) can easily be seen. _PIÓDÃO_ On the south-facing slopes of the Serra do Açor we can find, at higher altitudes, strawberry trees and heather undergrowth. In the fall several interesting mushroom species appear, among which we highlight the Amanita muscaria. The Zêzere river dominates the landscape in this place and attracts the white wagtail and even the grey heron. Next to Piódão we are in the middle of Serra do Açor. Here the shrub formations dominate the landscape with some scattered clusters of chestnut trees appearing. We may find the fox or even the common genet. Closer to the villages we find crops, trees, and meadows on terraces. If we move to higher altitudes, with low undergrowth, we find ourselves in the favourite hunting ground of the common buzzard and the Montagu's harrier.