Portuguese Camino Day 7: Climbing the Camino’s Tallest Mountain

Last updated Nov 6, 2021 | Published on Oct 16, 2021

On Monday, October 11th, I awoke to a fabulous sunrise. Fluffy clouds reflected shafts of pink and yellow light from the morning sun.

I marveled at the view of the Igreja Matriz Ponte de Lima Church and the river out my window. Soon, I would cross over the Ponte de Lima bridge on my way to Santiago.

It was important to get an early start today. I had a big climb ahead of me to the top of Alto Da Portelo. This is the highest point of elevation on the entire Camino Portugués and notoriously difficult.

Well, as difficult as it gets on the Camino anyway. This trail is not a particularly challenging one when it comes to hills and mountains.

A lovely sunrise in Ponte de Lima

The Ponte de Lima Market

As I made my way to the bridge, I was surprised to see the number of vendors near the bridge in Old Town. In fact, tents stretched for as far as the eye could see underneath the bridge along either side.

When we arrived in Ponte de Lima on Sunday, we stumbled upon an arts and crafts market along the banks of the river. That market seemed to feature vintage goods and antiques.

Apparently, this is a separate market which takes place every other Monday. This one is more of a flea market and specializes in clothing, textiles, household goods and the like.

The market under the Ponte de Lima Bridge

The Ponte de Lima Market

Crossing the Ponte de Lima Bridge

Soon I was on my way across the Ponte de Lima Bridge. This historic bridge dates back to 1398, although a crossing has been located on this same spot for much longer.

In fact, parts of the bridge a date back to the first century when the Roman Road crossed the river here.

Crossing the Ponte de Lima bridge

View from the Ponte de Lima (facing east)

View from the Ponte de Lima (facing west)

The Igreja de Santa Marinha de Arcozelo is beautiful little chapel situated on the opposite side of the bridge.

Igreja de Santa Marinha de Arcozelo

The coolest “Bom Caminho” sign ever (this is what you say to pilgrims on the Camino in Portuguese to wish them a good journey)

Another Morning Full of Vineyards

After leaving Ponte de Lima, I spent another pleasant morning passing through vineyards in the countryside.

Not a bad way to spend the morning, if I do say so myself!

Grapes!

Vineyards

More vineyards

Walking under the Freeway

One of the more unusual parts of my morning was crossing under the freeway. The Camino actually crosses under the freeway a few times and travels underneath it for a bit.

Walking under the freeway

The freeway

Lunch at Cafe Cunha Nunes

I stopped for lunch at a small market and cafe/bar. This was the last place to stop for food before the big climb up the mountain.

There were quite a few other pilgrims lounging in the shade when I arrived. I sat at a table with David, a retired pilgrim from New Mexico who I had met a few days ago.

While I was eating lunch, another hiker arrived. He looked oddly familiar. Then I remembered that I had given him directions the previous day while I rested on a chapel’s porch.

He introduced himself as Bill and we both had a good laugh about that. Bill hails from Florida and is also retired.

My lunch – two rolls with ham and cheese

This little cutie kept me company during lunch

Climbing Alto Da Portelo

After lunch, it was time to climb Alto Da Portelo. The path gains 400 meters (1312 feet) of elevation en route to the summit.

It’s not a particularly tall mountain, at least as far as I’m used to back home – but it’s the tallest one on the Camino Portugués.

Walking into a green tunnel

This way!

Cross on the way to the summit

The rocky trail to the top

The Summit and Descent

At the summit, I met a few other pilgrims enjoying the view and taking a break. There’s not much of a view to speak of, but I could see some mountains in the distance.

The way back down the mountain was hard. My foot has never healed completely and going downhill is particularly challenging.

It was a painful experience and I had to stop and take a lot of breaks. I was relieved when I finally made it to flatter terrain.

View from the top of Alto Da Portelo

The rocky descent down the other side of the mountain

Break time!

Rubiães

On the other side of the mountain, I ran into another pilgrim named Dianne from Australia. We traveled to the local albergue together, hoping to find a place to stay.

Unfortunately it was closed for the season. So we walked down the street and found a privately-run hostel called Casa de S Sebastião.

Later that evening, I walked to the local restaurant and ran into Bill. I joined him for dinner and we had a nice meal together.

He’s a funny guy and had me laughing most of the evening.

Soon it was dark and I headed back to the hostel to hit the hay.

Good night from another great day on the Camino Portugués!

Welcome to Casa de S Sebastião

Sunset from the hostel window

Dinner of fried fish with fries and salad. Fries are pretty much served with every meal.

Portuguese Camino Stats

Date: Monday, October 11
Starting Location: Casa Cardeal Saraiva in Ponte de Lima
Ending Location: Casa de S Sebastião in Rubiães
Camino Distance Walked: 10.8 miles/ 17.4 km
Distance to Santiago: 84 miles/ 135 km

AllTrails Map Recording

Click here to view my map recording for today:

Portuguese Camino Day 7 on AllTrails

Note: the distance in this recording doesn’t match my Camino distance because it includes some off-route walking.

Stamps Collected Today

Casa de S Sebastião

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For more information about my pilgrimage along the Camino Portugués, visit my Portuguese Camino web page.

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!

1 Comment

  1. Gretchen Hoyt

    The bridge you crossed in the morning was beautiful! I was intrigued by the history ~knowing how long it has been a place where people have been using it makes it almost sacred. Walking along vineyards seems so Spanish or European. The trail with it’s rock wall too really told me how different the place was. Good pics!

    Reply

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