A Walk on the Wild Side

The village of Alferce in the Serra de Monchique region has benefited from an innovative piece of investment that aims to bring visitors to the area to appreciate the natural beauty, ancient history, and fantastic walking trails.

Just over a year after work began, the Barranco do Demo walkway in the parish of Alferce was officially inaugurated on Saturday, 21 October. Intending to rejuvenate Alferce, the wooden walkway is part of a longer pedestrian route that connects the village of Alferce to Cerro do Castelo de Alferce, stretching for approximately one kilometre.

According to Paulo Alves, president of the municipality, the objective of the structure developed by the Alferce Parish Council, with the support of the Monchique City Council, is to offer visitors “access to unique sites, to raw nature, to sites which had been inaccessible until now”. The project has also received European funding.

The Minister for Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, was in Alferce to inaugurate this project, and, before setting off on the route, she explained: “We’re talking about an investment of around 400,000€, but I’m sure it will bring much more to the area: because it brings joy to those who live here, it makes the area more attractive to those who visit and, above all, it values and protects it, because an area that isn’t lived in is an area that isn’t protected.”

My family and I followed in the Minister’s footsteps one Sunday, hoping to appreciate the new 1000-metre passadiço (walkway) with the 50-metre suspension bridge, transforming our walk into an adventure. It is easy to find Alferce by taking the road to Monchique from the motorway junction at Silves. You then take the N267 to Alferce, which appears on the right and is signposted.

We parked in the sleepy village of Alferce, which is soon to be firmly on the map thanks to its new attraction. A caravan and campervan site is also being constructed here to create a scenic place for visitors to stay, explore the many walking trails and enjoy the spectacular scenery of this interior region. From the village, you will see the signs to the wooden walkway, which you access via a dirt path that is easy to walk on and has scenic views. We joined a herd of fellow walkers of all nationalities making their way to the suspension bridge.

The start of the boardwalk is exciting as you start your descent to the gorge and some picnic benches have been installed with many families stopping for a snack and enjoying the view. Once down the steps, there was a small queue to cross the bridge, with only five people allowed on at a time. The suspension bridge is unsupervised, but no one was arguing with this safety rule as we all surveyed the Barranco do Demo gorge far below. Thankfully, the bridge felt completely secure to walk across as we enjoyed an excellent view of the surrounding landscape.

On the other side of the bridge, there are a challenging number of steps taking you to the walkway’s other access point – definitely something to get your heart rate up. If you wish to start the walk from this side, you can follow an arrow indicating the Barranco do Demo walkways from the entrance to Alferce, and you can follow this dirt path until the end. There, you will find a small viewpoint and the long staircase to the bridge. Some fellow walkers told us that an entrepreneurial local had set up a stall selling beers and sausage at this point.

We then followed our track back the way we came, but anyone who wants to can always choose to start from the village, pass Cerro do Castelo, take the walkway and return to the village – a circular path of around six kilometres, which can then be integrated into various walking routes, both in the municipality and along the Via Algarviana.

The old ruins of Cerro do Castelo, currently the site of an archaeological dig, are also receiving investment to add to the new route. In addition to the construction of the viewpoint platform, the work also includes signs referring to the archaeological site, the walkway and the pedestrian connection to the village of Alferce.

Paulo Alves, the mayor of Monchique, told Sul Informação that he hopes this walkway will mean “a rejuvenation and a break in the cycle of people leaving the parish and the municipality”.

I am sure he is right. It is a hugely encouraging development in this area, which is plagued by de-population and, as a result, forest fires. I encourage anyone who believes that the Algarve ends within a 5 km distance of the coastline to go and appreciate the stunning countryside in the Serra de Monchique.​

Walking Routes

The PR8MCQ trail – Pelos Caminhos de Alferce is a 7.8 km trail that takes you on a beautiful route through the ruins of the old castle.

A Via Algarviana link route also passes through Alferce, a pedestrian route that runs throughout the Algarve. You can discover all the Via Algarviana routes on its official website.

You can find Rota Circular fo Passadiço do Barranco do Demo on the All Trials App.


Share this edition