There are lots of hidden little walks and places in the Algarve that are hard to find and are often little hidden gems … we even hesitated about sharing this one with you as the sítio das fontes near Estombar, in the parish of Lagoa, is such a peaceful and quiet place – we don’t want too many people to find it!
It’s 18 hectares of municipal park and land with a lake, fountain, river walk, picnic area and so much open space and amenities to enjoy.
You will find it by driving to Lagoa, taking the exit off the roundabout that’s signed to the Slide and Splash theme park – go past the park, over the railway line, and as you enter the village of Estombar you will see the brown sign for ‘Fontes’ with a right turn off the main road. Follow the signs for a mile or so, past the sports stadium, and under the motorway. You’ll see a sign to turn off left, and the fontes is down that lane. There’s plenty of free parking.
The first thing that we always do after we have parked is follow the path that leads down to the water, and take the beautiful woodland path walk that follows the line of the river Arade. It’s a fabulous place to walk our little dog too!
You can actually walk much further than you think – all the way to this little wooden jetty where you can enjoy spectacular views across the river.
The wildlife and flowers are wonderful at any time of year – followers of this blog will know that we are fascinated by all the wild flowers you can enjoy here – like these beautiful little white flowers – whose name still escapes us!
And this Asphodel aestivus with its stunning flowers:
And there are so many wild orchids to enjoy – you can see more flowers in our recent post Wild Flowers in the Waste Ground
The birds are often a bit more hidden – but if you are patient you can catch some fantastic sights – like this fella sat patiently fishing
And if you are really lucky – you’ll catch him drying his wings:
This little chap was far more shy, scuttling around the edge of the water looking for lunch:
The park was formally created in 1989, and has a gentle sense of conservation and nature combining well with man-made facilities.
The site has a well signed exercise route scattered amongst the trees and paths:
And a well designed open air amphitheatre – used for concerts and events – see later in the blog post for some 2015 events that we know are already in the diary:
And a secure children’s play area – with some convenient adult seating nearby!
The main feature of the park for many is the picnic area, which can get extremely busy in the summer at weekends, full of local people sat in large groups of families and friends, all enjoying a relaxing picnic whilst enjoying the view over the lake.
The site also has built in barbeques – just bring your own charcoal or share with others:
There are toilets on site and plenty of bins for rubbish – we’ve never seen any rubbish left lying around, everyone seems very respectful of the beauty of the area and it is well maintained:
Many often brave the colder than average temperatures of the water to go for a swim in the fresh and clean water here – you can see the pebbles on the bottom it’s so clear:
The park now has a restored watermill and a reconstructed traditional Algarve house.
According to wiki the site is also historically and culturally important as vestiges of human activity dating back to pre-historic times have been found at the site, with the watermill documented in the 15th century “Livro do Almoxarifado de Silves”
There are beautiful walks to enjoy all around the park – just follow the yellow arrows:
And enjoy fantastic views like this:
There are also events planned through the year at the site, the amphitheatre will be fully utilised for the 2015 Lagoa Jazz Fest on the 26th 27th and 28th June – click the links here for the website and Facebook page for the event for more information.
From the 6th to 9th August the FATT festival is booked for the site – it’s an annual festival that promotes the didgeridoo and the Australian Aboriginal culture in Portugal, and people will be camping, enjoying music and crafts and transforming the site into an alternative festival ground. Click the link for their website for more info about this.
The 3rd and 4th October sees the return of the ‘Obrigado Portugal’ festival – a free event that has live music, theatre, arts, games, food and children’s events.
Open from 3pm to midnight each day, the festival was born from an initiative of the foreign community as a tribute to their hosts. It is described as a “happy get-together” with the aim of “bringing together various cultures represented here in Portugal, and especially in the Algarve, in an open-air, friendly environment, based on mutual respect, joy and creativity”. Click the link for their website for more information.
It’s great to see the venue is going to be well used this year, however the real enjoyment for us comes with simply arriving there on a quiet afternoon and going for a walk.
Opening hours: 15th April-15th October 7.30am-8.30pm; 16th October-14th April 7.30am-6.30pm.
And if you go there – enjoy the peace and quiet and the beautiful scenery – and watch out for a little Spanish water dog scuttling along sniffing out the rabbits!