Barrill beach and beyond

Woke up to an overcast sky this morning, so stuck with plan A and headed out on the bikes. For a change we were organised, knew the route, packed a picnic lunch, bought drinks and wore enough clothes –  destination of San Luzia – known as “Capital De Polvo”  (The Octopus Capital).

First stop was a pastry shop in town to pick up a couple of Pasteleria De Nata to keep himself happy on the outing, then straight down to the Ria Formosa and found the cycle track we wanted. Fairly cool day but loads of cyclists about, the path is probably at its best around Fuseta and well used by local cycling clubs and tourists. We headed East and and when we got to Luz Tavira came off the track and went down towards the coast.

We were going to see the famous Barril beach. At 18 km long its one of the longest islands of the Ria Formosa. To get there we had to cross a pontoon bridge over the lagoon (somewhat unstable) and then a mile or so ride to the sea (if we hadn’t had the bikes we could have taken a miniature train ride).  The point you arrive at on the beach is a former Tuna station. All the buildings are still there and are converted into several cafes and bars. We had the obligatory coffee stop and then a quick wander on the beach, miles of sand and very few people – bliss.

Walked over the sands to the Anchor Cemetery, just a few yards up the beach. It’s on the edge of the sand dunes and consists of hundreds of huge rusting anchors. These were used by the local fishing fleet to anchor the nets to the seabeds and when the industry collapsed the anchors were brought to the cemetery as a lasting memorial to the tuna fishing industry in the area.

We traced our paths back to the road and headed into Santa Luzia hoping to see the fishing fleet landing the hundreds of octopus they catch. Plenty of boats in but not too much action. Iain walked down the jetty and saw a fisherman hanging the octopus up to dry before the tentacles are cut off for cooking. By now it was getting chilly so we stopped for our picnic on a bench on the waterfront, eaten fairly sharpish before turning round and heading home.

An uneventful ride back which was broken briefly for some bird spotting at Fuseta (Flamingos, Avocet, Black winged stilt to name but a few, its spotters paradise down there). Round trip of 28 cycling miles – and no disasters, yes we feel a bit smug for a change 🙂

Final update of the weather for the day – its cooler, its cloudier and we haven’t seen the sun 😦  Fingers crossed it changes back to fried eggs by Wednesday.

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