Beginning at the crown of the Albufeira do Beliche, the trail runs along the hills to the north of the water courses and through the Ribeira do Beliche wetlands, allowing you to get acquainted with the water mills responsible for water management.
From the dam of Albufeira do Beliche, the view stretches across the large body of water flanked by stone pines. This is an embankment dam located on the Beliche river, with a reservoir with a capacity of 48 hm³, and is part of the Odeleite-Beliche Hydraulic Infrastructure, meant to supply the populations and the irrigation system of southeast Algarve.
In the mountain ranges to the north grow typical Mediterranean scrubs, especially gorse and aromatic plants ones such as cistus, lavender, thyme and rosemary. Stone pines dominate the landscape, accompanied by carob and olive trees. Climbing down to the village of Cerro de Santo António, you can get a glimpse of the wetlands of Ribeira do Beliche.
Horta do Vinagre is a small village hidden among the verdant mosaic of wetlands crops. The dense riverside curtain displays tamarisks, poplars, brambles and reed beds; there are citrus and dryland orchards, with fig, almond and olive trees; cabbages, grapevines, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and corn grow in the vegetable gardens, framed by peach, pear and oleander trees. Here and there, you can see thick cork oaks.
At the entrance of the village of Beliche, there is a waterwheel in an old agricultural property, with a well and a tank for water storage. The device preserves its mechanism and its respective buckets. Once upon a time, a hinny, a mule, or a cow, would ride in circles around the well, moving the wheel and filling the buckets with the water then travelled through a leat to the tank.
Among citrus orchards, there is the ETA (Water Treatment Station), part of the Odeleite / Beliche hydraulic system. The station is prepared to serve more than 500,000 inhabitants, corresponding to about 44,000,000 m3 /year of water.
Municipality: Castro Marim
Location: Barragem do Beliche
Type: walking and cycling
Circular trail: yes
Distance: 6,2 km
Average duration: 2h
Cumulative elevation gain: 180 metres D+
Type of path: dirt paths and asphalt roads
Start of the trail: 37º 16' 27.82'' N 7º 30' 32.92'' W