This Paisagem Protegida (Protected Area) covers almost 400 hectares between Querença and Tôr. It is a privileged place for visiting rural landscapes and hydraulic heritage, as well as fauna and flora of the Benémola’s riverside habitats.
The trail starts at Fica Bem, where you see an old lime kiln, in which quicklime used to be made by calcinating limestone. Continuing along the valley, you see the rural landscape of the riverside area and the leafy riparian gallery.
Around the river you’ll find norias, water mills, weirs and millstreams. All this Arab-inspired infrastructure is proof of the complex hydraulic system that once made possible communal management and transportation of water through millstreams to the irrigation fields.
The Olho and Fonte da Benémola springs, some of the most voluminous of the Quarença-Silves aquifer, flow into the Benémola river and allow it to maintain a flow of around 60% during the summer season. The river is surrounded by a thick curtain of willows, ash trees, poplars, laurestines, oleanders, tamarisks, brambles and reeds. Kingfishers, nightingales and grey wagtails nest along the shore. The water also attracts birds like finches, warblers, sparrows, woodpeckers, jays and bee-eaters. The deep valley fosters the presence of birds of prey, mainly eagles and owls.
The limestone-rich slopes of the valley are covered in endemic flora of mostly junipers and kermes oaks, but also aromatic plants such as rosemary, lavender, fennel and thyme on the sunny side and strawberry, mastic, laurel, wild olive and carob trees on the dark side.
The hills on the far southeast of the Protected Area are hewn into schist landscapes and covered in cork and holm oaks. It is interesting to see the transition between the Barrocal and this scenery. Here you can find the remnants of a water mill, which the local population once used to grind cereal.
Location: Fonte da Benémola
Type: walking and cycling
Circular trail: yes
Distance: 4,1 km
Average duration: 1h30
Cumulative elevation gain: 154 metres D+
Type of path: dirt paths
Start of the trail: 37º 11' 55.06'' N 8º 00' 15.96'' W