Beginning in the Pontal, overlooking the river, the trail follows inland, along rural roads once used for smuggling goods.
Pontal rises over a curve of the Guadiana, from which you can see the castle of Sanlúcar to the north. The landscape is magnificent, and you’ll enjoy the vegetation of the slopes that go down to the river, composed of exuberant holm oak woods and, on the bank, riparian galleries.
On the way to Torneiro, hills and valleys follow, one after the other, towards the horizon. They are covered by a mosaic of stone pines, cork oaks and Mediterranean scrub, mainly cistus and beds of Spanish lavender and gorse. The proximity to pluvial streams, as in the Barranco das Fontaínhas, allows for the diversification of vegetation, and riverside galleries with oleander, tamarisk, willow and brambles.
The path meanders halfway up the slopes of hills where terraces with holm oaks and pastures descend towards deep ravines. Near the settlements grow almond, olive, carob and fig trees, typical of dryland orchards. Between paths and dirt tracks, you can see or detect traces of species of game such as wild rabbits, hares, wild boars and partridges.
The way back to the river is part of the Smugglers’ Trail. From time immemorial, poverty has led the region’s inhabitants to dedicate themselves to the illegal trade of goods, although crossing the border involved crossing the river by boat, or to swim. A tight network of Fiscal Guard stations ran along the length of the river. In small villages, guards and smugglers lived side by side, and there was a “diplomatic understanding” among men pursuing opposing goals.
The trail that runs along the curve of the river crosses the centennial olive grove of Pontal, one of the most productive in the municipality. Many birds, especially passerines, can be seen in the fields - robins, chiffchaffs, starlings, thrushes, blackbirds, among others. A former post of the Fiscal Guard stands on higher ground.
Location: Miradouro do Pontal
Type: walking and cycling
Circular trail: yes
Distance: 13,3 km
Average duration: 4h30
Cumulative elevation gain: 440 metres D+
Type of path: dirt paths and asphalt roads
Start of the trail: 37º 25' 21.59'' N 7º 27' 17.59'' W