Start - Exit the A23 before
the A1 toll road marked Alcanena Santarem Leiria
and follow the signs to
Minde. Continue north
through Minde until you reach the village of Vale Alto.
Drive past the houses and look out for the last turning
on the right at the edge of the village, before a
sweeping left hand bend, marked with a small sign 'cafe
restaurant churrasqueira Simoes'. Turn here and park
outside the small water station on the junction 50
Follow the track north near the road, taking the second
right hand fork to the right, until you meet the road.
This track offers good views of the
Serra de Aire, your destination, across fields to the
Turn right at the road and continue north for 300 metres
until you see a broad track on the right marked “Natural
Parque Aire e Candeeiros”. Follow this track for one
kilometre until you reach a junction of tracks and take
the right hand track, clearly marked by a post with red
and yellow stripes.
These posts are
supposed to mark designated walks, but I have never
found any books, pamphlets or guides of any type to
follow, so beware - they can be more misleading than
Follow this track towards the hills (do not fork left
where there is another marker post). This track
continues uphill for three kilometres and can be a bit
of a flog, especially when the weather is hot.
This is typical
limestone country, littered with various sized limestone
boulders and some interesting escarpments. Much of the
track is also on a limestone pavement. Look out for a
small, but deep sinkhole on the left of the track, which
will probably drop into a cave system beneath the hills.
In typical Portuguese fashion, this has been part
covered by a few twigs in an attempt to make it safe.
Continue on the track as it zigzags upwards and then
bends to the right to the summit of the Sierra de Aire,
heading towards the aerials which soon come into view.
We were serenaded
all the way to the top by skylarks singing loudly to
distract us away from their nests on the ground. There
is also evidence of wild boar and rabbits along the
point of the walk turns out to be the low point of the
walk. The summit is a mess of aerials, transmission
masts and scruffy buildings. There is an old observation
tower which looks and smells as if it has been
used as a public toilet, though who would want to climb
this far for a pee, I can't imagine.
After exploring the summit, return along the track for a
few metres until you see a track to the right heading
towards what looks like a rusty cage. Follow the track
past the cage for 300 metres until it turns sharply
left. At this point there is a small pile of rocks and
here you need to turn right and find the path in the
valley leading downhill. The track is not clear at first
but just head down the valley with the telephone posts
to your right.