Day 1 - Arrive in Tavira
Arrive in Tavira, your base for the next four nights. Enjoy dinner (included) at the hotel this evening. (Staying at Pousada da Tavira, Half board)
Day 2 - A Walk along the Guadiana 9km/6mi/3hr
We go east, stopping at the town of Alcoutim with its C14 castle and small international ferry! We then head to Laranjeiras where we follow the Guadiana River, passing pretty white villages, almond and olive groves, climbing between holm oaks and stone pines to a wonderful picnic spot. It's then on through the Laranjeiras ravine full of tamarisks, lavender and carob trees, spotting golden orioles as we go. (Staying st Pousada da Tavira, Breakfast only)
Day 3 - The 7 Springs of the Barrocal 9km/6mi/3hrs
Today it's up to the Barrocal to follow the 7 Springs route, a walk blending rivers, streams and springs, one of which, the Benemola, is one of the Algarve's most important water sources with four million litres of water discharging every hour. The flora is impressive with mystic thyme, yellow broom and Montpellier cistus. We stop in the village of Querenca with its pretty church and inviting bars and cafes.(Staying at Pousada da Tavira, Breakfast only)
Day 4 - Salt Marshes, Anchors and Tavira 4km/2.5mi/1.5hr
Today we head to Pedras d'el Rei for a morning walk along the salt marshes of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve and Praia do Barril with its interesting 'anchor graveyard' and bizarre museum of the tuna fish industry! We return to Tavira for a free afternoon to explore the town, its monuments and many churches.(Staying at Pousada da Tavira, Breakfast only)
Day 5 - Westward Bound Lagos and Sagres
Our first stop is the old walled town of Lagos, with its warren of narrow streets which we can enjoy exploring before lunch (included). Then it's on to Sagres for a short walk around its C15 fortress, built by henry the Navigator, before we head to the south west tip of Europe, Cabo de Sao Vicente, and its lighthouse. We end the day at the unique Aldeia da Pedralva, your base for the next three nights. (Staying at Aldeia da Pedralva, Half board)
Day 6 - To the Beach and Back 14km/9mi/4hr
Today we head out of the village to cross verdant green meadows and pass old farmhouses. The coast slowly appears and we're met by truly stunning views of the Atlantic. We'll then walk along Amado Beach, internationally renowned for its surf. From the beach we drop down to the valley floor to follow a lovely trail along the Sinceira River, passing through a green and lush landscape as we make our way back to the hotel.(Staying at Aldeia da Pedralva, Half board)
Day 7 - The Fishermen's Trail to Odeceixe 10km/6.5mi/4hr or 13km/8mi/5hr
Today's walk takes us out of the Algarve and into neighbouring Alentejo. We follow the Rota Vicentina trail alongside flower-filled meadows leading us to the Fishermen's Trail - this rugged coastline is quite simply mind-blowing - finishing at Odeceixe Beach, one of the most photographed in Portugal. (Staying at Aldeia da Pedralva, Half board)
Day 8 - Monchique and Medronho 8km/5mi/2hr
We head to the mountain village of Monchique and enjoy a walk to the Monte de Lameira farm, for a view of life in a bygone era, stopping for a traditional lunch of local hams and tasty cheeses. Then it's on to the Medronho distillery where we're shown how the local firewater is made - a tasting is of course included! We'll then head to our **** spa hotel in Caldas de Monchique, our base for the next three nights. (Staying at Villa Termal, Half board)
Day 9 - The Walk of Views 11km/7mi/4hr
From the hotel, a tree-lined track leads us through a series of dwellings before we're rewarded with 360 views of lowlands to the south and mountains to the north - on a clear day you can see as far as the Atlantic. As we reach Monchique, there's time to stop for a drink before returning to the hotel. (Staying at Villa Termal, Half board)
Day 10 - The Route of the Mills 10km/6.5mi/4hrs
Our last walk takes us along the cobbled streets of Monchique to the C17 convent. We stop for lunch at a lovingly restored water mill and picnic under the shade of the trees whilst listening to the rushing stream which once powered the mill. To end our day we drive up to Foia peak, the highest point in the Algarve, for memorable views of the region and a look back at our journey. (Staying at Villa Termal, Half board)
Day 11 - Leave Monchique
In 1985, Richard and Christine Bass made the life-changing decision to turn a passion into a business and thus Headwater was born at their kitchen table.
The first Headwater tours were launched in summer 1986 and modestly comprised three holidays in the Upper Loire Valley in France: a canoeing holiday and two self-guided walking holidays.
Their vision for Headwater was clear, right from the start. Richard and Christine wanted to offer their customers exactly what they loved in a holiday – family-run, friendly hotels, an authentic experience of a region, including culture, cuisine and fine wines, and above all a fantastic level of personal service, with staff on hand in resort to help and guide as required.
After a successful 10 years specialising in France, Headwater launched a new Great Walks in Europe brochure in 1995, offering a selection of hand-picked guided walking holidays in eight countries. As a result of the phenomenal success of this, a year later the first self-guided walking and cycling holidays in Italy were launched.
In 1999, Richard and Christine decided to retire and enjoy the fruits of their labour, and sold Headwater – but not before ensuring it was in the safest of hands to continue their legacy.
Today, they enjoy taking customers (new and loyal) on journeys on foot or by bike throughout 18 countries worldwide. Whilst they have embraced modern technology and changing times since 1985, Richard and Christine’s ethos remains key to all of their holidays and they consider it their mission to ensure that the same detail, knowledge and passion goes into delivering each and every trip.
With more than 32 years’ experience, their collection now includes 59 self-guided and 12 guided walking holidays and 62 cycling holidays. Their canoeing holiday in the Dordogne remains as popular as ever, as well as their choice of winter snow holidays (cross-country skiing and winter walking) that run between December and April in Austria and Norway.
They are particularly proud of their Headwater-employed representatives (reps) who are on-hand in 15 regions in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Bavaria. Burgundy is their longest-standing “repped region” – Richard and Christine researched the holidays and they have been running them since 1992. Their reps provide 24-hour support in resort including: briefing you on arrival, transporting your luggage from hotel to hotel, offering a ‘Wine Service’ where they collect any bottles you’ve purchased en route and transport them to your final hotel for you, and giving you tips and advice and sharing their knowledge of the local area, the routes, the best views and generally helping you to make the most of your trip. Each year, before the season starts, the reps have an in-depth training session at Headwater HQ to make sure they’re ready for the summer ahead.
Their newest addition to the Headwater portfolio is a selection of single-centre activity holidays in Brittany and the Dordogne, France and Catalunya, Spain. These are ideal for multi-generational families and groups – take a look below for some Headwater inspiration.