Day 7 – Caminho-lite: An easy walk to Tomar but probably the last for a few days – Atalaia to Tomar (10 September, 20.4km, 5.5 hours)

I’ve been asked to include town names, distances and times so I’ll do the best I can. Note though that I don’t have any GPS tracker so the distances are the ones out of the Brierley guide, which is notorious for underestimating mileage, and the route has changed in a few places so far, like today. Also, the times are from when we walk out the door of one night’s accommodation until we walk into the next one. We stop and rest at times, eat a breakfast (or two or three), sometimes lunch, hopefully not dinner. On roads, I can use mile markers to fairly precisely check our speed and today we were averaging 12:20/km or about 4.9km/hr. That is on only fairly flat roads though. On rocky paths, we’re closer to 4.0km/hr. When we’re tired at the end of the walk, we get down to 3km/hr or a even a lot less when climbing into Santarem after 30km already.

The walk today was supposed to be through forest tracks for the first half but after checking up and down several paths near the start, we gave up. The guidebook said it was going to be hard to follow and it was right. We saw several X’s where we were not supposed to go but the other trails had no arrows or marks that we could find. Figuring out which was the right one proved impossible for us so we gave up and walked the parallel road to Asseiciera. The road was very busy but almost always had a wide enough shoulder that I was not worried. You still have to be very vigilant though. After rejoining the Caminho (and eating breakfast) in Asseiciera, dark clouds started to move towards us. I think it was because I put the sun screen on at breakfast. By the time we passed under the highway near Guerreira, it was drizzling. Along the railroad track, it started to come down a bit harder. The trail then took a new route into town through some small village but we also passed a dilapidated farm that proved to be the perfect place to put on the rain gear. As we walked out of there, the heavens opened up and baptized us a thousandfold.

On the porch of the 16th century San Lourenço chapel, we rested for a while to snack and let the rain abate before the final bit into central Tomar.

Tomar is an awesome old Templar town with history oozing out its pores. It looks like a great place just to roam around… if not for the rain and sore feet. Actually, we’re both doing well after these short walk days although Melanie still has some blisters healing. She is walking as fast as I am unless we stop. It then takes her a while to get going again. I get the same stiffness but it goes away for me after only 100m or so.

Random note from yesterday: the only real restaurant in Atalaia was closed last night. I just couldn’t face another ham and cheese sandwich so we stopped several people on the street for suggestions. One kind woman showed us to a cafe where they make takeaway grilled chicken and homemade potato chips so we got that and ate it back at Casa Patricarca – which again was the best place to stay. The host were lovely and helpful, the room, house and gardens incomparable and the dog great fun to play with. The best value on the Caminho so far (including the whole French route for us).

Two soggy pilgrims

Along the rail line before Tomar


San Lourenço chapel / café / rain shelter

The square between the church and the municipal building in Tomar.  The old fortress / convent is on the hill in the background.

The Templar founder of Tomar

The church that the Templars could ride their horses into