NON-APPROVED ROUTE - UNMARKET
(2º half of 2022)
Following the old footpaths used by the local population, especially farmers and millers, the Casas da Ribeira/Caratão Route is the streams, dams and levadas route par excellence. The paths almost always follow alongside the water courses that wind through the valleys and lull the hiker to sleep. Ribeira de Eiras, do Caratão, do Aziral e do Carvoeiro: they are the main responsible for the enchantments of this route. Made up of three interconnected circular rings, this route surprises the visitor with its various possibilities and set of trails.
Each valley of each stream has different characteristics, but all absolutely stunning. We highlight, for example, the verdant Ribeira de Eiras, the remarkable Castelo Velho do Caratão and the imposing rocky gorge of the Vale do Cabril.
Besides the natural heritage, of undeniable beauty and value, the cultural and geological heritage of these paths also stands out.
Among the towering hillsides there is a festival of color where the green of the bushes, the yellow tones of gorse and carquejas, and the reddish tones of red heather and rosemary stand out. More closely we can see the flowers of the broom, the five spots of the rockrose flower, and the bluish tones of the cilus and the Spanish hyacinth. All this landscape is observed from the skies by the birds of prey that fly over these parts, especially the booted eagle, the round-winged eagle, and the short-toed eagle.
Descending to the valleys and mainly on the banks of the Ribeira do Carvoeiro we can find several types of ferns (royal fern, sword fern, common fern) and in the crags we can find other winged creatures such as the common tern, the blackbird and even the black stork. Near the water you can find terrapins, salamanders, otters, ginets, rump-tailed grouse and in the holes in the rocks the lesser horseshoe bat.
As for the main points of interest and landmarks of this route, they are all easily accessible through the marked trail, although some require greater physical dexterity.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful waterfall in the Mação county, Bica do Chorro is one of the places worth visiting and never loses its splendor whatever the season, as does the Aziral Old Bridge. Getting to them may require some effort, but it's worth it.
The same goes for Pego Negro do Cabril, near the village of Vale da Mua, as well as the surrounding climbing areas and the old Cabril Mill, which fed families for decades. Getting to Pego do Morena, the Cobragança Archeological Station, the Roman 'Gold Mines' and the Caratão Old Castle is easier, and highly recommended. Finally, the highlights are Buraca and Pego da Moura, Pego das Hortas and, finally, Ponte Velha das Casas da Ribeira, a secular heritage of the Mação county.