The hunt for octopus begins quickly after we arrive in Sagres, within the western Algarve. Inside minutes we discover it at Restaurante Gigi, the place tender chunks are served in olive oil and garlic, and garnished with candy potato. The yearning for Portuguese soul meals sated for now, we wander down Sagres’s fundamental drag of low-slung whitewashed homes in direction of the 16th-century fortress that looms over the Atlantic. It feels as if we’re on the far fringe of Europe: its most south-westerly level lies a brief approach north – at Cabo de São Vicente, whose lighthouse I can nearly see.
Algarve stroll
I’m in Portugal to get an introduction to the western Algarve on Headwater’s four-night strolling break, earlier than the freshness of spring turns into summer season’s torrid warmth. That is one of the best time to go to for wildflowers and heat days. Starting and ending in Sagres, the stroll follows a part of the Rota Vicentina, an previous pilgrims’ route that has been up to date and is exceptionally effectively signposted. Its two trails, the Historic Manner and the Fishermen’s Path, between them stretch for over 350km, principally in Alentejo to the north. However I’m specializing in the south-west, exploring an Algarve far-off from the seashore resorts and golf programs additional east.

A usually vibrant Sagres road. {Photograph}: Antonel/Alamy
After a half-hour drive north from Sagres, our first, 17km, trek begins at Praia do Amado, the place surfers catch waves from an infinite seashore backed by ochre cliffs. It is a transient glimpse of the Atlantic coastal drama to return.
We proceed to the village of Carrapateira, the place we cease for espresso within the fairly toy-town village sq. surrounded by white cottages, earlier than following the Sinceira river by cork forests, with their alien-looking half-stripped bushes. The day’s objective is Pedralva, an deserted village that has been remodeled right into a scattered lodge of little whitewashed homes. Rescued from dilapidation by Lisbon advert man Antonio Ferreira in 2006, the 24 cottages are rustic but snug, with kitchens and slightly seating space outdoors every one.
We’re staying on this peaceable place for only one evening and it doesn’t really feel like sufficient – particularly with the selection of a pizzeria and the principle Sitio da Pedralva restaurant. Dinner on the latter – a relaxed, ethereal, pleasant place – is a delight. We share a beneficiant flambéed chouriço starter, to ensure we now have room to do justice to fiery piri-piri rooster fundamental course.

‘Relaxed and ethereal’ … Sitio da Pedralva restaurant. {Photograph}: Adam Batterbee
After a couple of sparse showers the next morning, we wander in direction of the small city of Vila do Bispo, 18km away, assembly hardly a soul. Wild lavender and eucalyptus scent the air as we climb forested tracks, and there’s the promise of untamed strawberries to return – in late April, the panorama is vivid with rock roses and yellow broom.
A recommended detour to Praia da Barriga takes us to a seashore backed with jagged slate cliffs, as if an enormous with a cleaver has hacked away with clumsy enthusiasm. On this sheltered place in entrance of crashing waves, we now have simply time to eat our sandwiches earlier than the tide drowns our picnic spot.

The Rota Vicentina route is well-signposted. {Photograph}: Adam Batterbee
After a gently uphill wooded observe ranges out, Vila do Bispo comes into view, blinding white within the sunshine, with its trim Moorish-style cottages. A buzz comes from cafe tables surrounding the principle sq., Praça da República. Café Convívio lives as much as its identify – simply the spot for a easy dinner of grilled squid.
Our ultimate stroll saves one of the best for final. The nation lanes quickly deliver us to the coastal path, the place the ocean and cliffs turn into our fixed companions. We hike from one spectacular viewpoint to the subsequent, from one windswept rocky bay to a different. Can you actually sustain a state of awestruck wonderment over 16km? On this a part of the Algarve, you possibly can.
Spoilt for selection for scenic lunch spots, we plonk ourselves on the herb-covered terracotta cliff overlooking Praia do Telheiro. The tough path then leads us down a picket ladder right into a gulley, the place we now have two decisions. We are able to both take a simple inland route away from the coast to the lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente, or stick with it alongside the cliffs of the Fishermen’s Path on a flinty moonscape that’s higher suited to mules than human toes. The moonscape wins.

‘Subsequent cease New York’ … Cabo de São Vicente lighthouse. {Photograph}: Adam Batterbee
It quickly turns into a recreation of “spot the cairn” because the blue and inexperienced waymarked posts give method to cairns that soften into this wild terrain. My historical climbing boots have break up, and I anticipate the only real of 1 to surrender the unequal battle towards this rocky wilderness and detach itself utterly. However it holds in there as we attain the lighthouse and the tip of the continent. Subsequent cease: New York.
Solely there’s a touristy circus parked by the lighthouse to cope with first. Memento sellers mingle with meals stalls, one providing the chance to purchase the final bratwurst earlier than New York from two German ladies. Scrumptious because the sausage is, the stalls really feel intrusive after the exhilarating wildness of these cliffs.
Nonetheless, there’s a post-walk stroll alongside the sands of Praia do Martinhal in Sagres to get pleasure from. And the unforgettable pleasure of a luscious pork and clam cataplana on the Estrela do Mar cervejaria that night. It had been a tantalising, all too transient style of life within the wild west. • The journey was offered by Headwater, whose four-night self-guided strolling vacation within the Algarve prices from £779pp, incl B&B lodging, two dinners, notes and baggage transfers (not together with flights). Seven and 10-night choices can be found, and the journey runs from October to Might
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