The Bridges Route is a 14 km circular route, part of the CIM-RC "River and Wetlands" project, which explores the natural and cultural heritage of this part of Portugal's Beira region, shaped by granite and water courses such as the river Cavalos.
We suggest beginning the route at the MTB centre in the village of Várzea de Candosa. You should then head towards the centre of the village. Points of interesting include the various fountains, the granite houses and the square adjoining the Santo Amaro chapel. Following country paths, the route leads to a granite rock with a sizeable opening in it called Arco da Moura or Arco da Velha. It is surrounded by shapely crags that provide a panoramic view over the village. On the way to the village of Vale de Gaios, stop for a few moments to admire the Roman bridge of Sumes, an architectural work linking the two banks of the river Cavalos. With a single arch, and a perfectly vaulted span, with a surface approximately 50 m long and 3 m wide, the bridge is evidence of the Roman Empire’s skilful construction techniques. It has been classified as a Monument of Public Interest since 1990.
Tips and hints
In the riparian gallery along the river Cavalos, you may observe beautiful specimens of the common alder (Alnus glutinosa), narrow-leafed ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), rusty willow (Salix atrocinerea), royal fern (Osmunda regalis), European oak (Quercus robur), black poplar (Populus nigra) and elder (Sambucus nigra). In the surrounding area, the rocky outcrops are dotted with small plantations of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and Tasmanian bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus) as well as certain invasive species such as acacia (Acacia spp.), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) and pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). However, one should note the regeneration of native species typical of the region, such as the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), cork oak (Quercus suber), tree heath (Erica arborea), gum rockrose (Cistus ladanifer) and kermes oak (Quercus coccifera). On the granite outcrops note the presence of bulbous species such as daffodils (Narcissus scaberulus), a Portuguese endemic flower listed in annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive, maritime squill (Urginea maritima), Gagea soleirolii and Romulea bulbocodium. At the village of Vale de Gaios, rest from your journey in the leisure park, cool off in the waters dam of the river dam and discover the mountain-bike trail, built with wood, which runs alongside the stream. Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), wild boars (Sus scrofa) and Eurasian buzzards (Buteo buteo) are a common presence on this Beira plateau. Amongst the crags, one may spot reptiles regulating their body temperature, including a species of Iberian psammodromus (Psamodrommus manuelae) or the Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus). On the banks of the river Cavalos you may observe fleeting Eurasian blackbirds (Turdus merula), or the great tit (Parus major).
Of the gastronomic traditions that have been preserved in Tábua, we highlight several delicacies such as the Serra da Estrela Cheese, Bucho à Moda de Tábua [stuffed pork intestine Tábua style], Chanfana [mutton], and Torresmos [crackling], paired with Dão wine. Sweets include true delicacies of the gods such as the tigelada [egg-based dessert], rice pudding, pumpkin jam and requeijão [soft cheese] pudding.