By Conan & Ruaidhri Marshall
Diverging from our usual Cornish related posts (as great as it is back home), I thought it was about time I started a series of posts dedicated to Peneda-Gêres National Park in Portugal. An area that I and fellow Dure co-editor Ruaidhri Marshall are spending the summer working.
Here, we’ll take a fresh look at this beautiful park, which offers so much to its visitors. As we continue exploring Peneda-Gêres throughout the summer, we’ll be reflecting on our journeys in this blog series. Expect a more relaxed approach to our writing during these posts. I hope you enjoy.
A brief introduction to Peneda-Gerês National Park
As I have only been in Portugal for three weeks, it wouldn’t be right to assume I’m in anyway an expert on the history and geography of this park. Nonetheless, after a little bit of research I’ve compiled a quick guide to Peneda-Gêres.
A park that remains largely unknown compared to the plethora of European national parks open to hikers and adventurers, Peneda-Gêres is shared with the distinct region of Galicia in Northern Spain. It remains Portugal’s only national Park.
This stunning series of mountains and forests lie in Northern Portugal (Norte Region), sitting just over an hour’s drive from Porto, Portugal’s second largest city (we’ll have more to come on this unique city in a future post).
While the smaller, historic cities of Braga and Guimaraes can be located closer to the park.
These rugged forests and mountains are home to deer, wolves and golden eagles. Along with the wolf, the Golden Eagle was traditionally been viewed as a threat to livestock. Both these predators were almost hunted to extinction, although they have been protected by law since the end of the 20th century and there’s apparently around 100 wolves left in the national park to this day.
The entire 271 square miles (703 square kilometres) of Peneda-Gerês is inhabited by people although a high level of regulation ensures that the ecosystem is constantly supervised to support conservation attempts. The park remains unique in this way, with many national parks not including a local population spread across the landscape. The community remains largely old but strong, with traditions being kept alive to this today. We can see that example in the watermills and olive and wine presses that lay scattered across the hills.
Below is a collection of photographs from our recent adventure in the park. More to come soon.