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  • Writer's pictureRita Cardoso

Soajo - Trilho Caminhos do Pão e Caminhos da Fé PR7

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

Soajo, have you visited this village at Arcos de Valdevez? We arrived around 14h and we parked really close to the iconic Espigueiros of Soajo, and they alone are worth the visit, but it’s also worth it to explore the little village. The espigueiros are structures, or small buildings that were used (some of them still in use) to keep the corn crops, but now it’s barely cultivated. Here, at Soajo village, the espigueiros are placed on a place that I consider super privileged, and that makes them even more spectacular, they are on an elevated granitic outcrop, and that allows you to have an awesome view of everywhere around them.

But what took us to Soajo, wasn’t just the village and it’s espigueiros, we had the idea to complete a trail also. The place we parked at, there were several information signs about other trails, but not the one we had on our minds. We’re thankfull for the internet and Google, they took us to the right place, it was about 150m away. We went through the village, and we found ourselves again by the main road, next to the old water tank, where people used to wash their clothes.

Rough translation here about the trail name, Ways of Bread, Ways of Faith (PR7), ways as in a walking path, this curious name is due to the fact that the path is common with the old places where the corn crops used to be and the water mills to the bread production. The path is also common with the pilgrims ways to Nossa Senhora da Peneda or the Luso-Galaica Mariana’s way, 370km that connects the Sameiro’s Basilica (Braga, Portugal) to the Virgem da Barca Sanctuary (Muxia, Galicia, Spain), through other sanctuaries.

The trail starts by always going up, almost always on stone paths (a lot of unpleasant cow’s gifts on the floor), going through some houses and abandoned water mills. It was in one of these old mills that we had to seek shelter for about 10, 15 minutes, as it started raining heavily for a while, and we decided to wait. After it calmed down, we kept on our way until a little bit before Branda de Murço (about 1,8km), where the trail gets divided into long route (5,4km) and short route (4,9km). We chose the short one and there we went. A bit after the crossroad, there’s a long and quite steep descent (about 900m) and a very technical one, as it involved some skills and leg agility so you didn’t fall, particularly on rainy days, as it is an area with more and short trees, lots of ferns and spiky brambles, much more dense, and due to humidity the rocks are slippery.

Although you had to pay attention to the floor, it’s worth to remember to stop and look around, the trail is really nice and interesting at this point, sometimes you see some water channels, a lot of chestnut trees, mushrooms here and there, and the top sight for me was the beautiful Soajo’s Waterfall, where you walk in front and over the water stream, and because of the rain, it was full of life.

We also had some challenges on the way, some parts of the trail were muddy or almost had a lagoon, and again our skills and balance were put to test. Rock to rock, some logs too, and at some point my amazing agility made a big fat and black slug fly from one end of the log as soon as I stepped on the other end.

Almost at the end, maybe the last 20 minutes, it started a light rain, initially we were protected by the trees but shortly after we met the beginning part of the trail, as it was also the finishing part, and no more rain protection. We encountered the old water tank again and followed the main road to the place where the car was parked, and by then already some sun beams were showing between the clouds. That’s a good thing that we are always ready and prepared for rain, in the North of the country is crucial.

The short route is supposed to be 4,9km, and my GPS, even taking a break in the middle, marked 5,48km, maybe because I started counting in the middle of the village, and only stopping it when I got to the car.

It’s a very nice walk, some technical parts thar you need some skills, but I consider it as an easy trail as it is well marked and cared for. But for someone unprepared or not used to it I would consider moderate difficulty. The long route, I have no idea, because I didn’t try it.

Is it worth it to go to Soajo and not doing any trail? Of course it is, but if you go there enjoy the amazing surrounding nature and bonus if it is Autumn, with all the acorns and chestnuts and obviously the great Fall colors on the leaves.

And you can still visit Baloiço do Mezio.

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