We managed a remarkable spell of almost 2 weeks in Basque Country and then Galicia, climbing almost every day – that’s unheard of in this rainiest corner of Spain in January. However, with a weather front moving in with a vengeance, we hopped over the border into Portugal to flee south for the Algarve and hopefully some more sunshine.
It’s only 400 miles from the top to the bottom of Portugal, and we took a fairly leisurely couple of days over it, with two crag stop-overs to break the journey. We visited Redinha on our last trip, and whilst it’s not a destination crag it has the merit of being super accessible and has a lovely outlook https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2018/02/17/baracas-do-casmilo-and-redinha-a-two-crag-day-in-the-serra-do-sico/
Three routes on the sector to the right of the chapel provided a good stretch, including Branco, V+, which takes the obvious crack (3* HVS at Ravensdale).
… before continuing on southwards to the surfing Mecca of Nazare for what we hoped might be a sight of the famed 100ft waves. It turned out to be a millpond but we contented ourselves with a fabulous van spot for the night, lulled by more gentle waves.
It looked for a while as if we’d be robbed of a sunset, but the sun made a sneak appearance beneath the looming cloud bank for an eerie effect.
Further down the coast, the town of Peniche is another world-class surfing spot, with the cape of Cabo Carvoeiro sitting to the west. This offers what the local guidebook describes as “Viking trad climbing on a beautiful cliff above the Atlantic” with about 140 trad lines of 20 to 30m. It’s certainly an atmospheric spot, and could hardly be more convenient, with parking right on the cliff top.
The guide also advises waiting for the sun to come around onto the crag before venturing down (you ab in) and unfortunately this doesn’t start to happen until around 2pm. In the morning shade (certainly in January) it’s pretty unappealing, oozing dampness.
Perhaps a little too impatient I rapped in for a recce, taking the precaution of a top rope on what we guessed to be the easiest line on the least shady face: Os Guerreiros do Mar on Sector Barbie, 6a+. Just as well, because it was well and truly soaking, with a coating of gloop and the odd friable hold, finishing up with a 15 ft overhanging off-width that would have rendered my light trad rack completely useless. Lucky escape!
The experience didn’t really encourage further exploration, though I suspect it would be a completely different proposition on a warm spring evening. Maybe we’ll call in again when we head back north I might have grown a pair by then (Viking horns on my helmet, that is!). As it was, we decided to stow ropes and head south before the rain caught up with us. Next stop Rocha da Peña.