The third stage of the Camino Portuguese takes pilgrims on a 22-mile stretch from Barcelos to Ponte de Lima. This is one of the longest stages on the Camino Portuguese, but is also one of the most beautiful. The majority of this stage takes place on natural pathways and dirt roads that pass by bridges, farms, vineyards, and churches. After arriving in Ponte de Lima, pilgrims are treated to an abundance of historical buildings and monuments. The most popular historical site is Ponte Medieval, a medieval bridge that spans the nearby Rio Lima.
Stage Map And Overview
- Distance: 22 miles (15.5 miles for my GPS starting in Balugães)
- Elevation Gain: 965 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 5 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 557 ft
- Time: 8.5 hours
- Stage Overview: This day includes a mix of dirt roads, natural pathways, cobblestone streets, and asphalt.
Camino Portuguese Day 3: Barcelos To Ponte de Lima
After walking through spouts of rain on our first two days of the Camino Portuguese, we were very happy to see that the only rain expected on day three was to come late in the afternoon. Much like the start of our second day out of Vilarinho, we decided to take a taxi ride on our way out of the big city of Barcelos to avoid the dangerous bits of road walking and high traffic areas. The taxi ride was a little expensive at €25, but keeping my 2-year old safe and happy is worth far more than that. We also knew that this would be a very long stage at 22-miles, so starting ahead in the town of Balugães would give us a much more manageable 15.5 miles on the day.
We started out from Balugães with near perfect weather. The sun was out, the air was cool, and the clouds made for the kind of landscape that photographers dream about.
We were really starting to hit our stride as we began day three. Owen liked to start out each day on his own two feet, and would usually make it a solid 1-2 miles before asking to jump into the stroller or our child carrier backpack. On this day, he was moving with a purpose. There were quite a few pilgrims walking alongside us, and their “Buen Caminos!” were pushing him along at a pace we hadn’t seen before.
This was also the day on our Camino Portuguese that Owen became a Camino celebrity. Almost every group of pilgrims we crossed wanted to take a picture with him, or all of us. They were all in disbelief that a toddler could be making his way to Santiago on The Way. There were also a few pilgrims who called Owen out by name, even though they had never met him. Word was getting around in the albergues as well!
Just outside of Balugães is the 12th century church of São Martinho. This church is set in a nice little park, and is the point at which The Way passes on towards a few natural pathways and vineyards. At this point, Owen had decided he had enjoyed enough walking for the morning and hitched a ride on my back.
After leaving São Martinho behind, the Camino Portuguese passes through the area of Lugar do Corgo. This stretch of trail crosses through a number of vineyards and farms. Owen is a huge fan of trucks and tractors, so it was a real treat for him to see them in action.
On our first two days of walking, I couldn’t help but think that the Camino Portuguese was lacking in natural beauty and splendor when compared to the Frances route. This early morning walk out of Balugães was putting that thought to rest though, with every view on offer being an absolute stunner.
After 5-miles of walking on the day, we made it to Vitorino dos Piães. We stopped here for our usual morning snack, and I loaded up on caffeine and chocolate croissants. We met a lot of pilgrims at Cafe Viana in town, and the barista was nice enough to give Owen a balloon!
The hike out of Vitorino dos Piães was all up hill, so we were glad to have stopped when we did. The views were still as beautiful as the ones on offer in the morning, which made the miles fly by faster than usual. This was one of those Camino days I wanted to last forever.
As we began the descent from our small uphill climb, we passed by a number of farms. Before Owen became obsessed with cars and trucks, he had a deep love for farm animals. It was a lot of fun to see him get up close to sheep, goats, and horses.
I’d be lying if I said I was doubt free on day one of our Camino. Hiking close to 150-miles with a toddler is a massive feat. It was on this day of walking that I realized that Owen was more than just up for the task at hand, he was loving it! I couldn’t help but feel proud and impressed with my little guy for the way he was embracing the experience. He wanted to get out and walk as much as he could, meet everyone that walked by, wave at passing cars, point out yellow arrows, and chart his own little path as a pilgrim.
We stopped for lunch just as we were approaching the town of Seara. There were around 6 miles left until Ponte de Lima, so we opted to fuel up so we could finish strong. The skies were also starting to grow dark with rain clouds, so we wanted to get our rain gear ready in case the heavens opened up.
The final stretch of walking on stage three to Ponte de Lima is a beautiful path of cobblestone streets through farms and vineyards. We were well past noon and Owen was down for his post-lunch nap. This is the time of day that Julia and I would hit 3+mph in order to make up ground for the stretches where Owen wanted to walk slow and explore. The skies opened up for a light drizzle, but luckily there were no heavy showers.
Just before entering Ponte de Lima, the Camino reaches a path that parallels the Rio Lima. You can see a modern bridge in view first, and then the old medieval bridge out in the distance.
Ponte de Lima is a beautiful old town with narrow cobblestone streets and old buildings. Our first stop was at the Continente Supermarket to load up on snacks and diapers. We also picked up a dump truck and tractor toys for Owen.
After leaving the supermarket, the rain started falling pretty hard. We had to make a quick run over to our accommodation for the night, Old Village Hostel. Once again, I was very happy to have all of our accommodations booked for the trip. Searching for a place to stay with a 2-year old would have been no fun in that weather!
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