Fiães Walkways – Uíma River (Santa Maria da Feira)
This was a happy day, a day of reunion and celebration of a friendship. It was a good day.
We all know that life plays with us and it’s up to each one of us to find the best way to overcome the obstacles in our way. On the one hand it isn’t easy to find the strength to do it, but on the other hand sometimes we find courage, determination and optimism to facing adversity an make an example to all.
Jorge has the hiking trails in his blood. He took advantage of almost all the free time and leisure that he had to walk and add a few more miles to the ones that he already has on his legs, without ever getting tired of discovering new paths in Portugal. Always accompanied, he made many friends in these adventures. Friendships that still exists in our days.
“When the walk gets hard, only the hard ones keep walking.”
A few years ago Jorge discovered that he had his biggest challenge to this day. Being healthy and with healthy lifestyle habits, the unexpected news of an autoimmune disease has altered their daily routines from then on. But Jorge didn’t change.
He continued to be the same cool guy, optimistic and eager to face whatever the future holds. And he still enjoyed his walks.
With the support of his family and his true friends, the difficult days have become a little less difficult. The little pleasures of life, a conversation, a lunch, a walk, are now the food for all the courage he has shown to those beside him.
Without wanting to bother his dear ones, he made the decision to seek support in an institution adapted to his conditions and with specialized personnel to help him. Today with the wheelchair as a companion, it maintains all the good disposition and optimism that have always characterized him. And the passion for the walks didn’t fade with time.
Then came the idea of giving Jorge a big surprise and gathering a group of friends who have so often accompanied him on these hiking trails in Portugal. Now we must find an accessible pedestrian route so that we could accomplish it together.
After some research, Fiães Walkways near the Uíma River in Santa Maria da Feira, proved to be the most indicated one. Its good maintenance, the small extension, the little or almost none unevenness, the lack of steps (only some to cross the asphalt road that cuts the two sections of the walkway) and the refreshing landscapes by the small river bed turn this into the ideal route for this adventure that we wanted so special.
And so the day came wrapped in great mystery. Jorge knew he was going to walk the Fiães Walkways, but he didn’t know with whom.
When he met his friends the emotion was obviously enormous, not only in him but also in those who wanted to share his day. But the surprises didn’t end here.
Before we started the hike, each one of us dressed a t-shirt designed especially for the occasion. We can read on it: “When the walk gets hard, only the hard ones keep walking” – a phrase that perfectly reflects Jorge’s life. Now, we were prepared to hike about 4 kilometers in a linear path on Fiães Walkways.
The walk starts right next to the parking where we continue south along the course of the Uíma river. This river is an affluent of Douro, born in the place of “Duas Igrejas” (parish of Romariz) and with the mouth in Crestuma village (Vila Nova de Gaia).
Being a wetland, it has an immense biological richness, more and more threatened with the pollution caused by men. Along the way there are several ecosystems that we can observe, habitats where we can contemplate the great variety of animal and plant species existing here.
We crossed a carpet of yellow marigolds that danced with the light breeze and we arrived at a small weir. Here the walkway makes a kind of platform so that we can observe more closely the fall of the waters that runs at a great speed between the black stones of the river.
The dense vegetation forms in some sections almost like a green tunnel, where we keep walking in lively conversations always with the river listening. From the banks the trees grow diagonally looking for others on the opposite bank. From its intersection, there are quiet spots of intense greens. Here the shallow depth allows us to see the bed of the Uíma where some fish zigzags. Two ducks hide themselves in the riverside vegetation on our way. Jorge absorbed everything and his eyes glittered.
We arrived at the Observatory, a small wooden tower that in a higher position allows us to observe, with the least intrusion, the fauna in its natural habitat.
We continue the walk and we arrive at the most south parking where we reverse the direction of the march to return to the starting point. We had now to walk the section of the walkways north of EN 326.
After crossing the road, we immediately found an area with physical equipment and then a peculiar wooden bridge. We are already near “Nossa Senhora da Livração” Street where the walkway ends and we started the return to the initial parking.
A sense of satisfaction and full joy accompanied us in with every step taken, especially in this last ones. The celebration of friendship is undoubtedly one of the best emotions that we can experience.
This was a day of reencounter, the reunion of Jorge with the good side of life. And may life continue to show many good sides to Jorge.
Note: Not wishing to disclose personal details of his privacy, this text was read by Jorge, who authorized its publication in Sola Gasta.
Points of Interest: Walkways, Uíma River, Small Weir, River Landscapes.
106melevation gain uphill
115melevation gain downhill
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