We had been warned by friends that this would be a foolhardy experience, but undaunted we departed full of confidence. ‘You are not serious about this escapade’ was probably the most frequent comment.
The drive from Porto was twisty and slow whilst the countryside became increasingly beautiful with imposing hills around us.
As we neared our destination we were surprised how few road signs there were to help us on our way, we discovered later this will improve but as the bridge has only just opened a month ago, the signs had yet to be delivered. Car parking became the next problem. Occasionally we passed a car park but it was still a very long way to the bridge, which we glimpsed in the distance. The hillside was covered with the most wonderful wooden walkways all climbing up the slopes towards what no doubt would be the bridge, if were one prepared to do several hours trekking.
We drove on until we reached Alvaranga, where a kindly soul suggested we park the car in the car park behind the church. The car duly parked, we started the walk to the bridge, the lane was rough walking but very beautiful, with little adegas, old eiras and sheds sheltering sheep from the morning sun. We wandered on through woods, after about half an hour we reached the bridge. It is spectacular, 516 metres long, spanning the beautiful gorge.
The walk across the bridge was wonderful, the river rushing 174 meters below us, beautiful waterfalls crashing over the rocks either side of the gorge, all on their way to join the River Paiva. People were only allowed over in small groups, so the serenity of the countryside was left unspoilt. Having made it to the far side, the guides then were very informative about all the virtues of this Geo Park (Arouca) and the various opportunities available. Walking the hillside on wonderful walkways was only one of the opportunities, kayaking, canyoning and adventure sports are readily available within the Geo Park.
We had time to enjoy the wonderful scenery and the enormity of the project undertaken to build this stunning bridge, which is strong enough to hold in excess of 1,800 people, clearly something which would never occur.
Having soaked up the atmosphere, we started on our return trip, glad that we had brought water with us, as there are currently no amenities in the area. There is something very reassuring about the place, unspoilt, where nature takes priority and reminds one how the world can be beautiful, quiet and inspiring. When we arrived back at the car we were feeling at peace with the world. A place everyone should visit, whether they want to cross the bridge or just admire it from afar.