Rocha da Pena is Algarve’s Table Mountain. This classified site is spectacular to look at. There are panoramic views from the top, a good variety of wildflowers, special butterflies, the impressive cave Algar dos Mouros, an Iron Age wall and above all a well-marked 6.4 km trail. Birds are not obvious but over 70 species have been recorded there.
A short side trail leads to the summit, Talefe, 479 metres. As the trail drops off the plateau it passes through Penina, which is still very much a traditional village of the Algarvian serras. The final amble back to the start point passes impressively beneath Rocha da Pena escarpment.Rocha da Pena circular walk to take a look at some windmills in The Algarve. This is an 8km circular walk leaving from the springs and goes to some derelict windmills then back across a lovely limestone ridge to drop down into Penina before returning back to the start along a pleasant track. This is a most enjoyable circular walk – there are two climbs although one of them can be avoided if you chose to not visit the windmills. However if you do go to the windmills you have to go down a steep and winding narrow path which in places is quite slippery underfoot on the gravel and small scree. To get back onto the top of the ridge from the windmills you eventually have to climb up a fairly steep scree bank and then also a very steep and somewhat slippery (because of the gravel and loose stones underfoot) path.
The start is found by leaving the Pena to Salir road, turn at Tapia and follow the signs for Rocha da Pena. On reaching a small cafe / restaurant at Rocha [N37°02″ W008°05’54”] you can easily park alongside the track by the Spring (The Fonte dos Amoados). Facing the front of the restaurant start off by taking the track on it’s left – this quite rough track climbs immediately and bears a little left at first before turning sharp right as it heads straight towards the ridge – fairly soon the track gets less steep as it continues to head in an easterly direction underneath the ridge. Around a kilometre from the bend the top of the ridge is reached by a rocky clearing. From here there is an option to simply go left on a switchback path – this will take you back along the top of the ridge towards Penina.
However if you wish to visit the windmills (and have to do the ascents/descents mentioned above) continue ahead on an initially wide rocky path for about 3/4 of a kilometre – the path gets narrow and then seems to end. On the right and not that easy to spot take a small rocky path heading very steeply down and involving a bit of scrambling, then the path becomes easier and bears left along the hill-side to reach a track – the windmills are clearly visible. At the track turn left and soon at the next track junction turn right and follow this to visit the derelict windmills. To continue the walk go back along the track – this time keep straight ahead at the junction – going through some nice trees and woodland – with views of a valley way down on the right and the cliffs of the ridge towering high up on the left. Just about 1 kilometre from the windmills look out for some heavy scree on the left [N37°15’24” W008°05’35”] – there is a very faint path which heads up and across the scree.
Follow this and after a few 100 metres the scree ends – now head right up into the cliffs on the path. This is very steep in places and quite slippery because of the gravel – simply keep going up and eventually climb over the edge of the cliffs onto the ridge then take a wide rocky path which heads slightly left away from the cliff edge. In under 1/2 a kilometre reach the original outbound path – turn right and follow this to soon reach the clearing previously mentioned. At the far end of the clearing a small path leaves half right – now the walk is simply a case of following this well marked path (yellow/red stripes) as it heads west across the top of the ridge towards Penina. The views of the valley below along here are excellent as are the cliff formations – the path goes through trees at times, else rocky areas or just scrub. In around 1.75 kilometres from starting on this side path and just after the path has risen a little look out for a narrow path on the left – this goes slowly up to reach a trig point and again from here there are really good views for miles around.
Return back down to the original path and go left – this is now a wide and very rubbly track which descends quite steeply in places and is somewhat difficult to walk on at times. Follow this as it bends slowly left and eventually just as it reaches the outskirts of Penina becomes a concrete road. Go straight ahead into the village then at the crossroads turn left and follow the road out of the village heading towards Pena. Around half a kilometre along take a track on the left which soon bends right and follows the ridge – simply stay on this bendy track until you reach your start point at the The Fonte dos Amoados springs.