Portugal - Torre, 1993m - Info
Portugal's official highest point is Ponta do Pico (2351m) on the Azores, an island way out in the Atlantic Ocean. Is this within Europe? Torre "Tower" (1993m) on the other hand is in the Serra da Estrela a range of granite mountain in central Portugal, and is the highest point on the mainland.
Established in 1976, the 950 square kilometre Parque Natural Da Serra Da Estrela was set up to protect Portugal's premier outdoor playground. Much need protection when you see the "Tower" (built on the orders of King João VI (1816-1826) to complete the 2000m) has now been joined by a car park, resturants, chapel, and Portugese air force radar installation. Facilities for skiers have now been added to the slopes to complete the commercialisation.
The western section consists of a high plateau, and it is here that the unpredictable weather of the Serra da Estrela can proove ones undoing. Expect hill fog at all times of the year, and with it navigational difficulties.
It is possible to drive to the summit on roads from the villages of Sabugueiro, Manteigas, and Covilhã, but this would not be much of a challenge.
Instead the summit can be reached via a network of waymarked trails.
Older maps show trails numbered with a T prefix, however these numbers may no longer bare any relaction to the system used on the ground and alternative scheme of numbers as route names have been developed.
• New Routes
These newer routes can be viewed WaymarkedTrails.org. manteigastrilhosverdes.com also provides information on a number of "Green Tracks" on the northern side of Torre, i.e. between Torre and Maneigas.
|Waymarked Trails highlight the hiking trails in OpenStreetMap the ascent routes.|
◦ Manteigas to Torre - Via Rota do Glaciar trail / TR 6 MTG / GR33 - (17.2 Km, 1234m ascent)
The Rota do Glaciar, or TR 6 MTG climbs gently to begin with up the Glacieted Zêzere Valley from Mangiegas in a southward direction alongside the River Zêzere probably following the same route as the old T32 on the map below. There after some turns, it bares west along the old T14 to Torre. The route is 17.2 Km, with 1234m ascent. There is a PDF trail guide including map and photos to download, but the text is in Portuguese only.
◦ Manteigas to Torre - Via Rota do Carvão / TR 4 MTG & Rota do Maciço Central / TR 5 MTG
The Rota do Carvão is a circular walk that climbs steeply from Manteigas onto the plataeu where it can be followed southwards to the Ribeiro da Porta. Here it descends back to the Zêzere valley. But instead of doing so, join the TR 5 MGT / Rota do Maciço Central and follow it to Torre. The 5 MGT has many variations, and these can be used to return to Manteigas either by rejoining the 4 MTG, or descending to the 6 MTG Rota do Glaciar. The route is similar if not the same as the T11 and T1 on the old route scheme below.
◦ Covilhã – Penhas da Saúde – Torre / T 14 PN (17Km, 1395m ascent) This Old T Route still appears to be present in some form. I climbs steeply westwards out of Covilhã, soon joining the serpentine EN339 road to Penhas da Saúde after which it heads out on paths on the southern side of Lago do Viriato, rejoinging the EN338 for a few meters before taking a track to the left and then a path around the Albufeira de Covão do Ferro lake before climbing to joing the 6 MTG to the summit of Torre.
• Old T Routes
◦ Manteigas to Torre - Via T11 and T1 trails - (17.5 Km, ~1250m ascent)
The T11 trail winds it's way up hill from Manteigas for approximately 4 km before a spliting into the T11 and T12. Continue on the T11 southwards across high alpine landscape with views eastward over the Vale do Zezere for 9.5 km before joining the T1 trail near the trigulation post on Cume (1858m). Follow the T1 trail in a south-easterly direction toward the summit of Torre (1993m), crossing the 339 road on route.
◦ Manteigas to Torre - Via T11, T12 and T1 trails - (19.5 Km, ~1250m ascent)
The T11 trail winds it's way up hill from Manteigas for approximately 4 km before a spliting into the T11 and T12. Take the T12 trail for 3km and you will be standing at the junction with the T1 near the north-western end of the Rossim reservior. Follow the T1 trail southward for 12.5 Km to the summit Torre. The longer T1 section is not shown on Open Street Maps.
Getting there and away :
The city of Guarda is normally considered the gateway to the Serra da Estrela, and lies on the Portuguese rail network. However it is probably too far north for all but a traverse of the entire range. Those with less time will want to start nearer to the higher summits, usually at Manteigas or Covilhã, the latter also lying on the rail network.
Camping : All land above 1200m has been designated a protected area in which wild camping is strictly prohibited. There are however official campsites at Albergaria, tucked away at the southern end of the Vale do Zezere, and at Vale do Rossim a few kilometres west of Manteigas.
Maps & Books
|OpenStreetMaps show the ascent routes.|
Cicerone Press published "Walking In Portugal" by Simon Whitmarsh and Andrew Mok. The guide book Rota do Glaciar covers several routes in the Serra da Estrela, including the a trail from Torre to Manteigas.
The Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela produce a 1:50,000 map identical to the civilian topographic survey, updated in 1998. Contours interval is 25 metres. Tourist information, prepared by the park authority, shows hiking paths, campsites, pousadas, youth hostels, shelters and refuges, places of interest, information centres, etc. Margin ticks indicate latitude and longitude in steps of 5'. Map legend includes English.
Click on www.visitportugal.com a to visit the website of the Portuguese Tourest office.
You can read the latest UK government travel advise to Portugal at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal.
For a weather forecast, check www.mountain-forecast.com.