Asphodels in Alcoutim. A short walk to the old fort. And one more river to cross.

It was the time of year to meet up with an old sea scout connection and talk about their time building boats and sailing these along the Thames and out to the North Sea. This meant an overnight stay in Alcoutim, on the river Guadiana in Portugal. It is an ideal place for sailors who don’t want to be at sea or cold during the winter.  We took a short boat ride on the Guadiana river to see another self made boat, had an amazing but typical Portuguese lunch and dessert at the praia fluvial, and then a stay in the youth hostel with private room, bath, balcony with view and breakfast included. We were recommended a visit to the remains of the old fort which was uphill but not too far from the youth hostel.

 

Ash bl youth hostel from river
Alcoutim youth hostel as seen from the Guadiana river.

 

 

Ash blog wagtail
Trotty wagtail [ motacilla alba] after the poem on rigging of the boat Edewisa. A self built boat and named as an acronym of wide sea.
The following morning we were ready to go up to the hill fort after a good breakfast as I wasn’t inclined to take a dip in the large but very cold swimming pool. The wifi also gave me a chance to browse and there was a post from Nightingale Trails, and Theresa Green. This blog has so much detailed information about Spanish and Southern Mediterranean nature. The post was on Asphodels. We have a few growing at Navasola so it made for a good early morning read. We then ambled off for a short walk.

Asphodels

It is certainly a walk worth taking for the views and it begins on the road to the youth hostel, with its dome observatory shaped building. On the track up we saw some crested larks and some late almond blossom and one purple bugloss. Usually they are found in swathes in the dehesa fields between the holm oaks. As walking far is a feat nowadays we almost went back as we rounded a corner where we saw one candlebra shaped asphodel. It was almost like breaking a dream or a wordpress nature post coming alive. I thought that might be it for the day but decided to srcamble up a possible short cut to get into the fort. It was perfectly possible and the gate could be opened into the fenced off hilltop fort.

Ash bl ashphodel
Am sure this is asphodel aestivus or the common asphodel but there is also asphodel ramosa.

We entered and then walked along a narrow path lined with so many Asphodels. This  flower has now gripped my imagination thanks to Theresa’s blog and then all my camera shots. The fort at this time of year is a trip worth taking into present and past. The hill top fortress has a Celtic origin, a mosque and later fortifications as it stands looking across the natural border of the River Guadiana between Spain and Portugal. Defensive but facing the more modern looking white one on the Spanish side and the small town of Sanlucar.

Ash bl walk views

The Asphodel walk around the hill fort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the top of the hill fort and entrance in.

The Asphodel has also inspired writers in the past and is part of Greek mythology. Having read up about its links to the afterworld I am not so sure that this bright and white flower deserves the link to death. However, it seems it is the flower of the meadows for the common folk  to go to after dying, for those who neither achieve greatness or have been so bad that another place is where they must go to be punished. For most of us it seems it could be the Asphodel meadows rather than the Elysium fields which is the more well known reference and the special place for the warriors and those with some importance. Perhaps best not to be spending time with those. The French had the best idea of equality by creating their own Elysium fields in Paris; the Champs Elysee, for all to enjoy now! I had never made the connection.

 

Some misty morning photos over the Guadiana river. If I was a boatier person we might have ended up here rather than landlocked in the Sierra Aracena. But there’s only so much time in one life or perhaps these can be the asphodel meadows to ‘retire’ to next!

Rather mystical but real foggy weather in a warm climate by a river. Certainly not the Styx. But there’s a ferryboat back and forth. And these days lovely friendly people on either side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do visit Nightingale Trails for more botanical and other information on Asphodels but also for a mine of information about Spanish flora and fauna. https://nightingaletrails.com/2019/02/23/asphodels

And her blog in the U.K.  everydaynaturetrails for  some wonderful nature insights into wild Wales. https://theresagreen.me/

And for longer walks now Restless Jo is in the Algarve https://restlessjo.me/jos-monday-walk/

And more of the Algarve, culture, nature, great bird photos and walks from Becky B https://beckyinportugal.com/2019/03/07/hiking-algarve-caldeirao/

29 thoughts on “Asphodels in Alcoutim. A short walk to the old fort. And one more river to cross.”

  1. Oooh…its hailing here in grey Sheffield…but at least I can dream of Spain in May. Judy Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  2. Wonderful! Thanks very much for the link 🙂 🙂 For a wild moment, I thought you were climbing to the hilltop fortress above Sanlucar! It’s an ambition of mine to get up there 🙂 We once watched a Romero procession up the hill in early May. I’m determined to catch it again this year. 🙂

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  3. Happy asphodels to you. Did you know that the word daffodil is an alteration of Middle English affodil, which came from the Latin asphodelus that obviously gave us asphodel?

    You’ve reminded me of the summer of 1965, when my Portuguese teacher in New York taught us that os três rios de Portugal são o Douro, o Tejo, e a Guadiana.

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    1. Oh thanks for that and glad to remind you of that summer of 1965! I dabble with Portuguese but Trevor is quite good at it but he learnt it before learning Spanish. Am still wondering about the etymology of asphodel, all I get is it’s from Greek! It’s just got such a good sound but can understand it being changed by the monoglot Brits of middle England and for the wrong flower. There’s a small wild daffodil that can still be found round here.

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      1. You’re correct that asphodel is ultimately of Greek origin because the Romans had borrowed asphodelus from the Greeks. How nice that you have wild daffodils near you.

        English speakers are no better or worse on average than speakers of any other language at transforming (you could say mangling) foreign words they borrow. A classic example is how native Hawaiians converted Merry Christmas into Mele Kalikimaka.

        Like Trevor, I studied Portuguese before Spanish. I was one of only two people in that 1965 Portuguese course who didn’t already know Spanish. In fact because of all those Spanish speakers I picked up a bit of that language along with the Portuguese.

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      2. One day in college I saw an ad in the school newspaper encouraging people to come study Portuguese at another college in the city that summer. The Gulbenkian Foundation was even making money available to students to do so. I was already a French major, so another Romance language appealed to me.

        The next year, 1966, the Gulbenkian foundation subsidized us to spend the summer studying Portuguese in Lisbon. Salazar was still the dictator. On a school excursion we got stuck in a massive traffic jam on the opening day of what was then called the Ponte Salazar. After Salazar’s death the bridge got renamed the 25 de Abril Bridge.

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  4. An all-round wonderful and atmospheric trip with some lovely images. I love the way you’ve woven a story together from the Asphodels and the misty river. I had never made the Champs Elysee connection either, so thanks for that! The etymology debate could run and run I think, but I did read that it’s possible that the Elysian Fields were actually clothed with Narcissi rather than Asphodels…. we shall never know for sure! Thank you so much for the references and links to my blogs, best wishes, Theresa

    Liked by 1 person

  5. oh this is such a lovely lovely post, and thank you so much for the link. I am just so sorry it has taken me so long to visit, past week been a bit crazy.

    We are off to Alcoutim next week for the smuggler’s festival, think be too busy to squeeze in the fort hike too so might save that for another day. MrB loves asphodels as much as you do, so we can’t wait!

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