Bright and early on Sunday 20th May, a group of us from Mount of Oaks headed off to join a 3 hour walk around the village of Soalheira, as part of the annual cheese festival.
Participants ranged from 10 years to 70 years old!
We walked through the village and then out to the fields and farms. We enjoyed delicious water from Roman fountains and the small cobbled streets….
The main produce of this area is sheep and goats cheese – it is internationally recognised for its quality. We got the chance to walk through several sheep farms…
We visited traditional and modern farms where sheep and goats are milked. The young people in the group were pretty disgusted with the smells !!
In the fields we walked next to horses, sheep and chatted with fellow walkers for most of the way…
It was beautiful to pass by a shepherdess and her herd of sheep…..
….the views were stunning, of the Gardunha mountains on one side and the Marateca lake on the other….
We were treated to a brunch half way, where we were served 8 different types of local cheese, bread, pasteries and even wine!
Our circular trip took us back to the village some 3 hours later, some sore feet, but a feeling of accomplishment and gratitude.
Back at the cheese festival we arrived in time to see our friend Donna Manuela teach children to make cheese with goats milk…
Donna Manuela’s cheese is delicious and her goats feed only on organic food stuffs – she was the first in the region to have her goats milk certified organic!
In the afternoon the festival hosted the local traditional dance and music groups – this was really fun to watch, especially for the guests who had stayed with us the night before.
Natascha and Thomas were travelling Portugal in a camper van and happened upon Mount of Oaks – it was so fun to be able to introduce them to the local culture.
One final wonderful aspect of the day was to find out more about a schools project, where local kids are learning how to make cheese at school – in order for the traditions not to die out. And their cheese tastes good too!