Ultra Trail do Marão UTM
Imagine a north region of Portugal. An amazing kingdom. A whole region with well kept secrets ready to be explored, or wouldn’t this fantastic region be guarded by an imposing mountain range – the Marão.
The mountains that for centuries have vividly separated an entire region situated in the north of Portugal named: Trás-os-Montes; and it has prevented its development. The ones that lived in here such as Miguel Torga, usually say: “In Marão, the ones who live here are the ones in charge!”. This expression is commonly used in this region to describe the isolated relationship and its unique characteristics regarding to the rest of the country, this happens due to the whims imposed by these mountains. Going through the meandering National Road 15, that unites Porto with Bragança, although it is already easier to go through this region, you will not get a quick trip, but the amazing views make up for the long journey.
Marão is today, not the hindrance, but the gateway to lands of unparalleled beauty, of countless charms, unique challenges and quest for unique secrets.
There is a whole wonderful Kingdom to discover!
The UTM – Ultra Trail of Marão comes to provide a truly adventurous challenge provided by walking through the most fearsome mountains and the most wild ridges of this mountain range, sometimes by snow or by rock, limited by the Tâmega (west), Corgo (east) and Douro (south) rivers. Rails filled with history that transport us to the imaginary of other times and make us realize just how bad these mountains are to its people. People of sacrifice and simplicity. So never give in to difficulties. Dream. Accept the challenge. Believe. And reach for Tâmega’s preciousness.
The challenge begins in Amarante, dubbed the Tâmega’s princess. It’s a magical place where different generations are united by the culture, history and traditions. Going through tracks with thousands of years of history, some of them secular you will encounter challenging climbs and descents and then you’ll find Canadelo.
Mountain village nestled in the west part of the mountain and where a very traditional identity is still recognized today, essentially in shepherd. Here is where the true challenge in the discovery of these mountains begins. The path leads us into the unknown and the descent by the rocks of the Covas river requires maximum concentration. After a little fountain, the Sobrido mines.
Its exploration was the origin of the small village of Canadelo; it was then utilized lime ovens to produce the limestone that then was used to built the Tâmega’s railway line. But here its ex-libris is a water irrigation all built out of stone. Than the Olo river, very appealing to dives on hot days. The track now unfolds in the Meia Via mountain range, a short but hard climb that takes us to Cristas. From the village of Mouquim (on the top) you go through a secular path to the so famous “wire bridge”. Crosses the Olo river, and soon you enter the Wonderful Kingdom. In the Alvão mountain range you are gifted with the beautiful Tejão village. The climb to the watchtower is of easy progression, and on the plateau of the Portela, It is in the Alvão mountain range and offers us the typical village of Tejão. The climb to the watch-tower is of easy progress, and on the plateau of Portela da Louseira, if during the day, invite yourself to relax, take a deep breath and contemplate. Is the most beautiful balcony to admire: the plateau of Vaqueiros (1311m), the Fisgas de Ermelo waterfalls and the Farinha mount (947m, which icon is Alto da Senhora da Graça). It is hidden below and after an old mining operation, a trail called the Inca prepares the corridor for the charm of Chão de Rosso. It is only in passing as the Iberian bears once were; the silhas remember him. The bucolic village of Pardelhas emerges. Lost in time and modernity prepares the athlete for the most demanding part of the challenge. From the ridge of Monte Velão to Pena Suar there are stormy winds. It isn’t Adamastor, no. It is Alvão and Marão that fight and measure strengths. The athlete shelters himself on Alto de Espinho and attacks the Alto das Veias and the Portal da Freita (1344m). The storm gives truce. It crawls through a forest of birch trees. In the village of Montes the people are very kind, just like in Cotorinho. The beauty of the woods that flank Moinhos’ river retemper forces to attack the Marim’s KM Vertical. You are still halfway up and you come across a monstrous wall ahead. Rude, wild, aggressive, and wild cliffs surround us. Resilience. The struggle expands the anger, but the soul snuggles. This is your Kingdom. The Astronomical Observatory appears. We conquer the highest point of the mountain range, the Vertex of Marão (1416m). And we are comforted in the refuge of Senhora da Serra, where the most vigorous are invited to travel.
Get away from the Wonderful Kingdom. The long descent through the ridge of the Fraga da Ermida, the Encosta das Lajes and Seixinhos toast you with superb panoramas. Mafómedes is one of these small paradises. The forests of chestnut trees and centuries-old oaks continue until Teixeira. The mountain landscape changes profoundly. The Serra de Matos is stripped of forestation, the blocks of stone are heaped and easily correctable. The ancient Roman sidewalk (formerly forgotten) leads through several rocky outcrops. On the hill of the Castle was erected a fortification centuries ago and from where the whole territory was commanded. By rural rails it is found in Mata de Reixela, the most important area of native forest of the region. The Ovil River is crossed and enters the mountain range of the Aboboreira. The last long ascent leads to the largest megalithic necropolis in Portugal. By mountain paths descends passing the Old Village and wanders in a succession of lush cascades along the stream of the Goiva. You reach the river Ovelha. Take a small ascent by the levada of Salvador do Monte. Followed by a short descent to the chisel trail. There are two final kilometers with excellent views of the Tâmega River. Where the forest and flat route provides the desired escape and allows you to admire the beautiful riverside area where the city of Amarante is naturally evident. Final stop of this challenge.