The Ponte de Lima – Rubiães stage divides opinions among pilgrims, thanks to the steep slope up the Serra da Labruja. However, to compensate, it is only 19 kilometers to our destination for the day.
We start glued to the Arnado theme park, until we come to a trail that seems untouched by humans for centuries.
From there, we go slowly, meeting faces that seem familiar and friendliness worthy of people we know.
At the beginning of the climb, there is a bathing area reserved for the brave and a small chapel that is worth a visit. It is a good place to rest before the great effort that lies ahead.
The Serra da Labruja is the highlight of our journey here. Abundant with inspiring beauty, it is the scene of one of the battles of the Napoleonic wars in which the Portuguese ambushed the imperial troops. With each step of this steep climb we are graced with a tranquility that only the deepest woods can offer.
The arrival in Rubiães brings us back to the tar-made road. Hikers should note the following: the road rarely leads to dangerous places. So if you find yourself moving forward on a road with no sidewalk, you are going in the wrong direction.
The way out of Ponte de Lima is through the town and the woods. Soon the path becomes rural, on stone paths after the municipal park, and we leave the Lima River behind. Right at the most rural entrance to the trail, the first café on the left is run by Nicoletta. An Italian lady who has made of the path home and treats her customers as if they were her children. Order breakfast and you may be lucky enough to taste the establishment’s homemade honey.
The first stop on the route for refreshment. In this area there is a river beach ready to welcome any and all pilgrims willing to dive in. Just before the climb to the Serra da Labruja. It is better to refresh yourself now before it is too late.
Last stop before the big climb up the mountain. This chapel, in the heart of the village, is next to a cafe that is also a grocery store to stock up before the climb up Serra da Labruja. With a wide terrace, everyone is welcome to order a cimbalino.
Near the top of the Labruja Mountain is a monument from the Napoleonic invasions’ period. This was the place where the local population ambushed the French military. Today it is seen more as the conquest of the Serra. The top is a few meters away. Take the opportunity to observe what you have already walked. If you walk a few meters to the left you will find a tank with drinking water available to any pilgrim. If you prefer, at the exit of the mountain you will find “A Roulote“. A well equipped space with an excellent view of the conquered slope.
Rubiães is a small village in Paredes de Coura with just over 500 inhabitants just outside the Serra. It is well equipped to receive any pilgrim making the way to Santiago. For the night, consider staying at the hostel “O Ninho“. Marlene makes pilgrims feel at home, and she is always attentive to their comfort. You will also have the pleasure of meeting Carlota.
You can see almost everything the pilgrim walked to get there. The ascent to the mountain divides the opinions of the walkers. There are those who consider it simple, others not so much.
A tip that few people notice. Just get to the top and when you can, look for a sign saying “water”. You will find a tank with water running all the time. It is drinkable and suitable for all hikers.
Yes, there are hostels between Rubiães and Valença for the most courageous.