Railway Rambles

Railway Ramble – The Dão Line

29 May – 3 June 2018
Portugal

Following on from the success of our walks along the Tâmega Line, we are now inviting you to join us on a walk along another very scenic line in northern Portugal, the Dão Line. Locally, the name “Dão” is closely associated with one of Portugal’s excellent wine regions, but the river also gave its name to the metre-gauge railway line that was opened between Santa Comba Dão, on the broad-gauge Beira Alta Line, and Viseu, in 1890. Almost quarter of a century later, the line from Viseu to Sernada do Vouga was opened. The line leaves Santo Comba Dão station and soon crosses the River Dão. The southern part of the line is generally far away from the localities it purports to serve, but after reaching its first major town, Tondela, its stations were better located. Viseu is the largest town on the line, and since the railway line closed in 1988, it found itself in the unenviable position of being one of the biggest cities in the Iberian Peninsula, and indeed in Europe, without a railway connection.

However, we should look on this trip as being not only for the walk, which is of course very enjoyable, but also as a way to get to know “small-town Portugal”, visiting towns and villages that see few foreign tourists, and giving you a real feel for the way of life here. The itinerary below is a guide to what we will see and do each day, but ultimately, we may decide to walk more or less on a particular day depending on factors like weather etc. If we have enough time after finishing the walk in Viseu, we can use the free time to explore the city or even start to explore the section of line that continued beyond Viseu towards Sernada do Vouga and Aveiro. Viseu itself is a fascinating town, often omitted from visitors’ itineraries due to the lack of a rail connection. This trip, therefore, gives you the opportunity to visit a town off the usual tourist track, and which is frequently named as the best town in Portugal to live in.

We will be staying in the delightful 4-star hotel “Casa de Sé”, perfectly located in the historic centre. The hotel is in a restored 18th century building, which itself is one of the attractions in the historic centre. This boutique hotel, where quality, taste, sophistication and charm reign, watches over the Cathedral and the flow of the city’s daily routine. With the ideal location to explore on foot all of the city’s points of interest, particularly the historical centre, Casa da Sé is the perfect place for those seeking to combine unique moments of rest and tranquillity to the charm and magic of an ancient city. Its geographic positioning also makes it an excellent starting point for the discovery of the cultural, historic, gastronomic and wine-producing heritage of the Beiras region.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

The main objective of this trip is to enjoy the scenery we pass through and the company of the group, so the pace will be leisurely, and a balance will be struck depending on the abilities and desires of the participants in the group. However, clearly all participants must be able to walk a distance of up to 20 km in one day, and the total distance of 49 km over the four days.

Tuesday 29th May Flights from the UK to Lisbon, with a transfer by metro to our hotel. We will spend the first night in Lisbon, as our flights may arrive at different times. If you arrive early in the day, take advantage and see some of the sights in the Portuguese capital. For transport fans, the famous Lisbon trams are not to be missed. Five routes still operate, the most famous being route 28 that has several very steep gradients and in places passes within inches of the buildings at the side of the street. March is a great month to see the trams, as there are fewer tourists trying to travel on them. Other routes are the short by fascinating circular route 12, and route 15 to Belém and Algés, operated mainly by the modern articulated trams. Alternatively visit Lisbon’s famous Belém area, with the UNESCO listed St Jeronimo’s Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries and several museums. Near the city centre you have several viewpoints including St Georges Castle that overlooks the city centre, or “Baixa” (downtown) district.

Wednesday 30th May (B) We travel on this morning’s “Beira Alta” Intercity express train, with first class reserved seats, from Lisbon to Santa Comba Dão, a journey of just under three hours. We travel up the main “Linha do Norte”, passing Entroncamento and Coimbra, and branching off on to the “Linha da Beira Alta” at Pampilhosa. This line is one of only three in Portugal that connect with Spain, and is an important link for international freight and passenger trains. On arrival at Santa Comba Dão, our minibus will be waiting to take our luggage on to the hotel. A feature of rural railway lines in Portugal is that the stations are very often nowhere near the settlements they purport to serve, and this line is no exception.  In fact, even when the line was open, some of the minor stations had very poor road access, so we will start and end our walk each day at stations with good road access. We will take advantage of our stop in Santa Comba Dão to buy sandwiches for lunch before we set out on our walk. Our objective today is to reach Tonda, a distance of 14.5 km. After leaving Santo Comba Dão station, the former narrow-gauge line dives under the main Beira Alta line and quickly crosses the river on a 122-metre truss girder bridge. We walk through a gorge section and shortly before Tonda we begin to climb. On arrival in Tonda, our minibus will be waiting again to take us to the hotel.

Thursday 31st May (B) Our minibus will bring us back to Tonda this morning where we will recommence our walk. At roughly the half-way point of today’s route, we reach Tondela, the largest town on the line after Viseu. The station is outside the main town (in a neighbourhood called “Bairro Estação” – Station Neighbourhood!). Just south of Tondela is the 98-metre Timhela Bridge. However, we have time to walk the short distance to the town centre where we can get lunch. Our objective today is to reach Parada de Gonta station, a distance of 15.3 km. Fortunately this station is now a bar!

Friday 1st June (B) A slightly shorter walk today, as we aim to cover the 11.2 km from Parada de Gonta to Figueiró. Now we find the line is not so remote, and we pass through or close to many small villages and hamlets. Highlights of the walk today include a steam loco and wagons on a section of track at Torredeita station, two tunnels, the 183-metre long Parada Tunnel, and Figueiró at 44 metres, and Mosteirinho Bridge with a length of 184 metres. As the line has been converted to a cycle path, all the bridges are passable with new decking, and the tunnels are lit.

Saturday 2nd June (B) We return to Figueiró this morning to complete the last 8.2 km of our walk, hopefully arriving in Viseu in time for lunch. The route becomes increasingly urban, and once in Viseu it is very difficult to make out the original alignment. In fact, the line continued northwards out of Viseu as the Linha do Vale do Vouga towards Sernada do Vouga, but until the first station it is very difficult to find any evidence of it. Until 1939 there was a short branch to Viseu Central station. Viseu itself has a fascinating history dating back to Roman times. We should have a free afternoon at the end of our walk, and there is plenty to see here. The old town can now be reached by a funicular.

Sunday 3rd June (B) After breakfast our minibus takes us to Santo Comba Dão station for the morning inter-city train to Lisbon. Transfer to the airport by metro, or alternatively stay on in Lisbon for a few days’ sightseeing.

Place(s) available
Holiday prices per person
  • Full 6 day holiday from London Gatwick: £999
  • Full 6 day holiday joining in Porto: £799

Options

  • Single room Supplement: £190

Deposit

  • £100 (balance of deposit due 01/01/2018)

Online Booking *

Travel Option:
Room Option:
Quantity :

* please note that online bookings do not allow purchase of a holiday including flights. If you wish to book a fight-inclusive holiday choose the option “Please contact me for flight options”.

Click here to see our Booking Conditions

 

Click here to see our Privacy Policy

 

Highlights
  • Full length of the line (except impassable bridges)
  • Beautiful, unspoilt scenery
  • Wildlife
Your holiday price includes
  • All travel as outlined in the itinerary, including transport to/from the start/end points of the walk each day
  • Hotel accommodation and breakfast each day
  • Services of our Tour Manager (fully escorted from and back to Lisbon)
Flights
  • TP373 11:20 Heathrow to Lisbon
  • TP364 16:05 Lisbon to Heathrow
  • TP329 17:15 Manchester to Lisbon
  • TP326 13:40 Lisbon to Manchester
  • EZY6981 07:00 Edinburgh – Lisbon
  • EZY6982 10:40 Lisbon – Edinburgh