Railway Rambles

Railway Ramble – The Corgo Line

18 to 23 May 2019
Portugal

We are once again offering you the chance to relive the experience of travelling on the Corgo metre gauge line in northern Portugal, albeit at a much slower pace than was possible by train! But the scenery is the same, and now we have much more time in which to enjoy it.

The Corgo Line was authorised in 1903 and despite the difficult terrain, opened to Vila Real in 1906. It was pretty much uphill all the way from Corgo Junction (the broad-gauge Douro Line and metre-gauge Corgo Line shared the track bed from the junction to Régua station) to Vila Real. The line was gradually extended to Pedras Salgadas in 1907, Vidago in 1910 and eventually to its terminus of Chaves in 1921. There were once plans to extend further to connect with the Spanish railway station of Ourense, but these never materialised. The line remained open over its full length for almost 78 years, but along with the northern sections of the other Douro metre-gauge lines, the section north of Vila Real closed on 1st January 1990. The remaining section between Régua and Vila Real carried on, latterly being operated by diesel railcars. It was suspended in 2009, along with the other Douro branches after a series of accidents on the Tua Line, ostensibly for improvement works to be done, but during the financial crisis the government decided to formally close all three remaining Douro branches.

The walking tour will be done in manageable stages over four days. Accommodation, including breakfast each morning, will be in one single hotel in Vila Real with transport arranged to take us out to the start point of the walk each morning and collect us at the end of the afternoon, thus avoiding the need to walk with all our bags. Lunch/drinks stops will be available at the villages we pass through. We will have many opportunities to admire the wonderful views that the rail passengers enjoyed for so many years, and to walk over bridges and through cuttings.

The itinerary below is a description of what we will see in each section of the walk, though the order in which we do the walk may alter. We will walk the majority of the 96 km of the line, the focus being on the section between Vila Real and Regua, which closed in 2009, and as far as we can north of Vila Real, where a large section of the former track bed has been converted to a cycle path.

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. Normally we limit our walk to a maximum of 20 km in one day, however, on the first day, the intention is to walk the full 25 km from Vila Real to Régua.

Highlights

  • Full length of the line (except impassable bridges)
  • Beautiful, unspoilt scenery. Was rated one of the greatest railway journeys on the planet
  • Quaint old station buildings
  • All nights at same hotel
  • Accompanied by minibus

Day 1 Saturday 18 May (D)Fly to Porto from several UK airports, and transfer by road to our hotel in Vila Real. Welcome dinner.

Day 2 Sunday 19 May (B) Our first day is our most challenging, as we will walk along the whole of the 25 km section of line that closed in 2009. We start out from Vila Real, and find the line is almost entirely down hill all the way. We’ll get as far as the former junction with the main line, returning to Vila Real from there. The only bridge across the River Corgo here is a rail bridge, which still carries the broad-gauge Douro Line.

Day 3 Monday 20 May (B) We once again return to Vila Real station, this time heading north. The first part of the line goes through an industrial estate, but at Abambres station we see the welcome sight of a cycle path. From here, the line is generally level, with few gradients. We will be able to stop for drinks and lunch along the way. Our aim today will be to reach Samadã station, a distance of about 13 km. We will cross three bridges on this section. Our minibus will collect us and take us back to the hotel at the end of the day.

Day 4 Tuesday 21 May (B) Our minibus will pick us up from the hotel and take us north to Samardã, where we finished yesterday. We continue our walk from here, with our objective to reach the small town of Vila Pouca de Aguiar, a walk of around 15 km, and crossing a further two bridges.

Day 5 Wednesday 22 May (B) Returning to Vila Pouca de Aguiar, we cover the last 10 km of the cycle path, as far as Sabroso station. After this, we find ourselves walking on the original track bed, though of course the track was lifted long ago. There are several stations we can walk to, but again, the aim would be to walk 15 – 20 km. If we do not reach the terminus at Chaves then we will visit there by minibus at the end of the day before we return to the hotel.

Day 6 Thursday 23 May (B) Our minibus takes us back to Porto Airport for our flights home.

Photos: The wonderful scenery of the Corgo valley; the roman bridge at Chaves; one of the last trains to run on the line was diesel 9005 seen here at Vila Real station; until 2006 special steam trains ran on the line hauled by one of the lines original Mallet locomotives.

Hotel

Hotel Mira Corgo, Vila Real (5 nights)

Outward Flights

EZ1989 06.45 Manchester to Oporto
FR8343 09.25 Stansted to Oporto
EZ6147 10.15 Bristol to Oporto
TP331 13.00 Gatwick to Oporto
TP353 14.45 London City to Oporto
KLM 06.15 Birmingham to Oporto (via Amsterdam)

Overland Travel

07.55 St.Pancras to Paris
12.48 Paris to Hendaye
18.35 Hendaye to Coimbra (Sleeper)
05.21 Coimbra to Porto

Place(s) available
Holiday prices per person
  • Full 6 day holiday from London Gatwick: £799
  • Full 6 day holiday joining in Porto: £599
  • Full 8 day holiday overland from London St Pancras: £1,09

Options

  • Single room Supplement: £180
  • A supplement might apply for airports other than Gatwick
  • Additional nights in Porto/Oporto add £120 per room per night

Deposit

  • Travelling by air: £400
  • Own travel: £200
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
  • Welcome dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager (fully escorted from and back to Porto)

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