On what has been declared the ‘most depressing day of the year’ Monday, January the 26th. We left a wet and cold Cornwall for a short flight to Portugal. Tuesday morning and we look out of the hotel window at bright blue sky and sunshine, the light of warmth. Later heading out up winding roads to check the bouldering at Sintra, we stopped in small, old village, peered into cafe’s, saw a place that has resisted change. A cold wind blew down from the mountains, contrasting with the bright and warm sun. The area had similarities to other granite bouldering areas, the pine trees familiar from Kjugekull in Sweden and Escorial in Spain, hot sun rounded and scoured rock, like Bishop in California producing similar effects, the darker and greener aspects were reminiscent of Carn Brea in Cornwall.
Sintra though was pretty unique, the vegetation reflects a wet and humid, Atlantic influenced climate. Large decidous leaves and dense vegetation, add to a slighly tropical feel. Other than that the bouldering is typically granite, hard on the skin, looks easy, isn’t! The bouldering is spread out and clustered in small sectors. It’s hard to imagine that there aren’t masses of unclimbed boulders to go at. It was also really good for the soul to be climbing in such a quiet and peaceful area. No other climbers and not even much evidence of chalk or other bouldering trash, no dogs, kids or families! Guide found here.
The second day we trekked to the coast to find the promised quality, 45 degree roof scoured of sand and more like a small sports crag, no climbing there then. We then sampled mistakenly the Portuguese national dish of dried cod, not very nice. The sun had dissapeared now and as we drove back up into the mountains the grey clouds began closing in and the wind increased. After a big lunch and wine it was a bit tough to get gooing again. I tried a very good 7C called Mito, but my slumping body didn’t give much a contest. In the end I had a sloppy send of the 7A+ stand up. Gloom and wind drove us down to our hotel.
Our rainy rest day was spent with good intentions of being a tourist. In Sintra there is a really good restaurant called Incomum, 10 euros set lunch, amazing! the Quinta Da Regaleira (gardens) also good for a rest day.