From São Domingos Mine to Pomarão
A walk along the platform of the old railroad that linked the São Domingos mines to the river port of Pomarão, by the Guadiana River, passing through some villages and quite many tunnels.
S. Domingos Mines operated for almost one century, in the Guadiana river left bank, and were closed in the early ‘60s. For the purpose of the transportation of the To transport the ore to the river port of Pomarão (which then was loaded on barges) there was a railway. Nowadays, only its platform remains. The distance of 20 km enables two different rides: a first one, very easy and rolling between the old mine and the village of Bens, allowing the movement of bicycles or of a 4x4 vehicle. Thereafter, the ground is degraded and the path has half a dozen tunnels, the exits of the last two being hampered by landslides and bushes. Nevertheless, it is possible to cross them on foot, but difficult if carrying a bike. The route starts next to the church, and one just has to follow the signs to Corta da Mina, an impressive outdoor excavation, some of which dating back to Roman times, when copper pyrites and precious metals used to be extracted. From Corta da Mina towards south, a dirt road that is simple to follow will pass near the old furnaces of Achada do Gamo and the monumental heaps. Approaching the blacktopped crossing and the village of Bens, there is a first damaged bridge that has to be circumvented. From here you may need sometimes to make small detours to the axis of the route, due to water or mud but the direction of the itinerary remains clear.
After Salgueiro, begins the area of the tunnels, progressively longer with exits more and more decayed. Do not forget to take with you the flashlight and waterproof boots. A stick or pruning shears will be useful to open up the passage. In the last tunnel, the longest and most curved, the bats will protest against this invasion of their privacy. The sandy floor retains signs of sulfur fallen from wagons. Finally, after crossing a creek where you may wish to step in, get the dirt road coming from Pomarão and where the supporting car may already be waiting. Otherwise, you have to go another 1.5 km to reach the beautiful amphitheater on the shore of the Guadiana. Access through the road from Mértola to Serpa and Mina de São Domingos (EN265). Start and end at the church of São Domingos. A distance of about 20 km, the first ten easily made by bicycle. It should be taken into account that though the tour can be done by bicycle, although, at the exits of the last two tunnels, it has to be carried on one's shoulder; a supporting car can access the itinerary in Santana de Cambas, Bens and Salgueiros and by the exit of the last tunnel before Pomarão.
When: spring or autumn.
Reccomendations: Appropriate and water resistant footwear (boots, ankle boots) is recommended, as well as flashlights or preferably head-lamps, to cross the tunnels, two of which of some extent.
Meals: Pensão São Domingos (T. 286 647 187) in the homonymous village.
Other spots to visit: Mértola, town-museum and waterfalls in the Pulo do Lobo.