Hard lives in the mountains led to the desertion of many typical upland aldeias do xisto (schist villages), some of which are beginning to develop fledgling rural-tourism businesses. Five villages above Lousã (Casal Novo, Talasnal, Cerdeira, Chiqueiro and Candal) form part of central Portugal’s , which promotes sustainable tourism and other projects, such as establishing waymarked walks and craft shops, and reviving village festivals and customs. The scheme’s website includes details of local adventure-tour outfits as well as the limited accommodation that is available in the vilaldeias do xisto lages. You can drive up yourself – even though not all the roads are surfaced, they are usually fine for normal cars – or follow our circular walk from Lousã castle which leads to both Casal Novo and Talasnal, the latter with the bonus of the restaurant Ti’Lena in a restored schist house.

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