Falha da Espiunca


The Espiunca fault occurs in the road slope right after the bridge over the Paiva, in the quartzite formed more than 550 million years ago in the sea depths. 300 million years ago, there were a series of orogenic movements that raised what are now the Montemuro mountains and the Gralheira massive (Variscan orogeny) originating in that process, a fault system in the direction NW-SE, NNW-NNE and NNE SSW. The Espiunca fault falls in the latter group, and develops in the outcrop near the road sign indicating the direction of Alvarenga, being visible a major normal fault with a 1,70 meter tailings. Here the Paiva river runs quickly, creating one of the favorite spots for rafting. The adrenaline of fast waters alternates with the contemplative calm of backwaters, providing a unique living experience of this river.

Natural Patrimony

The Paiva river here has a relic bushy formation witnessing the times when the subtropical forests dominated the area: the adernal (green olive tree woodland). This grove is dominated by aderno (green olive tree), but has other bushes as the myrtle, the strawberry tree, the laurestine or the butcher’s-broom, resulting in a sclerophyllous and thermophilic formation that takes advantage of the favorable conditions existing along the river Paiva. Associated with this habitat, the foxy emperor butterfly (the largest butterfly in Portugal) here can be seen from the spring onwards. Along the river, an important riparian gallery with black alder, ash and willow is habitat for the camberwell beauty butterfly, and refuge and breeding ground for the otter. In the quick waters of the Paiva, the white-throated dipper makes its home, and in the river backwaters, the river cruisers dragonfly nymph passes to the imago stage and in this winged form, begins to patrol the waters at high speed.

Cultural Patrimony

The recently inaugurated Paiva Walkways have their origin in the town of Espiunca, and extend over more than 8 km on the left bank of the river Paiva, providing an unprece dented discovery of the river and the idyllic landscapes that accompany it. Canyons, whitewater, false meanders, dizzying waterfalls and riparian forests follow one another at every bend in the river, unraveling secrets that surprise and delight those who visit this natural sanctuary.


Technical information

  • Level of Dificulty Low
  • Type of Route Linear
  • Access Car/Pedestrian