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Life as a Lakeland Robinson Crusoe

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Life as a Lakeland Robinson Crusoe

Text and photos : Ray Kershaw

Ray Kershaw finds peace and quiet on Portugal's sparsely inhabited Grande Lago.

We moor the first night on our own desert island. Black bass are jumping. Our chicken and pimentos are simmering on the stove. Serenaded by cicadas we uncork another bottle of chilled Alentejo rosé as full moon rises over the shore.
Tonight we are sharing 180 square miles of water with just nine other boats. There are myriad uninhabited islands and 700 miles of virgin, sundrenched coast. There's nothing to suggest that a few years ago Portugal's vast Grande Lago - Europe's biggest man-made lake - did not exist.

The Alqueva dam on the Guadiana river was conceived in 1952, during the Salazar dictatorship. The scorched Alentejo region would be transformed into an oasis. Democracy delayed the scheme, which was eventually completed in 2002, giving lonely hilltop villages new waterside locations. The lake is now more than 60 miles in length.

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