Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Marocos to the Canical tunnel - Madeira 16 Sept 2016.

Marocos to the Canical tunnel
Distance 11km
Friday 16 September 2016

This was the second of the two guided walks we took. Alvoro was our guide today, after picking us and other walkers up he drove us up to Santana. On our journey Alvoro was concerned about the weather in the area we would be walking. When we did got there a number of other guides met with Alvoro and discussed the conditions. They made the decision that it would be better to do a similar walk but at a lower level. So Alvoro turned the bus around and we drove down to Marocos.

We could see the weather improving as we approached Marocos where we left our transport. Alvoro was very knowledgeable, he told us many interesting things. One of which was about the impact of a new road in the area and how it increased the price of property but also improved peoples lives. We took the path up onto the Levada do Canical.

We could see the steps up and down to peoples homes and Alvoro told us about the hard work involved in living in such places. Everything had to be carried either from the road or back to the road. This included the bricks and building materials to build the houses.

Most of the levadas can be followed by walking along the maintenance path however the one in the picture below Alvoro informed us that the people responsible for checking and maintaining the levadas have to walk in the water trough itself, as there is no path.

We passed houses selling bananas and other fruit they grew on their land and a local gent who came out to sing to us.

Much of the levada twists and turns on the edge of the hills. As we swung into the valley of Ribeira Grande it started to rain, and it was heavy rain. After a while we passed through a short 25m tunnel.

It was still raining when we came out and stretching below us was Machico.

In a short while Alvoro pointed out the bar on the far side where we would stop for lunch, Bar O Jacare. Although about 500m directly from us, we continued by the levada along the edge of the valley, which would be nearly 1 km distance before we reached the bar.

As we arrived the weather turned nice and therefore we planned to sit outside however within minutes heavy rain clouds returned and chased us into the bar.

Along with our sandwiches we had a couple of glasses of the local drink poncha, after these the rain did not bother us. Once the rain cleared we set off again.

Alvoro knew every dog on the walk and had them all barking and howling to our delight.

We passed the signs of a new road being built.

We continued meandering around the side of the hills.

Our path took us round to near the start of a large tunnel at Canical.

A brilliant walk, Alvoro provided us with a lot of local knowledge and was very entertaining. We had covered approx 11 km.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to our previous walk in Madeira Rabacal, Risco Waterfall, 25 Fontes.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Rabacal, Risco Waterfall, 25 Fontes - Madeira 13 Sept 2016.

Rabacal, Risco Waterfall, 25 Fontes
Distance 11km
Tuesday 13 September 2016

This was the first of the two guided walks we took. George was our guide today, after picking us and other walkers up he drove to the Rabacal car park. You can see from the photo the weather was different to our previous walks on Madeira. George checked we all had the correct gear such as waterproofs and torches before setting off. 

We started descending down from the plateau of Paul da Serra. Visibility was very poor due to the mist. George pointed out local flora and that the heather forest would collect the mist droplets which supplied the water for Madeira's levadas.

The paths were well marked and this was one of the walks recorded as a must do walk on Madeira, as it was to the west of the island. We could see a number of people had considered this walk due to the number of walking groups in the area. The path levelled off as we turned passed a sign.

The mist was a cool change from the heat we had been experiencing over the last few days. George stopped us a few times and pointed out a lot of local flora on our way to the Risco Waterfall. The waterfall was stunning falling down out of the mist. The mist lifted a little and we could see the cliff walls on the far side of the valley.

After a short break to take photos we retuned back along the track to the junction we had passed earlier. Turning right we had a steep descent to another level.

Once at the bottom George collected us all together again and provided more information on Madeira and the work of the levadas and how they supply water to generate the islands electricity. We were now walking along the Levada das 25 Fontes. George pointed out small trout swimming in the levada.

The path was level and flat here although starting out quite wide it soon narrowed.

We left the levada for a short drop down some steep steps to a gorge of the Ribeira Grande.

We crossed a bridge and took the steep steps up the other side to a water house and rejoined the levada.

At the top George told us the rules of levada walking. As the path narrowed and in places a rail had been set up to help with safety. to our left there were a number of places where the ground fell steeply away. I think walking the stones also helped protect the path with all the walkers in the area.

Reaching the rock basin of the 25 Fontes many other walkers were also stopping for lunch.  I did not count the springs to see if there were 25 of them, what with all the water running down the sides.

After a break for our packed lunch George collected us together and led us back along the levada.

We climbed down to the gorge and up the other side and continued back to the steep steps we had walked down earlier from the Risco Waterfall. We did not climb back up but continued along the lower level beside the levada.

The weather improved and finally the mist lifted. We had a short stop, getting our torches ready before entering the 800m long tunnel. Care had to be taken with water on the floor and a low rock ceiling in places.

The path came out to an area that had been seriously damaged due to the recent fires. You could see the wires where the telegraph poles had gone and the rubber around the wire had melted. Apparently the fires are set deliberately. Due to the fires there is a risk of the ground being destabilised and possible landslides.

It was sad seeing the devastation but we could see new life coming through the ashes.

Out of the tunnel we continued to follow the levada around the side of the hill.

It did not take us long to reach the transport that had been moved to our finishing point. A very good walk, loads of information from George, too much to remember.

We had walked 11km with a couple of steep sections up and down but mainly a flat walk with a stretch of down hill from the start. Looking forward to our next guided walk.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to our next walk in Madira Marocos to the Canical Tunnel.
Follow link to our previous walk in Madeira Levada dos Piornais.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Levada dos Piornais Funchal - Madeira 9 Sept 2016.

Levada dos Piornais 
Distance 8km Climb 100m
Friday 9 September 2016

From the map I had seen a walk along a local levada close to our hotel. The rep said it would be a good taste of a couple of walks we had looked at.

It was a short climb up the road from our hotel to the start of the path that would take us to the levada. Levada's are narrow waterways in Madeira. The town map we had was very basic and gave us a rough idea where we would be going. So our plan was just to wander along and have a look about.

Reaching the path we turned left and followed the sign up hill.

The path took us up by a hotel and started to climb. It was covered in the petals that had fallen from the flowers that over hung the wall.

Cross the road then climb some more.

There was another set of steps to climb before we reached the levada and turned left along the maintenance path. A lot of the walking in Madeira is along the levada maintenance paths.

We continued westwards as the levada ran behind houses.

We could see to our right steps up to local small plots of unused land.

At one point we saw the top of the tower of Sao Martinho's and thought rather than follow the levanda we would turn northwards up more steep steps to go and have a look.

It appears that every piece of land is used either for vines or banana plants.

At the top of the road we turned left then right up a steep narrow path between houses.

At the top the path levels and we could see right across the valley. The path then turns right and starts climbing up some stairs.

Crossing over the road we continued uphill to Sao Martinho. Back across the road to take the path up to the church.

This was a great viewing point.

We took the path down to a small cafe, had a couple of drinks before returning back down hill towards the levada.

On reaching the levada we turned right, westward and continued along the maintenance path.

The levada twisted and turned around the contours of the side of the hill, in places the ground had fell onto the path from minor earth falls. Eventually we reached a road and could see Cab Girao in the distance. For parts of the walk we had looked down and spotted places we had passed in the walk we had done a few days earlier to Camara de Lobos.

Further up the road we looked to see what time we had left and discussed how much further we would go and made the decision to turn around and make our return journey.

In places there is a sharp drop to our right.

We passed a couple of empty and abandoned properties.

It did not take us long to reach the steps at the top of the path that leads down to the road near the hotel.

Again it had been a very hot and sunny walk and glad we had factor 30 sun cream.

We had covered approx 8km with 100m climb.

More to follow

Boz North
Follow link to our next walk in Madeira Rabacal, Risco Waterfall, 25 Fontes.
Follow link to our previous walk in Madeira Funchal Lido to Camara de Lobos