There were some serious wild fires about a month before our trip. People died. Houses were lost. These are just a fraction. The landscape bears the scar.
For my last day a walk – about 6 or 7 miles. It was so lovely on the day (although my legs have ached since!). As with many popular places in Madeira there were plenty of people. But there was enough space between us to enjoy the solitude too. I went on my own, not on a tour. It was very achievable as it was all signposted. Levadas are water channels which bring the water from the wetter parts of the island to the drier sections. Some are over 400 years old – Moorish technology in action. They have always been so good with water.
I walked down from the car park (about 2km) and then on to Risco waterfall, which was relatively flat, but not without bumpy bits. I met a lady in flip flops – she recommended something more sturdy…
The falls were fun, and I could see the levada following the mountain round – too dangerous for walkers.
I then retraced my steps and followed the signs to 25 Fontes. The first bit is the hardest with a lot of steps, so don’t be deterred if you ever go! It flattens out, although there are some really narrow bits without passing places, and there are quite a few bits where you are right next to some substantial drops, not all with fences. The 25 Fontes – 25 fountains – drop into a beautifully coloured pool. It was very atmospheric, held in the bowl of mountains.
But the best bit is just walking in the mountains next to the cool levadas. What a great day.
Well of course we had to visit the Madeira wine lodge – in this case Blandy’s, established c. 1800. It was an ancient building, some bits literally made of knobbly stones. It was very warm, apparently the upper floors are even warmer – in the 40 degrees celsius range. Not sure I could have coped with the fumes. I liked the sense of history. The old barrels and the old vats, with their painted labels and the dark rooms, the wooden floors. They still employ coopers – i.e. barrel makers. That can’t be a common job these days. Of course it tasted delicious – Christmas puddings await ;).
The Botanical Gardens at Monte were lovely – particularly the oriental influences and the koi. The garden follows the valley down so there was lots of walking. There were several koi ponds, although it was hard to get a decent shot. Anyway lots of inspiration… if only I could take over the rest of our street….
Every inch is terraced. Most cultivated. Don’t fancy working these plots!
We wound our way up – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time in first & second gear in the car – the roads are so steep, and most narrow in Madeira. The locals, of course, zoom around. They must curse us tourists.
These pics are form a couple of spots – one from a viewpoint overlooking the Valley of the Nuns, and the rest from the Pico Arieiro. As you can see from the coaches we were not alone on the Pico… but even the large quantities of tourists doesn’t detract from the sense of being at the very top of Madeira. The cloud rolled in quickly. It was special to be above them all.
We took to the waters through the surf – a spot of sea kayaking. I had never been before, in spite of all our other canoeing, and I can tell you I got horribly sea sick… :(. So I must start with a tip – take those sea sickness tablets! However, once I’d thrown up (at the furthest point, naturally) I felt so much better I actually really enjoyed the trip back. The folds in the landscape were quite amazing. Also you could see the lesser-spotted walkers along the cliffs and I was glad to be in the water. It was quite hard to take many pics, but here are the ones I managed. I have also included a couple of views of the Bay from the airport.