Well, after several postponements the winter sun trip to Madeira went ahead. Six footprint members travelled to Funchal to explore the island. Using hire cars we had five varied walks covering Levadas, a peak and a coastal walk.
For our first walk we drove to the north west corner of the island, to Achadas-da- Cruz where we walked the Lavada da Moinho – a 9 mile walk there and back with 900 metres of ascent.
This was followed the next day by another Levada walk, this time in the north east section of the island. Here we walked the Levada da Caldeiras Verde (The Green Cauldron). A generally flat walk of 12.4 miles along very narrow, precipitous paths, negotiating several mini waterfalls and passing through several tunnels – head torches required until we reached a very spectacular end waterfall – The Cauldron.
Thursday was our day off and four of us had a great day exploring Funchal before travelling to the Botanical Gardens and taking a cable car trip to Monte.
Our Friday walk involved driving to Achada da Teixera where we again had a there and back walk of 5.5 km and climbing above the cloud (900 feet of ascent) along a well laid path with shelters and springs en route, to reach the summit (at a height of 1862 metres) with spectacular panoramic views from several viewing platforms.
Saturday and another Levada walk. We drove to Rabacal from where we explored the Levada al a Cinco Fontes (a classic Madeiran walk) passing 25 springs; a level Levada along a steep sided and forested valley to reach a rock faced amphitheatre and vertical waterfall of several hundred metres – a wonderful lunch stop.
Our final walk found us driving to the most north easterly point on the island on a very windy day. Parking at Baia d’Abra we walked the Ponta da Sao Lourenco, a wind battered peninsula which is a protected area with sheer cliffs, caves and foot bridges. In addition to walking we were able to make coffee stops during the walks, swim in the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools, take a dip in the lido and eat ice cream. There was even a salsa class – perhaps not a great success.
Thanks to all who came along for their great company. Thanks to the drivers, Richard, Debbie and Peter, who negotiated some hair-raising roads, but most of all to Richard for driving the holiday forward and organising and leading the walks.
Maps of the walks