The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Day 5 in Madeira

Saturday 19 November

Sitting supping beer on the roof terrace as the sun set the previous evening a consensus was quickly reached that we would return to Camacha the following day to walk the Levada de Serra.

Camacha is home to a basket factory and shop, so that’s where our day started (click here for the photographic evidence of what our tour involved…). Following a premature coffee break, off we headed out to seek the levada that we were to follow. From a promising start to the day, the weather took a bit of a nose-dive when soon after setting off it started to rain with some vigour. A handy bus shelter gave us (ummm….) shelter whilst we donned waterproofs and by the time the waterproofs-faff was over the rain had almost stopped.


Five minutes after donning them, off came everyone’s waterproofs (except for my jacket, which stayed on for most of the day – it was decidedly cooler than previous days).

The surroundings for this walk were so different to the previous day it was hard to believe that we were on the same hillside, just a bit higher up. Woodland (notably eucalyptus, but with oak, chestnut and beech too) was the main feature, and with the fallen leaves I could have believed that I was somewhere much closer to home (except that I was wearing shorts in mid-November!).


Yep, we were a matching-hat quartet in our Tilleys. Mick, Martin and Sue even had the same colour.

The Levada de Serra walk is a fine and interesting, but not overly long, so when we reached (mumble, mumble, if I knew what I’d done with the map I’d look up the name of the place) Martin suggested that we headed down the road to pick up the Levada dos Tornos that we’d walked the previous day, but that before we got to the nasty, evil, exposed bit that we should cut down the valley to Funchal. Everyone agreed it was a good plan.

The most notable thing about the Levada dos Tornos today was how much water it had in it. The previous day I could have just jumped in the water to avoid the exposed bits, and I would have been paddling up to my ankles. Today I would have been wading up to at least thigh level.


Having all failed to notice the side-path we wanted to take (even though we’d walked past it three times in a bit of to-ing and fro-ing for a photo-opportunity), we almost reached the nasty, evil, exposed section before realising that something was amiss. We’d not overshot it by too far, though, and we soon located our turn. Down, down, down we then went. It seemed to me that we descended steeply for about 4000 feet, even we only started at about 1500 feet. Thoughtfully, some path-makers had put in steps to help us on our way:


Eventually things flattened out when we reached another old levada, but the respite was brief, before we headed back down again, this time to pick up some alleyways into Funchal.


Somewhere along the 10.5-mile route, I had met and gone past my mileage target for the year (1825 miles) and so when we reached Funchal my resolve to see the walk through to its natural conclusion at the hotel was sorely tested as we passed a taxi rank. If I hadn’t tripped and accidentally fallen into the open door of a taxi, I promise that I would have walked the last 2 miles. As it went, Mick and Sue jumped into the taxi to retrieve me and before we knew it we were back at the hotel in time for the quiz. Martin, having missed the whole falling-into-a-taxi incident, wasn’t part of the rescue party and thus had to walk back. He missed the quiz, as did Sue who had an appointment with a masseuse, and so Mick & I had to put in extra effort to maintain the team’s reputation. We succeeded (by a clear five points too Smile).


That evening, over wine, beer and too much food, we discussed what to do with our final full day on the island.


  1. Do you know, I almost quite fancy it. If it wasn't for the fact my (out of date) passport is still in my maiden name...

  2. You'd love it Louise, though there may not be as many hills on the walks as you are used to.
    We dropped down to Choupana from the end of Levada da Serra, Gayle, and thanks for another excellent write up.

  3. Martin, I think I admire the hills from a distance rather than climb them :-)