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]

Monday 28 November 2011

Day 2 in Madeira

Wednesday 16 November

The previous day we had promised the taxi driver that we would go to the east peninsula of the island, and we were good to our word. Unfortunately, that taxi driver must have had a better offer and the one who had replaced him wanted €80 (€20 more than the previous day’s quote) for the journey. Our bartering left him almost unmoved on his price, so off we headed to try to find some competition on a taxi rank.

We didn’t actually get that far as on the way I popped into a car hire emporium to find out how much it would be to hire a car for the day. €41 was the answer (or cheaper if you were prepared to take the CDW risk), and so a car was hired. Fortunately (for everyone) Martin happened to have his driving licence in his pocket; for a while it looked like I was going to drive which could have been nerve-wracking all round!

So, off to Ponta de Sao Lourenco we went. It was raining when we got there, and although not as heavily as when we’d left Funchal, it was enough to cause waterproofs to be donned. They stayed on for about three minutes, whereupon the rain stopped and the weather gradually improved as the day went on.

Even within that first three minutes it was obvious that this was a walk of a completely different nature from day 1 (well, obviously it was different, because the first walk had been a levada walk, and this one was a peninsula walk); whereas we had only encountered a smattering of other people on the first walk, this was obviously on the tourist trail. The paths were well made and although Paddy talks about steep slopes and cliff edges, there wasn’t anything like the exposure of the previous day and when there was the slightest possibility that wandering a few feet off the path could lead to disaster there was safety fencing in place.

Right at the start of the walk it wasn’t so much as a made-path as an ‘installed staircase’.


As you’d expect, these chaps were everywhere. Most of the time there wasn’t a chance of getting a snap of one as they shot off out of sight, but the day hadn’t warmed up at this point so this chap/ess let me stand right next to him/her as s/he posed for me.


Dotted along the path were a number of little spur paths to viewpoints. We visited all of them, enabling us to admire the fantastic colouring in the coastal rocks:




That last photo was taken on the return leg – it was sunny by then!

At the end of the peninsula are two lumps, the taller of which is 146 metres. We popped up to the top of the second lump before returning to sit at one of the picnic tables in front of the building you can see, to have our lunch. By that time the wind was really picking up and it was a breezy lunch break.


It may have been a touch on the windy side for our return leg, but that wind blew the clouds away. The blue sky set off the colours of the landscape nicely.


Back at the car park we passed again the information sign that told us that the walk was 4.25 miles and would take 2.5 hours. We had taken 3.5 hours and, thanks to the detours to the viewpoints, had covered 5 miles. The time taken made me glad we had hired a car. The taxi drivers had said that they would wait three hours for us. You could certainly do the walk in 3 hours, but that would have missed out the tarrying at viewpoints and the pondering over the geology, and would have made us feel a bit too rushed.

The presence of a hire car also meant that we could explore a bit further, so with the kind agreement of our driver, off we headed to the north side of the island (via an ‘interesting’ and scenic route) to see the ‘traditional houses’ that are dotted around Santana.

Here’s one under blue sky with fluffy clouds.


Across the road was a coffee shop, which we favoured with our custom. It was whilst we were in there that the skies clouded over and the rain started. With lots of other people also wanting to get out of the rain and with our drinks long since drunk, we eventually felt compelled to step back out into the weather (admittedly only Mick & I were reluctant as we had both left our jackets in the car).  My goodness, that rain came down!


That is a colour photo!

Having trotted back to the car, a shorter (and much less interesting and scenic) route was taken back to the main road to Funchal where I’m sure that wine, beer and too much food featured in our evening as we talked about what to do the following day…


  1. "wine, beer and too much food" - I think that theme may run and run!
    Nice one Gayle. I wonder what happened on Day 3?

  2. Looks great - we just used the local bus network when we were there a couple of years ago. I heard there had been a lot of damage to some levadas recently (bad weather, I think) but your reports are making me think I'd like to go back.

  3. "Wine, beer and too much food". Nah, not possible!

  4. Jamie - All quite stunning really. Unfortunately, my snaps don't do most of it justice.

    Louise - Martin's right that 'wine, beer and too much food' could become a bit of a theme running through these posts!

    Laura - By all accounts the buses are excellent. The major factors in our transport decisions were that there were four of us and we were staying far enough out of Funchal to mean that the time savings by using taxis made the few extra Euro worthwhile. As for recent levada damage, we did see a couple of pretty recent repairs (the dates scratched in the concrete helped date them!), but I can't claim our three levada walks to have amounted to anything approaching a detailed survey! It definitely seemed like a good place to go for a bit of warm November walking.