The next day I set off with the intention of doing a walk in the mountains in the north of Madeira, and then maybe visiting the lighthouse at Ponta del Pargo – the most south westerly point of Europe – on the way back.
I took the main road around the far west of the island, which unlike the south, had yet to be “improved” with tunnels. Even though it was raining the road was pretty. It ran through woods of pine and eucalyptus and a pleasant smell of wet forest filled the air. The heavy rains and winds of the past few days had created a few hazards on the road, in the form of fallen rocks and one large fallen tree.
It was slow driving along the winding mountain roads, but I finally made it to Porto Moniz, at the extreme north western tip of the island. This town is famous for its natural pools of seal water, formed by volcanic rock formations stretching into the sea.
There was a solitary bather in the pools. I dipped my toe in; the water was not too cold, but it wasn’t sunny enough to consider swimming. Instead I admired the beautiful seascape and the contrast of the blue sea, the white surf, the green mountains and the stark black volcanic rock.
I decided to change plans. The walk through the forest was going to be steep, and would be very slippery after the rain, so it would be better to do this another day. Today I was enjoying simply driving and exploring, making things up as I went along. It reminded me of my early carefree backpacking days where I would set off to a destination with no firm plan, no bookings, and sometimes not even a guidebook.
I drove along the north coast, admiring the views, and then took an interesting looking side road that that led steeply up into the mountains. After a few km the road petered out at the start of a walking trail; I stopped to take photographs and breathed in the fresh mountain air.
Next I headed back to the coast. I reached the town of Seixal, which also has volcanic rock pools, took more photos and stopped for a coffee.
The weather continually changed – sometimes cold and showery, sometimes hot and sunny. The sea air made me feel relaxed and sleepy. I headed back home not having done any of the things that I had planned to do that day, but with a strange feeling of contentment.