Today I shook off my apathy and went walking for the first time. I drove up a steep minor road that led all the way up to the central plateau right on top of Madeira and was rewarded by a straight road with fantastic views over the coast – and not a tunnel in sight!
I was headed towards 25 Fontes, one of the most popular walks on Madeira, and the parking area at the start of the walk was already busy. I headed down into the valley, admiring the views,
Then the path dived into a dense broom forest that ran alongside a levada (man-made water channels that run all around Madeira). I had always seen broom as little bushes and I didn’t know that it could grow into trees. It was a very pretty path and I enjoyed the alternating shade and sunshine, and the happy gurgle of the water.
The path was narrow and I often had to stop to let other walkers pass. It was interesting watching the expression on people’s faces when this happened. Some looked happy and gave me a cheery “Bom Dia” or “Hello”, but others looked scared to be so close to another walker – even a teddy bear – and hurried past whilst frowning. Soon I arrived at the Cascada do Risco, a tall waterfall cascading down a sheer cliff, and hurried to take photos before more visitors arrived.
I then retraced my steps and took a new path along a different levada to the Cascada das 25 Fontes. In a big clearing, a wide central waterfall spilled down from the mountain, flanked by many smaller falls on both sides. To count 25 waterfalls required some imagination, but there were certainly a lot and it was a really pretty scene.
From there I retraced my steps to the visitor centre and its cafe. I found a really good place to sit, with far reaching views of the valley. I also met some new friends to share my garlic bread with.
To get back to my villa I chose a minor road leading very steeply down to Calheta on the coast – I was pleasantly surprised that I got there without getting lost, and that a little levada followed the road all the way down. At Calheta I bought fresh fish and wine for dinner to celebrate one of my best days so far on Madeira.