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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hike Sao Jorge - Walks around Velas, Sao Jorge

We had planned to do several of the official hikes during our stay on Sao Jorge. However, the weather did not play ball - most days were rapidly alternating periods of sunshine and rain showers - just like what we expect in April in the UK except the temperature was in the lower 20's (C!).

So we contented ourselves with short walks around Velas
the first walk was through the streets of Velas until we found a small side road which went steeply up with a pedestrian only short cut halfway up involving many stone steps
with views over the town
 The objective of this walk was the Mirador (viewpoint) on the clifftop main road which gave superb views of Velas and its harbour
 Looking over to town to the 161 meter high Morro Grande - the objective of future walks

The next walk was up the same cliff which towers above Velas. This time, however, we explored each of the small side roads until we found one with what looked like a trail leading up from a large carpark
This trail was in fairly good condition to start with, zigzagging steeply up through the wooded slopes
 However, the results of disuse were soon apparent and most of the trail was overgrown - but still very pleasant, giving frequent glimpses of the town below
 Eventually we emerged by a wooden pole on the same clifftop road as we had walked on in the previous walk
 I include this photo of the number stamped on the pole in case we would ever wish to retrace our steps as the start of the trail from the top is not obvious
 Took the easy way back downd the road passed this small church
The next walk was an exploration of the 161 meter high Morro Grande hill to the west of Velas.
The walk starts from the back of a small church on the western side of Velas
 The small church
 The path up the hill is an obvious  4-wheel drive track which zigzags up the hill which ends in this small stone (ex-whalewatching?) tower

A small track continues along southwards the hilltopthrough the low heather trees
 some of which made progress a little difficult
 Views of the neighbouring island of Pico with its impressive volcano peak
and views of Velas
Back at the tower looking towards Pico
Our next walk on Morro Grande started from the same small church but this time we stayed low just below the small trees until we reached the cliffs around the sea filled caldeira to the north west
Views of the caldeira
Then we tried to find a path up the steep muddy slope close to the cliff edge under the twisted branches of the Heather Trees using the branches to help pull ourselves up..
We finally made it to the top but unless one wants a bit of an adventure, maybe one should stick to the 4-wheel drive track!
Once on the top the views were superb

looking over the small pasture land in a hollow on top of the Morro Grande hill (filled in caldeira?()

We returned via the easy way back down the 4-wheel drive track to the small church

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