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Friday, October 19, 2012

Hike Madeira Levada do Norte 17 October 2012

Rother Walking Guide route nr 4 which is also covered under route 6 in the Sunflower Madeira Guide along the Levada do Norte.
17 October took the 0900 express bus nr 7 from just outside Funchal Marina towards Ribeira Brava
with the objective of doing the Rother Walking Guide route nr 4 which is also covered under route 6 in the Sunflower Madeira Guide along the Levada do Norte.
Just after exiting the last motorway tunnel as the bus headed for Ribeira Brava, we got off the bus at around 0930hrs
and headed up the road
sign-posted to Faja da Ribeira
after asking local people, 
we found the trail to the Levada do Norte by the side of a white house
 marked Entrada 85
 and proceeded up the steps between the houses
 the trail climbed steeply higher and higher between cultivated terraces

 the light contrast between the bright sunlight and the deep shadow on this side of the valley made it difficult for the camera to find the correct exposure

 by 1015hrs we reached the Levada do Norte

Turned left along the Levada towards the north
 the levada was much smaller and less well maintained than most of the other levadas we have seen
 sky still blue

 looking down to the entrance to one of the many road tunnels
 Evidence of fairly recent fire damage - here the railing has been severely damaged

 abandoned cave dwellings
The trail following the levada became unclear at the bridge crossing the ravine at Espigao

 tried to follow the levada but the route was blocked with fallen trees
 dense undergrowth and fire damage
 so we decided to cross the ravine and climb the steps on the other side up through the abandoned hamlet of Espigao

 good views from the top of the hill

 more evidence of fire damage and abandoned houses

 and no indication of how to regain the levada route so retraced our steps to the bridge below
 had another attempt to find the levada path by following the plastic pipe which seemed to be the way they had repaired the damaged levada channel
 more evidence of forest fire
 the levada water entering the plastic pipe
 after following several false trails
 we finally gave up and retraced our steps along the levada

 to the place where we had first encountered the levada and continued along the levada towards Boa Morte in the south

 past more cultivated terraces
 and a unique WC carved into the rock - but with running piped water!
 the route went through someones vine covered terrace
 then once more the trail was lost
 explored the area for a while and re-found the levada

 but after a short while, the path became very exposed and blocked with vegetation

 after trying various options, finally gave up and returned to the junction where the bus had dropped us off
 we walked a short distance direction Ribeira Brava and hailed a bus which kindly took us into town for no charge.
Whilst having a coffee at a cafe close to the bus stop an enterprising minibus taxi driver asked us if we would like to join him to Funchal - for the same price as the bus - 7 euros for 2. As the bus was not due for anther 30 minutes we accepted with alacrity and had a very rapid return trip - back on Dutch Link by 1430hrs after an enjoyable if not a bit frustrating hike.

The link from the UK Daily Mail below gives an idea of how much Madeira has suffered from fires this year

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