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After taking a look at my Madeira tour and trail map this morning, I decided to walk with my father Charlie the Vereda do Urzal levada before our holiday was over. The short drive from Casa da Capelinha took us round the precipitous cliff road below Lombadinha but luckily there nobody coming the other way and we marveled at the spectacular views into the Boa Venture valley from the viewpoint.
The drive up the Boa Ventura valley was beautiful with what looked like snowdrops making the verges of the road look very different from summer. This part of Madeira looks like it must have done hundreds of years ago, with only a few Maderian sheds dotting the hillside and terraces. The difference between Funchal could not be more marked.
Eventually we arrived at the car parking place shortly before two minibuses arrived with other walkers; obviously this was a popular levada walk and we felt a bit disappointed that there would be a crowd of people around as well. This turned out to not be a problem because their guide stopped a few times and we were able to walk on and leave them behind.
The walk up to the levada was longer than we expected from looking at the map but the path was well constructed and there were many views to enjoy as well as flowers and birds to spot. As it was February, we didn't have to worry about it being too hot, only 18 degrees centigrade which was perfect for me.Because there was no wind today, we were able to breath in the scents from the laurels and the white flowers (which smelled a bit like wild garlic)
The levada itself was easy going and most of the trees were laurels and tree heathers. There must have been quite a few oaks around as we saw quite a few acorns on the ground. The walk was very peaceful as there were no sounds of traffic or people so we enjoyed the bubbling water next to us. Eventually we reached the first outcrop over the village below and curious to follow a little track, found a wire that ran all the way down to the valley below. When we were looking down from here, we spotted what must have been a hawk gliding through the valley...
Perhaps they used it for sending down wood as I doubt it would support the weight of a person. We carried on along the levada for the next 4 kilometers enjoying the Laurisilva Forest, waterfalls and sunny spots where we would occasionally see butterflies fluttering by.
One of the best parts of walking in Madeira, is that distant glimpses of the sea between the steep slopes of the valleys are always a welcome yet tricky photo opportunity.
Eventually we reached the tunnel that carries on through the mountain for seven kilometers but we had arranged for a taxi to take us back to our car, so we followed the dirt road that took us down to Lamaceiros.
This is undoubtedly one of the best ever Levada Walks I have done and would highly recommend for anyone staying at Casa da Capelinha.
GI was really excited to return to Casa da Capelinha and the lovely Ponta Delgada in February 2016, especially as the flights and car hire were over 50% cheaper than in July last year. I had watched a documentary about the unique nature of the Laurisilva Forest by the BBC in January and so was determined to experience it for myself this time.
I was surprised it was so close when I Googled the directions, only a 19 minute drive along the coast and up the Sao Vicente valley, so I got my boots on and jumped into the car. As I drove, the surf pounding the coast was amazing and of course there was hardly any traffic so it was a very easy drive with no delays and the only sign of life was a few farmers tending their vines.
I had decided to do the Vereda do Chao do Louros as it seemed a nice circular route. I was soon lost in the rare remnant of Europe's primeval forest from before the last ice age and as I was now out of the wind, breathed in the fresh and fragrant air.
There were many birds flitting between the branches and as the sun came out, I could hear them chirping to each other softly. They moved so fast and were really small but I managed to get a picture of one of them. Unfortunately, I am not a bird watcher so am unable to tell you what kind they were, although they were very cute.
There were many sights of trees, bushes and even fungi that I had never seen before and it was a bit like walking through a tunnel with light dappling through the leaves onto the ground. As I was walking downhill, it was a very pleasant experience and within 30 minutes I reached the main road and the main car park
Eventually I made it to the Empty picnic area, and found the bridge and the right fork to go in the right direction. I left the path to photograph some interesting stones and nearly lost the way again. All I could hear was the sound of the birds, the wind and bubbling streams.