Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

An Urban Levada Walk

Whilst Pat set about writing another chapter of her book, the rest of us enjoyed a walk from the hotel.

About 30 metres above the Savoy Gardens a narrow lane reaches the Levada dos Piornais, which we followed for over 8 km to a gate. Well, Sue, Dave and Keith went to the gate; Carol and I stopped in the vicinity of a bridge shortly before the final vertiginous section of unprotected path.

Bananas and kestrels, and an excellent coffee shop in Quebradas graced the sunlit route, though the mountain rain did occasionally stray our way in the form of a light drizzle. 

After retracing our steps to a bemused foreign couple, we ascended 150 metres up steps and roadways to join the Levada Novo do Curral up an alleyway beyond the Pinheiro das Voltas snack-bar. Lunch was taken on a concrete roof top adjoining the levada, before heading back round to the Socorridos valley inhabited by the Piornais levada 150 metres below.

Our respective susceptibility to vertigo dictated how far we each went along this path. I stopped soon after the houses of Fajã came into view ahead of us. Carol joined me twenty minutes later, with the other three enjoying 30 minutes (a good kilometre) each way beyond my inclination. It was most pleasant waiting in the shade of the levada walls on this hot and humid day.  

In fact, Carol and I were waiting at the point where our Rother guidebook states "Due to the perilously close steep drops, do not continue along this path." Rother's latest edition does not even include this walk.

In contrast, Paddy Dillon's Cicerone guide quite happily describes a walk from Curral das Freiras, which we could see high above the Socorridos valley, all the way to Funchal. He describes the section walked by Sue, Dave and Keith as follows:

"... use a crumbling stony path ... walk down exposed steps ... turn another corner where the levada is covered with rockfall detritus, then a series of descents drop the water level" (here the three adventurers enjoyed a view down to the sea, thinking they had passed right through the mountain to the north side of the island!) "Pause and study the awesome rocky side valley, which is the most dangerous part of the walk ... use steps to cross a wedged boulder. Enter a curious tunnel, which is high and wide, with water rushing through it. The tunnel is bent, so the exit cannot be seen ... a series of 'windows' allow light to enter. A waterfall pours down outside (and inside!) these 'windows' ... stacks of boulders in the tunnel, and the roof is low. The next stretch is very dangerous. Turn out of the tunnel and walk down 35 steep, exposed and slippery steps ... go through a rock arch to reach safer ground. Take a break and get things dried" ... etc, etc, etc. 

Reading this whilst waiting certainly made me glad I stopped when I did, though the protagonists returned elated from their adventure. 

The lovely weather continued as we returned to Pinheira das Voltas and meandered slowly back along Paddy Dillon's 'Walk 38' route, reaching the hotel at 5pm after a 7.5 hour walk covering between 19 km (me) and 24 km (Dave, Sue and Keith), with Carol somewhere in between. 

Today's pictures are an early view from the Levada dos Piornais, and a Bird of Paradise flower taken late in the day.

There should be a slide show in due course with evidence of a bit more 'excitement'.


AlanR said...

Did you manage to get both images posted using your Galaxy phone or was it created back at base with the new gizmo?
Great colours too.

John J said...

You selling that (as new!) sofa yet Martin?



Phreerunner said...

I used the S3 phone, as usual, Alan. The mystery of the ipad is stuck at the 'sync with Outlook' problem. None of the suggested solutions seems to work.

JJ - keep off our sofa! It may be vintage but it's in mint condition and we need it for our (very occasional) visitors!

AlanR said...

Have a look at YouTube tutorials if you haven't already.

Phreerunner said...

I have done already but will try again when back home.