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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hike Madeira Paul do Mar 29 October 2011

One of the disadvantages of being in Calhete is the almost lack of public transport, particularly on the weekend. So around 1000hrs Saturday morning 29 October, we took a taxi from close to the marina to take us to Paul do Mar, an old fishing village some 6 kms along the coast north west of Calheta.
Much to our surprise, instead of going over the hilltops, the taxi turned left onto a coastal road which was not obvious to us from the map - and promptly dived into a tunnel 
In fact the road to Paul do Mar seems to consist mainly of tunnels, which makes the trip very fast compared to winding round the usual  hairpin bends of Madeira.
We arrived at Paul do Mar before 1030hrs at the eastern end of the village which is locally known as Quebrada and has a small, not very well protected harbour
Outside the harbour there was quite some surf running and we could just make out several surfers. Paul do Mar is rated as one of the world's best surfing centres.
 video
We planned to start hike number 49 in Rother's Walking Guide from here
Behind the harbour a waterfall can be seen emerging from a steep valley
Our hike took us through the old narrow streeted village with many houses right on the ocean's edge



There are several abandoned houses in the village, some in ruins

At the western end of the village is an area of particularly high surf
video
Our route takes us up a steep zig-zag path to the top of the cliff 
The start of the climb
The track is in good condition made of pebble cobbles
The views were magnificent from bottom to top




Zooming-in on the Aparthotel Paul do Mar far below

An Outlook point with the remains of an old conveyor belt
The route now takes us through the clifftop village of Faja da Ovelha where almost every house has fine ocean views

Past the village the road continues to climb untill we reach the Levada Nova, a relatively newly constructed irrigation water course, which forms part of our hike. From above, the Levada crossing under the road is obvious - however, walking up the road, we actually missed it - and we were not the only ones - while we were pondering where it was , another couple of hikers arrived who had also missed it. A passing motorist directed us back to this point 
For the next couple of hours, it was very easy walking along the almost horizontal Levada path which snaked its way around the hills and the valleys.
Time for a break in the shade
One of the many road crossings


One of the many small sluice doors to divert water to the fields below
Two pretty Grey? Wagtails stayed just a few meters ahead of us for quite a way


In many places there were small fields at the side of the levada either full of growing vegetables or being laboriously prepared with hand tools
On several occasions we saw the main road taking the shortest route across the many valleys by using a bridge, whilst we meandered around the contours adding many kilometers to our trip
and lo and behold, our old Azorian favourites - the Meninas Para a Escolas (Amarylis Belladonnas) - the first we have seen on Madeira
A fallen tree trunk
An elaborate stream crossing
and finally another first - a bull - in the Azores cattle are everywhere - here on Madeira they seem to be very few and very far between
We left the Levada Nova in the village of Prazeres where a kind Cafe owner telephoned a taxi for us. We were back at the marina shortly after 1700. Taxi costs 15 Euros each way.
We enjoyed the hike very much - especially the section around Paul do Mar and the climb up to Faja da Ovelha. The walk along the Levada, however, though pleasant, was not the most interesting of walks.

Calheta Madeira

Calheta is situated on the south west coast of Madeira - reputedly the region with the most sun.
Very little evidence remains of the original old fishing village - it is now very much a small holiday development behind a man made marina and adjacent protected swimming area.
The photo below of the swimming area and marina of Calheta is a screen print from this webcam link

 http://www.netmadeira.com/webcams/calheta/475358/webcam.jpg

 Dutch Link at the end of Pontoon 3
 The restaurants, supermarket, shops and hotel/appartments are squeezed in on the narrow strip of land between the marina/ swimming area and the almost vertical crumbling cliffs

  In order to reduce the risk of rock falls, work is being carried out fixing a chicken wire screen to the cliff face with the aid of this crane
 Zooming-in on the chicken wire
 A view towards the marina with the swimming area in the foreground - we have already enjoyed several swims here protected from the ocean rollers
Treated ourselves to Sunday Lunch
 Sunset over the Atlantic from Calheta