Madeira 2012

Day : June

Weather: Brilliant sunshine above the clouds for most of the walk - perfect

Route: Pico Do Areeiro to Pico Riuvo and back again

 

Map: Madeira Tour & Trail Map - Paper Version by David Brawn 1:40000

Guide Book: Walking in Madeira - a Cicerone guide book by Paddy Dillon. Walk number 42

Pico do Areeiro to Pico do Cidrao, around the east side of Torres and along to the refuge. Up the path and steps to Pico Ruivo, enjoy the view and return to the refuge. Follow the route back - signposted to Pico do Areeiro. Go through a tunnel to return along the west side of Torres through several tunnels, joining the route once more at Pico do Gato. Retrace your steps back up to Pico do Areeiro. 

I did have grand plans for several walks, but I never got around to any real planning despite perusing Paddy Dillons book on Walking Madeira.
I was a little frazzled by the time I got there and really just tried to relax and forget about conquering any big peaks. We had a decent hotel and there are plenty of restaurants out and about Funchal. Euro 2012 was running so I had plenty of evening entertainment and the beer was passable. The weather was mixed but I did manage to get three walks in, with the most enjoyable being up on the high peak of Pico Do Areeiro.

The Pico Do Areeiro walk is one of the most popular walks on the island. Easily accessible from the car park, it's a fine roller coaster walk. It can be very windy as I found out and to be honest if it's cloudy then don't bother. You need to see and feel the atmosphere up there, taste it even, and definitely absorb it. It's a fantastic aerial walkway, safe enough as long as you don't suffer from vertigo. The path is well protected by steel posts cemented into rock, with wire guides strung between them. Nearly all of them were ok, but one or two rock falls had squashed the poles flat and broken the wire. But it is still safe and I suppose there is an active maintenance programme going on through the year. My biggest tip would be to get there early to enjoy the peace, solitude and sunrise - it's superb. It's a there and back walk, but you have the choice of a loop to the right that returns to the route the other side of the Torres mountain via a tunnel. On my return journey there were several guided groups of varying ages being talked at by their guides - great if you like that sort of thing, but really you don't need one - just follow the path it's easy. Enjoy the pictures.

If you really want a good story, and the inspiration for my trip here, then visit Because they’re there , a very fine walking blog written by Alen McFadzean (from his blog – Journalist on The Northern Echo, former shipyard electrician, former quarryman and tunneller. Climbs mountains and runs long distances to make life harder. Gravitates to the left in politics just to make life harder still. )

It took me three attempts to get a clear view up high on the fabulous Pico Do Arieiro, walk over to Pico Riuvo and back. We also managed a walk to the easternmost point of the island at Sao Lourenco, another to the Rabacal and the 25 Fontes – where all the tourists go I’m shamed to admit. The remainder of the time was spent on a ‘Grand Tour’ of the island in a hire car – a Smart Car – which persuaded me to never consider buying one of these ever. But it did the job required and was easy to get about in.

Highlight of the holiday was the magnificent views up above the clouds, and the funniest was the lads at Manchester Airport donned in ‘Zante Tour 2012′ T-shirts – on spying our queue at the gate were heard the words – ‘Thank God were not going were that lot are going’. I must admit to feeling quite sprightly amongst the crowds at our hotel, and I’m no spring chicken.

Apologies if this page is a little picture heavy, but it is very photogenic

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the early sunlight illuminates the hills on the way up to Pico do Areeiro - you can see the radar ball on top


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and looking east as the sun rises above the usual cloud inversion


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just next to the summit and cafe


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This was my journey today - first to the car park as the roads were empty and then walking on my own - bliss


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great views down over the steep northern valley sides - probably 5000ft down to sea level


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looking ahead to the roller coaster of a path, safely enclosed by a safety wire for most of the way. Pico do Cidrao and Pico do Gatao ahead


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It looks impossible at first, but you soon start to enjoy the ups and downs, with superb views all around. I loved the early morning light.


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With the sun rising above the cloud there were sparkling blue skies all around, and lovely layered ridges down below. I think I will have to return for some better photographs of the area.


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This shot gives you the idea of so many steeply ravined hillsides right down to the coast


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the path dips left of the pinnacle ahead with some steep sections down, which is up on the way back


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looking back up to the start, the path runs along the right side


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around the pinnacle and onto a sharp arrete at Sao Goncalo - except it's flat on top where the path is


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this is the thinnest part with a few hundred feet down either side - wonderful to stand and stare


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the sheer sided mountain ahead is Pico do Cidrao


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there's a lovely picnic table and bench here hewn from the volcanic rocks


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this gives you some idea of how steep the slopes are around here


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and the stairways down aren't far behind


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looking down the deep sided valleys to the east

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the blue spikey plant is an Echium - they grow ok in Cornwall, but not as good as this

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down to the wonderful hole in the wall below Pico do Gato

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just beyond the hole in the wall the path splits with the longer section turning off to the right

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wonderful views of the Curral Valley

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they've even paved the first tunnel through Pico do Gato to save your feet getting wet!

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hard to believe the path snakes across these slopes

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but it weaves it's way above steep drops, passing by some wonderful flora

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east for the sunnyside in the morning

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the return path I would be on later today

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Looking back to the radar dome on Pico do Areeiro

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Campanula type bells

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lots of these daisy like flowers growing like weeds

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there are some painted trail markers, but believe me you aren't going to wander off this path.

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looking back across the valley to the start, now bathed in warm sunshine

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well laid paths below the steep, towering cliffs of volcanic rock of Torres

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there were one or two square caves hacked out of the rocks - most seem to be used as a toilet which is pretty grim

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a long way down to the Metade valley floor


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looking back to Pico do Cidrao


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feeling high and dry. Time to stop for refreshments. Best to have plenty of juice with you


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up higher on the flank of Torres, through this notch the path levels out


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high up on the side of Torres - on me head son


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Pico Ruivo refuge is ahead on the far shoulder of the hill


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this cairn marks the path that winds around the north east flank of Torres


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a sea of cloud to the NE


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Pico Ruivo ahead, after the steeply cut path


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beyond here the path is cut into the side of the mountain - you have to watch your head once or twice


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this picture shows the path along the steep hillside. Spot the square cut 'room' in the distance


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this gives you a feel for how the going is - well protected for much of the way


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the tunnel leads to the west side of Torres - my return route on the way back from Pico Ruivo


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watch the napper going round the bend


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great fun with a backpack on. Take it off if you feel it's going to push you over the edge


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Beautiful blue Echium


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big drops at the side of the path at times


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up through a tangle of old heather trees


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looking back to Torres - the path along there is reasonably flat and doesn't ascend or descend too much


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wonderful flora - must be fantastic in the spring


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reaching the end of the path, a signpost and steps lead up to the refuge


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at the refuge, this set of steps leads up to the path to Pico Ruivo. No tea for me at the refuge - too early although the kettle was on


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the path winds up crunchy red pumice to the summit of Pico Ruivo, with a couple of stone step staircases to negotiate. Unfortunately I wasn't up there alone!


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early risers hogging the trig point


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but the views were magnificent - this one looking down to Curral das Freiras far below. It's equally impressive looking back up here from down there.


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the refuge down below, cloudy to the north and the path down to Achado do Teixeira - a finish point for many of the walking tours here


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the path down below leads to Boca da Encumeada, another 8 miles away. You'd need a good supply of water to get down to there in one piece


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hard not to take too many pictures which I did


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After returning down to the refuge I retraced my steps through the old heather trees, around the steep sided cut path to the tunnel. This took me to the west of Torres giving me a different aspect once more


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big drops on this side of the mountain as well. Views over the valleys to the west


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you can see the feint line of the path along the hillside


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a little bit narrower than the east side. This way has had collapsed tunnels in the past, but these have been re-opened. I heard a couple of the guides scaring the daylights out of their clients with tales of imminent demise. you can see a black igneous dyke cutting up through the layers


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succulents thrive on these shady slopes, clinging on as were many tourists who passed by me one by one.


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some great rock formations


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all neat in a line, entering another tunnel, I think there are three or four, and you definitely need a torch of some sort to get you through


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coming towards the last tunnel that returns me to the outward path.


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spectacular scenery and quite intimidating at times


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one collapsed tunnel ahead, and one not so collapsed


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Looking down one of the side valleys down to Curral das Freiras


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as I emerged from the west route back to the main path, the wind was picking up and the clouds were starting to roll up the valleys to the tops


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and the sea of cloud was still blotting out the coast far below


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the hole in the wall - the whole aspect of the hills changes on the way back, almost like a different walk


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I'd love one like this in my garden


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clouds rolling in over Pico do Arieero


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and what came down earlier must walk back up, a couple of steep sections but easy with the steps


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terrific winds blowing now which took away some of the heat


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one of my favourite parts near the thin section at Sao Goncalo


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big drops on either side of the path


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and fantastic views down the hillside and valleys


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my hat blew off here but I wasn't going to fetch it


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almost back to the radar station - what a fantastic walk with views I'll never forget



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