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24 Dec 2005: Feliz Natal

A picture

The Levada Perspective

Madeira is also famous for its levadas, systems of canals designed to distribute water from the wet north to the drier south of the island. What makes these levadas so special is that they make great walking routes around the island.

On Tuesday, we had planned to take a 3-4 hour levada walk from Palheiro Ferreiro to Monte, apparently an easy walk with plenty of exciting stuff going on along the route. The rain from the previous day has stopped at some point in the early morning but, as soon as we began our walk from Palheiro Ferreiro, the overcast sky decided we were fair game and started to throw rain at us again.

I had already realised that I had a cold, but we decided to persevere... however it didn't take long before we decided to give up and return to Funchal after reaching the first milestone of the Jasmine Tea House. We had been robbed of views by thick fog and the routes were waterlogged and muddy. By the time we reached the Tea House, we were thoroughly soaked and exhausted.

On the way back to the hotel, intensely strong sunshine burst through the clouds and wrested control of the afternoon from the rain. I was sure that after being soaked I was being set up for sunburn by whatever twisted god was watching over Madeira. Drying off and resting at the hotel was needed but it seemed madness not to take advantage of the change in weather. Around 4pm, the snap decision was made to get out there again and go for a levada route which happened to be not too far from the hotel.

The levada in question was the Levada dos Piornais as it turned out. Soon after starting the levada we knew, we realised, that this was why we had come to Madeira. The levadas cut through the scenary efficiently, throwing views in such frequency and variety at you that you cannot put your camera down. We left the levada when it started to get a bit dark and made a decision to give up on museums and cathedrals on our final day... and just go back to the levada and see how far we could get.

The remainder of the pictures are taken from our levada walk from both days.