Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Down to Ribeira Brava

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Thursday 12th November 2009, Encumeada, Madeira, Portugal

Walk: 4hrs 45mins starting at 9.10
Low: 57m at 13.33
High: 1340m at 9.10
Descent: 1314m
Ascent: 31m


After breakfast at 8am we are ready to leave by 9am. After a short drive to are ready to walk 10 minutes later. It's a warm and sunny morning for our walk down to Ribeira Brava following the Levada do Lombo do Mouro.


After following a small track we find a zig-zag path which leads steeply down to find the small levada. For three and a half hours we follow this gently down until we reach the outskirts of town. The last hour is a steep descent on concrete roads past the villas and garden until we reach the town and the sea.

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The levada leads us first through bracken and gorse and broom as it follows a gentle contour. We look down into the steep valleys below us. The trail is overgrown and broken in places and it's clear that not many people come this way. We pass no-one else on the trail all day. In the distance the mountain tops are weird and oddly shaped.


Eventually we get down to the tree level and stop and stoop to pick some chestnuts from the floor. We kick some nuts into the levada and follow them down stream in a nutty version of Pooh-sticks. Later the trees change to Eucalyptus (introduced from Austral;ia to help hold the soil together). The way is narrow and the sun shines on the brown bracken. Sometimes we have to scramble under and around fallen and burnt trees. Their must have been a forest fire here sometime in the recent summers past. The levada is smaller than yesterday's and sometimes flows fast as the trail steepens.

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We break out onto a rough trail twice before we are eventually forced to leave the levada and continue on the roads down to the town. It's very steep on the concrete roads and shortcuts and we stop for a beer in a local cafe before continuing. This last hour is very hard on the knees but we eventually manage to struggle down to the town at sea-level.

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On the other side of the river we find a restaurant and stop for a late lunch. We have grilled Gambas and sardines to start and then Tuna, Octopus and squid, with a bottle of white wine. After an hour we wander down to the sea front. I take a short detour to a supermarket to get some things for tomorrows lunch and some wine for this evening. After a coffee and cake on the sea-front we hop a taxi back to our hotel which is a short 8km ride back into the mountains.


We spend the evening relaxing on the terrace.