Hiking in Madeira

Brocken spectre

A Brocken Spectre

In a bid to escape the winter gloom we spent a week in Madeira in early March. In actual fact, in the North of the island and at lower altitudes the gloom was worse than at home and resembled North Wales in November.  But climb up though the drizzle and a very different world is revealed. We witnessed a spectacular cloud inversion, I saw my first Brocken Spectre and am now nursing sunburn.

The best hike is undoubtedly the poular trek between Pico do Ariero and Pico Ruivo.  Hiking there and back gives almost 3000ft of ascent in about 6 hours on a superbly engineered path.  The picture below looks back from Pico Ruivo to Pico do Ariero where you can just see the dome of the military radar installation which you can drive your car right up to.

The levada walks of Madeira which follow the old irrigation channels are, of necessity, pretty lacking in gradient.  But the area of the central mountains looks full of promise for further exploration and now you can fly direct from East Midlands to Funchal with two carriers Madeira could well become a regular winter destination for us.

Cloud inversion. Pico do Ariero

Pico do Ariero

The cuisine of Madeira is not well known, at least by me.  Hot Limpets seemed to be a local speciality and one which surely ought to be better known in the UK.  Limpets, as any student of the British seaside rockpool can tell you are widely and freely available.  They have a tendency to stick to the rocks like, well, limpets.  But a kick with a sturdy boot can dislodge them.

They seemed to have at least as much merit as escargots – the taste being predominantly from the garlic butter and the lemon, but there was a fresh, seaside saltiness which I liked.

Hot Limpets

Hot Limpets at the Quinta do Furao

Hello world, goodbye Twitter.

I’ve deleted my Twitter account.  After two years I finally had to acknowledge that I just don’t get it.  What the hell is point of Twitter?  Stephen Fry has apparently abandoned his millions of followers (again) after some people were nasty to him.  Personally I would have been happy with any kind of reaction at all.  It seems to me that, unless you are a celebrity, everyone is tweeting and nobody is listening.

My epiphany came on a long haul flight when the stewardess handed me one of those little sachets of milk that you pour into your coffee.  Mid-atlantic boredom led me to examine the packaging.  They are called DairyStix, a product of Freshways Dairystix Ltd.



Dairystix are clearly a modern, forward-thinking company, wise to the importance of engaging the public through social media and their packaging invited me to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Bored as I was, I looked out over the endless sea of cloud and tried to imagine just how empty my life would have to be before I followed the manufacturer of DairyStix on Twitter.  But when I got home and checked, I found that DairyStix had more followers than me.

Therefore I quit and advise everyone to do the same.  Twitter is hemorrhaging users and burning cash at an unfathomable pace.  They’ll be lucky to last another year.

DairyStix meanwhile, may last a little longer.  They haven’t tweeted anything in the last two years and are presumably focused on the task of efficiently pouring milk into little plastic sachets – something which is likely to be a far more profitable use of their time in the long run.

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