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