Encosta Cabo Girão

Cabo Girão, Madeira

Levada do Norte walking and hiking route

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Walk Instructions

This is a classic walk along a favourite part of the ‘Levada do Norte’ (see walk nº. 2). It passes some of the vineyards of Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, centre of Madeira’s most favoured wine growing area. There are several sections where the route might be unacceptable to those prone to vertigo or dizzy spells. One section occurs in the first half-mile and is an early indicator to avoid the problem is available. Unless a long out and back walk is desired, this route assumes that you will return to the HPB either by bus or by taxi, as in the case of walk no. 4. Estreito itself is a substantial village up the hill behind Càmara de Lobos and has some shops, bars, restaurants, buses and taxis.

1. (Map point 5) From HPB reception turn right to walk down the road as far as the first bend. As the road bends to the right, go straight ahead through a little car park and down a flight of steps. By a small building turn left along a level concrete path signed, ‘Vereda da Levada do Faco’. (A short cut from HPB villas to this point,- turn left up the steps, then right along the path by the building). Continue beside a small irrigation channel on the concrete and then earthen path. Take care over a short section where it runs along the top of a well-built reinforcing wall about two feet wide, with a firm surface and a steep drop to the right hand side above the cultivated hillside below. This is fairly typical, and if you can do this, it becomes easier with repetition!

2. (Map point 1) (0.45 miles) Cross over some substantial steps – (note: steps up to the left are the way up to our local bus stop, avoiding most of the road walking. If you wish to detour around one of the walk’s vertiginous sections in the half-mile ahead, you will need to ascend these steps to the Cabo Girão road, walk to your right along the road for about a good ½ mile and rejoin the route shortly after the road turns right, near Nogueira and at a point where the Levada do Norte is signed on the left hand side, see para. Starting Map 2 below). The route of walk 5 continues ahead beside the small irrigation channel, until it reached the main “Levada do Norte” that emerges from a tunnel on your left. Ignor the tune path, and continue ahead on the obvious path alongside the now more substantial levada water course. Expect to meet a vertiginous section with a drop on the right (see the detour in the note above). Looking ahead you can see that the levada path on this level eventually turns to the right to join up with the main road by some houses. The traffic on the road is visible as you approach. This where the detour rejoins.

3. (Map point 2) (1.1 miles) Nogueira. At the road side (beware of traffic coming quickly from the right), walk to the right for about 20 yards and cross the road quickly to rejoin the footpath at the sign “Leveda do Norte”. Here briefly the water runs underneath the concrete slabs of the path and between some houses on the outskirts of Nogueira, where sadly (2013) there was evidence of fly-tipping. Thankfully that is most unusual on the island. The walk then follows and obvious woodland path before rejoining the watercourse, continue alone the levada. (1.5 miles) Reaching a minor road that comes down very steeply from the left, turn right-using some useful concrete steps that substitute for a pavement. In about 40 yards, turn left and wind up some more steps in order to rejoin the levada path that is slabbed over at this point. Enjoy your first clear view of Estreito. The area around here seems to be more intensively cultivated. The path is obvious as it curves around left into the first of many re-entrants ahead. Enjoy the sea-ward views before you turn away from the coast. (2.0 miles) Continue along the left-hand side of the re-entrant. The going is easy (2013). When a good road is visible on the right, keep going on the level. The path literally “merges” with the tarmac road after the road comes up to meet you. (2.5 miles) Go left up the road for only 30 yards, cross over and descend some unsigned and insignificant (2013) steps to the slabbed levada path below. After passing some houses, the path curves left into another, lare re-entrant that soon becomes a gorge. The path is shaded in part by trees, with steep rocks above to the lfet and a drop to the few strips of cultivated fields below. (3.6 miles) The gorge narrows and we cross it by a substantial steel bridge. Take care at another point where the path becomes a firm but narrow walkway along the top of a well-build stone wall. In a few minutes, after crossing another good bridge, you meet a section where the cliff on the left hangs low over the path in two places. The overhang comes down to shoulder height and stooping underneath it can unbalance the unwary or the taller walker on the narrow path. However, there are two, clear bypasses – one well made of stone and on e (2013) of earth that can be a bit slippery after rain. Nevertheless, with care each bypass is much preferred to the levada path! (4.6 miles) As the path begins to emerge from the reentrant, the views open up again. The area is suddenly more organised, and the levada path is well used and covered by concrete and slabs. You pass well-tended vineyards with the vines trained over typical Madeiran “pergolas”. Stay on the level path. Coming to a small build up area, the levada disappears briefly into a culvert under buildings on the left and the path merges with a small road. (4.9 miles) Continue to the left along the pavement of the road and just before a T-junction follow where the modern pavement veers slightly left. Cross over the small side road, pass the right side of a domestic garage and rejoin the levada path that here runs on top of the cover watercourse. This is the final section. Soon, vineyards and sugar can abound. See the church and the town below and the views out to sea.

4. (Map point 3.) (5.6 miles) The path ends at a modern road, marked b the usual ‘Levada do Norte’ sign. To reach the town of Estreito, turn right, downhill and at a one way traffic system, choose the left-hand side past the “No Entry” traffic sign, soyou walk facing the traffic coming uphill. Notice on the left the Easter “stations of the cross” number XII to I. Pass a large traffic island and to reach your No. 7 (Funchal – Ribeira Brava) bus stop, continue past the church and around a long curve to the right. Ignore a large bus stand across the road. At the T junction at the bottom of the hill, your return bus will approach from the left and you catch the bus at the little bus shelter a few yards to your right. Walk’s end – 6.2 miles! In front of you is the welcome sight of the “TOFA” cake shop and cafeteria. Having got your bearings and if you have the time, you can return a short way back to the village centre for a longer visit.

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Disclaimer: This route was correct at time of writing. However, alterations can happen if development or boundary changes occur, and there is no guarantee of permanent access. These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that neither HPB Management Limited nor any other person connected with Holiday Property Bond is responsible for the safety or wellbeing of those following the routes as described. It is walkers' own responsibility to be adequately prepared and equipped for the ‎level of walk and the weather conditions and to assess the safety and accessibility of the walk.

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