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Library : Itineraries : Levada Walking Last Updated: Jun 28, 2008 - 12:29:23 AM

The start of the great levada walking odyssey!
By Jorge Barbosa
Jun 16, 2008 - 4:52:43 PM

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When I finally arrived at the top of the hill, where the climb ends, and meets with another Levada (the " Levada dos Tornos"), I was fuming - because of the climb, for the interpretation of the "problems" I thought I had discovered in John and Pat's guide, and for so many other things: for example, I wasn't able to take any photos along the steep trail from whence I had come, and, by the time I got to the levada above, I wasn't in the mood for taking any more photos - the dehydration I was suffering from left me without any will to pull the camera out of the rucksack. Also, my shortened version of the walk, what should have been three hours and twenty minute long, had become a journey of more than five hours! I challenged John and Pat's rating of the walk as being deemed "Easy to Moderate" (page 68, idem). "Easy and moderate? My foot!", I said, adding some expletives after that too. This is a walk that, unless you decide to walk back the route you came by, is one that should not be attempted by a novice walker; at least not by novices like me. Being in a foul mood still I had to pick on another item in John and Pat's book, that is, for example, how aggravating it was to follow their instructions to the hilt for the last part of the top levada walk: they suggest you take a right turn at the point you reached at the top levada after the arduous uphill climb. "Now, why on earth, John and Pat, would you want to put us through that?" I had asked myself. All that this direction mongering does is take you on to the extreme of the " Levada dos Tornos" just so that you can witness where it ends over the top of the water catchment station you had just left (and wished to forget after the uphill terror). You find that you have to return back to where you had started at the end of the uphill struggle anyway. And, for somebody like myself, tired and exasperated, run out of water, food, and patience, I found myself spitting expletives as to why anyone should have followed the extra ten minutes to the end of the levada in the first place! Well, just for the record, dear reader, don't go right! Go left on the top levada if you want to save time and effort! Unless, of-course, if you were born with wings on your back and the uphill struggle was nought for you, well, then, by all means follow their guide to see more repeats of the same levada views you have witnessed the last several hours. So much for the "surprising" element of the walk.... Fortunately, the map included in the book was of great help. Had I followed that instead of the instructions of the book I would have been less upset. It took the short stretch of levada walking on the new levada to calm me down a bit.

At any rate, the discovery of the cobbled steps you need to watch out for, as described in John and Pat Underwood's book, is quite easy and not too far from the end of the ascent of the hill struggle from before. These steps lead all the way up until it flattens out into some harvested fields. There one finds electrical pylons running through a field (also as described per John and Pat's guide). Ignore the direction that the electrical wires take and follow on upwards on the same path underneath and past the electrical cables. Eventually, you will find a rocky wall - just before the first house you encounter in the vicinity - and bear left there. Follow the footpath until you get to a road that T-junctions with the footpath you have been following. The road is wide enough for a vehicle to drive on and is also cobbled. You bear left here again and walk the entirety (quite a long walk - about 300 metres) of this cobbled road until you arrive at an intersection of tarred roads. At the intersection you will see a road sign showing the lateral road being indicated as " Caminho da Pereira" (not to be confused with " Caminho da Pedreira" close by - which you may pass by when you walk further on). From this intersection the cobbled path you were following continues on ahead up the hill - but this time tarred too. It looks new - it was recently tarred - but it is still the old path that John and Pat Underwood refer to in their book. This is another slow and steady climb uphill along what seems to be a forgotten and desolate road to nowhere. But, hang on in there; it will arrive at another T-junction. This second T-junction intersects with a road called " Caminho Mary Jane Wilson" - importantly, don't confuse this road with " Estrada Mary Jane Wilson"* - which is also close by. Here you bear right into a road with a double carriageway (that is, a road with a white line painted in the middle of it - I mention this since the road you just left behind at the second T-junction was a single carriageway - leaving one to wonder what happens when a car going down meets one coming up...).

*( One wonders why the municipality puts similar road names in the same area to confuse people, we have "Pereira" similar to "Pedreira" and "Caminho Mary Jane Wilson" similar to" Estrada Mary Jane Wilson").


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