severe are walks in December, January and February when even snow can fall and
make it hazardous even for the very experienced mountaineers !
companies provide guided walks for the inexperienced
– ask at the tourist office !
Back to my
second proposal :
Grande (1657 m) is less elevated than the Picos of the main range but
nevertheless dominates the bottom of Nuns Valley by over 1000 metres - most of
which are steep or vertical. Its north face is the highest wall of Madeira
To get to
the departure point is easy: you take a
bus number 3 from Funchal to Estreito de Câmara do Lobos (45 min.) and then get
there by walking or or short taxi drive from the last bus stop towards the forest
Boca da Corrida (1225 m).
From there you follow the panel towards Encumeada and Curral das Freiras. The
walk leads you along the mountain ribs of the Pico do Cavalo and Serradinho
Boca do Cerro – saddle,
before it gets more demanding. In that
very saddle the walk splits off. You find a
group of chestnut trees with a shepherds stable at the base of the escarpments
of Pico Grande.
down towards Encumeada Pass follows to the left across its southern flank and
is very much exposed to the elements. To the right, the descent into the Nuns
Valley turns off and if you follow straight ahead past the stable you‘ll find
the path ascending towards the summit area of Pico Grande which climbs up
steeply along the foot of the rock flank (cables) opening into a large flank of
grass which you cross up towards the summit cone, a knob of rock. The path is
unmarked and needs a certain sense of orientation and you can get easily lost
with fog or bad weather!
the summit you follow on the rock by the help of cables to very exposed top
(cairn). If you want
to explore the surrounding area (where there are very nice volcanic rock
formations and outlooks) beware of unstable weather. After
crossing a stonewall you will “dead end”
above the vertical – the dropdown of the northeast face of Pico Grande’s
Antecime into the bottom of the Nuns Valley.
on the same path down to the saddle, where the path leads down to Curral das
Freiras - to your left. In steep and narrow turns you reach the chestnut forest
above Cumial. You cross the forest in a long zigzag and end up between the
houses of this village. Close by the road junction with the Curral das Freiras
road you’ll find the bus stop and a bar to take refreshments. Plan for the
whole walk some 4 hours - from the starting point down to Cumial.
What a wonderful way to see Madeira - hanging off a cliff!
trips are the ascent of Pico Ruivo from Encumeada Pass, and the Pico do Cedro
and Pico do Areeiro from the road to Curral das Freiras at Ribeira Lapa (2 kms
before the junction with Eira do Serrado) – unmarked sheep trails.
some extreme walks up the canyons and gullies of the northern side on to the
summits of the main range but those trails (which are entirely unmarked and
extremely exposed ) cannot be recommended to inexperienced walkers.
walks just don’t lead to a summit but across the coastal cliffs such as the
walk up from Paul do Mar to Prazeres – 650 meters, very exposed and very
beautiful, but quite hot in summer.
you have a mountain shop where you might find gear and advice, if needed. Tel.
291 222 105.
essential book for those who begin walks on Madeira, is always the following
walks by John & Pat Underwood, Edition Sunflower Landscapes , available at www.madeira-shopping.com
Oliver walking down from one of the peaks