Many of the walks on Madeira pass through uninhabited and pristine areas. While following the levada through the mountains you will occasionally see an abandoned shed, but that’s about it. Madeira really has many faces though, and this walk is a nice surprise. Following the Levada do Castelejo you will pass through gardens and agricultural fields and end up in a wilderness.
This walk starts in the small village of Cruz: after passing houses and little flower filled gardens you will join the Levada do Castelejo. During the first part of the walk, this levada will guide you through a rural area consisting of gardens, meadows and agricultural fields. You will literally pass through the locals’ vegetable gardens. Vegetables, beans and various plants are left to dry on the rooftops of worn sheds, and now and then you will catch a glimpse of people working their garden amongst the wild cultivation.
Along the levada you’ll see various flowers. Combined with the vegetable gardens, these account for a very colorful and surprising start of the walk. Leaving this rural area around Cruz, the levada will lead you into the gorgeous valley of the Ribeira de São Roque. On the opposite side of the valley lies another village (São Roque do Faial) and on the steep slope of the mountain you will see the typical Madeira terraces. The levada curves around the mountain for some while and thus constantly changes the panorama. Overgrown mountain ridges, small villages, fields, rivers and the ocean: it’s all there. Once in a while, you will pass some sheds and fields, literally ‘in the middle of nowhere’.
The area you’re passing through becames wilder with every bend the levada makes. You’ll pass through jungle-like territory, ferns towering above you.The levada walk ends at the source of the levada: the boulder-strewn river Ribeiro Frio. Here you can take a rest while sitting on the enormous rocks and enjoy your lunch, or even take a swim in one of the pools (although they are quite cold!). Scrambling up the rocks you can even explore the valley a little further from this point.
This is not a circular walk, so you will have to return by the same path. Boring? Absolutely not! Because you are now facing the other way, you will experience entirely different views. Also, because of the dynamic weather on Madeira, it might be you’re walking back with completely different weather and light conditions.
This is a very mild walk, suitable for every type of hiker. There are no ascents or descents, so if you’re in for a nice stroll through beautiful surroundings: this is your walk! At some parts, the levada path gets very narrow (and the abyss very steep). Most of these parts are secured by railings, but you should be aware of this (before starting the walk) if you have a fear of heights.
Route #16 in Sunflower Guide