Route: Fanal circuit

Area: Madeira

Date of walk: 30th April 2022

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 2.6 miles

Ascent: 300 feet

Weather: Sunshine and blue skies

On the final day of our walking holiday in Madeira, we decided to explore the contrasting scenery on the higher parts of the island. This area is often covered in cloud and we were fortunate to have a cloudless blue sky overhead (although this isn’t ideal for photography). We parked at the Fanal car park which can be busy at weekends, though we’d made an early start and there were very few folk around. The walk starts at an altitude of nearly 4,000 feet and although it undulates there are no serious climbs or descents

We walked to a white building near the car park, which is the forestry post building. We climbed the steps beside it and followed a dirt path which joined a wider track after a few yards. This took us to a grassy open area where three tracks radiated out. We took the central one which heads to a small rise. After following the track for a short distance we reached a marker post for ‘Fanal PR13 2.2km’ pointing along a narrow path. This was our route, but before joining it we made a there and back detour (about 5 minutes) to a viewpoint looking over the north coast of Madeira

Back on the narrow track we continued to follow the red and yellow strips of the PR13 and after a while we reached an area of ancient laurisilva forest. When the first explorers came to Madeira, the island was covered by laurisilva forest, but now only 16% of it is left. Laurisilva is a type of native forest that once covered much of southern Europe. The largest of the surviving areas is in Madeira and is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Up to this point the scenery had been rather lacking in interest and consisted of heather and broom shrubland. The walk through the forest was delightful as a narrow path took us up and downhill with occasional views out to sea

The woodland section came to an end at a clearing with a distinctive rock formation at its head. We climbed to the base of the rock to enjoy the spectacular views over the northern coast – the highlight of the walk. The car park was only a short stroll away and we made the easy descent down some steps to end a memorable week’s walking

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