Paul do Mar

Paul do Mar

Route: Jardim do Mar to Paul do Mar

Area: Madeira

Date of walk: 25th April 2022

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 3.2 miles

Ascent: 1,900 feet

Weather: Mostly sunny and very warm

On the first day of our first visit to Madeira we awoke to heavy rain and grey skies. This was not the start we’d hoped for but the weather was forecast to improve later and so at midday, with signs of clearing skies, we drove to the coastal village of Jardim do Mar. This was an adventure in itself as we negotiated rockfalls caused by the downpour, innumerable hairpin bends and a couple of old and poorly lit tunnels

Our planned route (thanks to Inntravel) links the villages of Jardim do Mar and our destination, Paul do Mar, by following two old footpaths which were once the only means the reaching them by land. The paths negotiate almost sheer cliff faces, but the early route finders have somehow found a safe way down and up, by weaving in and out of gullies and using countless zig zags. The walk is only three miles in length but thanks to the relentless ascent and descent it feels at least twice as long and can be considered as challenging

After parking in the market square at Jardim do Mar we walked out of the village past Joe’s Bar and passed by a hammock which is framed and boxed into a wall. This is an example of a hammock which was used to carry the sick, as well as the rich and important people of the village to the top of the cliff. The carriers of the hammocks were known as ‘Redeiros’. In the 1930’s they became aggrieved about carrying the local priest up the path, a portly gentleman who liked to give organ recitals in other parishes. We kept this in mind as we started the steep slog up the rocky path to the top of the cliff

Before long we were enjoying spectacular views back down to Jardim do Mar and out to sea. There were sharp drops to the side for much of the way, but thanks to a fence there was no real sense of exposure and the going was perfectly safe. The path was mostly up rocky steps which were steeply pitched at times, and I’m glad we weren’t descending this way. Eventually we arrived, huffing and puffing, at a stone picnic bench near the top. From here we climbed up an access road to reach a quiet road passing through a sleepy village. We soon arrived at the Hotel Jardim Atlantico and just beyond it we started the descent to Paul do Mar. This way down to the village seems impossible seen from on high. We were surrounded by sheer cliffs and intimidating rock formations and there appears to be no safe way down. As with the ascent, our worries were groundless and the descent was relatively straightforward. The drops were all well protected by a fence and the gradient was less steep than the ascent had been. The stony path was lined with wildflowers and teeming with bees and butterflies, and the views were sensational almost every step of the way

Eventually we arrived at our destination, the fishing village of Paul do Mar. Depending on tide times it’s possible to walk back to the start along the rocky beach but we’d heard that this is not recommended so from here we took a local taxi back to Jardim do Mar. It had been a fantastic walk – one of the best

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