Ponto do Pargo walk, Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte

Ponta do Pargo

Route: Ponta do Pargo circuit

Area: Western Madeira

Date of walk: 26th April 2022

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 8.2 miles

Ascent: 1,500 feet

Weather: Sunny

On the second day of our walking holiday in Madeira we decided on another coastal walk, having been inspired by yesterday’s wonderful outing. We drove to the sleepy village of Ponta do Pargo on the western tip of Madeira and parked on the roadside near the village church

We walked back through the village with the sea on our left and joined a narrow concrete road leading in and out of a verdant gully, with views out to sea. We then followed a cobbled path uphill to meet the Levada Nova da Calheta, a good example of the levada system which irrigates the island, but which also provides wonderful opportunities for walkers.  A levada is a narrow man made channel which carries water. The system dates back to the fifteenth century and is unique in the world. The purpose of this vast network of stone channels is to capture the water falling in the mountains and carry it down to the crop fields. Madeira’s climate is such that the lower cultivated areas are dry, but there is abundant rain in the afforested mountain areas which are unfit for cultivation. As a result, and after 500 years of effort, 1,400 miles of canals and 25 miles of tunnels have been constructed, mostly by hand and often in such difficult terrain that men had to work while suspended on ropes above sheer drops

The path beside the levada weaved its way in and out of gullies, descending at an imperceptible gradient, until we finally arrived at its northern most tip. We then joined a quiet road which took us downhill through the hamlet of Cabo to the wonderfully situated Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte. We took a short there and back detour here along a rocky path to a mirador, where there is a small viewpoint with a big view along the coastline – a perfect picnic spot

After retracing our steps we joined a track which contoured around the top of the cliffs and which turned into a road, passing through the largely abandoned hamlet of Serrado. From here we followed quiet lanes back to the start, retracing our steps for a while when we reached Pedregal. It had been another wonderful walk on the island

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