Hiking Trail of “Nossa Senhora da Piedade” (Machico – Madeira)
It was 4 o’clock in the morning when we arrived at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport in Oporto. No one saw a soul.
Having an airport just for us is a strange feeling. It seemed like we were all alone in the world, in a disconcerting silence, as in another dimension. Or it was just the sleep deprivation that limits our senses and transports us to a scene from a movie by Lloyd Kaufman, master of the B-series films.
One of the long-awaited destinations was only a few hours away and this gave us enough adrenaline to keep us awake from 1 AM. We longed to get to know Madeira Island.
The time of the first flights of the day was approaching, and the buzz grew near the check-in counters. At the right time we took our flight and it was already above the Atlantic waters that we saw the first rays of sunlight kissing the winglet of the airplane wing.
I hardly fall asleep on airplanes, so I took the opportunity to mentally review the plans for the next 7 days. We wouldn’t have time to see everything and so we prioritized the places and the pedestrian routes, always taking into account that everything could be adapted at any time. Anyone who travels with children certainly knows what I’m talking about, planning often goes through “lists of things we like to see or do and we didn’t have time for it.” On this list were “Ponta de São Lourenço” and its pedestrian route, the historic center of Funchal, the ascension of the cable car to Monte and the descent by wicker basket, the Houses of Santana, Caves of São Vicente, “Vereda dos Balcões”, Pools of Porto Moniz, “Levada das 25 Fontes”, a catamaran adventure for whale watching, a tour of Yellow Bus, the fantastic viewpoints and a well kept secret – “Fajã dos Padres”. I will write about this in the next blog posts. With much research and the indispensable help of Marco from Amigos da Natureza (Nature Friends) our days have been quite filled as you will see.
Given these landscapes, we could only expect an incredible week of adventure and discovery.
We arrived at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport with a few clouds in the sky and moderate wind but nothing that would prevent a quiet landing. Carlos from a Rent-a-Car company was already waiting to give us the car that would transport us to all corners of Madeira.
We were anxious to get to know the island and so we asked to check in earlier in the apartment in Machico where we would be staying overnight during the week. Even before lunch we were able to do the first hike, a small one to exercise the legs.
Near Machico, at the top of “Monte Gordo”, Chapel of “Nossa Senhora da Piedade” is a place of pilgrimage and a peculiar procession that takes place every September in the region. This is dedicated to fishermen and in honor of their patron saint. The procession begins in the sea, with boats decorated in bright colors that depart from Caniçal, a parish of Machico, and head to the port of “Quinta do Lorde”. Here the believers leave the boats and continue on foot to the Chapel and upon arriving, transport the “Nossa Senhora da Piedade” statue to a boat, which is then taken to Caniçal for the religious celebration. The next day a new procession is held to return the Saint to his Chapel.
We parked in a small area of clay next to the regional road and started this hike towards “Monte Gordo”. From the foothills of the mount, the track, though unmarked, is well defined with steps molded into the earth with the help of stones to support them. In order to support us on the ascent, protections were made up of small sticks nailed to one another, which also conveys some sense of security, especially on days of high winds.
Zigzagging on the trail drawn on the hill, we arrived at the Chapel that on the summit benefits of a privileged location. Around it the view is fantastic both for the coast of Caniçal and for “Ponta de São Lourenço” on the opposite side of the island.
We savored for a few moments those welcome landscapes to the island, we could only expect an incredible week of adventure and discovery.
Lunch time arrived and we went down to Caniçal for some snacks.
Points of Interest:
Chapel of “Nossa Senhora da Piedade”, Viewpoint, Landscapes.
– On those days of strong winds this hike can become unpleasant because it’s a very exposed zone.
– You can take this short walk if you are on the way to “Ponta de São Lourenço”. It’s very close.
– Park in a small area of clay along the road at the beginning of the route.
45melevation gain uphill
56melevation gain downhill
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