This is an alternative walk, only to be walked if it is impossible to do the standard walk due to bad weather, etc. You will be advised locally about this.
The scenic ancient trail joins the standard walk at Relvinha Pass, facing Madeira's highest mountains range. A steep descent slides down to the first houses of Fajã Escura.
Today’s alternate route, should you be prevented from doing the standard walk starts from the car park at Boca da Corrida, and initially presents the walker with a steep climb up a good cobbled pathway. The views to the East are impressive, and as you reach the ridge, similarly grand views to the West are also opened up. The halfway point is marked by the looming summit of Pico Grande, where you have the option of climbing the mountain (approx. 90 mins in total). However, this involves a very steep ascent, and therefore a very tricky descent, and is not recommended in poor weather. The descent in Fajã Escura is a straightforward zig-zag through a pleasant forest landscape before reaching the village on the valley floor.
Encumeada Pass divides the highlands into the mountainous eastern part and the plateau on the west part; however, it acts as a junction between the north and south sides of Madeira. Indeed, the first part of the walk follows an old path which used to be the main route from north to south as it connects to Funchal.
Protected by the Pico Grande summit, the ascent to Relvinha is worth the effort with its rewarding mountain atmosphere and views. A rest at the noteworthy snack bar is well deserved at the end of the walk.
- Some slippery sections.
- When path is narrow, walk carefully on the trail, not on the vegetation.
- In case of landslides, do not proceed if there is any hazard.
- Poor gps coverage on part of the trail, data might diverge from given information.
Tips and hints
Points of Interest
- Boca da Corrida Viewpoint Boca da Corrida
Valley of the Nuns or “Curral das Freiras” was an isolated community based loosely around the Convent of Santa Clara. Established by settlers in the 15th Century, it is widely believed that the nuns took refuge here to escape the attacks of French privateers on Funchal in the mid-16th Century.
Until the road tunnel was built in the 1950's, the main route out of the valley was a goat track, travelled most frequently by the postman who used it daily except Sundays. At the time, the postman was a woman.
Traditional products from “Curral das Freiras” include liquors (cherry, eucalyptus, chestnut, …), other chestnut products such as cakes and biscuits, and honey.
Getting thereTransfer to Boca da Corrida in the morning and from Fajã Escura at the end of the day.
- Raingear and warm clothing.
- Walking boots.