If you have been reading my walking diary, you will know that Beryl and I have been away for the last two years at Easter. The aim has been to get some sun, see the sea and do a bit of (not too strenuous) walking. This has seemed a winning formula (especially last year after weeks of being prevented from walking by foot-and-mouth) so we went for it again.
I'd known for years that it was possible to walk on Madeira but much of this was on irrigation ditches called levadas; I hadn't found this too tempting, visualising something like Lincolnshire. Of course this was miles from the truth but reports from friends who had been there encouraged us to try. In the last two years we have booked the walks as a bolt-on to Thomsons package. This year they didn't advertise that as a possibility so I scoured the web, found a few companies offering one and decided that Turivema looked the most interesting so we booked with them. We discovered on arrival that Thomsons locally recommend them and were only charging the same price.
So off we rolled but we didn't arrive without a spot of adventure. Right from the start of the flight, the captain had been saying that landing at Funchal airport could be tricky because of winds off the mountains. As the flight went on his comments seemed to get more ominous. By the time we arrived we had been put into the queuing system and we must have been circling for nearly an hour when we were told that the wind had dropped and we were going in to land. We started dropping through the cloud but then this stopped. Permission to land had been withdrawn and we had to go over to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo; this is quite small but it has a large airstrip, the relic of its involvement in servicing military aircraft. We actually got the last landing spot otherwise we would have been over to Tenerife (which was hit by worse storms that day and suffered serious floods in places) Anyway we refuelled and sat out the storm; all on the aircraft as there are no facilities for passengers. We could get up and stretch our legs and everyone was very British and phlegmatic about the experience. Then Funchal airport re-opened but there were questions over whether they could fit us in because of other incoming flights. We were over there for getting on for 2 hours before we took off again and finally made it. It was pouring down on Madeira - not the most auspicious flight.
As we did the various walks, we talked to other people in the parties. Everyone seemed to have heard of the much-delayed flight from Manchester with its mystery trip to Porto Santo.
Below are linked to the different walks we did plus a few general pictures of the island
3 April: Funchal Ecological Park
4 April: The Lakes of Madeira
5 April: Larano
6 April: Sao Lourenco Peninsula
7 April: Socorridos Valley
General: non-walking shots around Funchal