11 August 2012

The Levada Nova da Ponta do Sol

The Levada Nova, in Ponta do Sol, is one of the rare round hikes in Madeira. In fact, with most of the levada walks, you start at the end and you go upstream until you reach it's source (in Portuguese the "madre", meaning "mother"). Regardless of the fact that these walks are generally beautiful, as soon as you reach it's end, you have to return all the way back through the same route.
That doesn't happen in Levada Nova. You begin your hike in the village of Lombada da Ponta do Sol, where you park your car near the town's church. From there, you will walk uphill for about five hundred meters (and ascending a couple of hundred), along the village, though a well signalized route. At the end of a small alley you'll reach the Levada Nova.
From there, you'll have a relaxed two hour's walk along the levada 'till the beginning of it, right in the heart of Ribeira da Ponta do Sol valley.
Upon reaching the Levada Nova's "madre", you'll walk a few hundred metres downstream, along the Ribeira da Ponta do Sol bed, until you notice, on your left, another levada, on a lower level than the previous one you've just hiked.
This one, the Levada do Moinho, will bring you to your starting point, right near the Lombada da Ponta do Sol church, two hours and some dozens of blackberries later.
The Levada Nova da Ponta do Sol is presently subjected to an intense repair work, including also the protection of the vertiginous places with handrails.
Although in some places the levada is quite exposed and vertiginous, the quality of the construction and repair works made makes it quite secure for walkers, as you can judge by the perfect cement path along the water channel. In the near future, with the last handrails in place, this levada will become one of the most enjoyable and safest walks in Madeira.
Contrasting with the present peaceful days, the past human attempts to control the waters in Madeira were not always sunshine and roses. The History of this massive engineering feat is filled with minor and bigger dramas that crossed thru generations. About halfway along the Levada Nova, we noticed this small shrine. A talk with a passing "levadeiro" (the public servant responsible for the levadas maintenance and repair) unveiled the mystery. It was an homage to a lady that fell to her death in that exact same place, in the early eighties. The circumstances of her death are, to the present day, not quite clear. Some say it was a distraction and a fall. Pure and simple. Some claim that the fall was preceded by a strong discussion with others and related with the rights to the water. Peace to her soul.
After a one hundred and fifty meter tunnel we reach the most lovely spot of the hike. A deep canyon...
... and the usual waterfall.

The way back, along the Levada do Moinho, is punctuated by wild fruits of all kinds. So, if you happen to forget your daily snacks at home... no worries. We've seen figs, prunes, apples and the ever present and delicious blackberries (pictured) along the way. At least during Summer time, our food problems are solved.

Thus ends the Levada do Moinho, close to the Lombada da Ponta do Sol church. With a small and luxurious garden watered by an aqueduct.
Pictures taken with Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 and Panasonic Lumix 14-42mm kit lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS3.