Another hike, a levada and eating limpets on my last night in Funchal.
The wind’s moved round to the south and I should have been suspicious when the road up from Serre de Agua was clear of cloud from the plateau all the way down to the ocean and it all seemed so good. Hiking up at 1500 m. or so and starting out from Estanquinhos, it felt like hiking on Dartmoor; gorse and birds like Skylarks. I passed a little Madeira levada rather than a Dartmoor leat. The wonderful quiet except for the wind in the grass and the birds singing like Skylarks.
But uncannily like Dartmoor, my objective - a minor volcanic cone named Ruivo do Paul, 1639 m. - disappeared in the mist before my eyes as the path unfolded under my boots. I check my compass bearing just in case, almost instinctively, as the visibility disappeared but it is a well-trodden path so no real need. Unlike red Dartmoor mud, red volcanic mud here doesn’t usually stick to the boots but this moorland mud is mixed with gorse and peat and turns out to stick just as much as the red mud of Devon.
Here at little more than 32 degrees North, it’s still quite warm enough for boots and shorts hiking even up in the mist, with warmer gear in the bag of course. And 4G connectivity so I could do my online check-in for tomorrow’s flight; that wasn’t possible the last time I was hiking on Dartmoor, nor necessary. But a fine moment of quiet calm up in the cool of the mist with the feeling of leaving the world far behind down below and across the ocean.
Then driving on, and my lunch pause in the mist at a roadside bar. The guys there seemed to be either farmers or working on the construction of the wind turbines that provide about a quarter of the electricity for the island.
Much later, back in Funchal Lido, I dined with a red wine from the Escolata DOC with grilled limpets as my starter (they taste like snails but of the sea not the earth), followed by grilled Madeira espada (black scabbard fish) with passion-fruit sauce; then a fresh, artisan, poncha (rum, fresh orange juice and honey) to finish off my trip.