Walking the Levada do Norte: from Boa Morte to Serra de Agua

Stunning vistas along the Levada do Norte

Living in Madeira, albeit part-time, from November through April, is a lovely experience. But there are some days that are extra special, like yesterday when we did ‘one of these walks’. Now, we have posted many stories about our walks already, especially in the Dutch pages and I had reached a point where I thought that writing more about these walks would really not be adding much of interest to my readers. Until we did the Levada do Norte section we chose this time.

Levada do Norte

Yesterday’s walk was really one that struck us as extremely beautiful, with vistas that show beautiful Madeira at it’s very best. We walked the Levada do Norte. We try to do new walks whenever we can, especially when it’s just ‘us’, our group of friends living here, all more or less experienced walkers who know their limits and who know the potential dangers of walking on a volcanic island like Madeira.

stunning vistas

We had chosen the section from Boa Morte to Serra de Agua, in the municipality of Campanário, probably passing into the municipality of Ribeira Brava, though that is difficult to know if you are high up in the mountains. We decided to meet up in Boa Morte, where we ended an earlier walk along a different section of the Levada do Norte, the one starting slightly below Cabo Girão and going to Boa Morte. A beautiful walk in its own right, but yesterday’s walk was different in that it offered breathtaking vistas over the valley that intersects Madeira in the middle, creating a connection between Ribeira Brava on the South coast and São Vicente in the North. Imagine the Madeiran people in the old days, when cars were only for the very wealthy. You can clearly see the steep and endless footways and stairs they had to use to get to their homes high up in the mountains. But today the terraced steep (sometimes extremely steep) sides of the valley were painted yellow by the abundant sorrel clover. A sight for sore eyes. This section of the levada is not mentioned in the WalkMe Madeira app – an excellent app for new(ish) visitors to Madeira, if you have the paid version that is – and therefore is not busy with walkers at all.

sheer drops, avoid them if you prefer

The last part of the walk we did (before turning around, as this walk is not a circular one) explained why this is not a recommended walk. It had a sheer drop of more meters than I’d care to measure, and some of us (me included) were not completely comfortable there. It was the section that began near Eira do Mourão, where we took a short break. You cross the ‘main’ road there, the one that leads to the hamlet you see lying below you, and when you pick up the levada there are some signs warning for rockfall and for sheer drops. The section that follows is easy for the most part, but when you get closer to the end the levada runs along a sheer rock face and at some points has a sheer drop next to it. We decided this is a levada we simply have to do with visitors from abroad, but we will skip the last bit. As we always bring our packed lunch, we think you can well have that on the small parking lot of Eira do Mourão, which really is a viewpoint. You can still continue for a while along the Levada do Norte, and turn around when you notice the levada starts to have deep drops to your left if you don’t fancy them. For those who do not at all suffer from vertigo problems, you can follow the levada all the way to the old footway that connects the Espigão hamlet and viewpoint to Meia Légua far below. It’s not for the fainthearted, though.

Whatever you choose, this section of the Levada do Norte is simply too beautiful to not share with you. At the bottom of this article, I put a Google Map showing where to pick up the levada. Have a coffee at the Snack Bar Pinheiro if you like, and leave your car there. Walk up to the roundabout and just before reaching it, you see the access to the levada on your left.

Water distribution along the Levada do Norte.
Stunning vistas along the Levada do Norte
Breathtaking vistas from this section of the levada.
This gorge must be even more stunning when the rains have arrived
The fields are painted yellow by the abundant sorrel clover
Deep inland, the ocean is still present.
Walking in company is always fun!
The steep old footways are well visible on the opposite side of the valley

Facebook connections Ewout and Lidia who had done this walk before us allowed me to use one of their impressive images that show how sheer the sheer drops really are. Honestly, I am glad I did not realise it was this steep when I walked it. When she saw this, or friend Joana, who was on the walk with us, sent me one too, declaring it wasn’t scary at all. She has got to be kidding me. Behold and shiver.

Thank you Ewout and Lidia for this breathtaking image of the Levada do Norte and its steep drops.. If I'd realised it was this bad, I might have jumped.
Thank you to our friend Joana who made this one and thought it wasn't scare at all. I beg to differ. brrrrrr. The joys of the Levada do Norte!

Youtube channel

If you want to have a look at the video’s I have made of a number of our walks in the mountains of along the levadas of Madeira? Click on the youtube-logo that will appear in the left margin when you scroll down. Click it and you will enter our Youtube channel with a number of videos of these walks. Don’t forget to subscribe and to give us a like on Youtube when you do!

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By Peter Groen

Peter was born in Amsterdam in 1949. He has a history in PR and copywriting. Now, part time resident of the Island of Madeira of over 10 years, he writes about Madeira, its culture, its overwhelming nature, its food and drink, and about everything concerning travel to and on this beautiful island.

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