Rabaçal - Risco - 25 Fontes - Rabaçal
Start in Rabaçal on the west side of Paúl da Serra, Madeira island’s big and only plateau. You should take along a picnic, wear adequate footwear, and put a sweater and raincoat in your rucksack. Don’t forget that you are going up to about 1,000 metres above sea level, where it rains a lot more than in Funchal and where the average temperature is 6ºC less than on the south coast. Get your group together for an early start. When you reach the top of the Paúl da Serra plateau and before walking down to the Rabaçal shelter, climb up to the fire warden’s post at the summit just near the Calheta hydroelectric plant. If there is no mist, you will be able to admire the view over the bare plateau and see where waters flow North and South toward the sea. To the south lie the Calheta water-courses (lombadas) and to the north is Ribeira da Janela valley, both contributing to a landscape of extraordinary beauty.
Rabaçal / Risco - 1 km - 30 minutes
Starting from the Rabaçal shelter, Risco is about one kilometre away. The path is flat and after only 15 minutes you will be faced with a magnificent landscape. Water flowing from Lagoa do Vento, hidden some 100 metres above, gathers again in the Poço do Risco. From the viewing point you can admire this outstanding natural monument, carved by the force of water falling onto volcanic rock over hundreds of thousands of years. Moisture loving mosses, ferns, gramineous and bushes cling to the rocky walls.
Risco / 25 Fontes - 2 hours
Contented with the Risco landscape, proceed toward the 25 Fontes. Before reaching the Rabaçal Shelter you will find a path on your right with a sign for 25 Fontes. Follow this path until you find a Levada (water-course). Now walk in the upstream direction. The path is not difficult, although in some parts the Levada it is quite narrow and unprotected. This path is not recommended to people who suffer vertigo.
After an hour’s walk along the Levada you reach a small lagoon surrounded by thick vegetation, into which flow the waters from a number of springs from the rocks above. You have reached 25 Fontes!
You will probably want to stay for a while, listening to the splashing waters and birds flying amidst the laurels and heather. You will find such a large variety of ferns that if you are an enthusiast of these plants, it might be possible that you will lose all track of time.
Be careful not to return too late in the evening to the Rabaçal shelter, since weather conditions can change very quickly at this altitude. The sky can be completely blue, but soon a mist comes quickly down the mountains, covering the valleys and reducing visibility to zero, causing serious problems for those who do not know the island well.
You may wonder as you walk along the levada, where all this water is going. In fact water from the 25 Fontes levada feeds the Calheta hydroelectric plant.
Features: Only a few climbs and descents. The path to Lagoa do Vento has a difficult ground but it is not dangerous. The path along the levada to 25 Fontes is narrow and unprotected at times.
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