A walk down the Nuns Path in Madeira
The village of Curral das Freiras (known as Valley of the Nuns in English) is situated deep in the mountainous interior of the island. It obtained its name as a result of the nuns of the Convent of Santa Clara taking refuge here from attacks by French pirates back in the 15th century. It is accessible by either a steep winding road into the valley or a 4.8 km steep winding (mostly) cobbled basalt path.
Our airbnb host Jorge is a teacher at a school in this village and said we should definitely walk this path. He offered to take us when he went to work and pick us up at one of the local restaurants in the village. (he didn't specify which one as there were only two) As he helps out with sports events his shifts can vary...
So that's how we found ourselves in Jorge's car heading inland mid afternoon on Tuesday January 27th. Jorge dropped us off on a main road and indicated a road opposite that would lead us to the start of the walk in apporoximately fifteen minutes.
Before I continue I must thank my friend June who let me use most of her photos here...I was too freaked out to take many photos sad to say. June owns and operates Treadon Travel. so was interested in the different walks on the island with the idea of running a walking trip there. (which would be an awesome one)
|The white buildings (Eira do Serrado) are where the hike started - at this point we didn't know that and hoped to hell that was it!|
Finally after forty five minutes (fifteen minutes Jorge? I don't think so!) of walking on a winding mountain road (luckily not busy at all except for the odd tourist coach roaring past) we reached Eira do Serrado where the walk was to begin. I had a quick toilet stop and we were off.
|How's that for an official sign. Due to construction they moved the beginning of the path.|
|I have to walk all the way down there?????|
|Here we go....|
|I liked this part of the path! Nice and flat and foliage hiding the drop!|
|Easy does it - looks easy but when you have vertigo, a HUGE fear of falling and wrecking your dream trip and progressive lens... not so simple.|
|See the moon....|
|It's getting closer!|
|This was getting near the end...|
|Stairs - my worst nightmare normally - but I can see the street! Whee! (and make that a large white please!)|
About 90 minutes later in strides Jorge all smiles. He told us he had second thoughts after dropping us off and was worried as he knew I had bad knees but then thought "oh well I know people in the mountain rescue group and they will go and help them out". Okay! So off we headed back home with Jorge via the windy mountain road - it was pitch black out and we couldn't see a thing which was probably just as well!
Despite the stress, worry and cursing all the way down I am glad that I did the Nuns path. It is a good walk if you are fairly fit, wear suitable footwear and don't suffer from vertigo. I wouldn't recommend it for children under ten as there are no safety rails. This is considered a moderate trail - it starts at 3,445 feet and ends at 2,034 feet. Oh and don't do it on a rainy day and walk DOWN not up!