14th October, 2017
The Carter Company is always looking for new places to explore by bike and on foot, and our latest expedition has been to the beautiful (and warm!) island of Madeira. Founder and chief route creator Wendy Carter scoped out the archipelago, finding the best spots for food, drink and sunbathing, and the routes that offer the most incredible views. She has done the hard work so that you don't have to! Here are Wendy's notes from her travels...
As it's October here in the UK, the first thing Wendy notes is how lovely the weather was - she reports that Madeira is warm all year round, with enough light wind to keep it from ever becoming sweltering. However, winds can pick up randomly which can cause difficulties for aircraft, given that Funchal is already a tricky landing location.
Madeira is a 'garden paradise', with such a range of flowers and fruits growing densely up to certain heights on every hillside. Wendy notes that one of the highlights of her trip was the Palheiro Garden, which was a 'feast for the eyes' - incredibly well kept, the garden has a superb variety of plants, including an orchid nursery. Small bananas grow abundantly, but alas are too small and curvaceous to meet EU standards.
The landscape of Madeira is primarily hilly, with sweeping slopes and valleys and dramatic cliffs (the tallest in Europe). Walking can be tricky in places, but is the perfect challenge for the more experienced hiker. The steep terrain can allow for phenomenal views across Madeira. Those preferring gentle walks do have the opportunity to walk along the 'levades', channels built by farmers to distribute water. While the views are less impressive, the terrain is far kinder down here! However, with steep drops often to the side of the levades, these walks are not for those who suffer from vertigo.
Wendy also notes how friendly the islanders were; the people she met on her travels were all attentive, hard-working, smiley and optimistic. All still basking in their Island's change of fortune since the 1974 revolution and the EU investment.
- For food, Wendy recommends Kris's Downtown and Kris's Place
- For accomodation, Wendy recommends Reid's Palace for the wonderful service, shady gardens and stylish seafront bathing.
- For history, she suggests exploring the network of tunnels built for the levades.
- She also loves the pastries!