PR12 - Boca da Corrida to Boca da Encumeada

Madeira, Portugal

William Mackesy’s account of this walk

We walked this special route on the way to Pico Grande on an unpromising but, as it turned out, extraordinarily beautiful day.

It was raining when we laboured, four to a little WV Polo, up the endless steep lanes of the southern slopes to the Boca da Corrida pass, a little cobbled carpark perched on a small ridgetop. We sat on in the car as the drizzle quickly covered the screen again after each lazy swipe.

It eased off, and we hit the trail, climbing up laid slabs and steps and reaching a level path which wound around the hillside, its beautiful engineering confirming that it was once the main mule track across the mountains. Some tantalizing glimpses through gaps in the cloud came and went, of the cliffs and spires of the endlessly deep Curral valley to our right.

At our first pass, the Boca dos Corges, the cloud was clearing a little more: we could see the vivid green narrow ridge winding off into ahead of us, separating two white seas of nothingness, and heading for a dimly seen hill. Thrilling and a tad sinister at the same time. Then we saw our first rainbow, so near we could almost touch it. Rainbows mean showers, and the next hours involved several donning and removing of coats.

We crossed the eastern flank of the ridge, then wound amid the dramatic eastern cliffs of Pico de Cavallo, with wonderful eastward views through gaps in the mist, down into the great valley and back along our hillside to dimly seen spires and towers.

Amazing, but it got even better: at the Passo de Ares, the clouds were sufficiently [reduced] for our first good views westward, towards the Paul de Serra plateau, which looked strangely out of place, sitting flat and solid in the extraordinarily sharp and broken world all about. A series of rainbows appeared and faded with the almost imperceptible showers. It was one of the most delicately beautiful sights Walkopedia has seen.

Across the ridiculously narrow ridge of the pass, the path wound delightfully away around the absurdly green hillside. To the east, a bank of cloud was nestled up against the thousand-foot cliff, spilling over the ridge.

On under the screes below sharp Pico do Serradinho, the undergrowth became lusher, with a thick covering of gorse and broom on the Boca do Cerro. Lunch was eaten on the steps at the junction at Boca do Serro where the Pico Grande path turns right. It began to drizzle and the cloud thickened to a dense blanket. Going on up Pico Grande was pointless. We turned back. 

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