Boca do Risco to Porto da Cruz – a cliff top walk - By Alan Garner
The walk starts just by the tunnel on the Machico to Canical road, close to a small welcoming bar- good coffee stop and toilet to start the walk.On the right is a signpost to Pico do Facho. Opposite this turnoff, on the north side of the main road find the levada do Caniçal – this runs at the back of houses some 50 metres from the main road.
Turn left along the Levada. For about 4 kilometres, the Levada winds past houses and with views over Machico and its surrounding suburbs of new houses towards the north west.
After about 50 minutes of easy walking, along this Levada, take a signposted path leading right uphill towards Boca do Risco. This path climbs through the pine and eucalyptus forest, and through a particularly fire-damaged valley, up to the Boca do Risco, with its magnificent view over the sea 400 metres below. From here you get a superb view of the cliffs left and right with the island of Porto Santo sometimes visible on the horizon.
Turn left, onto the clear if narrow path ahead carved into the cliffs. This path, like many others in Madeira was carved to take goods from the Machico area to Porto da Cruz long before the magnificent road tunnels were built.
Follow this narrow path westwards along the cliffs, with lovely open views over the sea scape and cliffs further on. The views here are open with plants hanging from the rock faces and overhanging the edge of the path to the right. There's a steep drop to the sea but the path is not dangerous.
Little choice of picnic spots here though.
As we progress along this path, Eagle Rock appears in the near distance and Porta do Cruz nestles underneath it.
At the end of the narrow cliff path, there is a wider dirt road, eventually turning to tarmac - the cliff path takes about 90 to 120 minutes, usually with plenty of fellow walkers as this is a favourite path for the many walking companies in Madeira.
The way starts to descend, becoming a wide road near the old cable car which served to take goods to a small landing stage 400 metres below the cliff face. It must have been a sensational ride down, although never intended for passengers.
The road gets steeper, when the road bends left - look out for a set of steps heading steeply downwards.
Take these steps, very steep here, watch those knees, and follow the path round the left-hand side of the hill, after 15 minutes you meet another road. Head for and cross the stream and cross part of the beach – rocky boulders here. Eventually the track alongside the beach takes you into Porta do Cruz.
As you approach the cafes on the beach promenade- keep going past a manmade sea swimming pool and take the broad road round the headland – on rough seas day – watch out for the waves that can soak you – as you get round the other side – overlooking two beaches where surfers abound in the season. You arrive at the Rum museaum- always worth buying Poncha and rum here.
The small town is worth a quick visit. Bus stops back to Machico close by.
Length of walk 13 kilometres – allow at least 4-5 hours. Ascend 150 metres but descend to sea level – 400 metres
Easy paths, no major obstacles, beware that the cliff path may not be suitable for those with vertiginous issues.