Break for walkers who love sun

Break for Walkers Who Love Sun

Europe is scattered with numerous high mountain ranges that provide lots of opportunities during the summer months once snow fields have melted. There are also many of lower level hilly areas that provide interesting options for the walker. In the UK the choices include Dartmoor, the Lake District, or the Peak district, but these are not locations that are attractive once the weather starts to turn in Autumn and wet windy days are just as likely to greet the walker as are clear, sunny ones.

Swiss and Austrian options that in summer are sun baked, flower-filled meadows of gentle slopes, mountain cafes and spectacular valley scenery, soon succumb to snow (and skiers) once November arrives. So where can the winter go to enjoy warmer, more pleasant weather?

Madeira, the Portuguese island known as the floating island of flowers that lies offshore in the Atlantic just like the Spanish Canaries, provides an unusual sliver of Portuguese tradition but with a flavour of independence. The island no longer depends on its mainland parent for anything and unless you knew its history you could easily leave without having any clue about its mainland links. Since 1976, following a revolution that commenced in 1974, Madeira has had its own government. Madeira, like many islands that find themselves situated in ocean locations, has been subjected to more than its fair share of attempted takeovers, invasions and battles, sitting as it does in a prime naval position out in the Atlantic. Records indicate it was discovered in the early fifteenth century by two Portuguese sailors, part of one of the world’s foremost seafaring nations at the time, who were blown off course and landed there after being shipwrecked. Over the centuries Madeira has been ruled continuously by the Portuguese, but also provided a base for a British Garrison in the early 1800’s and became a target for Napoleon’s forces.

As far as walking is concerned Madeira is a relative place of great potential. The inland areas of wooded valleys and mountainsides are stunning at any time of year and the network of footpaths and Levadas make for a wide choice of routes. The Levadas are a unique Madeiran construction. They are a network of small canals that were built to transport water from wetter, northern parts of the islands to the dry areas in the south that needed water to support their agriculture. These narrow channels form a network amounting to 2500 kilometres and the maintenance paths that run next to many of them provide the perfect opportunity for interesting walking routes. Lakes, waterfalls, even natural springs add to adventure that the Levadas offer. For anyone tempted to try out a walking holiday on Madeira a visit to the stunningly beautiful Serra De Agua area is a must.

The landmark that towers high in the centre of the island of Tenerife is Mount Teide, a volcanic mountain that has remained inactive, not extinct, for exactly 100 years. The volcano is now said to be unstable, so perhaps the eruption from a side vent 100 years ago may be due to be repeated. Unusually the peak sometimes receives a slight covering of snow during the early part of the year, despite the location of Tenerife off the North African coast. It is however the highest peak in Spain, including all the mainland mountain ranges, at over 3700 meters.

Around the peak is a National Park that attracts 3.5 million visitors each year and provides a large area of protected land available to walkers wishing to experience the rich flora and fauna of the area. If walkers wish to visit the peak they can either travel on foot for the whole journey or make use of a cable car to shorten the journey. The final stretch must be undertaken on foot however and does require a special pass to be purchased before you travel to the Mount. This is slightly inconvenient but does ensure that the number of people reaching the summit is kept down.

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Опубликовано 21 Aug 2008 в 10:51 pm. Рубрика: B. Вы можете следить за ответами к этой записи через RSS.
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