Madeira 10 Year Anniversary

It’s ten years since, stuck under a cloud of Icelandic volcanic dust, I was urging my tiny underpowered Skoda hire car over high mountain passes and along twisty coastal roads, enthralled and amazed by the scenery of Madeira. Every day the car took me to a new destination, sometimes into the mountains, sometimes to the coast (there’s not much in between) each with its own micro-climate and each offering a chance for new discoveries and adventures.

With the following series of photos I hope to convey a sense of the place; first of the mountains and then of the coast. Whether they do Madeira any justice is another thing entirely.

Mountains

Each walk in the guidebook came with a vertigo rating and advice not to travel alone, but visiting by myself I had no choice but to trust to luck and follow the levadas up into the hills and mountains; at times bathed in sunshine; at times shrouded in mist; often in torrential rain. Each route offered up its own unique set of perils and delights; inching through ink black tunnels, skirting huge waterfalls, climbing countless steps hewn into the mountain side, edging past precipitous drops (many of the safety rails had been washed away in the floods a few weeks before). The rewards were spectacular. 

Coast

The coast must be a geologist’s, as well as a photographer’s, delight. Towering cliffs with exposed rock strata bent and buckled by immense volcanic forces, giving way to basalt caves, pebble beaches showered by tumbling waterfalls, and iron red sea stacks pushing out from the turquoise sea. 

Many photographers head North, chasing cold winter places, Greenland, Iceland, Norway’s Lofoten Islands to name just a few, and I understand that having visiting some of these places myself, but head South to this small island in the North Atlantic and you’ll be rewarded by immense scenery, often wrapped in atmospheric mists, all within easy reach … 

… washed down each evening with good red wine and very nice cake! 10 years on it feels like time to return.

Using Format