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Clare
Clare

Day 4: Pico do Areeiro and Eira do Serrado

Today got off to a less dramatic start than yesterday, when I was woken by my alarm as planned and not by any unscheduled floods. It looked like another sunny day - and there's some rain forecast for the rest of the week - so it felt like today would probably be our best chance to focus on mountain viewpoints.

There were two famous viewpoints on Madeira that I wanted to see. The first was at Pico do Areeiro, the third highest mountain on the island. It's possible to drive up to near the top of the mountain, in what I'd seen described in the guidebook as a good road. I suspect my maps app chose a different route to the one my guidebook was intending, because the first part of it was so steep that it presented rather a challenge for our little Renault Clio! But once we got further into the journey and the road flattened off a bit, we had some incredible views.

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We stopped by a viewpoint at the side of the road from where we could just about see down to Funchal.

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Although it had been quite a sunny morning down in the town, it was now starting to look quite cloudy.

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It's hard to see where the sky ends and the sea begins in the photos, but in reality the sea was a more obvious shade of blue.

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By this point we were only a few kilometres away from the main Pico do Areeiro viewpoint. It's supposed to be possible to drive right to the top of the mountain, where there's a small car park, but when we arrived today there were police blocking the final part of the road and directing cars into this larger car park instead.

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It seemed like they were only allowing coaches to drive right to the top, which was annoying. The view from the car park was incredible, though.

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Looking in this direction seemed less cloudy and we had a great view of the mountains.

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Because we'd had to park lower down, we now had a bit of an uphill walk ahead of us.

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We started on a path, then later switched to the road.

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The car park was starting to disappear into the clouds as we walked...

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...though there were still good views in the other direction.

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Eventually we made it to the top, where there's a strange-looking radar station.

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It's a bit hard to read on the sign, but this was 1810 metres.

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Steps led us up to a final viewpoint.

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Unfortunately, by this point clouds had taken over and we couldn't see much of the actual view.

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Nope, definitely no view!

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Never mind, it had been exciting to come up here anyway.

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We walked back down to the car park and retrieved the car.

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From here we were able to drive across the mountains towards the second viewpoint I wanted to visit, Eira do Serrado.

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On the way we stopped at another small parking spot where a viewpoint was signposted.

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As we followed the path we began to get some amazing views of the mountains.

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Wow :o 

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We were looking down towards a valley known as Curral das Freiras.

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This is what I'd been hoping to see from the Eira do Serrado viewpoint we were driving towards, but this unnamed viewpoint might actually turn out to be better.

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We continued on to Eira do Serrado anyway and parked up.

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The area around the car park itself was really pretty.

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From the car park we had to climb up quite a lot of steps, but eventually we made it to the main viewpoint.

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It's hard to make out in the photos, but in real life we could see the river on the valley floor.

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A suggested hike is to go down into the village (and then back up again!) but we didn't fancy that.

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We'd driven downhill quite a bit from Pico do Areeiro, so we were only at just over 1000m now...

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...but it still looked a very long way down!

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We decided to opt for the less strenuous option of coffee and cake, before driving back to the hotel :) 

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