Trail Running on Madeira
A trail running holiday might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Isn’t a holiday supposed to be about rest and relaxation, and not doing much at all?
Holidays are not as they once were. Many travellers choose to based holidays around their interests at home and trail runners are no exception. In 2010, there were an estimated twenty-million people who considered themselves trail runner and they are growing at a rate 14% year on year. Here in the Lake District, trail runners, (or as we tend to say: ‘fell runners’), are part of the landscape and many are household names like veteran Joss Naylor MBE.
Many niche activities create their own momentum, becoming more mainstream as their popularity grows – and trail running is no different. There are currently over 1800 regular race events around the globe: from gentle park runs to more-extreme ‘ultra races’, like the Skyrunner world series (which includes a stage on Madeira).
Many of the walks we offer on our Madeira Choice website are also used as the basis for trail runs. To see how running has captured the imagination of the islanders, Sarah Bennett, (one of the founders of Archipelago Choice), and her sister Lucy spent a week in November running the best routes Madeira has to offer. From high peaks of Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro, via the levada trails of the Ribeiro Frio forest park, down to the barren peninsula at Sao Lourenco.
How to fill a week of Trail Runs in Madeira.
Day 1 – We did a spectacular run up to the island’s highest peak at 1862m. 12km and 940m of ascent.
Day 2 – Followed the PR17 along Levada do Norte and Levada da Serra. Gorgeous mountain trail with waterfalls, tunnels and native forest. 15km with 730m of ascent.
Day 3 – A day of 2 halves. A run through the desert in the east and a cliff run on the north coast. 16km. 610m of ascent.
Day 4 – We had a bit of a rest! WALKED Levada do Moinho and Levada do Novo in the morning then a chill by the pool in the afternoon. 8.5km. 130m of ascent. Thanks to my good friend Dominic for the walk recommendation.
Day 5 – A drive over the top of the island in horrendous weather sent us on our plan B run in the Northwest. Beautiful rural route along Levada Pedregal near to Ponta do Pargo and down to the coast through cow pastures and sleepy villages. 10.5km. 369m of ascent.
Day 6 – Final day and it didn’t disappoint. First, we ran out to the spectacular Risco waterfall. Thanks to my good friend Angela for the recommendation! Then back to the NW for a run along the beautiful Levada da Janela. 16km. 600m of ascent. Sunset back at our house at Calhau Grande finished off a wonderful week.