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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting the most from Madeiran walks
Walking on Madeira can be dangerous. So before setting off it is essential that one either researches the planned walk to assess the risk or join an organised group walk. If you really want to fully appreciate the island's wonderful scenery, at your own pace, then planning your own schedule is by far the best option, but at a distance how can that this be achieved...
Published on 3 Aug. 2012 by Westy

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use with care - the third star has a question mark before it.
The problem with this book is a lack of accuracy and detail. Of course a Guidebook should allow some surprise and discovery and cannot be expected to be a step by step description and of course it is out of date as soon as it goes to print because someone changes the signs or the bus routes or whatever. But for some things, there is really no excuse for inaccuracy and for...
Published 15 months ago by Graham Holland Wells


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting the most from Madeiran walks, 3 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
Walking on Madeira can be dangerous. So before setting off it is essential that one either researches the planned walk to assess the risk or join an organised group walk. If you really want to fully appreciate the island's wonderful scenery, at your own pace, then planning your own schedule is by far the best option, but at a distance how can that this be achieved?

There are a number of books describing walking routes on the island, but from my experience the 2nd Edition of Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks together with it's companion volume Walk! Madeira are by far the best. The former benefits particularly from being published in 2011 thus containing information about how the islands walking routes have been affected by the floods and fires of 2010. The author's detailed knowledge of her subject comes from having lived on Madeira for the last 10 years.

The 40 walks described in the book contain all one could wish for in order to decide which ones to try. Particularly important is how to find the start of the walk. I know from personal experience how difficult some levadas are to find based on the description in other books. This book solves that problem and not only describes where to start, but also gives the GPS co-ordinates for each route. The GPS waypoints are listed in the book, but are also available to download. The walks are rated in terms of the effort required and vertigo risk, and the distance and ascents and descents are clearly stated. An estimate is also given of the time each walk will take.

If you are not prepared to drive on Madeiran roads and contend with the interesting driving habits of the locals (and who can blame you), then the details of the public transport links to the start of each walk will also be useful.

The author's description of the scenery and flora and fauna along the routes particularly enhances the enjoyment of each walk.

For anyone planning a walking holiday on Madeira there are only two books you require, the 2nd Edition of Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks and Walk! Madeira. I used them both extensively during my holiday on the island this year.

Both books make use of the Madeira Tour & Trail map, also published by Discovery Walking Guides Ltd. The durable version of this map is highly recommended; the best tourist map of the island I have seen.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars your guide for a great hiking holiday, 11 April 2012
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This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
Together with the Madeira Tour & Trail Map Super-durable Version, this book opens up the island to you, offering beautiful walks.
These hikes are less well known and so we often had the paths to ourselves and only met 3 other groups of hikers during a day. (the exception being the hikes at Ribacal)
Over 6 days we used this guide to explore the north, south, east, west and center of the Island - enjoying the varied character of each area.
Most of the walks are for point-to-point, however doubling back after reaching a good view point to get back to the car worked well for us.
We can recommend this guide as a way to explore Madiera.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible book for self-guided walking on madeira, 3 May 2012
This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
An excellent guide to exploring the best walks on Madeira. Having successfully used the first edition for years we found this new edition to be a significant improvement. The author shows intimate and current knowledge of the culture and terrain of the island. Used over a week of walking in March 2012 the routes took us through amazing scenery and were consistently reliable to follow. Together with the companion volume Walk! Madeira coverage of the entire island is provided. The hiking and touring maps in the same series are clear, up to date and accurate.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Madeira walks companion, 9 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
Rather than wait a year or so until my next visit to Madeira I'll give first impressions of this handy book that arrived just before our November visit. As it turned out, we only undertook two walks during the week, and only one them fully followed a route from this book; the other started one of these routes but diverted on to a national signpost path because we had to return to our start point rather than get picked up at the end of most routes. Around half-a-dozen of the routes are circular but the hilly Madeiran terrain means that circular walks are understandably Rather than wait a year or so until my next visit to Madeira I'll give first impressions of this handy book that arrived just before our November visit. As it turned out, we only undertook two walks during the week, and only one them fully followed a route from this book; the other started one of these routes but diverted on to a national signpost path because we had to return to our start point rather than get picked up at the end of most routes. Around half-a-dozen of the routes are circular but the hilly Madeiran terrain means that circular walks are understandably limited.
Firstly, make sure you get an updated copy as supplied by Amazon as some routes have been forcibly changed because of the flooding and other damage caused to paths and levadas a couple of years ago. As well as being clearly written and presented, the books includes a useful introduction to Madeira and some of the non-walking-related highlights, a few illustrative photographs, GPS waypoints, references to availability of food and drink on routes, vertigo risk and how strenuous the walk is likely to be. Some of these latter ratings might be subjective but better than no guide at all. The book also recommends a map of Madeira to be used in conjunction, and this might have overcome the only issue we found. Giving the road number to find a start to a route only works if the authorities have put up signs to help and that you start from the right part of the bigger towns. A GPS overcomes this but only the dedicated hiker takes one with them on holiday. Once you find each route start point then you are unlikely to encounter much difficulty with directions because there are often many other walkers particularly at weekends.
Having written that, the circular route we followed was in an area we might never have visited and certainly not an obvious leisure walking route. The clear description, beginning at the recommended car parking spot and ending at the recommended eating place, made it simple. Because it was not an official trail or even a simple long path, frequent reference to the book was needed and the guidance was totally accurate in leading us by house and road surface descriptions through Madeiran hamlets and past precipitous cultivated plots that we would never have found let alone glimpsed without the book. It was a thoroughly enjoyable insight into the rural Madeiran way of life, even the sheep were still in the same place as described! The vertigo rating was given as zero but don't be misled into thinking there are no steep drops; there was just more room to keep away from the edge. My wife, whose legs feel shaky sitting on the sofa watching someone on TV looking off the edge of a tall building, was happy with the zero risk so fair enough. Views on all walks in Madeira are, of course, guaranteed in the absence of low winter cloud cover and mists. We were lucky on both our walking days but a drive up to the only plateau found it shrouded in mist. The large number of parked cars suggested that the hikers would not be seeing much that day.
Our other walk was on a coastal path with superb sea and headland views but lacked the insight into local life that Shirley Whitehead's book picks up. We didn't get the chance to do more than a short look along a levada but judging from the clarity of the walks we carried out and a couple of other start points we encountered, I am happy that the money is very well spent if you want to break away from the very many and excellent organised excursions direct from your hotel.
Hiring a car enabled us to undertake a walk not covered by the excursions and meant we could even follow up one of the handful of restaurant tips. These are always going to be subjective, but having learned from the book of a hot suckling pig sandwich, how could we not try it.
In summary, buy the book even if you only want a trustworthy description of one of the organised excursions. Get a detailed map of Madeira because even a satnav doesn't pick up all the tiny places comprising a couple of houses (frequently with the same name as another hamlet 20 mies or more away). If planning more than two or three self-guided walks, invest in a GPS or bring a good GPS smartphone. I absolutely recommend a pair of folding walking poles, such as from Leki, because most Madeiran walks involve going up or down.
limited.
Firstly, make sure you get an updated copy as supplied by Amazon as some routes have been forcibly changed because of the flooding and other damage caused to paths and levadas a couple of years ago. As well as being clearly written and presented, the books includes a useful introduction to Madeira and some of the non-walking-related highlights, a few illustrative photographs, GPS waypoints, references to availability of food and drink on routes, vertigo risk and how strenuous the walk is likely to be. Some of these latter ratings might be subjective but better than no guide at all. The book also recommends a map of Madeira to be used in conjunction, and this might have overcome the only issue we found. Giving the road number to find a start to a route only works if the authorities have put up signs to help and that you start from the right part of the bigger towns. A GPS overcomes this but only the dedicated hiker takes one with them on holiday. Once you find each route start point then you are unlikely to encounter much difficulty because there are often many other walkers particularly at weekends.
Having written that, the circular route we followed was in an area we might never have visited and certainly not an obvious leisure walking route. The clear description beginning at the recommended car parking spot and ending at the recommended eating place made it simple. Because it was not an official trail or even a simple long path, frequent reference to the book was needed and the guidance was totally accurate in leading us by house and road surface descriptions through Madeiran hamlets and past precipitous cultivated plots that we would never have found let alone glimpsed without the book. It was a thoroughly enjoyable insight into the rural Madeiran way of life, even the sheep were still in the same place as described! The vertigo rating was given as zero but don't be misled into thinking there are no steep drops; there was just more room to keep away from the edge. My wife, whose legs feel shaky sitting on the sofa watching someone on TV looking off the edge of a tall building, was happy with the zero risk so fair enough. Views on all walks in Madeira are, of course, guaranteed in the absence of low winter cloud cover and mists. We were lucky on both our walking days but a drive up to the only plateau found it shrouded in mist. The large number of parked cars suggested that the hikers would not be seeing much that day.
Our other walk was on a coastal path with superb sea and headland views but lacked the insight into local life that Shirley Whitehead's book picks up. We didn't get the chance to do more than a short look along a levada but judging from the clarity of the walks we carried out and a couple of other start points we encountered, I am happy that the money is very well spent if you want to break away from the very many and excellent organised excursions direct from your hotel.
Hiring a car enabled us to undertake a walk not covered by the excursions and meant we could even follow up one of the handful of restaurant tips. These are always going to be subjective, but having learned from the book of a hot suckling pig sandwich, how could we not try it.
In summary, buy the book even if you only want a trustworthy description of one of the organised excursions. Get a detailed map of Madeira because even a satnav doesn't pick up all the tiny places comprising a couple of houses (frequently with the same name as another hamlet 20 mies or more away). If planning more than two or three self-guided walks, invest in a GPS or bring a good GPS smartphone.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Use with care - the third star has a question mark before it., 30 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
The problem with this book is a lack of accuracy and detail. Of course a Guidebook should allow some surprise and discovery and cannot be expected to be a step by step description and of course it is out of date as soon as it goes to print because someone changes the signs or the bus routes or whatever. But for some things, there is really no excuse for inaccuracy and for some things lack of detail can be dangerous.

The best example of the first type of problem is on page 24 where the appropriate GPS format is discussed. I quote, "Check that your GPS is set to the WGS84 datum (its default datum) and the "location format" hddd.mm.mmmm". So you do that and then you turn to input the GPS co-ordinates to be found on pages 161 - 164. They are in "location format" hddd.ddddd. If you do not know the difference then your GPS is useless and the GPS is essential if you do not have a local guide/taxi driver to get you to the start of some routes - in my case the start of Walk 34, Levada Nova - Faja da Ovelha to Ponto do Pargo - or if your rate of progress around the walk does not match that suggested by the Author (the timings are tight; brisk not ambling). Mapwork becomes essential and those in the book are not Ordnance Survey (cliffs and crags are not marked as such and the lack of a scale for the maps in the Guidebook is unnerving) - the Madeira Tour and Trail Map is useful but does not show the crags and drops.

And sometimes the descriptions become aggravating; again, the end of Walk 34 (page 140) describes crossing a road at Waypoint 8 followed by a few minutes walking, as more houses appear, the path then running parallel with a tarred road. Then after a few metres there is a concrete driveway at Waypoint 9, where the levada is left and the walk into town begins. But just before Waypoint 9 the levada crosses a road and on the map the levada is then shown as running parallel to that road. What is not clear is how far there is between the levada and the parallel road and in fact there is some considerable space. Without a GPS we scouted forward and could not find the road marked as being parallel so turned left along the road and came out well short of Ponta do Pargo, having a road walk along ER101 to finish the trip. Not a great hardship, but the lack of precision and the clear need for GPS to check what was written was disappointing.

That can all be taken in one's stride; what cannot is when there is a positive lack of detailed and accurate information coupled with a misleading assessment of a walk's difficulty; the second type of problem. Whilst assessing difficulty is always going to be subjective, giving a walk a rating of "2" out of 5 with a vertigo risk of "1" out of 3 without being precise as to what that means could be extremely dangerous. Walk 4, Levada do Norte - Estreito de Camara do Lobos to Cabo Girao - difficulty 2, vertigo risk 1. Page 35, I quote, "There are also a few short precipitous sections a little further along where care is needed." Page 36, "This beautiful valley, rich in flora, is extremely deep and the levada again becoming precipitous on a couple of sections. Here the rock overhangs the channel and we must stoop to pass by so caution is needed at this point. Nevertheless, easy walking follows..." This rather depends on how you want to define "easy walking"; personally, I do not define easy walking as following a path between 12 inches to 18 inches wide with no bank or handrail or ground to the side above several hundred feet of drop for distances in excess of 10 yards at a time. Nor do I consider that to justify a vertigo risk of just 1 out of 3. Between GPS Waypoint 2 and Garachico, that is the majority of the first half of this walk, is a path potentially lethal for anyone who has problems with balance or gait (liability to catch toes or stumble for any reason) and it should be clearly so described. It is flat contour line walking but unnerving for the reasons stated and should not be described as "easy walking". One solution, of course, is to get into the levada and walk along the channel; as the channel was dry that was done.

And the little levada to be followed when the Levada do Norte turns right into its tunnel is not signed until you get to the end of it in the village, but it is the only other levada so no sign is really necessary. Just aggravating to be told that it is signed.

It may be that once one is familiar with the style and assessments of the Author these problems fade away but for a one-off trip to Madeira with a view to seeing the countryside on foot, take care and be prepared for unpleasant surprises as well as the pleasant ones afforded by the countryside.
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2.0 out of 5 stars OK for providing basic ideas - Not Recommended for reliability, 11 May 2015
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This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
Didnt find this book effective for what it purported to be. Route descriptions were idiosyncratic and all too often, vague. Too much time was spent describing tees and flowers (which after all one can see for oneself) and not enough time on route finding and route markers (eg Leave path at a concrete driveway just outside the village), well as you are approaching the village but not on a road, it is difficult to know when you `juts outside the village` and there had been about 9 concrete driveways in the vicinity !

Luckily as a Lake District hiker, i am not bad with maps and the Map by David Brawn was sufficient for me to find my way.

the format of the walk descriptions needs to be presented in numbered stages otherwise it is like reading a story and one spends too much time with your head in the book trying to figure out where you are. We discarded it after two confusing walks and invented our own from the Map. Much more rewarding.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Madeira Walks, 22 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
The guide seemed a little difficult to follow on occasions, bearing in mind that my girlfriend and I were novice visitors to this picturesque island. I'm sure that once you get to know your way around better (on local buses etc), then the descriptions will become clearer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good descriptions, 21 April 2013
This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
Shirley's descriptions are as accurate as possible and feature extracts of up to date maps of the island. We walked several of her suggested walks and found them to be a great introduction to the island.we look forward to coming back
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and easy to follow, 13 Mar. 2014
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Mrs. G. M. Yoxon "Grace Skye" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks (Paperback)
We haven't tried the walks yet but the directions seem good. We were after a book which told you a bit more about what you are going to see and so it fits that bill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madeira Walks, 2 April 2013
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Anyone who travels and goes abroad for walking holidays should buy this book as it has some fantastic walks in Madeira will be using it again on my next trip
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Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks
Shirley Whitehead's Madeira Walks by Shirley Whitehead (Paperback - 22 Sept. 2011)
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