Madeira News: Levadas of Madeira: Levada das 25 fontes/Levada do Risco PR6 PR6.1

25fontesv2Visiting a (usually) spectacular waterfall, this walks begins by descending gently to Rabaçal before continuing downhill to view the waterfall.

Both trails begin on the regional road (E.R. 110), and go down as far as the Rabaçal government house. The trails diverge along two parallel levadas located on different levels.

Trail PR 6.1, goes along Levada do Risco, at 1000m above sea level, taking the hiker to an impressive waterfall, which falls horizontally creating a ridge in the rock. If you go down to PR6 you can visit the 25 Spring Lagoon (Lagoa das 25 Fontes), created by the waters which come down from the Mountain Marsh (Paul da Serra) and mysteriously appear from behind the wall that forms the lagoon, where you can see more than 25 springs. Legend says that whoever was to dive here would never come back up to the surface, which is what happened to an Englishman who wanted to break the superstition and was never seen again.

At this height the landscape is dominated by moorland, which includes Erica arborea and Erica scoparia ssp maderensis as well as Madeiran whortleberry (Vaccinium padifolium). This vegetation changes as altitude lowers, with other species predominating, including the rare mountain mocano (Pittosporum coriaceum). This area includes the Madeiran laurisilva forest which has classified as a Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO, since December 1999 and is part of the European network of important community sites – Natura 2000.

The Trocaz Pigeon (Columba trocaz trocaz) lives and nests here, the bird is exclusively endemic to Madeira Island.

The 25 Fontes levada, which is also known as Levada Nova do Rabaçal, began to be built in 1835. On 16 September 1855 water ran through the levada for the first time, running from North to South and making it possible to make use of lots of land which had so far lain fallow in the Calheta municipal area.

The two levadas bring together water from two tributaries of Ribeira Grande and run into the Calheta Hydroelectric Dam, and carries on to irrigate agricultural land.

Levadas, is the name given on the island to the small aqueducts that make up a vast irrigation system, built through the physical strength of our ancestors who, overcoming the height of the island, brought together the water from thousands of springs and took it to the fields.

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