on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Levadas of Madeira

Steve Gledhill

Steve Gledhill

Steve Gledhill, ARPS

I’m primarily a landscape photographer though that does encompass almost anything I find whilst out hiking. I particularly enjoy my photography when it’s building a body of work or project such as hiking The Thames Path or The Cotswold Way or Bredon Hill throughout 2016.


The Portuguese island of Madeira is a steep sided (and hopefully) extinct volcano located about 300 miles from the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The island's agriculture is supported by the capture and distribution of rainwater by well over 1000 miles of levadas or rainwater channels. That's a lot of levadas given that the island is only about 300 square miles. The levadas have been built over the last several hundred years and deliver water from around the island to where it's needed for agriculture. Many of the levadas have paths by their side that can be walked, and, as they're almost on the level they are mostly very easy.

Except that, because they run around the contours of the very steep volcano, in places they have precipitous drops - often without guardrails for protection. And here and there they flow through tunnels, some of which are easily long enough (hundreds of meters) to require a good torch. So, not for those a little unsteady on their feet, or who don't have a good head for heights, or who would feel claustrophobic hiking through unlit restricted height tunnels. But once there it’s difficult not to find things at which to point your camera! Please read more on this project on Steve's website.

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