Palheiro Estate now has 4 trails that can be wandered to unravel the nature surrounding a two hundred year old house.
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Palheiro Estate has introduced a new activity. The Nature Trails are four new courses that people can walk while they simultaneously explore nature as well as the estate’s four corners.
The history of these trails started to be written on the 18th of July 2012, when great fires devastated that area. After a long and strenuous period of reforesting, the end result was four new trails with an awe-inducing view of Madeira’s mountains, the bay of Funchal and the Atlantic Ocean.
The bay tree, the canary laurel and the stinkwood are among some of the island’s endemic species that can be found when walking these trails.
Whatever the trail chosen, the adventure starts always at the golf course’s clubhouse, followed by a stop at the Casa Velha.
One can walk, run or cycle through these trails, some of their highlights being the opportunity to watch birds, horses, fish in a small pond and also the chance to behold the beautiful flora.
At 6.4 km, the longest one can be finished in approximately 80 minutes. When walking this trail, people will find old artillery pieces created in WWII when there was a fear that, in spite of Portugal’s neutrality, the island might be invaded.
Two of the other trails are 4.7 and 4.8 km long respectively. The first is meant as a course on which to watch plants from up close such as the sugarbushes. The second one has on its itinerary the large water reservoir where some herons and other birds can quite often be seen quenching their thirst.
The shortest trail is 4 kilometres long and goes around the stables and the gorgeous field of camellias passing by an area well-known for being used as a viewpoint from which to watch the arrival and departure of ships back in the old days.
The origin of the history surrounding the spaces accessible throughout the trails lies in the Casa Velha, built more than 200 years ago.
This house was the Earls of Carvalhal’s old hunting pavilion and country house and has withstood the passing of time, adapting to different historic eras and having even hosted kings and queens, princes and princesses.
At some points in the 20th century, the estate as whole, and particularly, the house, were abandoned. Degradation took hold of the site and its future started to look grim.
And then, almost at the end of the century, started the restoration of Casa Velha and its transformation into a luxury hotel. The complex was inaugurated in 1997, the 1st of May having been the day on which the first guests were signed in. Nowadays, the hotel is a part of the prominent Relais Châteaux group.
The trails complement the offer of Palheiro which, besides this hotel, includes Palheiro Golf, the Palheiro Spa, the Palheiro Gardens and the Palheiro Estate.
Article written in february/march 2016 (issue no. 54).