PS PR2 - Vereda do Pico Castelo
Involving 210m of ascent, this walk tours the south side of Pico do Facho, and constitutes the longest walk on Porto Santo.
This trail begins at Moledo, next to the Regional Road and continues up the forestry road, with two alternative routes to follow, either along the north side or the south side of Pico do Facho. The latter has the distinction of being the longest footpath of Porto Santo Island.
As we cross the central zone of the island at the base of Pico do Facho, we can see traces of old farmlands and of the hard work of building the cut stone walls, and contemplate the amazing effort made by man to reforest the island.
At the top of Pico Castelo, you will come upon a statue in honour of António Schiappa de Azevedo, the driving force behind the reforestation of Porto Santo. This process of arborisation has helped control the effects of erosion that are seen on this island. Some exotic species were introduced, whose wild nature is more resistant to the adverse conditions, examples being the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), the Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) and the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa).
Indigenous species that can be found include the dragon tree (Dracaena draco), the olive tree (Olea sp), the holm oak (Quercus ilex ssp. rotundifolia), some fire trees (Myrica faya), broom heath (Erica scoparia) and pride of Madeira (Echium nervosum).
The walk affords magnificent views and the opportunity to come in contact with the fauna of the island, observing flocks of red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), birds of prey such as the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis), the colourful house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and the impressive hoopoe (Upupa epops).
After the climb to the top of Pico Castelo, you reach the end of the trail at the Canhão Belvedere and have a view of the city of Vila Baleira and in the background almost the entire length of the island. In the distance you can make out the Deserted Islands and Madeira.
The name Pico Castelo dates from the 15th century and derives from the fact that there was a fort there where the local inhabitants took refuge when they were attacked by French pirates or Algerians. Its central location and greater ease of organising the defence of the people made it a true Castle.