Azores - São Miguel

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The old Mills on São Miguel

We contemplated for a while which category the many old mills on São Miguel would fit into the best. On one hand, they sort of are Lost Places, but a lot of the time you will also find waterfalls in direct proximity to them. Additionally, many mills form a part of popular hiking routes. However, since each mill is special in her own way, we have decided to start a separate chapter for them. Here, we will collect some nice information, impressions and pictures, whenever we acquire them.

Moinhos do Crim

The Moinhos do Crim is a watermill along the path leading to the Moinhos da Ribeira Funda. It is easily accessible from the road that you can park on. You can just follow the signposts towards “Moinhos da Ribeira Funda”.

Signpost by the starting point on the way to the mills of Ribeira Funda.
Signpost by the starting point on the way to the mills of Ribeira Funda.

You only need to worry about wearing appropriate shoes if it has just rained. The first part of the path runs directly parallel to a pasture through some grass. After that, it leads into a densely grown forest featuring many different plants. I came here just before the sun rose, which made the forest and path appear a little spooky.

Due to the clear air and the absence of man-made light, the moon can be seen even during dawn here, although it does look a little spooky.
Even at dawn, the moon shines through the trees

Technically it is not required to come here as early as sunrise, as the sun only reaches the Moinhos do Crim in the forest and especially in the valley quite late. However, I wanted to make the most of my time, and the forest does look quite special at dawn, especially due to the toppled trees.

Overgrown and full of toppled trees, this path seems quite spooky especially during dawn.
Overgrown and full of toppled trees, this path seems quite spooky, especially during dawn.

If you continue down the path, after about 10 minutes you will see the sign pointing to the “Moinhos do Crim” by the path.

Signpost to the Moinhos do Crim
Signpost to the Moinhos do Crim

Not long after you already reach the ruins of the old mill. Nature has already managed to retake many parts of the buildings and channels. The paths intertwine a little here. You should walk down to the river, though, as the water flows past the mill through a small waterfall and towards the ocean here.

Additionally, this is a great place to have a little rest. You can relax on the large rocks, listen to the rush of the water and look forward to whatever you’re going to discover next. Unfortunately, I had to head back this time because I didn’t have enough time to follow the path to the end. I will do that this summer, however. I promise! I will also post some more information here no later than that.

Moinhos da Ribeira Funda

If you have already made your way to the Moinhos do Crim, you might as well carry on along the path which will lead you past the many mills along the Ribeira Funda. These watermills are in differing conditions. Some are nothing but ruins, taken over almost entirely by nature, while others still look pretty solid.

Moinhos da Ribeira Funda near the coast
Moinhos da Ribeira Funda near the coast

The path continues to run parallel to the river past many mills. Apart from the mills themselves, you have a beautiful view of the gorge that cut the Ribeira Funda into the rock. The river flows directly over several smaller waterfalls in the direction of the mouth into the Atlantic.

Ribeira Funda
Ribeira Funda

Along the path and near the old watermills you can also see the millstones. Some of them are so densely overgrown with plants that they are hard to spot. Others, however, are placed directly by the side of the road and can still be used as a picnic table today. If you take a break at one of the spots, you can try to imagine how tricky it must have been to bring the grain down to the mills and then return the flour to the surrounding areas in the same way.

If you then follow the path further towards the estuary, you can walk all the way around to your starting point, instead of walking back the way you came. From the cliff, along which the path back leads, you can get a very nice view of the Praia da Viola, which, viewed from here, is positioned directly in front of Maia.

View from the cliff of the Praia da Viola in front of Maia
View from the cliff of the Praia da Viola in front of Maia

Mill by the path to the Praia da Viola

The Praia da Viola is one of the most beautiful spots on the island anyway. Aside from the waterfalls directly at the beach and along the paths, you can also see an old mill here when you approach from the east.

Ruin of the watermill by the Praia da Viola with an old millstone in front of the blue Atlantic.
Watermill by the Praia da Viola

Beautifully located overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and next to a waterfall, one of the old millstones serves as a “basin” for a spring.

Der Mühlstein bei der Mühle an der Praia da Viola dient als Becken einer Quelle.
Millstone by the mill near the Praia da Viola

That, however, is not all. Directly behind the mill, there is the river that used to power the mill back in the day. This river ends in a waterfall down to the coast.

Wasserfall am Weg zur Praia da Viola neben der alten Mühle
Waterfall by the path to the Praia da Viola next to the old mill

The best way to see the waterfall, by the way, is if you follow the narrow path directly underneath the last mill. This picture was taken only about 5m away from that path.

Depending on what you prefer, you could also drive here by car and park a couple of meters above, or you could hike along the coast starting at Maia. This hike is definitely one of the most beautiful ones on the island. Should you prefer to come by car, please drive carefully. The path down to the carpark is pretty narrow and steep.

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