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Reviewed 3 December 2009

Trevor and June Franks have been providing a wonderful service to those who love walking in Madeira for many years. They have a large house situated 900 feet above the centre of Funchal with 4 double/twin rooms to let; they also provide guests with a substantial continental breakfast. Their knowledge of walking the levadas is not matched anywhere else and Trevor has detailed over 120 walks to suit all degree of walkers which are available to everyone who stays at their B and B.
My wife and I have stayed with them several times in recent years and can recommend them wholeheartedly.
David and Sylvia.

  • Stayed: November 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank RoystonFrinton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 March 2009

If you want ‘boutique hotel chic’, covet a place in the Funchal tourist herd, and want expensive packaged hotel day-trips this probably isn't the place for you. On the other hand, if you want a comfortable base for discovering Madeira, a superb location in a lovely Funchal suburb, a warm welcome and a fast-track to some of the best inside information on walking Madeira, you should seriously consider T J Walking.

We stayed with T J Walking for a week in March, arrived as ‘Madeira walking newbies’ and, thanks to the hospitality of Trevor and June Franks and their two charming cats, went home feeling like one of the family. An enjoyable stay began as soon as Trevor welcomed us off our flight at Funchal airport (stay for a week or more and your transfers come with the package). Twenty minutes’ drive later, we received an equally warm welcome from June, and a lovely mug of tea, when we arrived at Trejuno in Livramento.

Our double room was comfortable and came with everything we needed for the week (a proper safe, tea and coffee-making facilities, hairdryer, well-stocked fridge, plenty of storage etc.). The room was clean and serviced thoroughly every day and there was plenty of piping-hot water for showering whenever we wanted it (even when Trejuno was full, as was the case during most of our stay). My wife and I are seasoned independent travellers; over the years we’ve done everything from 5-star hotels to sleeping rough on station benches; Trejuno offered everything we wanted or needed for our stay.

Over the last 20 years, Trevor and June have built-up an amazing knowledge and expertise of Madeira walking. The welcome they’ve provided over the years is borne out by the positive endorsements in several visitors’ books. What’s more, one of their longstanding Madeira walking regulars was staying while we were there and provided further unprompted testimony to the Franks’s kindness and generosity. Trevor and June are warm, enthusiastic people with strong personalities and a great sense of humour. We had some great laughs with them, not least during the very filling breakfast we enjoyed every morning (fruit and cereal, fresh avocados from the garden, a choice of three different fresh breads and rolls, jams, tea, coffee and fruit juice…).

And when it came to evening dining, there was a good choice of local bar/restaurants within a few minutes’ walk of the house (we enjoyed two meals, complete with a stunning view over Funchal, at Vasco de Gama across the road) as well as down in central Funchal. Of the latter, we’d particularly recommend Gaviao Novo, Arco Vehlo and O Portao in Funchal’s old town, and O Funil on Rua de Carrieira in the business area. Whether you’re on your way home after a day’s walking or you specifically choose go into town to eat, we found a superb choice at reasonable prices. And when you’re finished, Trejuno is just a few minutes’ ride up the hill on the No.19 bus (with two stops close to the house). The bus service is frequent and offers an easier alternative to the steep 25 minute downhill walk into town (probably even steeper if you decide to walk back to Livramento!). Trevor and June are a mine of useful information about the buses in Funchal and Madeira in general; they also loan guests Giro cards to use on the town’s buses (good value and easily topped-up throughout Funchal).

And then there is the special walking knowledge that comes with your stay. Between them, Trevor and June Franks have probably done all the walks in Madeira; whether it’s levadas, high peaks, town walks or coastal hikes, they know them intimately. This knowledge and experience means they’re ideally qualified to advise on each walk’s suitability for different abilities as well as on the current condition of each route.

Over the years, Trevor has gone to huge lengths to explore and document a huge range of walks (complete with all the background information and bus connections you’ll need); each is detailed on an easily carried A4 sheet that you can take on your day out. We particularly enjoyed the Levada dos Tornos and Levada dos Piornais in Funchal, as well as the north coast walk from Machico to Porto Cruz via Boca do Risco and the stunning headland walk along the Ponta de São Laurenço. Charming Monte (pronounced ‘Mont’) with its Tropical Gardens and top station for the cableway down to Funchal’s seafront, is also just a short bus ride from Trejuno.

Would we visit T J Walking if we were walking in Madeira again? Absolutely (especially if we were walking the south and east of the island). We loved the simple but very adequate accommodation and the welcome we received. We had everything we wanted as well as the benefit of being in ‘real Funchal’, rather than the sanitised ‘hotel and cruise ship world’ experienced by so many visitors to Madeira.

If your top priority is a brand new room and this year’s décor you may find something more to your taste elsewhere; but if you want to be welcomed into a clean, character-full home by two lovely hosts who could write a book on walking in Madeira (and will share their knowledge with you at the drop of a hat), stay with T J Walking.

You won’t regret it; we didn’t.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Alwrites
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 February 2009

When booking this holiday to Madeira, we deliberately avoided looking at the huge 'tourist' hotels in favour of smaller, friendlier guest houses. That was our first mistake.

Trevor and June at TJ Walking (Trejuno) describe themselves/their guest house as "personal, friendly, with a homely atmosphere". If staying for over seven days, they also offer free transfers to and from the airport. Now, call me old-fashioned, but if you're collecting people from the airport, you put the travellers name on the card, not your own surname, with the name of the hotel in tiny, faded letters at the top. But since Funchal arrivals lounge is tiny, we did spot Trevor.

There was no 'hello, welcome to Madeira", it was a gruff "are you Simon/Suze or are you Graham?" then a "well you'll have to wait until the other two arrive before we can set off". My initial thought was "stereotypical gruff Cumbrian, I thought they were a southerners prejudice and nothing more".

Arriving at the B&B, his wife June was out in the garden and didn't even bother to smile at her guests. She just stared at us. Friends had just arrived, so it was her priority to make sure her friends were accommodated before her paying guests. Hoookaaay, this is hopefully going to get better.

The house smelled like a cross between an old church and a badly run old-folks home. The room smelled worse.

We were instructed to keep the bathroom window open to prevent mould on the tiles (but we were allowed to close it at night) and the shutters on the east facing room closed if we were out of the room. This resulted in a cold room being even colder. The temperatures on the island weren't what could be described as warm (12 degrees) and open windows, and closed shutters meant the room stayed at about 12 degrees. Not the best for a cosy stay.

June had provided us with extra blankets (bless) which smelled as though they had been in grandma's storage for the last 30 years. This was the only form of extra heating provided. The beds had waterproof mattress covers and pillow covers, which meant that the beds felt clammy and damp as well as cold. Apparently all hotels have to have them - they get inspected you know! Funny that we didn't stick to the bed in the other hotel we moved to after two nights.

They describe the rooms on their website as "tastefully decorated". Luridly pattered, very worn green carpets and dingy wallpaper, combined with 1970's furniture. A kettle was the only home comfort, with two tea-bags and two sachets of coffee provided per day. Luckily we had taken our own supply. No TV, radio or anything else to pass the time in the evening. One reading lamp between two of us was not ideal either.

The shower in the freezing bathroom was like standing under a half-working tap. On more than one occasion there wasn't any hot water, so you couldn't warm up even if you tried. Rubbing down with a towel to get the circulation going was as good as it got.

Breakfast - ah yes breakfast. My partner is a Coeliac, which means he has a gluten allergy. He takes his prescription bread everywhere with him. The trouble with his bread is that you have to toast it to stop it crumbling like cake. When we asked June to do this for us, you would have thought that we had asked her to grow the grain, mill it and then bake the bread. From that point on, all we got was a tirade of anti men abuse from her. I'm sure that it was meant as tongue in cheek, but personally, I cannot abide sexism of any variety, and I especially hate it when I'm a paying guest.

Breakfast for the rest of us was a small banana, cereal and defrosted bread. Measured amounts of each. No full english or anything hot (in that lovely warm (!) house).

The site says "Lounge is spacious and is available to read or relax in or you could bask in the sunshine on the sun beds on the terrace. We also have a good selection of malt whisky's and many other spirit drinks at our in-house cocktail bar." Frankly, if we had asked for a drink in the evening, it felt as though we would have been a total imposition on our hosts, so we stayed in the bar across the road on a windy, rainy stormy night where at least we were served with good grace and a smile.

We stayed for two nights at this dreadful B&B with unfriendly hosts before decamping to another hotel. Funnily enough, they didn't seem surprised by our departure, and neither did they offer us even a partial refund. If they had, I may not have written this review.

If all that you're interested in is 8 - 10hrs of walking each day and falling into bed exhausted each night, too tired to be aware of your surroundings, then this might suit you. If you're looking for a more relaxed holiday with *some* walking, then I would just avoid this place.

On the upside, Trevor and June do know the local bus services very well and will provide you with Giro cards to top up for the local buses. Oh - and you get free transfers, with a grumpy attitude.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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13  Thank suze1970
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2014
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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