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TOP SPOT: Pico do Ariero, left, Pat and Winstons favourite Camara de Lobos

And, just like him, its full of surprises.

A firm favourite with the more mature visitor for decades, the Portuguese, volcanic island is now becoming a place for adventurers.

Plus now that Super Break has made it easier to get there with all-inclusive packages and flights from six UK regional airports available from this autumn, the sub-tropical paradise is set to soar in popularity.

Boasting dramatic gorges and cliffs, ideal for trekking, abseiling and cycling, locals call it Jurassic Park, without the dinosaurs. There are many trips for the less adventurous, too – like a visit to Santana with its traditional thatched cottages.

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A Green Devil Jeep Safari is a great introduction to the delights of Madeira, but be warned some of the routes are tough if youre scared of heights.

Conquer your fears and youll be rewarded with stunning landscapes.

After driving past waterfalls and ravines, the second highest peak on the island – the 5,965ft Pico do Ariero – affords wonderful views.

The good news is the tour finishes at an inn where you can try the traditional drink – “poncho.” Madeirans claim they discovered the heady mix of white rum, lemon juice and honey.

TOP SPOT: Pico do Ariero UNKNOWN

TOP SPOT: Pico do Ariero, left

They cut 2,500 little channels into rocks, known as Levadas, to get water from the mountain tops for the towns and villages. You can even hike the routes.

If youre feeling lazy try the cable car from Funchal to Monte – and toboggan

down! The run was first used to move wine down the mountain to the capital below. Now its a must-do for tourists.

Two Madeirans in boaters, known as carrieros, help you sledge through the streets in a wicker basket on wooden runners.

They use their rubber-soled shoes as brakes and ropes to steer the basket cars.

Its more fun – and safer – than it sounds and was a highlight of the trip.

SHIP SHAPE: Pat and Winstons favourite Camara de Lobos UNKNOWN

SHIP SHAPE: Pat and Winstons favourite Camara de Lobos

We stayed in Funchals five-star Hotel Pestana Casino Park, with ocean views and its own on-site casino.

Its also just a short walk to the old town and its vast array of restaurants.

The farmers market is lively and full of fresh food delights such as fish and passion fruit.

The traditional pork marinated in wine, vinegar, thyme and chilli peppers is a highlight.

Buy your chillies here too. Madeira is a self-governing region of Portugal, the country which invented the Nandos staple – Peri Peri sauce! And dont forget

your traditional Madeira wine and cake which, by the way, is dark brown and usually served at Christmas.

Catch a whale and dolphin-watching cruise from the harbour – which is also a lovely spot to eat the local delicacies.

SAY CHEESE: Pat on holiday in Madeira UNKNOWN

SAY CHEESE: Pat on holiday in Madeira

Super Break packages come with a free sightseeing tour.

There is plenty of choice. Dont miss Camara de Lobos, a fishing village with pretty pastel-coloured houses and a boatyard, a favourite spot of Sir Winston Churchill who liked to paint pictures of them.

Theres also Cabo Giaro – the second highest sea cliff in the world – where theres a new glass walkway which affords great views from 1,903ft.

Eira do Serrado, which overlooks the beautiful Nuns Valley, a village nestling hundreds of feet below is also worth a visit.

Or go for a swim in Porto Moniz, which has natural volcanic rock swimming pools, perfect for a cooling dip.

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