Archive for May 29th, 2013
Camino Real, Santiago Del Teide – With Extra Footage

It’s not just DVD’s that have added content, retracing a previous walk down from Santiago del Teide to Puerto Santiago I discovered extra leg straining, muscle sapping kilometers. Camino Real is one of the ancient tracks used to link the west coast town to the coast, and very lovely it is too.

Santiago del Teide was sunny and a crisp 17 degrees as I arrived on the 460 Titsa bus to Icod. The entrance to the walk wrongly signposts it as 6.7 kms but the other distance posts along the way have it as 8 kms but what’s a few more metres between friends. Stone wall building was highly skilled in this corner of Tenerife and the sturdy guardians channeled me slowly down the uneven rock track as it slowly veered away from the main road. The flowers and plants were perky and colourful in the nearby fields and even the cactus were flowering.

Last time I did the full route without diversions but just 30 minutes in I found my first temptation. As the track rose and turned a corner there were two smaller feeds, one down to El Molledo, and soaring upward the one I picked, a 2.1 km trek (each way) to Risco Blanco. It was tight and twisting and a bit overgrown in places and at one point a large finely balanced rock overhung my path. Was it the work of nature, it looked like a dastardly plot from Willie E Coyote, I took my chances and was thankful I hadn’t worn my Road Runner costume. Sometimes these paths can fizzle out to nothing but this one held a fine reward, as I crested the last hill I found myself staring straight at the knarled white cone of Risco Blanco, stunning in itself but doubly so as La Gomera shone clear and bright in the distant sea beyond.

Tenerife must be a geologists dream, stacks, intrusions and many more rock formations spread out below me as I headed back down to the Camino Real. Back at the junction I realized I was still not far from my Santiago starting point. Pushing on I went down into the bowl surrounding the Barranco del Valle with water gurgling through the large pipes that now carry the water that used to run through stone channels. An excitable cockerel nearly blasted my eardrums off as I passed a small isolated farm yard and across the valley goats were bleating and clanging the bells around their necks – damm noisy place the countryside.

Oh lucky me, there was another signpost waiting to test me, this one pointed up to Cruz de Los Misioneros, at a mere 1.1 kms, I couldn’t resist and started plodding up the side of the mountain path partially covered in bushes and grass. There were big boulder based steps to cope with and as I rose higher I could see the village of Tamaimo spreading out below me across the barranco. The meandering track didn’t seem to have any obvious end but I stuck with it, big respect to those people clutching a paint pot and brush who add the yellow and blue marks on the rocks to show the correct route. Eventually I hauled myself up on the last ledge and looked over to see a sheer drop to another valley and the other side of my old friend the 942 metre high Risco Blanco, a bit scary but very rewarding.

Back down at the bottom my track was dipping down close to the almost dry river bed of the barranco which became a small section of the way ahead. After a long narrow corridor of steep sided rocks I emerged with a welcome view of the coast in the near distance. The barranco now fell away to my side and reservoirs had tapped the dribbles of water coming down to feed some fertile farm areas. I ignored another side track, this one for Circular Guanma, another 3.5 km that I could manage without but it would get a chance another day.

The final stretch was in some ways the hardest as firm but uneven rock gave way to shifting small shingle but my trainers were up to the task. The trail comes out by a large farm area and strangely the posts point to the high cliff face on the right, I tried that last time and it nearly stranded me up the side of the mountain. Sticking to the left hand side of the netted growing areas I threaded my way though some narrow paths, with those paint marks encouraging me, and emerged just above Puerto Santiago on the main road leading down to the Los Gigantes mirador. My apologies to any passing motorists subjected to me sat on the grass verge removing my socks and massaging my feet – you can probably seek counseling for the trauma. It had been a good walk, five hours and just over 14 kms and plenty of glimpses of nature at its finest.