Archive for the 'Walking' Category
Wantage Walk Is Poetry In Motion

King Alfred, the one who burnt the cakes, is the most well known former resident of Wantage, a wonderful old town about 15 miles out of Oxford. However the statue of former Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman took me by surprise outside the Information Centre, but he too stands proud of his near 30 year residence in Wantage. With the sun smiling and the heavy rain keeping at bay, I set off on the Letcombe Brook trail with a thirst for knowledge.

The church of St Peter and St Paul looked magnificent with its well tended graveyard and sturdy stone tower. Thanks to clear signposting and a helpful leaflet from the information office I was able to follow the face of the church and down Priory Road past the houses of old tannery workers and down to the ford by Willoughby Mill with a slight detour up to a partially overgrown spring called Alfred´s Well. It was a lovely restful area with just the chirp of the birds breaking through the still of the day as strands of sunlight filtered through the leaves.

A strong wooden bridge made an ideal stopping point to drink in the solitude before taking a lane alongside some open grassland where a few horses and goats were busy chewing over their plans for the day. This brought me to an old sluice gate in the brook where water was diverted to the mill stream, this was a busy rural area and nature was tapped into to provide power to turn several mills. Where better to pay tribute to the famous poet, Betjeman Millenium Park had a quirky poem inscribed headstone called The Last Laugh and a stone circle where a group of local younghsters were enjoying a crafty smoke – maybe it was a stoned circle?


It was nice to see some love locks on the iron gate out of the park, it´s a modern link to an old Serbian love story about couples engraving their initials on a padlock and fixing it to a bridge, if you search for photos online you will be staggered at how some of europes bridges are totally covered with locks. Back on the main track, the brook trickled into the remains of the Wilts and Berks canal. Willow bundles speed up the flow for the two old mill houses and brown trout darted through the shallow water. The biggest of the mills had been converted into modern apartments, heralding my emergence onto recently developed housing estates lining the brook just over the road bridge.

The Sack House looked a little weather beaten but dignified, long gone was its 19th century role, supplying sacks for farmers and traders. The whole area had a nice balance between tradition and modern developments, between the brook and the new housing estates, a series of modern sandstone sculptures added character, one even looked a little like King Alfred. The route went very urban through and around the estate to a a partly hidden footpath.I feared I might be reported as a lurker or gnome rustler but they seemed to be used to walkers passing within inches of their back gardens. The brook meandered through fields of wild flowers and the colours and smells of nature were just as attractive as any cultivated display. After a leisrely hour I emerged at Willow Walk nature reserve near the main road back to Oxford, I didn’t see any of the Kingfishers that are known to hang around but was still very happy to have got to know Wantage a bit better.


A shorter stroll from the centre of Oxford on another day of my home visit from Tenerife was equally rewarding. Heading into Christ Church Meadows from the town centre I saw the mighty Thames in its Isis stage, complete with punters slowly polling down the river, and a modern Jubilee bridge that was beautifully designed to fit in well with its surroundings. That walk ended at the Head Of The River pub, another favourite watering hole from my past. Of course Wantage has a vast array of pubs for a small town and my favourite there was the Shoulder Of Mutton with its choice of 10 real ales. It’s thirsty business this walking.

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Support Your Local Mountain

Like a benevolant neighbour looking down on me, Guaza Mountain ridge rises up from the coast of Los Cristianos and reaches it´s peak just above Kirby Towers in Oasis del Sur. Not just a decorative wrap at the far side of the old Las Tarajales beach, it´s also a weather barrier between Los Cristianos and Las Galletas, so often the micro climates are vastly different on either side.

None of those thoughts were on my mind as I huffed and puffed my way up the steep, twisting pathway from beach level on a scorching hot Saturday morning. The breeze was very welcome as I rose higher and each breather stop rewarded me with panoramic views over Los Cristianos. It´s a popular walk, a group of six young people were making good progress ahead of me and I enven had to squeeze tight against the rock as two sweaty runners jogged downwards. It had been two years since I previously passed this way and I spotted some new helpful daubs of blue and purple paint at unclear twists in direction.

Turning away from the sea, the clear sky offered views of some of the other volcanic peaks, some familiar to my feet, like Roque del Conde, and on to Mount Teide in the distance. That first steep rise is the most challenging part of the mountain, once up on the plateau it was much easier and I was able to admire the bizarre rock formations and listen to the birdsong. A criss cross pattern of tracks date back to the days when cereal crops were farmed high above the sea, there are also more modern signs of car tyres as vehicles make regular trips from lower access points to service the radio antennas on the highest peak.

There are several routes to explore, I hugged the coastal path to enjoy the changing views of the sea below. It was pretty busy with every sort of craft imaginable, the inter island ferries, whale watching boats, kayaks, and nippy little jet skis. The coastal path dips down sharply at a couple of points into the old slate and stone quarries, the Malpais de Rasca lighthouse visible from Los Cristianos was built from stone extracted on the mountain. Rain has been very scarce this year and the paths were very parched and dusty making them tricky underfoot, especially when coming back up from a quarry dip.

Reaching a cliff point on the far side I could see the seagulls swooping and wheeling below as they circled their homes in the cliff face. The tell tale circular cages of the fish farm had gained a couple of newer smaller additions since my last trip. Ahead there was a clear view down to Palm Mar, there is a pathway down so you can cut through to the Malpais de Rasca beyond. It seems strange that Palm Mar was built between two large protected natural spaces, it looks like it has just been dropped in overnight. If you don´t want to walk on to the lighthouse from Palm Mar you can head up the main road out to a point between Guaza and El Fraile, a good half hours slog. Turning inward I pressed on across the plateau, to get up to the peak it´s a case of tunnel vision and go as straight as possible until the tracks become clearer and more used. Some of the old low stone walls survive and are handy for a snack stop, and an old abandoned house is also a good aiming point.


It may seem quite bare and exposed but there is still plenty of rugged beauty in the cactus clusters and the rocks tinged with oxide colouring. The approach to the peak is steep but rewarding, I stopped short of the work area around the antenna but despite all the hi tech equipment, the workmen are almost oblivious to the constant stream of walkers finding a perch to nibble their sarnies. Coming back down is faster and the view gives a cleaer view of the direction to the start point of the chunky pathway to bech level. It was a good four hours, very hot but very satisfying, I was very glad I had plenty of water. That´s lit my fuse again, I can feel a few more walks coming on over the next few months.

Heavenly Walk With Hellish Rules

My heart sank as I was handed a compulsory helmet by the staff at Barranco del Infierno, I had overcome my resistance and booked my walk in advance and paid my residents rate of 4.50 euros, the only walk in Tenerife to require either, but this was an unexpected torment. Feel The Nature is the walks slogan, the feel of the breeze and the kiss of the sun are among the reasons people choose to get down with nature by enjoying this walk, how can you enjoy it with a potty on your head.

Adeje is truly blessed with the Barranco del Infierno (hells ravine) the 6.5 km return walk starts just above Adeje old town making it an easily accessable route from the tourist zones of the south.It had been two years since my pigeon feet had last graced the walk but I was soon reminded that one of the steepest inclines is the approach road from the historic canon to the walk´s gateway. Once I had read and signed the A4 sheet of rules (aaargh) for the walk I soon found myself looking ahead as the path rose to skirt a corner before plunging down between towering rocks. Looking back from the first viewpoint, Adeje town peered over the lip of the barranco but although the sky out to sea was clear blue, it was dull and cloudy inland.

The path was narrow with big drops to one side, protected only by knee high wooden marking posts. An old aquaduct above the dip in the trail, and narrow concrete channels were a reminder of how water has always been funelled down from the mountains. Even on this cool day my head was already feeling clammy inside its prison, how unbearable would that be in the full glare of summer. At least my ears were free to hear the bird song from the many inhabitants of this haven. I saw my first Barbary Partridge on this walk many years ago and a plump relative briefly crossed my path, I half expected it to be wearing a hi visibility jacket, thankfully it was unfettered.

Air currents above the barranco are a magnet for paragliders, a few were swirling around high above the rocky walls. Getting further into the walk I was able to appreciate the flowers and plants as the scenery took on a greener look. All the trees and bushes were bristling with life and the soft gurgle of the stream was joined by a frog chorus, without Rupert Bear I´m pleased to say. Going against the flow of the water it was becoming more of a small river, at some crossing points metal slats had been added a few years ago, these were done with the minimum of disruption to the look of the walk and subsequent ageing and discolouring of the metal made it blend in even better. The old chestnut tree is one of the marker points along the way, old and knarled it looks like it dates back to the dawn of time.

Even the more mundane flowers like dandelions took on a special quality, nestling in among wild spreads of grasses and leaves. At the top of the rocky skyscrapers, younger trees clung precariously to overhangs, nature will always prevail. Turning the final corner the landscape opened out into a large bowl, a good incline of the neck away from the light filtering down from on high. A slighly raised area gave way to the waterfall running down through a cleft in the rocks from a height of over 200 metres. With the prolonged spell of recent dry weather, the cascade wasn’t as pronounced as it can be but as the walk has previously been closed for days after heavy rain further inland, it was probably as good as visitors will get to see.

A cheeky Robin posed on the chain keeping people from getting too close to the water, I took that as my cue to start retracing my steps back to the start. This time I loitered a little around the water pools and got a closer view of those noisy frogs and the green blaze of colour caused by leaves. Passing other people in some of the other 13 time slots, I reckoned a generous 15 on each would make 225 visitors a day, quite a bit down on the older of my visits. At 12 euros for non resident visitors, it’s hardly surprising, especially as there is a free, challenging and totally natural walk, signposted up the lane to the left of the reception office. Barranco del Infierno still has the power to charm, surprise, and educate, I was glad to have seen it again, but hope the policy of charging and restricting doesn’t spread to other Tenerife walks.

 

 

Hear, Smell, And Taste The Almond Blossom Walk

Even two weeks after my latest experience of the Almond Blossom Walk from Santiago del Teide to Arquayo, the sights, smells and sounds are still with me. There´s a full report in the Canarian Weekly but with limited space for photos, here is the pick of the petals.

 

It wasn´t just blossom on the Almedro en Flor, there was history as we passed through the lava fields just beyond Chinyero where the last big Tenerife eruption of 1909 stopped in its tracks when the statue of the virgen was placed in its path.

The walk is backed by food and cultural promotions until 19 th February, the blossom will be at it´s best at least until then.

Blowing The Dust Off Christmas

Flitting around trying to find a clear route, I was like a junkie looking for a decent vein. Deep down I knew my last Tenerife walk of 2016 was penance for liquid over indulgence through christmas but it was a balance I was happy to strike. Barranco de Chijas was hazy in my memory from the first time I did it 10 years ago and I was struggling to find the true path just above Valle San Lorenzo in Arona.

This was going to be a special Christmas Day walk but a midnight downpour trapped me in a bar and delayed my treat. Talking about that crazy weather, strong, swirling winds, and an on off calima (dust blowing over from Africa) had been dogging the last few weeks but it was bright and sunny as I took the 25 minute ride on the 418 Titsa bus from Los Cristianos. The coldest part of the walk was the steep climb up the well signed La Tosca turn from opposite the BBVA bank in the main street of Valle San Lorenzo, if I had kept on straight up I would have been fine, basically keep to the right of the Terrero (Canarian wrestling stadium).

Running water is a big feature of the walk, old concrete channels criss cross the route and several of them were roaring down at a cracking pace to irrigate fields. Low down a series of interconnecting clearings gave me a chance to assess my surroundings. The barranco ravine carved its way upwards, weaving around old deserted houses as my rough earth path worked its way over large bolders. It didn´t look much of a rise but looking back the views opened up down to the hazy calima dusted coast. A modern water pumping station gave way to the much more elegant old viaduct andpigeons and doves surprised me as they fled from bushes at the sound of my crunching feet.

Amazingly some landmarks tweaked my memory despite my long absence, a couple of impresive trees caught my attention as previous sandwich stops. The trees kept a stubborn hold on their exposed hillsides despite a keen but fairly warm wind and time passed quickly. The highest point of the walk is Salto del Chopo but with the wind whipping up and the mornings newspaper warnings of further strong gusts, I decided not to push my luck, and sterted my return trip after just over two hours. Tyre marks in the loose dirt had made me think of scrambles motor bikes but that idea was soon corrected as a helmeted and elbow padded trials cyclist came flying down behind me. I just side stepped out of the way in time and was alert by the time another whizzed by ten minutes later with a cheery wave.

It was a lot easier walking downwards and spotting the correct finishing stretch, it’s imprinted on my little pea brain now so I can sprint out of the traps when I return again soon. Valle San Lorenzo is always a good place to visit as it has a good choice of bars and restaurants and the bus service is frequent with two main services pasing through.

 

 

 

 

 

Nooks Crannies Birds Billy´s And Nanny´s In Ifonche

So there I was, surrounded by wild goats, miles from home, and with a thorn the size of an Esther Rantzen tooth pick stuck in my big toe. Well maybe things weren´that bad, the goats on the mountains of Ifonche looked friendly and were more put off by me, I had home, or at least my Arona start point, in sight, and as for the annoying prick, he pulled the pathetically small thorn out of his toe and carried on walking with no problem.


It was great to rediscover a walk I had neglected for too long, the 1.25 euro Bono ticket bus fare was a bargain and the weather was sunny and very warm as I headed out from church plaza in Arona old town. Following the signs for a regular trek of mine, Roque del Conde, the first mini barranco (ravine) brought me up to a sign pointing the opposite way from the table top mountain and I began skirting the edge of Barranco Grande. Recent rain had left a little give in the ground but the trail was stilla bit erratic to follow, a couple of old partly fallen houses provided a good aim point ahead.

As the barranco deepened so did the amazing shapes and patterns fashioned by nature over the centuries. Taking a water break sat on a rock I could hear melodic bird song and see squadrons of pigeons riding the air currents below. Another smaller barranco to my other side started converging so although there was a choice of paths I was being funnelled into the correct direction. Up in the distance the pine forest around Vilaflor was another indicator that I was on track. The old concrete water channels were empty and I soon came across the modern iron pipes that now do their work. A white and green house on the ridge ahead told me I was getting near the peak of my walk and soon the orange tinged path passed breeze block huts and a couple of tastefully renovated old houses.
A familiar soft clucking noise drew me to a gravel covered area surrounded by small ferns and I spotted a Barbary Partridge, I´ve seen a few in the Arona area and at Masca. This posh collared bird is one of my favourites and it gladdens me to see it looking so well. A few steps further in a clearing was the El Refugio, a delightful restaurant with a decorative garden and informal terrace. I was glad of a cold drink but stopped short of a meal as I hadn´t even started my sarnies and although the chicken sounded nice I kept thinking of my little plump friend a short distance away. This Ifonche hostelry has parking and rent out rooms for rural tourism, check the website for more details.

It must have been nearly 10 years since I last walked this route and my memory was sketchy but just past the restaurant was a sign down through a terraced bowl formerly fed by a dried up spring. A light bulb went on in my brain as memories flooded back of an Arona council guided walk down and back out the other side up to another old shell of a house, now I knew exactly where I was going. Beyond that other house was an old threshing circle looking out over a sheer drop, it´s used these days as a take off point for paragliders. To the right was Ladera de la Montaña Los Brezos, a high tapered peak with a precarious pathway to the top, I reckon a good hour plus up and down – maybe another time. To the left was Roque Imoque with a path spiralling down with a wooden bannister to begin the first tight corner.


That was my cue to head homeward, admiring the unfolding sea views as I descended. As the path curled down I could see the rear side of Roque del Conde, the lower slopes terraced for crop growing, they waste nothing no mater how tough the challenge. The tell tale jingle of bells alerted me to the goats roaming around ahead of me, once I realised they weren´t going to mistake me for a small crunchy snack I felt a lot easier. The path ahead was becoming much clearer and I could see familiar signs. Just a quick down and up through Barranco Grande and I was heading into the Arona plaza again. The 6.4 kms each way walk took me a casual 4 hours and left me glowing not just from the sun but also from a fabulous infusion of sights and sounds

Waylaid By A Tenerife West Coast Wander

Seagulls packed the breakwater that was exposed by the low tide and a small group of kayaks tailed behind their leader like ducklings following their mother. Aah yes it was a delightful morning as I made Playa San Juan my kick off point for a stroll along the west coast of Tenerife.

One of my favourite sculptures has been moved along to greet walkers as they take the concrete path that hugs the coast. The rock formations left by the receding tide were spectacular, nimble footed fishermen and women had found some precarious perches while others explored brimming rock pools. Up top an enclosed petanque court was staging a hotly contested game and the pink cactus pears were plentiful on the plants. It’s a busy walkway and a fairly gentle one but it pays out so much in sights and sounds.

Half way to Alcala there’s an interruption in the form of the new desalination plant, this small section  is sealed off but hopefully may reopen soon, the diversion leads inland a few yards to the small village of Fonsalia. There are two modest sized bar restaurants that open after 1.30 pm but all could change if they expand and link the road out to the new ring road. The whole point is to service a new port, it was first planned in 1995 but still only exists on paper, in the meantime I enjoyed my 10 minute diversion through the charming back water of Fonsalia. Emerging back on the coastal path I rose upwards on a narrow and tricky section with a vast expanse of craggy fingers reaching out into the sea.

The approach to Alcala is always good, I love the drag of the shingle below in the small coves. A few people had taken the steep stone steps down but I pushed on into the plaza for a cold drink. My old Western Sun office was just off the fishermen’s quay and I have fond memories of lunch break sea swims followed by home made sarnies as I sat on the rocks. Much has changed and mainly for the good, the walkway around the bay is always a blaze of flowers and opens out to a wide strolling area in front of the Palicio de Isora hotel. The play areas, wooden benches, and Tourist Information Kiosk help to encourage hotel visitors to explore back down into Alcala, and it is reaping the benefit from more trade.

Pressing on the Playa La Jaquita is another good addition, a mix of small, subtle, dark sand coves and rocky bathing pools, all well served by the Arela Beach Bar. The recent upgrade could have distorted the canvas but it has just opened it out and what a pretty picture it makes. Around the headland and I could see the cliffs of Los Gigantes in the distance but the path was signed as closed for a new coastal walkway to be made.

I of course detoured up to the main road and didn’t squeeze around the barrier, If I had, I might have seen the new path taking shape, again it’s that balancing act, this time between encouraging more people to see the wild Punta Blanca coast without smoothing over too many of natures wrinkles. Time will tell but hopefully it will finally stop the illegal campers, I can remember the piles of rubbish they used to leave behind. I still ended up in Varadero ready to revisit old friends on the way through Playa de La Arena. It’s still good up west.

 

Iffley Lock Is the Key To A Relaxing Oxford River Walk

Enough feathers to stuff a warehouse clearance of MFI beds and more quacks than a dodgy doctors convention. There we were surrounded by hungry ducks waddling towards us demanding their daily bread. That’s probably how it would look in a cheap horror film but they were quite cute and more like an eager welcoming committee as we crossed over the Thames at Iffley Lock half way through a sunny September stroll.

Iffley is a delightful village about 2 miles outside Oxford city centre, walking off the busy main road I met my former work friend Christine in the shade of the tree lined Iffley Turn. Other small feeder road names like Stone Quarry Lane were clues to the history and sheer beauty around us. Old stone cottages with thatched roofs were joined by new dream home developments that padded out the village. Walking further into the village we passed a few horses in a paddock and a couple of tempting pubs before reaching the old church.

A large twisted oak tree stood guard and reminded me of an infant school trip so many years ago when a thunder storm raged as we sheltered briefly under the then larger spread of branches before common sense and a church warden ushered us into a nearby dry barn. On this modern visit the graveyard looked a little neglected with the long grass lapping at the memorial stones. As we walked around I noticed a figure huddled in a hedgerow and thought it was someone sleeping rough, closer inspection showed it was a chap sketching away on a large pad of paper. The church and its setting is certainly an inspiring sight and the serene feel must get the creative juices flowing.

Moving on we took the tight turn further down the lane over the old weir and across the first part of the lock. Several narrow boats were negotiating their way through the gates and we waited for them to pass before crossing over to get the full splendour of the lock keepers lodge, and the river stretching ahead in either direction. Once on the other bank the ducks came calling, no wonder they were keen, Christine confessed she had fed them generous amounts of bread on previous visits. With as much grace as I could muster I walked down a few stone steps until just above the water line to get a photo of an old mooring point disguised as an Oxon’s head, the ring to tie up to was long gone. The plan was a food and drink stop at The Isis (the name given to the Thames as it passes through Oxford), a lovely riverside pub a bit further downstream towards Donnington Bridge.

Our timing wasn’t good, the pub wasn’t going to open until later in the afternoon, so it was an about turn to follow the footpath the other way along the bank as it headed off to Sandford and eventually Abingdon. Some older, less loved narrow boats were moored along the way and horse chestnut trees provided a carpet of conkers bursting out of their prickly green jackets. Quite a few cyclists were also using the path as we veered off to take the bridge over the railway track and into Kennington. I had mixed memories of my time living there and The Tandem pub stirred a few flashbacks as we popped in and ordered some food. We sat out the back on the decking in the garden and soon realized how frequent the trains were on the main line to London. Suitably refreshed we retraced our steps back over the railway line, stopping to admire the fish design on the gate. We were soon back in Iffley village again, a nice gentle walk and a lovely way to revive thoughts of long hot Oxford summers from years ago.

For A Different Masca Experience Just Add Water

Refreshed and vibrant, Masca barranco (ravine) welcomed ice cold mountain water that added a new dimension to my latest trek down the north west Tenerife hikers delight. The streaky remains of snow on Mount Teide were a clue as I arrived in Santiago del Teide with football friends Gordon and Martin from the Armada Sur. The mid morning April temperature was just 14 degrees as we changed from the 460 Titsa bus from Los Cristianos but the air was crisp and the sky was clear blue with just a few whisps of cloud.

This initial view never fails to deliver, our 355 mini Titsa chugged up the twisting road before we got the full on majesty of Masca village deep in the clasp of the rocks down below. As always the tight hairpin road was busy in both directions as cars, coaches, and a few cyclists bobbed, weaved, and slowly squeezed past each other. The tingle of anticipation was undeniable as we swapped the tarmac road for the shifting stones and dirt as we started our walk into the valley.

Just a few minutes down the first steep incline and I could hear the trickle of water through the greenery and a small dribble underfoot was a caution that this trip might be more challenging than usual. There was a good flow going under the wooden bridge a bit further on and small pools reflected the sun. The thawing snow from an unusually heavy coating on Teide’s peak was making its long journey down to the sea and leaving a grateful bounty in its wake. Trees and plants were showing off their fresh green foliage and bird song was competing with the water’s tune for top billing.

Turning a corner I was delighted to see a brace of Barbary Partridge, they looked plump and happy and were preening for their passing audience. There are many species of birds that call Masca home but they are usually easier to hear than see but the presence of water was given plants and animals a feeding bonanza. A little later on a clump of small trees bristled with activity and some blue tits led me a merry dance as I tried to get a pic. The light and shade deep down in the walk is also fascinating, bizarre rock formations reach up to the sky and large boulders seemed to balance on very tiny ledges, it seemed like a random sneeze might see us all being used as human skittles.

The increased water did call for more dexterity and a few alternative paths, streams that had previously been just been a distraction had now spread across so stone stepping was the order of the day, my toes soon got a wash through my trainers. Others were embracing the liquid, we passed a group who had stripped down and were braving the icy welcome of a bigger pool. Nature is very resourceful, plants were growing in some very precarious spots and thriving with the minimum of soil. It was trial and error in some places, picking out a route around the wetter spots, but that suited us fine. There were plenty of nationalities and ages along the route, Masca’s fame ensures a steady stream of new converts. Towards the end there was a little bottle neck as we negotiated a particularly tricky combination of a thin ledge and some steep rock steps down to a wide pool but we all got through.

With the smell of the sea in our nostrils, the promise of beer in our bellies, and the widening of the cliffs ahead we knew we were close to the large shingle beach and the end of our hike. It had taken us 3.5 hours, a little longer than usual but we were just in time for our water taxi to Los Gigantes. We had pre booked with Flipper Uno, follow this link to book and you can see they offer a range of sea based excursions. Our 20 minute sea trip was a great way to end the adventure as we anticipated a high tide of beer to toast our day.

Keep Walking Downhill And You Cant Go Wrong !

I wasn’t lost, I just wasn’t too sure about where I was or where I was heading. You would have thought that after nearly five hours and 9 kms on the almond blossom walk I would have been keen to peel my socks off and soak my toes in some water but it didn’t quite work out that way. Arguayo is only a few miles from Santiago del Teide so there were several easy options to get from the finish to the start, trust me to do it the hard way.

Following a small crowd of clinking sticks and crunching boots through Arguayo I pointed out to a group at the Titsa bus stop that the public bus no longer runs on Saturdays. I should have adjourned to the cultural hall to await the free ferry buses to Santiago del Teide but when a couple of Canarian chaps announced they were going to walk it seemed a reasonable idea. The steep road took us upward past the distinctive rocky slab outcrop and rounding the corner the view showed there was quite a corkscrew road down to the roundabout below Santiago. One of the other walkers pointed out a steep, rough path down the grassy area below the shrine of Ermita del Santo Angel so I followed.

Clicking a few pics on the way down and stopping to water the plants I soon lagged behind and lost sight of the pair. The path briefly touched on a small settlement so I asked an ancient local lady on a bench for directions and she sent me into the little hamlet. A small modern church identified it as Pilar and it was slanting away in the wrong direction for me so I took more advice and was sent downwards. That seemed right as I rejoined the rough path I had started on but I could see now I was well short of my target. A brand new road bridge crossed the ring road near to the tunnels that link the north west of Tenerife to the south but there was just a mud track linked to both sides of the bridge. Even if it was concreted they didn’t really lead anywhere, maybe it’s a ghost bridge leading into another universe.

I wasn’t the only soul wandering free, on the way down to the bridge I met a young British couple walking up and we swapped vague directions to nowhere in particular. Passing over the bridge was surreal, I was waiting for a blast on a horn or a shout to get off but nothing came. The track on the other side curled away from the ring road and down onto the TF 345 which was at least in the right direction and on the bus route for Los Gigantes, my amended destination. There was no real path alongside the road so I walked facing the odd bits of oncoming traffic and ready to hurl myself into the small ditch. It wasn’t very encouraging to see a shrine for a 16 year old that had perished on one of the hairpin bends but I pressed on. A middle aged British couple in a brick bus shelter asked how to get to Tamaimo and they followed me at a distance as I vainly looked for a bus stop going downwards.

A good 30 minutes later I spotted the Vista Guama restaurant near El Retamar with a basic but very welcome bus stop opposite. My two new recruits hobbled around the corner behind me and we settled to wait for the Titsa bus. Amazingly on this descent not one passing car driver beeped or shouted any lifestyle advice, just shows how many rogue walkers are out there. The weather was so lovely it just seemed like an extra adventure to add to a long but very rewarding day, the beer and food at The Bamboo Bar in Los Gigantes revived me and like a Duracell bunny I was good to go again.