Archive for the 'Walking' Category
No Almond Blossom, No Snow, Just A Classic Santiago Del Teide Walk

Hot lava carving a path down through the pine forest. Even 111 years later, cold and dormant, the sight was still powerful and invigorating. Chinyero, the Santiago del Teide village where the last Tenerife volcanic eruption halted is forever frozen in time.  the placing of the statue of the virgen fom the local church put on the red light and ensured the status of miacle. On previous February walks over the popular route, snow has capped Mount Teide and pink and white blossom dotted much of the landscape. This time a 20 degrees start from Santiago del Teide church plaza met with warmer air as mother nature showed off her summer collection.

Clearly indicated on route boards, the low stone walls guided me out along the compacted and uneven trail. Summer plants bloomed in sheltered corners and the trees chipped in with charred sculptures and coatings of moss. Rising quickly, the path squeezed by a half full reservoir and an old water channel. Big clearings of almond trees were taking a back seat in their plain clothes attire while a welcome chilled breeze marked my cresting of another hill.

Tell tale twitches and rustles hinted at cautious birds and other wildlife. A large rabbit stood tall in a clump of grass, my heavy footfall had heightened its senses. The wise bunny  turned and bounded powerfully away after one whiff of my trainers. Nearly half way on the 9 km  stroll brought me to the clearing where the abrupt halt of the 1909 eruption attracts pilgrims and history buffs. Flowers are regularly replenished at the shrine and its a good spot to take a breather.

Moving on the lava rose into a high ridge, help was at hand in the form of guide signals. Basically it was a curl around the ridge before taking some roughly hewn steps onto a clear path picked out between the wave of pine trees and the large mounds of ash and stone. The contrasts were amazing to contemplate, dark brooding boulders, perky green pines, and a clear blue sky as natures components battled for supremecy.

The walk wraps around in almost a complete circle, so Santiago del Teide began to appear in the near distance to one side below.  Reassurance of taking the correct path came from yellow and white lines daubed on rocks at key points, a similar two coloured cross was clear advice not to go forward on false trails. The mountain plateau above Arguayo was another good indication of progress to the village finish, and what a wonderful backdrop for the local football stadium. Resting in the spread roots of giant, thick trunked trees was a good chance to cool a little before the final push and a choice.

The undulating nature of the walk left a big descent still to tackle, sign posts indicated two differet routes, past experience had told me they both ended in the same place but presented their own challenges of shifting loose dirt and tufted grass as they meandered between parcels of private land. Arguayo is a small village and I missed the solitary afternoon bus back down to Santiago del Teide (a taxi would be a cheap option) and had to close the circle with a carefull slog down a spiralling main road, adding another hour to a very satisfying day.

Unwrapping Guimar Layer By Layer

Montaña Grande doesn´t just mark the half way point from Los Cristianos in the south to the Tenerife capital Santa Cruz in the north. Looming large over the motorway, it´s also a punctuation mark between El Puertito on the coast and Guimar up in the hills.A mere 275 metreshigh, the volcanic cone has long been calling me to have a look. It´s peak remained enigmatic as the pathway wound around the base without delivering me to the summit, but it still woke up my walking mood.

From the bus stop just north of the crossroads, I could see Candelaria in the distance. I have often trodden the Samarines coastal walk from the spiritual heart of the island, through El Socorro surfers beach and along the edge of Malpais de Guimar to El Puertito. This time the solidified volcanic flow stretched out between me and the sea as I enjoyed the clusters of prickly cardon plants and breaches in the stone walls. Tomatoes, lettuce and other crops once flourished here and attracted a range of insects to the rugged landscape.

El Puertitp came into view over an hour after my start.Cloud had bubbled up as it often does over the bowl like valley near the mptorway. The large plaza facing the sea was quiet and the calm sea stretched down to the south àst the modern sports marina. Catching a 120 Titsa bus gave me a 15 minute ride up and under the motorway into Guimars older core. The cloud was pressing down as I admired the Plaza Las Flores with its fountain and statue tribute to the gardeners who created and maintain this tranquil spot.The explosion of colour at the bus station was in marked contrast to the stark, austere frontage of the old Guardia Civil HQ.

There was an air of apprehension in the quiet Friday afternoon streets. I wqas hopeful that my day out would allay thoughts of the Coronavirus threat but notices of cancelled shows at the former Cinema Los Angeles, and instructions for safe communion at the imposing San Pedro church added to the sense of forboding. As further cases of the virus were confirmed, I caught the Spanish government announcement of the State Of Alarm via the TV in a local bar, it was a sobering moment. However the enduring culture and history of Guimar gave me cause for hope. The HQ of a local radio enthusiasts network backed up the statue dedicated to “ham radio” trail blazers of earlier decades. Cimmunication brought people together then and will continue to do so.

Getting off my return bus to the motorway I had to smile at Guimrs name written large in the paving stones outside the old cement works. and on a proud welcome sign of tiles, leading into the municipality. Recently Guimar announced a 120 million euro investment in tourosm. Maybe it was with one eye on the proposed new beach and four hotel project for Punta de Abona just down the coast. Plans can change so quickly , as events were about to prove.

 

Making Tracks In Guia De Isora

 

Improving or spoiling, it’s a very fine line when it comes to dealing with nature. The latest Tenerife coastal walk to get a makeover is the stretch linking Alcala to El Varadero in the west coast municipality of Guia de Isora. On my last visit, work was in progress but I returned on a scorching May day to see the finished project, and was delighted by the respectful balance that had been achieved.

There’s a lot going on up west, my Titsa bus journey reflected that, the 477 direct service from Los Cristianos veered up onto the modern by the ring road at Armeñime before heading back down at the new Fonsalia roundabout to back track to the edge of Playa San Juan and then taking the old coast road to my Los Gigantes destination. One of the longest drawn out updates for the island has been to build a new ferry port at the little hamlet of Fonsalia, the closest point between Tenerife and La Gomera. The new 477 route would help to take pressure off the coast road, if the port ever becomes a reality.

So it was with some trepidation, I later found myself at the El Varadero entrance to the coastal walk. First impressions were good, the sensitive two colour tone, and meandering progress of the new surface meant it didn´t intrude like Dorothy´s path to Oz. Little touches like the split level upright wooden slats, and hopefully vandal proof concrete rubbish bunkers, played their part. One of the eternal problems has been the arrival of vast numbers of illegal camper vans and their abandoned rubbish on big holiday weekends. Green chain fencing, and large irregular sized boulders should help to deter those intent on trying to park on the shingle shore.

The Punta Brava coast alongside the trail is notorious for its wild, unpredictable currents and waves that have claimed several lives over the years. This has made it attractive to surfers, a few bobbed up and down in the waves, a slight calima made the horizon a little hazy, normally you can see pleasure boats in the distance. It was noticeable that more people were using the walk, taking time out to enjoy the views, jog, or even cycle on the smooth surface.The new look makes it more accessible, there was always an uncertainty as to whether it was possible to get out of the El Varadero end. I was particularly pleased to see the partially collapsed walls of the old banana plantations left in their semi decayed state. They are an important reminder of the historic and economic past of Guia de Isora.

Ancient and modern interlock nicely just after the halfway point (about 30 minutes) when rounding a headland, the new La Jaquita beaches take over. They start with a series of natural rock lagoon which has metal ladders and small break waters to make it inviting to bathe in. There are also three pocket sized black sand beaches separated by rock breakers which give them a secluded feel. Although only open for a few years, the La Jaquita stretch has earned its Blue Flag for quality, and it flies proudly near the lifeguards look out towers. Add in disabled bathing and changing facilities and a couple of relaxed cafe bars, and it´s a very welcoming place to take a dip.

Development at this end has been spurred by the presence of the Palicio de Isora five star hotel resort, close to the fishing village of Alcala, which has no beach of its own. The expansive decking and sports courts outside the hotel and facing the sea are well used and popular with the younger locals from the village, and they lead you on nicely around the quayside and into the Alcala plaza. It´s a great place to relax and watch the world go by at a sedate pace. I enjoyed my dinner at El Veril, there´s a nice selection of food and drink stops around the plaza. There was even a balcony crammed with home made art animals to make me smile. Normally I would have then pushed on along the coast to Playa San Juan via Fonsalia, but had already packed plenty in for the day. The two ends of the coastal walk are served by regular Titsa buses, so whichever direction you stroll in, it´s easy to get back to Los Gigantes or in my case, back to Los Cristianos.

 

Budding Stars Of Tenerife Almond Blossom Season

They like to go nuts in the western Tenerife municipality of Santiago del Teide as soon as the beautiful pink and white blossom of the almond trees start to burst into colour and deliver their bounty of its versatile fruit. I dived in soon after the launch of the 22nd January to 17th February 2019 season for the 9 km, 4 hour, longest walk from the town of Santiago del Teide to Arguayo.

It was a couple of years since my last trek on the Almendros En Flor, this time I was earlier in a season that peaks according to the weather conditions. The trees hung over the stone wall behind the town hall as the entrance beckoned me onto a trail of vivid colours. When the winds have been strong there is often a carpet of petals to further augment the impact. The steadily increasing climb opened up great views over the town below and across to the approach road rising to Masca.

It’s a rugged walk with a path of hard angular rocks, sturdy footwear is needed. The ground was a little moist and reaching the top of the first incline, the reservoir reported a decent level fed by the sparkling water channels. Signposts helped to steer me on the right path, and even on a mid week visit there was a good sprinkling of other walkers in each direction. The sun was delightful and partially disguised the base temperature of 12 degrees in Santiago del Teide’s main street. The pine covered hills can quickly become obscured by wisps of low cloud, they were teasing within an hour of my start as well laden almond trees started to vie for my attention.

My early visit meant although there was plenty of blossom to see, there was also a wealth of small buds waiting to emerge with the next wave of pink and white. If the winds behave it should ensure a good show for walkers for several weeks. One of the most historic sights on the walk is the clearing at Chinyero where two shrines pay homage to the “miracle” of 1909 when the last eruption of Mount Teide was stopped in its tracks by the placing of the statue of the Virgen in its path. This is always a good rest and snack spot that gets plenty of camera interest. Just around a corner is the gateway to the volcanic lava field, like a frozen sea of black stone with a path weaving through the strange formations.


This is where Mount Teide looks down on visiting walkers, sometimes wearing a cloak of shining snow, on my visit there were just a few visible streaks, more was hidden on the north face. The walk is semi circular and after reaching the end of the lava field I could see across to Santiago del Teide and the familiar bright rock dome of Montaña Blanca. Then down among the pine trees and small lava caves on the way to the exit into Arguayo, a small town with a very limited bus connection or cheap taxi completing the circle back to Santiago del Teide.

There is a choice of walks of several lengths and difficulties, and even some catering for specific age groups and interests, or guided tours. Bars and restaurants are offering special breakfast and lunch menus with almonds as a key ingredient. How about almond sponge cake, cod and onion with almonds and raisins, or sirloin of black pork with sweet and sour almond sauce, to name drop a few. You can pick up a brochure in Spanish and English at the Tourist Information office at the Santiago del Teide church plaza, and more information. It’s just by the incoming bus stop for the Titsa 460 Icod service from Costa Adeje bus station. You can also phone the Town Hall Cultural Department on 9228631 ext 234.

Going With The Flow In Vilaflor

Bikers filled the roadside cafe, chestnuts prepared to burst forth from their spikey jackets, and pine trees marched up into the hills above Vilaflor. It was the perfect start point for a Sunday afternoon circular walk from the top end of Spain´s highest village. Tenerife´s Titsa bus service only runs a direct service from Los Cristianos on weekends so I was keen to take advantage of a rare Sunday without football to cover.

My friend Cecilia, a keen runner, joined me as we took the steep road up to Las Castañas, the village below looked serene and quiet. The tarmac road past the Hotel Villalba and the football ground soon changed to a rough, upwardly mobile track, and the first choice soon arrived. Faced with a lack of clear signs and a hazy memory of my last journey this way, we went upward and I soon recognised a large white modern water pumping station. Being so close to Teide national park, the Vilaflor area has more plentiful water than lower regions so it has always been pumped to the less fortunate areas.

Fire has been a constant menace during the height of summer, there were many signs of a couple of wild fires earlier in the year. Nature is a quick healer, new growths were emerging from blackened bark and even some of the damaged trees had a strange beauty to them. A downward path of orange tinged earth showed how well some of the route has been managed, it led onto a stunning viewpoint overlooking a valley of pine trees. Some nifty footwork was needed for a steep twisting drop leading down to a reservoir, complete with a strange miss match of pipes and valves, and gurgling that sounded like a giant washing machine.

This was where it all got a little interesting. The path up and out at the bottom of Vilaflor was clearly marked but a nearby sign pointed the other way to Ifonche, and as we had plenty of time, it seemed like a good add on. It was a fairly wide natural road, well worn by motor vehicles, it undulated up, down, and out in a long loop seemingly in the general direction we needed. A series of ancient water channels, pumping stations, and an old weir, were bone dry, it was difficult to imagine what it would look like when a storm raged. High banks along the way showed massive bolders that had half rolled down and were precariously perched on inclines.

After a couple of hours the path tightened and started to wind upwards as thin wisps of cloud drifted across. It was time to turn tail and retrace our steps to the reservoir where a clear and known exit awaited. Our water and food supplies stood us in good stead and heading into familiar territory hastened our pace. Once back at our ill fated wrong turn, a little browsing showed a smaller path tucked behind a tree, that was the true Ifonche route even though the sign pointed to the other path.

There was still some steep terrain ahead and the lure of a fresh, cold drink. Arriving on the main road just below the Hermano Pedro junction, our 6 hour jaunt had become a near 20 km epic, and the 6 pm last bus to Los Cristianos had gone. Some forward planning had identified Arona as the nearest bus point for the south, a “cheap lift” that far, linked us to the Titsa and on to home soil. It wasn’t quite as planned but still very enjoyable and a vindication of allowing plenty of time, food, drink, and a positive attitude. Ifonche part two is pencilled in so I can square the circle soon.

Sunday Strolling From La Caleta To Los Cristianos

Even a day of rest is just calling out for a walk when the weather is as hot and nice as it is in Tenerife. So armed with a new Ten Mas bus ticket I headed off to La Caleta in Adeje. Half hour later the sea was glistening and families were spreading out on the cracked rock slabs that stretch into the sea like broken shortbread. The old fishing village has retained its charm despite the luxury hotels that are bearing down on it, there’s even a huge portrait homage to an old fisherman, on the side of an ancient dwelling.

Fish restaurants hug the side of the narrow walkway that winds around the corner to the long promenade. On many previous visits I had taken time out to watch body boarding from the point, out to the big waves that roll in. The tide was fairly low on this trip, revealing rock pools among the large expanse of interlocking, eroded rocks. The wind was light, confirmed by a local weather vane, giving just a hint of contrast to the scorching sun. The dark sand beach of La Enramada spread out up ahead, enticing swimmers into the cooling sea, as families enjoyed picnics among the shingle at the rear of the beach. Paragliders swirled overhead, their pilots precision at landing between groups of sun worshippers was something to admire.

Pushing on past the delicately stacked piles of pebbles, led to the narrower stretch of shingle backed beach in front of the four and five star hotels. The promenade is smooth and level there, no wonder so many families were wheeling cots and prams, best to start the next generation of tourists young, they will keep coming back with so many attractions on the horizon. Smaller, steep sided bays marked the transition to Playa Fañabe and Playa Torviscas with their tiered promenade packed with shops, bars, and restaurants. Torviscas was a good place for a swim, evening was creeping in but the water was a perfect temperature.

Passing through Puerto Colon and into Playa de Las Americas, sun bathers were swapping sea costumes and shades for light informal evening gear as they watched the sun taking a slow, downward arc, a perfect backdrop to their meals. By the time I approached Los Cristianos, the sunset was stunning, my legs were gently reminding me of the three hours of walking, and I had a thirst for a beer or two. Yep, there´s nothing better than a Sunday stroll – and a few Doradas topped the afternoon off nicely.

Downhill Is Uplifting On The Camino Real

Had I sleep walked in the night to set the scene in Santiago del Teide? I don´t think so, but the Tenerife town was pretty near perfect as I hopped off the 460 Titsa bus from Costa Adeje bus station. The church clock chimed 11 am, and whispy clouds edged across the tops of the pine forest as the sun burst through for a very acceptable 17 degrees.

A coffee and cake in Bar Soto set me up nicely for a stroll down the main street, flower crosses survived from the recent Day of the Cross, even Meatloaf vowing to do Anything For Love from a nearby bar seemed to fit in with the romantic setting. The unpretentious opening to the Camino Real walk drew me in, this old trading route had seen my plodding feet before. Each 6.7 km walk down to Puerto de Santiago had been different due to season, time, and weather, and this one followed that pattern. The first part of the stroll was just a few feet away from the main road but felt like another timeless kingdom, serenely quiet with tunnel vision to the high mountain my bus had skirted around and down. Faint bird song, gently swaying grasses, and beaming flowers competed for my attention.

The trickle of water in rubber clad pipes led me gently down to the first crossroads where two elderly locals sat chewing the fat at the base of a sign post pointing up to Roque Blanco. I gave the hour long detour a miss this time and followed the steep descent down to the old water pumping station. Tamaimo lay ahead in the distance, the sound of mobile PA announcements for the Adeje rally that would pass through later drifted across on the breeze. I passed a party of around 20 French walkers as they were taking a short breather, normally it´s not a busy route but maybe it had picked up a few that had found out in Santiago del Teide that their Masca barranco destination was temporarily closed.

The art of stone wall building dominated the route and guided me onwards and down through the dry river bed near the Tamiamo exit. I have never seen anything more than a few mini gulleys of water through this stretch, just as well, it needed some nimble footing to follow the marked signs through the rough stone floor. A few stray cats seemed quite at home leaping from rock to rock but their claws looked none too friendly. Further down the coast loomed into distant view, stretching through Playa del a Arena and on to Alcala. The steep sided valley showed openings for old cave dwellings, and on the other side the barranco funnelled water doen to sets of ever larger reservoirs that fed farms. Four ostrich’s wandered aimlessly in one yard far below, I bet the cats keep well away from them.

The final leg involved a slight descent to a commercial banana plantation, as the route skirted around the edge of netting covered groves before emerging just above Puerto de Santiago, around three hours after my start. The afternoon heat was stronger nearer the coast but the thought of a cold Dorada encouraged me to push on down past the Mirador over looking Los Gigantes.

 

 

Good Times In The Badlands Of Arona

Boats bobbed up and down in the Marina del Sur and some mean dark clouds lurked on the horizon, but they were up in the mountains so I had chosen the coastal walk to Malpais de Rasca to nudge me back onto the walking trails of Tenerife. With another Oxfonian, Karen, for company we set out from Las Galletas through the cactus clumps, thorny bushes, and sandy path heading past El Fraile.

There’s was quite a community of alternative dwellers in tents and rough shacks along the first stage of the path, the little coves offer a feast of the seas bounty, and the rising rocks offer shelter from the wind that was blowing in from the sea. Fallen stack formations crumbled at the coves edges, and tangles of wild bushes made us careful of our footing. Natural rock pools lined the waters edge, fish often get trapped in them, years ago people sprinkled the sour poison of tabaiba armaga plants to induce a drunk like state in the fish so they were easy to catch. The jumbled collections of undergrowth gave way to flatter, open space with well tended paths as we approached the palm tree lined tarmac road that separated the sprawling banana plantations from the sheer drops to bigger rock pools in the shadow of large outcrops of splintered and cracked rocks. After about 90 minutes we were at the entrance to the Malpais (badlands) leading up to the tall candy striped modern lighthouse and the small, squat original.

There´s definately something reassuring and stately about these sea guardians, maybe that’s why they attract enthusiasts known as farologists. The smaller building was built in 1898 and included live in accomodation, that was replaced in 1978 by the taller, automatic model that doesn’t need staff, well apart from the odd polish and repaint. They look good together and the narrow walkway and wall overlooking the sea gives great view up and down the coast. We moved down to the slipway beyond to start the walk along the old trade route with its small stone shelters used to shelter goats in days gone by.


The clouds were dispersing at this point but the waves were mighty and rolling as we made steady progress towards Palm Mar, which wasn’t even an architects dream until 1962. Quite a few keen walkers passed us coming the other way and at times other paths meandered inland, it would be easy to get lost, keeping in spitting distance of the shore was a good idea. The big lighthouse is easily visible from Los Cristianos and the reverse is true the opposite way. The fish farm cages were visible a little way out to sea and familar landmarks of Los Cristianos and Las Americas also stood out. Arriving on the edge of Palm Mar, the old stone was a reassuring sight.


Taking a well deserved drinks break at the new luxurious Bahia Beach bar gave us panaramic views of Playa Arenita, the rough beach which has always resisted cosmetic atempts to make it a bathers delight. Montaña Guaza stood proud and we could see the outline of the path up and over to Los Cristianos. Originally there were plans to develop a small jetty in Palm Mar for a shuttle boat to the busy resorts but it has never arrived. A few local fishermen were perched on precarious rocks, the old ways still hold sway in this tucked away cove. For us there was another smaller trek up through the main road out of Palm Mar to the main road and a Titsa bus back to Los Cristianos. Our leisurely stroll had taken around three hours in total and was very enjoyable.

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.