Archive for the 'Walking' Category
In Awe Of The Almond Blossom In Santiago Del Teide

Mother Nature is a right tease and a bit of a flirt, she threw the whole charm offensive at me on the Almendro En Flor, each step brought new delights. This was the fifth year I had strode out on the almond blossom trail from Santiago del Teide to Arguayo but there are subtle differences each time depending on the Tenerife weather.

So there I was just before 10 am cresting the ridge of a hill by the reservoir and accepting a warming swig of home made red wine from a group of Canarian chaps. It was sweet, strong, and tasty, perfect to deter the chilly morning, the temperature had been in single figures when hundreds of walkers set off from the church plaza just after 9 am. This winter has been exceptional with loads of daytime sun and hardly any rain, the reservoir still looked well stocked and the first flush of pink and white blossom was sprouting forth on all sides of the old track.

Showers had been foretold but as the wispy clouds evaporated they left a clear, deep blue sky guaranteed to lift the soul. I had started out in jeans and pullover but soon stuffed the thick top into my rucksack. This special promotional day came with informative guides for those seeking knowledge, there were shorter routes but I went for my usual full 9 km stretch. The routes will be at their best for the whole of February, I could see lots of new buds forming on the trees to replace the fallen blossom that made a colourful carpet along much of the walk. The first burst of sunshine left me with a two tone feel, my face and arms were glowing nicely but I was still glad of my jeans in the shadows from the stone walls that lined the early route. That soon changed as the path rose higher and became more exposed, a large open plain was dotted with blossom laden trees and the shrill cry of birds was joined by the low buzzing of bees feasting on the petals.

It’s not just about the almonds, the edge of the lava field at Chinyero was heralded by the shrine to the 1909 eruption when the statue of the virgin was taken out to stand guard against the flowing lava and it stopped in its tracks. This was nearly half way through the walk and good place to stop for snacks, before attacking my sarnies I consigned my jeans to my rucksack, it felt good to be back in my usual uniform of shorts and t shirt. The atmosphere among the enthusiasts was relaxed and we all found our own pace, I pushed on into the large expanse of lunar like lava so I could make a few small detours from the well worn path to appreciate the strange formations of dark rock. It’s always a striking contrast to see the army of pine trees rising in the distance on the edge of the solidified flow, nature always prevails.

The state of recent weather accounts for most of the variables along the way, previous wetter winters have produced a dazzling white cap of snow on Mount Teide, this time it was almost clear but still majestic. Lack of rain ensured firmer ground underfoot and a crispy sprinkling of fir cones and dried twigs over a dusty base. Santiago del Teide came back into view as the semi circular route almost curled round on itself. The spread of almond trees was relentless, some of the almonds were taking shape but the commercial harvest will have to wait until later in the year. After four hours Arguayo was also looming into view but there was still a steep zig xag pathway down to the small village. It was 20 plus degrees as we started to stream down the final hill, my rucksack was fully stuffed now, maybe I hadn’t needed to pack those snow shoes, distress flares, and inflatable canoe after all.

My senses felt fully loaded as I swapped the rough track for a tarmac road, looking back there was still a strung out procession off more walkers to come down. In the later stages several groups had passed us making the trip in the opposite direction and there was a good mix of nationalities enjoying the challenge of the day. I was looking forward to a short journey back to Santiago del Teide before heading back to Los Cristianos but I didn’t realise I still had a bit more adventure to go…

Bad Lands Are Good Lands At Malpais De Rasca

Coaxing the morning sun to spread down from the mountains I set off from Las Galletas with another neglected walk stretching ahead of me. Malpais (badlands) de Rasca is a hike I have done several times in large groups but not for about five years. The bus into Las Galletas was full of German walkers heading up the east coast of Tenerife but I bailed out on them and got a coffee near the pebble beach before setting off.


My entry point to the track was by the Matinal Beach Club where I had seen live performances from local rockers Oi Se Arma, and Pornosurf. There is always a small community of people sleeping in tents around the bay but as I followed the track up and around the coast I was surprised to see a good few dozen makeshift homes. It might seem a romantic way to live but with clouds waiting to be dispersed it was pretty chilly. The path skirts the edge of the sea, more or less, and offers glimpses across to the Marina del Sur in Las Galletas. The cactus is a very underrated plant, along this route there were great clumps of them looking proud and majestic. The shifting stones and dust made demanded some careful footwork but even so relatively near the main road there was a lovely feel of tranquility and peace.

Small coves fell away into the sea making shallow rock pools, fish are often stranded in these and locals used to crush the tabaiba plants and sprinkle them in. This made the fish feel like they had been out on a drinking session and made them easy to catch. I spotted the remains of a few old settlements and even some rough steps hewn into the rocks to make it easier to reach the shoreline. After nearly an hour I reached the edge of the netting clad banana plantations and a smoother path overlooking deep drops to more rock pools. This is all a prelude to the Malpais de Rasca protected area where the modern candy striped lighthouse peeped up over the horizon.

Once I had crested the hill I had a clearer view of the two lighthouses, the old squat stone original was built in 1895 before being replaced by the tall sentinel that is easily seen from Los Cristianos in 1978. Beyond was a large pebble beach backed by low level cactus and plants which sheltered the remains of old stone houses, basic and hard living from many years ago. A tight but clearly defined path picked it’s way through the exposed landscape, several walkers were using the route in both directions, I could make out the outline of Guaza Mountain ahead. A very attractive young lady stopped me and asked if I would take some photos for her – I’m always willing to oblige. The lovely Katie was from Belgium and a yoga teacher and slipped into some classic poses against natures delightful backdrop.

Moving on in different directions I could now see Palm Mar looming into view below the plateau of Guaza Mountain. Just out to sea the fish farm cages blighted the view but beyond them I could see the coast of Los Cristianos – nearly home. I could have taken the steep steps up the mountain, over, and down the other side, probably at least another hour, but with nearly two and a half hours completed I made my way up through Palm Mar and out to the main road, that was another 30 minutes, to catch the bus back home. It was another good stroll, next time I shall head upwards into the hills and mountains.

El Medano Is Going Up In The World

Resolutions, like china shops near bull rings, are destined to be smashed, so it was just a need to revive my more healthy activities that drove me to the top of Montaña Roja in El Medano two days into 2016. It’s a good job I checked, there are a lot of changes going on along the Granadilla coast of Tenerife.

I thought I’d take a good run up at Red Mountain so I got the bus to Los Abrigos to walk the 6 kms to El Medano. With a glorious clear blue sky to spur me on, and a spring in my step, I cut down to survey the pocket beach of Playa Grande, despite being a Saturday in the height of holiday season it was almost deserted. In the past I have walked from Las Galletas, through Golf del Sur and San Blas before reaching Playa Grande and beyond, it’s a well used route. Satisfied that all was well I made my way past the promenade of fish restaurants and up to the TF 643 main road. My red target was already looking wonderful as I viewed it from one of the recently created mirador viewpoints.

The rugged coastline stretched out ahead with a track just back from the shore where cars and motor homes had been parked up for fishing and bathing. There were a fair few other walkers stretching their post Christmas legs and further on nudists were using stone semi circles as wind breaks. El Confital is the first expanse of open beach rather than just rocks, pets are allowed here and several pooches were taking a dip. There’s a point where the banana plantation covers seem to signal the end of the track but a cut through leads to a long stretch of path between the sea and the ripening fruit. As I emerged onto the start of the extensive Playa la Tejita I noticed a new gray building up near the road. Behold a new commercial centre, CC La Tejita, had appeared just ahead of the closed down camping site and café.

Clearly only a few months old, the centre still had some empty locals but offers car parking and an interesting mix of shops. A bar caught my eye, Beers (written in the same style as the American comedy Cheers) had three cabinets of imported booze, I even noticed some Hobgoblin, but they weren’t opening until 6 pm, just as well, but I will have to return, purely for research. I asked the owner about the recently approved five star hotel and he pointed out a plot of land between the centre and the beach.

La Tejita Luxury Beach Resort will cover a 26,000 square metre site, have 136 double rooms, and 33 suites, work is due to start in the second quarter of 2016. It’s going to make a big impact on El Medano, hopefully it wont ruin the charm, I believe it is to be fairly low rise, and it is behind this big sweep of natural beach. Despite the hotels name, they wont be able to seal off a section of the beach, that’s not allowed under Spanish law, even Abama Hotel in Guia de Isora couldn’t impose that. Sun beds, bars, and food can be provided just for hotel guests but other people can still use the beach. There will be a major boost to trade in El Medano even if most people are all inclusive, Palicio de Isora has certainly had a knock on for Alcala as it’s easy to walk from the hotel to the village.

It was an interesting distraction but my goal was near now, taking the signed track opposite Hermano Pedro’s Cave I started the ascent up the back ridge of Montaña Roja. The fine red dust and stones make it a crunchy and potentially slippy walk but with a bit of care it’s not difficult. The sand dunes and Playa El Medano to the east were busy with kite boarders cutting through the sky as they skipped over the waves. The views just get better as you get higher, further to the east the new arm of the Granadilla port is steadily growing and the sea was twinkling under the glare of the January sun. I always expect to see an army of plane spotters perched on the dusty track, you can nearly reach out and touch the mighty iron birds as they take off and land at Reina Sofia airport. The peak is only 171 metres high, just over an hour up and down, but it delivers some fantastic views and there’s room to sit and ponder at the top. Just down below is the small, secluded part of Playa La Tejita where the nudists throw caution, and their clothes, to the wind.

Change is certainly coming but looking at the vast spread of La Tejita and the sparse amount of people peppering the sand below, there is plenty of room to wedge a few more towels in. Looking down I could see the small car park overflowing as always and cars wedged against the side of the road. The protected reserve below still attracts a bumper crop of resident and migrating birds, and the beaches lure wind and kite surfers in flocks. El Medano will carry on unruffled, as for me, the three hour trek has put me right back on track.

A Seagulls View Of Los Cristianos

Searing summer temperatures have put my high mountain walks on hold but it wont stop me from visiting a few shorter routes where I wont need a fully stocked fridge and a hosing down every few minutes. So there I was a trifle sweaty and on top of Montaña Chayofita overlooking my favourite sizzle spots on the beaches of Los Cristianos.

With schools closed and the annual search for sunshine well underway packages for Tenerife holidays were filling the hotels and apartments that fanned out to either side of my downward vision. It only took a cautious 20 minutes to take the smaller track up the side of Chayofita, I could have followed the old road base to the white markers and peeled off there but decided to do a full circle from the opposite direction. The usual unanswered questions flashed through my brain, how did anyone get building permission or start without it and not get noticed. Chayofita is supposedly protected land and the half finished grand home has been frozen in time for at least 15 years, people are squatting in there, the previous evenings torrential rain must have shaken them up a bit.

I had plenty to think about as I made the short descent, the views keep changing, Parque Santiago 6 shopping centre was a recent addition below and I could just make out the Tower of Power at Siam Park in the distance. Cresting the crown I had a lovely view up the bypass to the centre of town and beyond to the side of Montaña Guaza and the ridge sloping down to the sea, that’s a more serious hike that I have done many times. I was surprised to see the wooden bench on the top of my mini mountain was no longer in place, not that I was planning to take root.

The marina and the ferry port looked quiet as the Armas ferry slumbered before another inter island crossing, even the old beach look fairly sparse for such a hot day. Las Vistas was busier, I was already anticipating a cooling swim in the sea as I started to descend down the other side into the collapsed centre of the volcanic cone. There was a little rough shack nestled in the lower fold of the track down, a lot of people are scraping by as and where they can these days.

As I passed through the white markers to the early attempt at a road, I thought about the Sortija de Caballos I had seen nearly two years ago as mounted marksmen on horses galloped up the road and tried to grab small metal rings suspended on overhead arches. Oh well this old horse was back at ground level and took a short cut through to the beach for a long dunk followed by a nose bag at a local bar.


El Porton A Gateway To History In Costa Adeje

It took the jolly sculpture of a banana farmer to make me revisit one of the shortest but historically important walks in the south of Tenerife. Some ten years ago I last passed under the stone archway of El Porton on the TF1 slip road below Adeje old town but a decades absence of my feet was hardly a blip in the ancient scheme of things.

For most visitors to Tenerife, Fañabe means modern shopping centers and a lengthy golden beach but a little further west the old original town rises into the hills behind the bridge over the motorway. The sculpture is a recent addition and I have been itching to see it up close, sadly there are no details of the sculptor or subject ( possible a nod to Fyffes who brought commercial banana farming to Tenerife), just a very lifelike and kindly presence complete with a sleeve of bananas. Crossing the road bridge and heading down over the Barranco del Agua a large swathe of the cloth protected fruit spread down towards the coast, a small, tatty scarecrow stood on guard.

El Porton marks one end of the Camino de la Virgen, an important track allowing fishermen to get their catch up to Adeje town and when pirates showed up they were able to transfer the statue of the Virgen from the tiny La Enramada to the safer inland church of Santa Ursula. The track of the pathway is etched with the constant flow of the years and despite the modern intrusion of the motorway, power lines, and the five star hotels at the bottom end, it still has a comforting serenity. The old water channel has long since dried up but the tabaiba, and cardon plants still thrive and defy the bone dry old reservoir.

It’s just a 2 km stroll but several stop offs along the way are set aside for worship, La Tosca Colorada is the first on the way down, the big focal point is El Humilladero where a natural altar has been carved out under a limestone outcrop. The second Sunday after Easter marks the big pilgrimage as the statue of the Virgen is taken down the route and onto the Playa La Enramada in La Caleta. Just across the modern main road at the bottom end is the old original church and it’s imposing modern replacement. I was greeted by a melodic peel of bells as the clock struck noon. It’s quite a contrast from the modern tourist hotels to the pathway up to Adeje with the added attraction of Roque del Conde in the distance. I was very pleased with my short journey and I’m sure the banana loving sculpture at the other end will still have his benevolent smile next time I see him.

Candelaria And Guimar Unfold Beneath La Mesa

Even the oil refinery and the motorway into Santa Cruz looked attractive viewed from my lofty perch in the hills above Candelaria. It was breather time a couple of hours into the La Mesa walk from Igueste to Araya and after a false start I was having some doubts about the trail I was following.

After trying the Samarines coastal route last year I was keen to try another suggestion from the Candelaria Ayuntamiento leaflet, this time it started in an inland area I was not familiar with. An early toddle around the basilica town and I caught the 131 Titsa bus to Igueste, a local advised me to head for the cemetery thankfully it wasn’t a veiled insult, just a helpful nudge down from the final bus stop at the church to the Plaza Dimas Coello with its wine press. I thought it would be a small village but it stretched and wound along several steep streets and had a nice combination of old and new buildings. Local pride was clear from notices urging a fight against any cut back in their bus lifeline, and announcements of the Good Friday morning procession at 6 am.

The walk signs got me to the start point but I picked an old looking downward trail through a barranco and had to come back to follow the tarmac road up to the right before I could connect to the old path heading up La Mesa mountain. The multi language council leaflet was only launched last year and the route showed little sign of regular visitors. It only takes a few weeks for the plants and flowers to encroach on the trail so I had to guess a little but used the overhanging rock ahead as my direction guide. Looking back I could now see the coast winding its way up to the Tenerife capital and the city outskirts were appearing over the horizon. Once past the rock I found more shade as pine trees began to share my progress, looking out to sea Gran Canaria was prominent on the skyline.

The next landmark was the partially ruined Casa de La Mesa, one of the few original dwellings that had defied the years. The path led up and round the pine trees and was now skirting the sides of a series of barrancos, quite tough on thee legs but easy on the eyes. Scaling the brow of a hill it was reward time, the Guimar valley fell away below me with the tower of Candelaria basilica a distant coastal landmark. It was a glorious sight, low whispy cloud was like a transparent dome over the terraced hills and I could see why the valley had inspired tales of mysterious and haunted trails. After plenty of admiring I started the descent down the track, there was much more greenery here and I was soon up to my armpits in flowers and shrubs.

Araya should have been calling me but at the lower level I was strolling through vineyards and almond orchards on farm land nurtured by a strong gushing water channels. La Florida was marked on the modern service road and a quick enquiry at a garden gate told me I had veered off to the side of Araya. The motorway was in sight so I walked downwards along the TF 247 saving a lengthy wait in Araya for the sporadic bus service and I was soon on the Titsa 111 heading south. Even with the detours and snack stops it had only taken me around five hours but my feet assured me I had burst through the official 6.5 km rating. That still leaves another five Candelaria routes to try, they will have to be very special to match La Mesa.


Soaring Upwards At Roque Del Conde The Guardian Of South Tenerife

Maybe it’s the sheared summit effect that earns Roque del Conde the nickname of table top mountain but I like to think it’s due to the feast of views offered from the top, either way I was ready for another serving. Sitting in a café in Los Cristianos gazing up is one way to enjoy the folds and shades that change hourly and seasonally but there’s nothing like the bite in the leg muscles as you curl your way around the popular route.

It was nice to show off my favourite stroll to my visiting friend Francine, the morning couldn’t have looked more perfect as we caught the 480 Arona bus and emerged a short hop from the Plaza del Cristo de la Salud. It’s quite a gathering point for walkers with four main routes well sign posted, and a nice little leaflet (Arona Rural) available from tourist offices, both in several languages. Striking out across the main road and down the dirt track to the El Vento area we came to the path down through a small gorge and up over the old iron water pipes. What a greeting, the landscape spread out far ahead with a old viaduct spanning the horizon and several other smaller mountains offering homage to our destination. Ahead of us little groups of walkers were noticeable in the distance as the sun poured its warmth over us.

The first big test was the Barranco del Rey, a deep ravine, we took the steep winding pathway down to the dry river bed. Hidden from the sun it was cool with a little bit of echo that carried the clanking bells of a herd of goats. Looking up it was just possible to see them making light work of a precarious trail just below the lip of the barranco. Taking the steep ascent up the other side we emerged with a disused threshing circle in our sights and above that an old wreck of a stone cottage. The path we followed was well worn not just by modern walkers but also by ancient farmers who grew cereal crops, not a good place to forget your watering can. The coastal scenery unfolded below us as the path took us around the mountain to a halfway outcrop of rock that made a suitable resting spot to catch up on water and snacks.

The top of the mountain looked within quick reach from here but it was deceptive as the path tightened and twisted and the summit remained elusive. Looking back the views of Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Americas and westward were very rewarding. A few other walkers passed us on their way down with smiles of satisfaction and a renewed spring in their step. Finally the light grass ahead gave way to the plateau, time for a deep breath and a scan of the panoramic views. Remnants of past farming had left a landscape of shallow terraces between low stone walls, tufts of dry grass and thistles were being used as a playground by small birds. Walking around the perimeter brought differing views, Adeje town spread out on one side, Mount Teide shimmered in the distance on another, and plants clung to the side of splintered rock stacks as Barranco del Infierno snaked its way around smaller mountains far below.

Perching back at our entry point we were entertained by para gliders swooping serenely and some cheeky lizards helping to finish off our sarnies and crisps. There were quite a few other people on the plateau, some we had seen earlier in the journey, the different nationalities reflected the international reputation that Arona has as a walkers delight. Return journeys are usually faster but that was offset by the need to not let the incline force our pace, especially on the shifting loose dusty earth. We were being shielded from what little breeze there was so the sun made its presence felt, the halfway stop brought a welcome wafting of cooler air. The cactus plants with their prickly pears became more plentiful as we got lower and there was always the white water trail of the pleasure boats and ferries etching their progress on the sea to distract us.

Barranco del Rey seemed a little easier going back, the walk is well maintained particularly in this barranco where rope and wood rails help to guide walkers down to the floor of the ravine. Painted markings at key points of the route also help to usher the wayward onto the true course, we still nearly missed the crossing point for the small gorge. We hit Arona plaza just over four hours after our start, that was at a leisurely pace, the cold drinks at a small bar were very welcome, Roque del Conde did us proud.

Getting Under The Skin Of Tenerife At Cueva Del Viento

Sampling just 200 of the 17,000 metres of volcanic tubes at Icod is always a privilege, it’s like lifting the bonnet on the engine of Tenerife. Outside the lush green plants, trees, and a dusting of snow on Mount Teide painted a picture of natures calm beauty but a few metres underground layers of history had been ripped open by a violent eruption dating back 20 million years.

This was my fourth visit to Cueva del Viento but there’s always more to discover, my friends Dave, Annie, and Francine were first time visitors in our English speaking group of 15. The tubes are the third biggest in the world but in terms of complexity the three layers of tunnels can’t be touched, they are a magnet to experts from around the globe, our knowledgeable guides were Dragan from Serbia and Monica from Poland.

The visitors centre is a steep 10 minute drive (or five euro taxi) up from Icod town and we were given a detailed video history of the creation of the tunnels via an eruption from Pico Viejo on the slopes of Mount Teide.
Our minibus took us up further to the edge of the pine forest to start the approach to the cave on foot. Our guides pointed out the different terrain along the walk, the pahohoe smooth lava that quickly forms a surface crust and then forms tubes underneath had cut a swathe through the pine trees.

We stopped at the Old Womans Chasm where a local lady was lucky to survive falling down a pothole, a metal gate protects it now but we were warned that the surface rock should be trodden on lightly. Taking the old Camino Real traders path we soon arrived at the stone steps down into the tunnels and strapped on our helmets, power packs, and lights. The cool, dry air that greeted us in the entrance tunnel was eerie and loaded with promise. Some further nuggets of information as we sat on the rock ledges and we were off walking slowly downwards with out light beams bouncing off the low roofs and encroaching sides.

The mission of the Cueva del Viento team is to educate and preserve about this insight window on history. Our visitors section of the tunnels had been inspected, subtley strengthened in places, and had metal grids added to aid walking but the rest of the labyrinth is still slowly giving up its secrets. Handicapped parties are encouraged to do the tour and Dragan told us how a young blind visitor had surprised him with the amount of information he was able to glean from a heightened sense of touch. At one point we turned all lights out for a minute to appreciate the total darkness and lack of any sound. The slight magnetism in the rocks cuts out phone and radio signals and would prevent any bats from using their natural sonar, rats and other creatures are also absent, the many species living here are tiny insects relying on plant roots and drips of moisture.

One aim of the project is to buy agricultural land above the tunnels to stop pesticides seeping down into the caves. Public exploration is growing, a caving club regularly visits from the UK and on Saturdays they can arrange more extensive caving trips that include full equipment to explore some of the many offshoots including a 14 metre downward link to the lower level. The end of our stretch brought us to the underside of the Old Womans Chasm where daylight streamed in through the grill above, after that we retraced our steps back to the entrance point. We had a good two hours below ground, the sunlight refreshed us as we emerged and our guides were able to answer the questions triggered off by our amazing journey as we returned to the visitors centre. It’s a very different and rewarding way to appreciate what a remarkable island Tenerife is.


Nature Finds Many Ways To Please On The Almond Blossom Walk

The weather, the terrain, and the views are constantly changing on the Almendro en Flor (also known as the almond blossom walk) but one thing remains constant, the beauty of nature as it unlocks its secrets.

It was a chilly 7 degrees as I arrived in Santiago del Teide but the low, wandering cloud (wasn’t he an Indian Chief?) was parting and as I strode out on the well signed pathway behind the church plaza. The sun shone as a strung out army of walkers picked and clicked their way upward but it soon went missing to be replaced with a cool breeze laced with small flecks of moisture. Maybe I should have shoved my jeans in my pack back but at least I had a coat to add to my layers.

This was my fourth annual almond inspired treat, the blossom was at an advanced stage with trees covered with white, and pink flowers. At the first opening along the track the reservoir was full to the brim unlike last years meagre level. Looking back beyond Santiago del Teide to the popular steep road that accesses Masca there was bright sunshine, it can change so quickly up the western side of Tenerife. The complete walk is 9 kms, the first big milestone is the shrine at the spot where the Chinyero eruption of 2009 stopped short of the virgins statue that had been wheeled out from the church. It had taken an hour for me to get this far, 3.6 kms, I took a nosebag break and chatted to a few other walkers, some from mainland Spain, some German visitors, and some on holiday from France.

Pushing on the lava fields provided challenging footholds as we were funneled between big banks of craggy lava. The pine forests began to appear at the distant sides of our trail, the swirls of moisture laden clouds were feeding the earth via the needles of the pines, nature doesn’t waste anything. At points the uneven surface gave way to yellow brown soil before the rocks rose back up around as like silent guardians. Entering the edge of the pine forest the trail became smoother but undulated up and down around clusters of thick twisted roots. At this point in previous years I had been greeted with clear views of the snow covered side of Mount Teide, this time there was much less of a covering but as the cloud blew aside it still gave an inspiring glimpse of the peak highlighted by a generous serving of blue sky.

Some walkers were tackling the route from the Arguayo end so there were plenty of new people to pass as well as the ones I kept switching places with after stopping for more photos. The final stretch brought more low whispy cloud creating an eerie dreamscape. The walk is almost circular so Santiago del Teide came into view again and the gentle peel of the church bell added to the overall enjoyment.

The descent into Arguayo is a zig zag route through terraced farm land where almonds are grown in large numbers for export as well as the delicious sauces and pastes that many of the local bars and restaurants are showcasing until the 28 February. The coat and jumper were back in my bag by the time I hit the sunny streets of Arguayo. A 462 Titsa bus (2.30 and 4.30 pm) took me back through Santiago del Teide and on to Los Gigantes before heading back to Los Cristianos. The three and a half hour walk had again exceeded the previous years rewards – I can’t wait for next year.

All The Right Signals At Guaza Mountain

Pastries, pies, turkey, and turron, with all those and a few cheeky beers heading in with the Christmas wave I thought it was about time I hit the Tenerife hiking trail again so I headed for my near neighbour Montaña Guaza.

I shouldn’t have been able to neglect the big ridge as it rises up from the Los Cristianos coast and hangs over the top of my apartment block but I reckon it’s five years since my feet last graced any of the paths that criss cross the upper plateau. Maybe it’s been too obvious to me and maybe the roaming stray dogs a couple of years ago put me off but the years melted away as I took the steep stone steps from Playa de Callao. It’s always a popular route and as I took big strides up the twisting pathway I could hear the clicking of hiking sticks from several other walkers ahead and behind me.

Los Cristianos opened up below with the mid morning sun bathing the old undeveloped beaches, the wide crescent of Las Vistas beach, and Playa de Las Americas beyond. The sea was calm as inter island ferries and pleasure boats glided in and out of port and the exceptionally low tide exposed plenty of damp sand with few early takers for sun bathing duty. That first big climb is just about the toughest bit so cresting the hill to flatter land felt good and the trails leading away gave me several choices of direction, I was determined to do both main routes.

Heading for the cliff top path I passed through remains of the old tobacco and tomato plantations, this protected reserve attracts many species of birds like the Chiff Chaff and Trumpeter Finch but although I heard their pleasant warbling they steered well clear of me. The route I was on passes up and down several barrancos, as I rose from the dip of one I could hear the loud cry of seagulls. Back near the cliff edge I peered over to see the seagulls wheeling in to their homes in the rock face. Just below them was a Spirograph layout of fish farm cages, many are now abandoned but the active ones are a big draw for sea life clearing up scraps of food.

Further barrancos were lined with piles of raw slate, this and other stone was quarried in large quantities years ago, the Masca lighthouse in the distance was built from the stone. Palm Mar soon came into view, there is a pathway down to the modern residential area and the Malpais de Rasca beyond. Some walkers loop back across the open land to the starting point but I headed inland with the communication aerials on the 428 metre peak my target. Stone walls separating terraces are a reminder of the agricultural use of this land and there are a couple of old houses in poor repair, I even found a clothes washing zone, dry now like the broken stone channels that used to feed it water.

The television, phone, and radio masts take a lot of installing and upkeep so wider tracks showed tyre marks but the recent rains had moved plenty of loose stone and shingle into the ruts so it shifted underfoot. Eventually reaching the steep final incline to the masts I got some great views down the other side of the mountain to Guaza, and the TF1 motorway heading off to Santa Cruz. There were two aerial compounds with unrestricted access through them, the second afforded me another view of Los Cristianos, It looked like it might just be possible to find a way down through the tufts of bushes to somewhere near my place but it would be a pretty stupid risk so I headed back from where I had come.

A downhill return trip is always quicker but it was still a bit tricky avoiding the smaller less grippy stones. A Land Rover from an aerial maintenance crew overtook me but made slow progress in the hope of keeping tyres and suspension intact. Including water, snack, and photo stops the whole trip took just over four hours, I reckon that’s my fuse lit for another season of trips up into the hills.