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.