The Call Of The Mountains And The San Miguel Trail

Elephant gun, inflatable lifeboat, distress flares, and several slabs of Kendall Mint Cake, on second thoughts maybe it had been a while since my last Tenerife mountain walk and I was over packing my knapsack. Settling for some cheese rolls and a couple of bottles of cold water my friend Karen and I caught the Titsa bus from Los Cristianos to the La Centinela mirador up above Valle San Lorenzo some 11 kms away.

It was another scorcher, the last time I did this walk a few years ago it was a cloudy day but as we crunched our way down the steep incline below the La Centinela restaurant the coast unfolded in the distance with a fine view from Playa de Las Americas to El Medano and the distinctive Montana Roja. The walk is known as the Camino de la Hoya and used to be an old trade track that linked Arona with San Miguel. Since the 1970’s the busy main road does the link work along the lip of the valley but the odd pile of horse droppings and ruts in the path showed that it’s not just walkers that prefer this route.

Up above us Roque de Jama was a tell tale window on the volcanic past, the cone is cracked and splintered and reminded me of Sir Alex Fergusons nose. It was spookily quiet, we could see a long way ahead and behind and we were alone – well apart from the sweet song of the birds. Part way down we stopped to have a nosey inside an abandoned cottage, one of those holiday property programmes would no doubt have described it as an “opportunity” but the remote setting would limit those late night trips to the nearest bar.

Pummice used to be extracted from the valley floor and the barranco, dry at this time of year, could supply much needed water to irrigate crops on the terraced hills on the coastal side. There seemed to still be some limited quarrying going on in one of the flatter areas and the loud cry of a cockrel sounded from a small holding up on higher ground. Reaching the old spring and the water collecting area we stopped for our bottled water break, the old clothes washing trough was half full of stagnant water that neither of us fancied sipping. At this far end of the valley the rough track gave way to modern irregular shaped blocks as the path rose steeply past a couple of converted farm houses now being used as attractive family homes. At the top of this steep slog the Caserio de La Hoya rural house had been lovingly restored but was closed as it was on my last visit.

The old road at the top included an old tile kiln, Horno de Tejas, built in the late 19th century and restored in 1993 and the resevoir further along looked almost full unlike the few we spotted from the main track earlier. We were skirting San Miguel now and could see the spire of the church but there was more work to do. The Sendero del Tamaide teased us along the edge of another barranco before luring us down into El Lomo and a wooden bridge over a few spluttering dribbles from the almost dry spring. Deep down in this cleft the birds swooped overhead from their homes scooped out of the rock sides. Another big effort up the tight path brought us to a modern concrete road following on from a very uneven path that dropped away dramatically into the barranco, nice to look into but good to stay out of.

There was the last stretch through the narrow back streets of San Miguel centre past the Casa de El Capitan and a mix of revamped rural houses and new speculative apartments from more optimistic times now unfinished and abandoned. A basic modern café supplied our pressing needs of drinks and a filling snack as our muscles got a chance to take some deep breaths. On the bus back along the top road overlooking our main route it was rewarding to see how much ground we had covered in the two and a half hours trekking, it’s definitely rekindled my walking instincts.