Archive for July, 2021
Folllow In The Tenerife Footsteps Of Admiral Horatio Nelson

Planting one foot on Tenerife soil, Admiral Horatio Nelson drew his sword with his left hand and prepared to lead the assault on 25 July 1797. Then it all fell apart. A musket shot from the defending forces pierced his right elbow and sent him crashing to the ground still half in his landing boat. Disaster for the British naval force and potentially a career ending moment for the Norfolk born 39 year old leader.

But in an incredible display of mutual respect between two leaders of seafaring backgrounds, a very civil surrender led to the failed invasion becoming part of Tenerife culture and Nelson´s name being remembered with dignity. Over 250 British troops were killed as firece resistance and strong fortifications frustrated other landing parties that tried to breach other points around the coast of capital city, Santa Cruz. Nelson negotiated the surrender via his number two Captain Troubridge.

Rowed back to his ship the Theseus, Nelson had made light of his wound and pulled himself up onto the ship by a single rope and insisted. ” Let me alone, I have yet my legs left and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and get his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it is off the better.” In his journal he praised the hospitality of the Spanish Governor of Tenerife. ” It is right we should notice the noble and generous conduct of Don Juan Antonio Gutierrez. The moment terms were agreed he directed our wounded men to be received into the hospitals and all our people to be supplied with the best provisions that could be procured, ”

To this day, Santa Cruz is full of reminders of Nelson´s attack, normally reenactments are carried out on and around 25 July but Covid has severly limited that. For 2021 it will be mainly acts of remembrance at key points that featured in the repelling of the foriegn fleet. However you can tap into the past all year round via in Santa Cruz. Nelson touched land at the southern entry to the capital, Castillo Negra, just along from the modern Auditorium, was the power house for the rebuff of the sailors. Just next to it, a small concrete quay meets the sea.


At this point you will find the first in a series of silver plaques marking the spots where various clashes and strongholds were. They pepper the coast aalong as far as San Andres beyond the old dock area. Nelsons face even appears among clasical composers and poets on the large square concrete blocks that line the San Andres shore. One of the early warnings of the approach of the British ships, came from a female trader on her way to market, she rang the church bell to alert everyone, it assured her place in local folklore.

A short stroll along from the Auditorium to the Plaza de España lake opposite the cruce ship port, reveals a treasure chest of past echoes. Steps down below the lake lead to the remails of the city wall, only rediscovered after the plaza was dug up for redevelopment at the start of the 2000 millenium. The underground area shows a complete history of the Castillo de San Cristobal that was above, and those who tried in vain to take Tenerife. Pride of place goes to the Tigre (tiger) canon that was instrumental in keeping Nelsons and previous hopefuls pinned back off shore. Entry to this hidden world is free and very informative. Over in the cruce ship port, a canon ball impact on a low wall shows how close the city came to receiving greater damage.

For the best in depth history lesson, follow the port road along to the huge winged statue and above you will find the Military Museum. This covers all Spanish conflicts and is illustrated with maps, uniforms, and weapons. In the case of Nelson, an interactive map shows exactly how the battle played out, and the Union Jack from the flag ship Emerald, surrendered by Nelson, is on disply in a glass cabinet. Outside they have a wealth of military vehicles from different ages.

The museum is free to visit, open from 10 am to 2 pm Tuesday to Saturday. Altough it´s still a working base, there is a small cafe and a terrace. Keep looking out for other reminders of Nelson in the city, new murals have been added in recent years above La Noria near the main shopping area. Nelson´s name is immortalised on a street sign near the old bull ring at La Paz. There are also plans for a more permanent exhibition, fittingly, close to the sea front.






Arafo Makes Leisure A Pleasure

Figs, bee keeping, and hunting dispelled my first impression of Arafo as a quiet backwater of the Guimar valley. They were all championed at the crescent shaped Centre of Leisure, Artesans, and Agriculture which pulled my attention from nature´s own panarama of mountains and clear blue Tenerife skies.


What a lucky change of plan after rain and wind had rerouted me from La Laguna and beyond. Back at Santa Cruz I had already noticed that it was the launch day of a new improved Titsa bus network linking Candelaria, Guimar, and Arafo. My destination changed in a minute – im so fickle. Micro climates can mean a short shift in position and suddenly its a whole new outlook.

The tight uphill back streets that greeted my arrival at Arafo, led my curiosity by the nose. The Ayuntamiento (council) building was a two tone stunner as it commanded the intersection of two roads. It still hardly prepared me for the historic centre of the town. The church of San Juan Degollado was the centre piece backing onto a partly shaded plaza.

My weakness for a striking sculpture was satisfied by a lady wrapped solely in musical notes (not even a whistle and flute) as she held her baton aloft.  Pueblo de la Musica is the proud boast of Arafo and the setting of the sculpture made me think of the Sound Of Music.The modern Auditorium just down the road looked suitably grand, it was closed on my visit but a later look on the impressive website of the municipality showed that the 500 seat building was a fitting stage.

There were a few teething problems for the revised bus service but the councils of the main towns covered are discussing a few possible tweaks to the running order. I headed back south via Guimar old town on the north side of the TF1 motorway and spotted a few more stops I would have to pick up on another day. The barrancos that swept down past Arafo also set me thinking anout a few more walking routes that this service will benefit from.

Needles On The Record In La Esperanza

Plane spotters would normally be well blessed with a trip to La Esperanza in the municipality of El Rosario. Alas there was not so much as an Airfix model on the Tenerife North runways as my bus took the uphill turn just across from the La Laguna bus station – well that´s the ongoing Covid effect.

Never mind, my bell was soon rung when I spotted a perplexing duo of scylptures presiding over a fork in the road at El Calvario, a traditional spiritual home for church crosses. The old TF24 is a direct route up through the pine forest on the way to Mount Teide national park. The two sculptures reflected a local commercial tradition of using pine needles to pack wholesale fruit and vegatables. The rights to this process are put out to tender but the gathering of the pointed articles is still very much a manual labour, the monument paid tribute to the pinocheros and pinocheras who have gathered the tricky little blighters over the decades. The artistic salute was made by local artist Dacil Travieso,

I was a few stops short of my intended destination but nothing that a short uphill stroll would not put right. La Esperanza plaza soon appeared and the neighbouring Ayuntamiento (council) building. Dacil had been busy with her chisel, a lechera stood proud with her delivery of milk perched on her head. A fountain, starved of water, was also nearby but the nearby greenery showed that the drought would only be a short one.

My compass had been drawn to La Esperanza by an orange intruder among the green Titsa buses at the La Laguna bus station. Although an independent company they run two services into La Esperanza, one with a direct link to  Tenerife 2 prison, and they take the usual Titsa payment cards. Back at the two central plazas, an old wine press promoted another local industry. The main road wound on up towards the pine forest to reveal some great view over Santa Cruz and out to sea. It was eerily quiet, a few TUI tour buses, and lycra clad cyclists headed through, and BRIFOR forest fire patrol trucks added reassurance against summer fires.

A good selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars with big parking areas, stood ready to receive once tourists come back to the island in numbers. Vilaflor is a more common route for Teide visitors but there´s plenty of scope to see some local history while breaking a journey at this alternative. The Ermita Las Rosas looked a little lonely and forlorn but the local council news magazine held plenty of promise, especially with a new cultural centre just opening.





All Aboard For Punta De Teno

Where 500 metre high cliffs stand shoulder to shoulder into the horizon, and the north and west coasts of Tenerife dovetail together, Punta de Teno imposes itself on the landscape. I felt envious of the osprey that soar and nest in the folds of the cliffs. Even at ground level there´s plenty to admire, it is still a living part of the island with fishermen well versed in the unpredictable currents of the sea.

Easing into my visit, chugging up a tight single file mountain road, Far below breaking waves lapped at the Buenavista del Norte golf course and a pristine stretch of shingle beach. On one of the first days of the 2021 summer season of the 369 Titsa bus, I gazed forward as the road  seemed to hit mid air. The inside rock face was being kept in check by heavy duty steel fencing and pins embedded by pile drivers. Punta de Teno was the destination beauty at the end of this magnificent beast of an incline, and worth my preceeding 460 bus ride from Adeje to Icod, and a short coastal change past Garachico and Los Silos in Buenavista del Norte.

The partial collapse of the mountain link road in 2016 led to restrictions on the rebuilt access. A manned barrier allows a few people through including the bus during July, August, and Septenber. A mere one euro each way secures the 460 ride, a Ten Mas plastic pre paid card or its mobil app version is alo acceptable, but not the residents and OAPs tickets. Cyclists were also sharing our temporary immersion in a long dark tunnel on part of the upper route.

Fisherman have access to their fleet, a dozen boats were sheltered at the back of the small Teno beach, and an equal number were out riding the waves just beyond a scattering of bathers. The lighthouse  stood guard where the conflicting currents came together. Even with a green flag and guards in attendance, the exposed waters outside the bay are worthy of the utmost respect. Farolgists love to study our candy striped friends, this sample dates back to 1897 and is a very reassuring prescence.

At the western side of the bay, the modern holiday hire Casablanca is a strange anomoly but may have been updated from an old and more modest farmhouse. The paths through the old lava deposits meander to other vantage points but the potential dangers are there at every step. just a short distance from the drop off and pick up point, its easy to feel the isolation that spans the centurys. A view down the line of cliffs conjours up Masca and beyond Some hardy souls swim from Teno to Los Gigantes in the Travesia race once a year.  However you view this corner of Isla Bajo, it always stirs a new respect for nature.