Archive for the 'Walking' Category
Downhill Is So Uplifting From La Escalona

Unspoilt blue skies and a crisp clean feel to the Tenerife air. What better way to kick start 2022, and La Escalona, just shy of Vilaflor was the ideal launch pad.

Casa Los Escalones beamed with pride after a recent spruce up, and the local craft mural led nicely round the modern white church to a basic but restful viewing point over the green bowl of Valle San Lorenzo.  My last call to these parts saw traces of forest fire smoke looming up above Vilaflor. Nature is constantly working to recycle the landscape, this time pink almond blossom reached out to the sun.

There seemed to be messages of hope everywhere, even the graded jable top soil looked more like a scribbled declaration of intent. Terraced fields faced the lower volcanic peaks and sea beyond with the look of a auditorium seating for the coming year. The sparse parts of the landscape were punctuated with stretching trees and flowers craning to see over stone walls.

There was a price to pay for all this, a turn along the Camino Altavista led to a steep bridleway of hard angular volcanic rock which tested eager feet as it curled around old stone water channels on the descent to the small hamlet of Tunez with its modern white church identifiable by its tower.

 

Roque de Jama dominated the far ridge as traffic tracked up the road past La Centinela, gateway to more fine walks. Multi coloured versions of old farm houses peppered the rising side of the nearest barranco (ravine), one of several that helped to carve out the valley.

Heading further down and just beyond the football ground and circular Terrero (Canarian Wrestling) sports hall emerged in the main street of busy Valle San Lorenzo in just under three hours at a leisurely pace. The sight of the almond blossom was a big bonus and a reminder of the Almond Blossom Walk from Santiago del Teide, launched on 22, 23, and 24 January with organised groups. If you choose to go independently, the blossom lasts untul about 12 February, depending on weather. The seasons always ensure Tenerife has new sights to see as well as the yearly return of old favourites.

 

Ruigomez Detour Enriches Erjos To El Tanque Stroll

Rattling like a spoon in a tea cup, the awning of Fleytas Cafe bar had ambitions of becoming a hang glider. Within five minutes of swapping the wind swept corner just north of Santiago del Teide for a plunging Etjos track, the sun was radiating off bursting buds and springing sprouts of  leafy spreads.

Early January rain had raised hopes of seeing some rare birds in the pools left by many decades of soil excavation. Alas it was still defiantly dry, although the long term small birds were flitting along the hedgerows as the green corridors guided us along to the centre of Erjos. After that we just kept walking. Ruigomez had flashed by on previous Titsa bus trips to Icod, this time we stuck with a smaller lane that ran parralel and had some modern refurbs to old traditional houses.

A steep upturn and we were at a crossroads with the tell tale sign we needed and a neat bus stop emblazoned with the local name for the bus – guagua. There was clearly more footwork ahead ro reach El Tanque and we were happy to plod on. Ruigomez showed signs of flirting with tourism in recent years, the Pueblo Aborigen Guanche Park had long given way to a go kart ytack but even that was silent in these Covid times.

The nearby Camel Centre was doing its best to lure people in, from camel rides to freshly cooked steaks in their restaurant. Lets hope the camels couldn´r read all the signs. The church next door was a beacon of defiance, with or without the festive touches. That still left a fair old trot down into El Tanque by a series of meandering roads and paths. The Holy Cross church welcomed us to the centre of El Tanque , and a food and drink stop was very welcome.

Icod and Garachico are the big stars in this elevated rural corner of Tenerife, but the surrounding towns all have a story to tell that helps the appreciation of this north west outpost with its hidden delights.

 

 

 

 

 

Doing A Stretch At Poris De Abona

Red and white stripes usually warn of wild seas but all was becalmed on a December afternoon stroll through the most inviting atmosphere of the east coast of Tenerife. Wind rurbines were frantically setting their own pace but the sea was still as boats bobbed lightly. Abades a little further south, normally gets the first feel of my toes but the sandstone and peeling paintwork made for a less formal view from the white blocks of houses at the Arico end.

A variety of coves, walkways, and boat launch sites had encouraged a sparse but splash happy few local families. There were rell tale signs of more hostile waves in rocks that were split apart like bread fresh from the oven. As the motorway pounded along at a higher level, a gentle grsdient led down to the lapping waves.

The gentle shelving allowed swimmers to stand waist high while new foot marks made their signature as children slid down the banked fine sand. It was like the coast was breathing with relief after an ambitious plan for three large new hotels came to nothing on the expanse of Abona that juts out into the sea.

The lighthouse looked magnificent in traditional candy stripes. More ancient intrusions on the skyline added character, the old rock stack chimney led onto the deserted shells of the intended leper colony that overlooks Abades. Time and a cure for the ancient curse denied the need for the mini village but the graffiti and murals add to the surreal feel of the area.

Abades was its usual friendy and welcoming self, slightly less water sports craft adorned rhe beaches but there are always plenty of nice hollows to cosey down in before rushing into the sea. An array of partially marked out plots is a throwback to an earler age of planned mass development. A new apartment block nestled low level near the shore, already winning converts to this special part of Tenerife. Long may it prosper in ts comfortable bubble.

 

 

Shining A Light On Malpais De La Rasca

Candy striped and 167 feet tall, the most modern of two lighthouses can be seen from Los Cristianos beach in the south of Tenerife. Answering its call with two friends, we uncovered the harsh but beautiful coastal history of lava fields, salt production, and moody seas. Malpais de la Rasca is the protected cultural heritage site but we started out at the fishing village of Las Galletas. Freak waves had punched a gaping hole in the beach promenade, a reminder that this stretch of twinkling blue sea could pack a punch anytime it chose to. The modern marina soon faded as small coves and crunching shingle led us through tall spikey cardones plants. Rock pools abounded as a meandering path climbed and dipped. Shade arrived alongside huge plantations of bananas that looked enough to feed an army of monkeys.

A notice and the rearing tower of the 1978 built lighthouse announced the entrance to the malpais (badlands). Dried pools harked back to the days when sea salt was harvested from the waves that buffeted the coast. There were other welcome uses for these small puddles of water. Tabaiba plants sprout in clusters around the lava field, the toxic armaga variety sprinkled in a pool would induce a drunk like state making the delirious fush easy to grab.

The squat buildings near the sea beacon are from the 1898 original lighthouse, built from stone quarried from Guaza mountain were for the lighthouse keepers family, and the lamp room which needed lighting by hand from acetylene gas. There was no such burden  on our visit, just a few young sun bathers on the nearby outcrops of rock, oblivious to the daily dramas that used to play out as ships were kept well away from the rocks.

Pushing on into the lava fields, we followed an uneven surface a few yards back from the sea. It must have been a slow and uncomfortable procession for herders, cattle, and traders. Some of the old stone huts (goros) still remain at least in part, they would have provided welcome relief from unexpected turns in the weather and any accidents on slippy surfaces. In recent years people have built illegal shacks on the protected zone, a few weeks before our visit a big clean up removed 1,335 kilos of rubbish. that doesn´t mean it´s lifeless out there, some 40 species of reptile call the area home.

Guaza mountain and the modern developments of Palm Mar steered us past the old protective fort and onto even roads to a small promenade. Familiar landmarks over in Los Cristianos looked enticingly close but its a choice of a steep up and over the mountain or our chosen route up the main street of Palm Mar to the busy bus road back into Los Cristianos. The mountain is worthy of a dedicated walk in its own right with a track up the spine to the radio mast park at the peak. A few bars in Palm Mar ensured we cot some cooling liquids after a hot 2.5 hour stroll. Rasca is a taste of tradition and a connection to tougher times.

Stand Back In Amazement Over Valle San Lorenzo

Threading delicate strands of cotton to make an artistic roseta is a Canarian art form. So it was fitting that it was featured on a series of large murals that greeted me on my arrival at La Escalona, just 6 kms below Vilaflor.

Walking down through La Hondura, an even bigger mosaic of natures making  spread out below with ancient tracks almost touching before heading down to Valle San Lorenzo, Arona town, and the south coast of Tenerife beyond. How does nature pack it all in? Between neat terraces and the peaks of the Ifonche walk, the  modern road that brought me to the higher ground, skirting along the lip of the deep barranco (ravine).

It was a seroiusly hot day but I passed a full reservoir complete with a memorial stone on its side. Further down there was a more unusual road side tribute A bag of Canarian potatos added a few more wrinkles from the heat, normally salt gives them the distinctive look and delicious flavour. The sweep of the valley below stretched as far as the rising road to the La Centinela viewing point to my left as well as showing familiar land marks from Arona town, a little further adrift than anticipated to my right.  A nifty cut back took me to Camino Altavista and swung me back on course for the village of Tunez.

I keep on seeing abandoned farm buildings on my travels, stripped of their past glories by the ravages of time and weather. Altavista showed showed some that had been kept in tip top condition and looked magnificent and functional, Other dwellings have found a new lease of life as rural tourism holiday retreats. One new recruit just below my path included a clear perspex bubble in the courtyard for observing the uncluttered night time skies that attract many astronomers to Tenerife.

In between the two extremes, there is always plenty of scope for good old muscle stretching on challenging paths that link villages and trade routes. I could see the distinctive white tower of Tunez church far below but it wasn´t going to come without some effort. Plenty of twists and turn over large awkward and uneven stones dominated the slowly descending route. Eventually it opened out to a flat exit at the entry to Tunez and a water break in the shade of the church plaza. Tunez commands a wonderful position looking out over the valley bowl of Valle San Lorenzo and an easier descent towards the town.

Barranco de Chijas dominates the valley as it carves irs way down from the hills. An old stone viaduct was always a popular diversion. It´s now sealed off but still worth the hour extra to head up to imagine rain water powering down through the tall bridges when the rare heavy rains arrive. There are more precarious view points to survey the valley but I had my eyes fixed on the circular terrero (Canarian Wrestling hall) and the football ground beside it. Once past that its an easy exit back to the main street of the busy and popular town.

Feeling The Rub Of The Green In Erjos

It could have been dawn breaking as sun filtered through leaves, casting eerie shadows. Noon was a more accurate time check, and I was just ten minutes into Erjos in the north west corner of Tenerife. The large green wedge of laurisilva forest marched across Teno rural park as a robin flitted away from a wooden gate. It was an inspiring welcome after I had stepped off my Titsa bus from Los Cristianos, after it had passed through the 20 degree sun of Santiago del Teide.

It was an easy transition from the blue skies and bursts of flowers as I trailed family groups strolling up the gentle grass rise. As the foliage closed in, moisture hung in the air, and moss clung to branches, it summoned thoughts of myths amd legends. Views from the mirador, about 30 minutes in, added to the contrasts and marked the point where most people retraced their steps to the plaza and church.

 

Others pushed on through the stark contrast of  the cool  tunnel created by tree branches entwined overhead. Twisted roots and dribbles of water made it all seem alive, I wouldn´t have been surprised to see strange eyes  glowing in the undergrowth, birds singing lightened the tone and sharp bends offered a realm of possibilities with each step.

Erjos offers a range of well signed walks, more choices cme up after two hours, I was doing the full 11.7 kms to Los Silos so took a tight dipping path marked for Monte de Aqua and Los Marados on the way down to the finish point. It was like opening a door on another dimension as fertile valleys plunged into the barrancos (ravines) as trees and plants hugged the hill sides. The roof was off and the sun sneaked through to spotlight a circular trail down the mountain.

Every branch and leaf was a conduit for moisture that eeked out of the clouds and into the thirsty soil. Rocky fingers protruded from the high sides as if reaching out to grab their share of natures bounty. There were only a few other walkers on this stretch, and they were coming up from the coast that appeared in the distance between the peaks. Los Maradas farm dwellings bore witness to the lure of this area, plentiful water being a must for cattle grazers and farmers.

The final 30 minutes trek was another tight path to the left of the derelict dwellings and linked up to a wider water modern channel that emerged just oposite the urban centre of Los Silos. I wasn´t too impressed by the seven adventure cyclists who poured down behind me, despite signs at two points forbidding their access. Lycra clad and in helmets they must have felt secure, but I didn´t fancy tyre marks up my legs. The good news was the walk emerged just by the Titsa bus stop to Garachico and Icod.

It was a very rewarding four hour walk in this rich corner of Tenerife,Erjos in the inland key to a range of walks of varying lengths. Coming up from the south, the first bus stop is Puerto de Erjos for the black caves, or in my case, two stops later was the busier Erjos with the plaza and a few cafe bars. There is limited parking near both bus stops to unlock a choice of options. !Quite a green heaven.

Charco Del Pino Answers Walkers Prayers

Longing to get down and dusty after a smooth, modern road led us out of the historic centre of Granadilla de Abona. Lycra clad cyclists whizzed downhill towards San Miguel, and El Medano loomed large looking across to the south coast. At this stage we had only a fleeting glimpse of the ancient Camino del Real track that criss crossed Tenerife when foot power was king.

Maybe we felt a little under whelmed to be retracing the route of our Titsa bus but Charco del Pino was warming up in the wings and greeted us with surprises and insights into the past. “Pond of the Pine” arrived with a hint of Ooh La La in the shape of the church of San Luis IX. Petit and classy, it honours the 12th century King of France who brought the crown of thorns from the head of jesus, to Europe, Paris to be precise, during the crusades.

 

Alongside the church, a lane took us up to the Chiñama mirador, offering spectacular views of  natures harvest for miles around in every direction. The importance of water to this part of the island became apparent as the fluid of life filled small reservoirs and encouraged the growth of crops. There was a stone wall barn bonanza as well, some small holdings had two or three of the iconic buildings, simple, strong, and effective. In the main street there were a few cafes to quench the thirst and fill provide protein boosts for the cycle squads. My eyes grew misty as i admired the old cinema building for Charco del Pino – I yearned for a choc ice and a Kiora.

When we began the walk from the Plaza Gonzalez Mena by the leafy gardens and admin offices in Granadilla town, there were no clear pointer to routes start point. There was similar uncertainty just after the church of Charco del Pino. A wide path dropped down to the south and seemed to head for the lip of the La Orchilla barranco, but it veered off in the wrong direction and turned out to be a false dawn. After puffing back up we found the true path in all its glory, a few yards from the main road. The universally regocnised white and green  bold stripes on large rocks confirmed our path down into the deep ravine.

 

It was like a green cathedral once we followed the zig zag path down, and it was framed nicely by the 1940s bridge that spanned the main road high above. What a pleasure to test the legs on the tight turns and the steep climb back up the far side. Varied crops battled for supremecy as we squeezed past a fence dividing a modern farm from the old Camino. The thought of herding animals up that challenging climb gave us a new respect for the farmers craft. When we hit the top road it was like a culture clash, seeing how easily modern machinery had carved out the road like a knife through butter. It left us with just a short walk down to San Miguel where cold drinks welcomed us as we refelcted on the many other walks that spilled out among the hills that spread down to the coast.

 

 

 

Don´t Pull Up A Pew, Reach For A Beach In Candelaria

Although perched on a grassy knoll, we were innocent of taking down two Guanche kings. Their absence at the edge of the Basilica Plaza in Candelaria was caused by the constant undermining crash of waves. The gap still looked strange from a steep path curling up behind the church tower but we could see the coast was clear to head south on the Sanmarines trail.

Crumbling mountain edges had to be respected but the way forward was beckoning us to follow. The sea breeze, call of the gulls, and the glint of the ocean induced a feeling of peace and solitude. Tufts of tabaiba plants looked like a green moss from a distance but  closer up they clung to any inviting rock face at the steepest of angles.

Samarines beach had a well trodden track meandering down and up through a small cove. Sprayed by the waves it looked refreshing but big razor sharp rocks lurked not far below the surface. The coast was always close to us but on cresting the next hill, the path ran close to the industrial estate. At one stage a detour to the main road was the best option before cutting down the wider rocky stretch that channelled us down tino Playa de Viuda (Widows Beach) a small fishing hamlet. Weather beaten dwellings seemed to be breathing in away from the  eager grasp of the sea. The tides had clearly knocked on a few doors and even the wooden barriers looked pickled by the salty swell.

Further along, El Socorro welcomed us with its choice of a sandy cove or a wilder surfers beach. In busier times, a couple of shacks, near the mural of the Virgen, would be seling drinks and snacks. Crunching pebbles were denied the pleasure of making their mark on polished boards that were looking to ride the waves. Old low level crumbling homes blended in as lava marked the start of the Malpais de Guimar. We were a mere 10,000 years late for the volcanic flow but picked our way along paralell to the sea. Our  gratitude to the dedicated path maker s soared with each step.

El Puertito de Guimar was getting nearer as the sea served up increasing driftwood. looking inland we could see the motorway linking Santa Cruz with the south, and Montaña Grande spreading to the junction up to the historic heart of Guimar in the hills. As we left the lava behind, young explorerswere led by family over the threshold to sample the legacy of the past ages. It´s hard not to be inspired by the dramatic intrusion from beneath the earth.

Twin Peaks, Terraces, And Tiles As Ifonche Drops In On Arona

Tilling the chalky volcanic soil may have looked like a thankless task but the beauty emerging through the haze of a calima was priceless. The mineral rich jable plays a big part in producing the distinctive wines of Vilaflor and the other crops of Tenerife. It´s a great insulator and keeps the  warmth in the ground

The mountain peaks dominating the skyline added to the welcome as we got off the 482 Titsa bus from the south via Arona town, before spotting our 3 km stroll into Ifonche. It wasn´t just the air that was dry, cracked, and broken, roof tiles popped up above cactus and crops. Closer inspection at the edge of the roads showed a jumble of pipes and troughs spreading the valuable water.

One man who strolled these tracks as a young goat herd was Hermano Pedro. A shrine to the Vilaflor born wanderer, had a clear drinking water source and a shelter for reflection. Nature struck a chord with Pedro who later became a missionary in Guatemala, and ultimately became the Canary Islands only Saint. Modern travellers to Ifonche can find a restaurant and bar bearing the local lads name on the early stages of the walk.

Caves abound in these hills, just beyond a large hewn dwelling, a sign pointed to El Refugio, another popular eating place, sitting on the lip of a ravine strewn  with conflicting signs about directions and privacy. Casting our eyes up and beyond to an old ruin at the foot of the smaller peak, it was possible to trace the path backwards and through the mix of bushes and stone steps through the ravine. Aiming to the left of the elevated ruin kept us well away from the modern conversion that stands on private land in the opposite direction.

We emerged between the peaks of Imoque and Los Brezos and in a huge threshing circle. To the left the valley plunged but a wooden railed fence coaxed us round the tight downward turns overlooking the barranco far below. Roque del Conde loomed ahead with terraced fields cascading down our inside track to Arona town. Our path was gentler and brought us out on the more familiar side of Roque del Conde. The table top showed the face that looks down on Los Cristianos.

One more down and up weave through Barranco del Rey and Arona town was in sight, 6 kms and nearly four hours from the start. Cold drinks at the Atletico Arona bar just before the bus stop gave us time to reflect on a tough but rewarding trip through history, nature,  and culture.

 

Budding Stars Battle For Peak Positions In Santiago Del Teide

Just as the leg muscles began to pinch and the Santiago Del Teide church shrunk below us, Mount Teide served up its snowy reward. Pink and white almond blossom had already made its slightly subdued greeting high above Tenerife´s north west coast.

The Almond Blossom Walk is not an excat science, the weather always makes it  difficult to predict the perfect time to enjoy one of several routes that emanate from the church plaza. With Teide making its bow, nature stood to attention. More trees cascaded with colour, pines danced along the ridges of hills, and young eager buds were ready to join the party over the next few weeks.

Many people had already made their mid week devotion when me and my friends arrived from the south on the 460 Titsa bus just after 1 pm. Bars and restaurants had pink and white trim to show that they were selling almond influenced tapas and meals. A near full reservoir was our first landmark as we started to match the rise of the hills shielding Masca from the road to Icod and the north.

Gurgling water channels and rocky, well marked paths introduced us to more bursting bushes of blooms before we turned off to the Chinyero clearing. A miracle was declared when placing the statue of the Virgen from the local church stopped the lava in its tracks during the 1909 eruption. That solidified magma was now our path and a natural compliment to the other wonders. The wild shapes and twists of the rocks reflected the power and the glory that spilled forth from the bowels of Tenerife in that frightening last roar from the volcano.

Even when we reached the forest section of our circular walk, Teide was determined not to be out done by the majestic pines that thrive on the mineral rich soil. Seeing the contrasting aspects of nature thriving in such harsh conditions was a great inspiration and a calming influence.

We had to pay our dues for such an enriching afternoon, Arguayo village was in sight but the signs pointing down either side of private farming land heralded one last test of changing terrain. Experience had taught me they shared similar surfaces of small rocks and stones that tried to force the pace on a steep decline. A careful, steady descent and we completed our stroll in just under four hours and ready for cold drinks at the Tropic Bar in the village. An eight euro taxi ride won the nod over a 45 minute road hike down to complete the circle to our Santiago Del Teide start point and the 6.30 pm bus to Las Americas and all points south.