Archive for the 'Walking' Category
Abades Perfects The Art Of Surprise

How do you trump the forlorn concrete shells of a leper colony that was sidelined by a cure ? Abades on Tenerife´s east coast always has other rare finds to enjoy, and lived up to its reputation on a cloudy day of short showers. The natural beach had attracted plenty of divers and snorkellers but our walking muscles were heading along the coast to Arico and the Punta de Abona lighthouse. Looking inland to the TF 1 motorway I got a better view of the new purple paint job on the power pipes that skirt the road. Just a simple idea but it must make it easier to trace any breaks or problems with drones, and a nice contrast to the white wind turbines.

A mini library made of recycled wood destracted me from the worn track as extreme cyclists hopped over the rocks leading down to the sea. Up ahead more creations made use of tiles, ropes, and toys. The artist behind these quirky additions spared some time to explain her philosophy of breathing new life into old discarded items. The natural erosion of some rock forms blended in with the more modern arrivals on the shore. Even the sea seemed to be joining in the challenge, large swirls of sea weed were swarming and mutating as they rode on the breaking waves.

Taking a lower path that skimmed the sea edge opened new views inland, the beach had always been popular on previous visits, but caution should be your guide as it can show the other side of its character at a moments notice. Punta de Abona had been suggested as a sight for a new hotel a few years ago, thankfully that plan hit the rocks, ensuring more sea bound views and a choice of tracks to head a little inland before sweeping back to the main Abades beach via the colony buildings. Despite security patrols, the lure of the old structures showed signs of new curiosity and new graffiti.

Back at the beach plaza of Abades, the few cafes there were proving popular as the sun made a stronger claim for control of the weather. From the motorway, Abades looks unchanging but there´s always something new to see. It´s a good place to enjoy nature at a relaxed and creative pace. A couple of days after this walk, the east coast of Tenerife from Candelaria down through Arico to Guimar was hit by sporadic 4 metre high waves, with some people being evacuated temporarily. A timely reminder of the delicate balance between the elements.


Going Nuts For The Tenerife Almond Blossom

Bursting with colour, and complimented with tasty tapas, the annual almendras en flor (almonds in flower) walk from Santiago del Teide to Arguayo, is weaving its spell again and showing that the Santa Cruz Carnaval in Tenerife´s capital city is not the only must see attraction of the spring.

The official programme covers 29 January to 2 March but there´s a big overlapping season of buds, new growth, and bough straining almonds waiting to be harvested. On my latest pilgramage, the mid week procession of visitors allowed plenty of free space for those ooh and aah moments at the turn of each track and the cresting of each hill. This year 19 bars and restaurants in the main street of Santiago del Teide were serving almond influenced snacks and meals, I just had time for a tasty almond tart with my coffee (hot chocolate is another drink option) at Bar Soto, opposite the tourist information office, and the striking white church.

Lower down at the southern entrance to Santiago del Teide, long term traffic works had left the Fuente de La Viren short walk up to a small religious shrine, isolated, but the blossom created a respectful arch over the old walkway. Pink and white banners fluttered along the main street of the town, and there was a healthy selection of walkers congregating at various food and drink outlets. The relative chill of the morning complemented the clear blue sky and the joy of dipping into natures treasure trove of colours and textures.

The sheer scale of the blossom is a wonder to behold, at their peak, they look enchanting but the young buds are always jostling for their upcoming time on the centre stage. On this visit there was a good balance of the fully grown and those waiting in the wings. Organised groups and tours are available during the main stretch of the season, see , or you can go alone, just take the usual precautions of good clothing and stout shoes. At the full stretch, it´s a good four hours from start to finish. The top end of the walk in Arguayo includes a tricky, steep, walk down over small shifting granules of rock, and the 461 Titsa bus back down to Santiago del Teide is not always reliable – cue a steep main road walk upwards before dipping down in a tight spiral to the main road into Santiago del Teide. There are a couple of bars in Arguayo and they can whistle up a taxi for you – otherwise it´s an extra chunk of walking, back down to the south entrance of Santiago.


In between the two extremes of the walk, there are many easier choices to be made, you can retrace your steps back to the church square, take a signed detour to Chinyero, the site of the 1909 earhquake, or crunch your way along the spine of the now solid lava flow. Don´t forget that up in Santiago del Teide it´s usually a lot cooler than the coastal regions, so come prepared. Even when the blossom has melted away, it´s a good walk in any season – allow a good four hours for a leisurely pace and snack stops.


Taucho And La Quinta Swirl High Above Adeje

Fine mist, whispy low clouds, and paths that stretch out like tentacles. There was plenty to admire as paragliders peppered the sky on their way down to the south coast of Adeje in Tenerife.

Choices abounded in this part of the island as many small groups of walkers followed the thin water pipes that nestled beside the chunky stone pathways. From the south coast of Tenerife via an upward road beyond Los Menores widened the horizons for small groups of walkers as we started our exploring from the church in La Quinta.

There were plenty of other small groups up ahead following the thin water pipes that nestled beside chunky stone pathways. It´s possible to do a mammoth nine hour walk up from an entrance next to the pay to walk Barranco del Invierno in Adeje town, circling high in the hills before veering back down to Ifonche and the old town again. Having recently done a big stomp up the lower reaches, we headed through the well worn route that headed in the direction of the launch spots for the flyers.

A gentle breeze enhanced the feel of solitude and tradition as lush green ferns and dominant pines spread to the horizon. The early buds of almond blossom hinted at a vast white and pink explosion to come in February. It was quite testing on the feet but there were interesting diversions like the bee keeping hives, and some bold advice for walkers not to answer their most basic calls out in the wild.

As the path reared upward, sheer drops revealed more of the coast and an even bigger gathering of gliders. It was a busy intersection as walkers of many nationalities sussed out their chosen headings. Sadly a few days after this walk, it was reported that an elderly glider pilot crashed and had to be rescued by the emergency services and flown to hospital.

The landscape was ever changing as old farm houses and dwellings gave way to more modern updates, crops changed with the seasons, and weather. Many paths converged close to each other at certain points but there were plenty of signs and worn paths to steer people in their chosen direction. There were a few sprinklings of rain on this outing, a reminder of how quickly conditions can change. It´s definately an area that calls you back to try some of the other trails that spin off from the main route.


Hidden Skills Of Araya, High Above Candelaria

Below us, a basilica worshipped by thousands, alongside us, a barranco that skirted the basement of Guimar valley, and around us, inspired intrusions of modern living. Araya was welcoming and a great choice starting with a steep uphill drive from the motorway. With such a choice of walks radiating from Araya we hit the trail heading up from Araya plaza and its small church, boasting an outside post box set up for requests to the Three Kings for the Reyes celebrations.

Los Brezos seemed as a good a choice as any for a heading. It was steep from the start but the locals took it in good cheer so that seemed a wise mode to adopt. This was another walking hot spot that I hadn´t visited for many years, and it looked wonderful.

Ingenious use had been made of old baths, and the creative twirls on the edge of a patio would have made my old metalwork teacher forgive me for my pitiful efforts. A wine press hinted at liquid rewards for the earlier pioneers.

Further up the trail, the views offered several choices of direction but a circular sweep seemed the best plan as the route headed upwards. The barranco (ravine) below had the remains of old cave houses hewn into the sides. On a hot sunny day like this it had its big plus points but the bad season rains must have been testing to say the least.

Beauty sprouted at every oportunity. with past hard work and tough lessons lurking not far behind. Taking the down turn, the more modern farms rose from the lower layers as the start point came into view after nearly three hours of testing walking. There´s plenty of variations to lure me back, and more memories to revive as the lower slopes spread into Guimar.

Going With The Flow On Chio Lava Trail

Mount Teide was not the only volcanic peak trying to catch the eyes of walkers in the Tenerife municipality of Guia de Isora. The aftermath of 1909´s youngest eruption on the island had scorched a series of tracks as nature added plants and trees to the landscape. Just a few yards in and the scale and beauty of the walk ahead became clear.

After parking on the TF38 hard shoulder opposite a wide flat path past a locked barrier ensuring foot only access, there were several choices of direction and length. The ground crunched underfoot as we entered the canopy of green leaves with clear blue skies and tantalising glimpses of towering rock formations. There was a good scattering of people enjoying the challenge, with an international  range of voices. For me it was a return to a walk I first did over 10 years ag0 – a mere blink of the eye by natures measure.

There was no skimping on the variety of the walk, it seemed that every flat clearing offered multiple choices of up, down, steep, flat, or open air options. I always praise the upkeep of the walks around Tenerife, this one must make severe demands on its protectors, and they had it all on top form without watering down the raw assault of pleasures. Signs kept walkers informed while reinforcing the respect needed to ensure all age groups could be safe and delighted at the same time. Fallen or damaged trees also had their part to play, blending in to contrast the strong survivors.

As the trees thinned out, more sneak previews of the main lava flow came into view. The last eruption in Tenerife was in 1909 down to Chinyero, before it was halted by a statue of the virgin that was placed in its path – and hailed as a miracle. It didn´t stop the trees from marching defiantly through the flow, a sight that can observed amid the annual almond blossom walks in Santiago del Teide, late February into March. The back leg of this Chio walk offered a reverse look at the solid lava, it looks stunning from any direction.

This circular Chio stroll took three leisurely hours, there are a few natural sheltered rest and food spots and always plenty of treats for the eyes. It´s a classic way to embrace the contrasts of the landscape and not too punishing on the legs – several family groups were walking with young children.



Making Tracks High Above Vilaflor

A few weeks earlier, the threat of wild fires wafted over Vilaflor. Now a short two week hop away from christmas, all was serene and beautiful with a gentle breeze wafting through the air, making my senses tingle with pleasure. Mount Teide had shaken off a recent dusting of snow, and the surrounding fields of vines had begun to give up this years bounty of wine.

Stomping up the steep service road from the top of the village, between the Hotel Spa Vilalba and the football ground, it soon opened out into a wide trail with views down over the tree tops. Sticking to the right is the key when faced with the early choice of directions, and it led past an old white pumping station. From there it was over a well worn path that rose gently to a stunning vista as a carpet of green tree tops swayed gently.

This is a popular route and the paths are well defined even as the odd bit of natures debris intervenes. The descent from the sheer drop over the pine valley winds slowly through shade, even the trunks of the trees have a story to tell. Previous fires have left scorch marks, but nature is resilient and fresh growths were bursting forth.

One of the trickiest sections is the lower descent weaving betwwen trunks over a surface of fine dry needles, but there is no hurry and the updated pumping plant where the open reservoir once sparkled is still the point to aim at. Catching our breath and soaking up the restful surroundings was preparation for the steep trail that winds up and around to the lower end of Vilaflor village.

Even on a perfect weather day, the walk was fairly quiet, we passed a few other walkers but there was always a calm serenity about the setting. Even the yomp back up the main road to our entry point via a local watering hole, was a pleasure with such sights ahead of us.

Fasnia Moves Into A New Lane Of Progress

Two huge spits of rock attract fleeting curiosity half way up the motorway that links Los Cristianos to Santa Cruz – especially recently when they were partly covered. Walking the 6 km descent from Fasnia old town (see previous post) to the coast was tweaking my interest to fever pitch as the tight turns of the modern road revealed my familiar coastal refuelling point for CD Tenerife home games.

A flurry of work in the lower reaches showcased a new botanical garden being installed to admire plants and insects. An all action sculpture of Canarian wrestling made an informative focal point, and nearer the walkway under the motorway, an old water train showed how the life giving liquid was extracted from underground galleries. Preserving the past is high on the agenda with subtle changes being incorporated.


Emerging from the road tunnel, brought views of the black sand granules of Playa del Arico, and Playa Los Roques to rival the two rocky outcrops of Los Roques on the southern side of the cafe restaurants. There is much to stop and admire in this area as most of the traffic roars by unaware of the history of the gems below. Birds were swooping over the rocks, guardians of their colony. There is a small community of fishing families below the eye level of most visitors, and a transformation had just taken place.

The two beaches used to be linked but crumbling rocks and neglect kept the old houses and church hewn into the cliff, largely unoticed. Now it is possible to stroll around the edge of the biggest beach and onto the far beach, following newly concreted paths with wooden stair rails to ensure safe distance from the larger waves. The facelift has made it neater without changing the charm of the area, and a colourful mural from Roberto Rodriguez guides walkers from one gem of a view to another, complete with rock stacks and a small promenade.

The bigger beach is partly protected by rocky guardians but can still be prone to the odd roque wave. A hi tech safety capsule ca be quickly thrown into the sea from its holding post and expands into a flotation device. Perhaps the biggest change of all is about to happen, a new urbanisation of 40,000 square metres is proposed just inland from the beaches. Hopefully it can breathe new life into the area whilst keeping the character and history intact.


A Blessing Of Churches For Fasnia

Was the coast clear? Divinely so as the modern road flexed and wound down towards the eastern aspect of Tenerife. I had the perfect viewing point at the small ermita church on Fasnia mountain.

In my wake I had left the neat historical heart of the municipality with barrancos (ravines) parting the fertile land. Nature had left its mark over the centuries and in recent weeks the wild fires that swept Tenerife had raged too close for comfort. But Fasnia is a place with an eye on the future as well as a deep respect for the past.

Where the quiet back streets intersected, the Ayuntamiento (council) building stood proud opposite an eco agricultural centre. A poster proudly displayed an impressive range of locally grown potatoes, very timely as a potato shortage  was currently gripping the island due to colorado beetles hitching a ride on the small number of imported spuds from Egypt and Israel.

Further down towards the modern church of San Joaquin, a large park, and play area was receiving a blue modern coating to encourage young sports fans. The plaza surrounding the church was also a bustling social area with a bar and outside seating. The local football ground claimed a dynamic vista overlooking the sea in the distance to further enhance the charm.

From my lofty perch at the ermita it looked like a time curtain divided the view to the west as the Arico wind turbines whirred at a frantic pace. My downward gaze prepared me for the 6 km walk I was to undertake towards the coast. My brief visit had shown me solid roots of an established community, but I was soon to find that local pride was making a big splash on the other side of the motorway.

Stairways To Heavenly Views On Rambla De Castro Walk

Cathedrals of rock rose steeply from secluded beaches, and the few people chosing to dip their toes certainly earned their reward by threading their way through old plantations, and past mirador viewing points, defended in the past with canons. My starting point for the Rambla de Castro was only a small trial and error challenge through entry points close to Puerto de la Cruz but worth every step. Notices warning of rock falls were nearly all breached at various points just beyond Playa Jardin, Punta Brava, Loro Parque, and two old tall pastel coloured hotels. The best entry route was between the two modern La Romantica housing complexes.

Playa Los Roques spread out below as the foaming tide tickled the secluded rock stacks, the insistent roll of the waves was almost like nature itself breathing. My feet didn´t quite share that notion as I followed the twisting track down to a large protrusion with a tight walkway wrapped around it. On the far side, seagulls dived and swirled as I ducked my head to pass under an archway carved out by the tide. Retracing my steps up to the higher road, a modest commercial estate soon gave way to the resumption of the high coastal ledge.

The long view ahead soon revealed rising green terraces inland, and more secrets below. Despite these competing charms, it was the bizarre ruin of the Gordejuela water pumping station that caught my eye. Dating back to 1909, it had seen better days, and had been partly stripped, a compact modern water station mocked the remains from a high perch. A small mirador viewing point was a good point for reflection, a smart, modern walkway, complete with safety rails led up and beyond into Los Realejos, and up the other side of the ravine and beyond up the coast.

The carpenters devotion to the wandering staircases served me well as I ventured further up the coast where more miradors sprouted at key points. These were great to view the small coves below. Mirador El Fortin was one of the smaller look outs but packed a punch in its day from some small but potent canons. It was a baking hot afternoon and several groups of young people were answering the call of the waves. I was moving along the cliff tops and then back inland to a point where several paths converged just by the leafy shade of a plantation.

The grand old house , La Casona, stood proud but in need of some attention, that was granted a few days later in the form of a 8 million euro, 2 year restoration programme announced by the Tenerife government and the local municipality, Los Realejos. A multitude of paths veered off from this point, I was looking to move on into San Juan de La Rambla but emerged quite a way short on the main road linking La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz with Icod de Los Vinos. My Titsa bus ticket allowed me a few other stop off on a unhurried return to the south, there were plenty of variations left for another trip soon.




Delving Into A Tenerife Barranco That Coloured Commerce

A 460 metres drop from a modern concrete bridge gave me a tempting reminder of the Barranco La Orchilla ravine as it snaked its way down from Granadilla to San Miguel. It was a relatively cool June day as the Titsa bus delivered me further uphill to the basic Granadilla bus station from my Los Cristianos start. Now for the fun part as I retraced the bus wheels before begining a spiralling trek into the ravine,  pushing the bridge to the edge of my vision as my feet tried to be nimble among the loose stones and trailing ferns.

The top half of the walk was a split of modern concrete and an untamed growth of long grass and remains of cereal crops trailing away to the sun kissed coast of El Medano. Charco del Pino provided a delightful interuption as I walked up to the mirador view point behind the small church of San Luis Rey de Francia. The spread of stone dwellings and a steep walkway down to a smaller point of reflection over the largely unchanged views harked back to the importance of the Camino Real royal route that spread commerce between Granadilla and the south.

The barranco a few yards beyond was the big draw for me. A well worn path teased me along at a gentle descent before opening up to the steeper sides and  and uneven surfaces. Even the air seemed to change, warmer and full of the buzz of insects, many flies took a closer interest in me in small swarms – fair play as I was disturbing their world. Lichens are a big star in the Tenerife barrancos, clinging to precarious rocks in an array of green and yellow shades. Cochineal insects living on cactus plants put the Canary Islands on the rag trade map in the 19th century, secreting natural colour dyes, but lichens weren´t far behind and also boosted trade.

The small plant like life lichens clung to every rock and bush, and around me down in the bowl of the barranco. Their value has long been replaced with artificial colourings but they still live in happy retirement in the more remote areas of Canarian land. Cactus flowers speckled my progress down the steep side before I hit rock bottom where soft echoes of bird song added to the serene feel. Having done the walk before, my eyes soon found the outline of the upward trail to the lip of the ravine. This ascent brought its own challenges as powder dry earth filtered away under foot. Looking back from the other side of the track confirmed my appreciation of nature´s alluring mix.

Meanwhile up top, the modern road curled the long way through high sided rock faces which were drilled out mechanically in recent time of expansion in Tenerife. The barking of dogs told me that there were small farms at the top of the ravine side, rural areas still feature many variations on old pursuits. Cresting the hill, a choice of gravel tracks leading to the modern main road meant my feet would soon get some rest. The margins are tight for walkers using these driving routes so caution and agility are useful. Even in this final stretch there was another joy in the sculpted shape of hunting dogs, a fitting link to a still popular past time.

San Miguel was just a few more strides away with its choice of bars and cafes to quench the first from the two hour escapade. As always, it was a pleasure to dip into the heritage of Tenerife to discover how hard work propelled the local economy.