On The Trail Of The Vilaflor Pine

When you turned your water taps on this afternoon I bet you were blissfully unaware that my rather sweaty bottom was resting on a deliciously cool main water pipe running down through the Vilaflor valley. It was just a short shade, food and cold drink break on another enjoyable walk into the green and welcoming interior of Tenerife.

The regular Saturday morning walkers were down to the bare bones, just four of us in all, but eager and willing to test ourselves against another scorching sun and clear blue sky. Driving up from Los Cristianos we stopped off for a coffee at a small cafe on a tight bend in Ifonche, the day was just getting into its stride and keen motorcyclists were buzzing up the hill headed for Teide national park. Onward up through La Escalona and around the village of Vilaflor, we parked up by the football ground looking down on the main road that heads on to Teide. There was a busy cultural fair Comarcal del Sur in the ground complete with workshops, gymkhana, music and sport, but we had a route to march.

Up past the first of many water reservoirs, we found the steep track carving its way between an army of tall pine trees. the buzz of the fairs P.A was joined by the hum of an overhead helicopter but that soon faded and the tranquil air was our only companion. To one side we could see the terraced hills, closer examination revealed the hard work and skill that had gone into making the walls that protect the fields from the winds and erosion. As the path rose and twisted there was also admiration for those who maintain the walks, large stones mark the boundaries and sawn off logs held in by metal pins make some of the corner turns a little safer underfoot.

Reaching a rocky cliff the pine forest fell away below and to one side we could see the ocre red soil that gives the mountain and walk its distinctive flavour. Pine cones like footballs littered the trail as we took a downward turn and glimpsed the large reservoir through the tree tops. Zig zagging down some testing terrain we found our shady resting spot for a breather, not only could I feel the coolness of the water in the pipe I sat on, I could also hear it rushing through at a fair pace. The Spaghetti Junction of pipes and control valves further round made me appreciate what goes into spilling water into my bath for my rubber duck.

Refreshed we moved on and it seemed all uphill again now, turning the brow of a hill we found a remote rural house, the owners, with slumbering guard dog nearby, told us the main part was 130 years old. The side add ons sported solar panels, enough to supply all electrical needs and with Vilaflor as a garden it was pretty impressive. Attacking the last stage we crossed dry barrancos but deep gashes in the main path showed where the last heavy rain had ripped through, one last rise and we were back at the main road.

The walk had seemed more ups than downs but we came out 2 kms down the hill from our starting point at a rough track by Km17, before the turn off to the start of the village. a determined effort, and a cold drink stop, got us up the steep road side lined with tajinaste plants bristling with bees and back to the last remnants of the cultural fair. The whole walk had taken just under 4 hours and was packed with more natural evidence of the diversity of Tenerife.