Soaring Upwards At Roque Del Conde The Guardian Of South Tenerife

Maybe it’s the sheared summit effect that earns Roque del Conde the nickname of table top mountain but I like to think it’s due to the feast of views offered from the top, either way I was ready for another serving. Sitting in a café in Los Cristianos gazing up is one way to enjoy the folds and shades that change hourly and seasonally but there’s nothing like the bite in the leg muscles as you curl your way around the popular route.

It was nice to show off my favourite stroll to my visiting friend Francine, the morning couldn’t have looked more perfect as we caught the 480 Arona bus and emerged a short hop from the Plaza del Cristo de la Salud. It’s quite a gathering point for walkers with four main routes well sign posted, and a nice little leaflet (Arona Rural) available from tourist offices, both in several languages. Striking out across the main road and down the dirt track to the El Vento area we came to the path down through a small gorge and up over the old iron water pipes. What a greeting, the landscape spread out far ahead with a old viaduct spanning the horizon and several other smaller mountains offering homage to our destination. Ahead of us little groups of walkers were noticeable in the distance as the sun poured its warmth over us.

The first big test was the Barranco del Rey, a deep ravine, we took the steep winding pathway down to the dry river bed. Hidden from the sun it was cool with a little bit of echo that carried the clanking bells of a herd of goats. Looking up it was just possible to see them making light work of a precarious trail just below the lip of the barranco. Taking the steep ascent up the other side we emerged with a disused threshing circle in our sights and above that an old wreck of a stone cottage. The path we followed was well worn not just by modern walkers but also by ancient farmers who grew cereal crops, not a good place to forget your watering can. The coastal scenery unfolded below us as the path took us around the mountain to a halfway outcrop of rock that made a suitable resting spot to catch up on water and snacks.

The top of the mountain looked within quick reach from here but it was deceptive as the path tightened and twisted and the summit remained elusive. Looking back the views of Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Americas and westward were very rewarding. A few other walkers passed us on their way down with smiles of satisfaction and a renewed spring in their step. Finally the light grass ahead gave way to the plateau, time for a deep breath and a scan of the panoramic views. Remnants of past farming had left a landscape of shallow terraces between low stone walls, tufts of dry grass and thistles were being used as a playground by small birds. Walking around the perimeter brought differing views, Adeje town spread out on one side, Mount Teide shimmered in the distance on another, and plants clung to the side of splintered rock stacks as Barranco del Infierno snaked its way around smaller mountains far below.

Perching back at our entry point we were entertained by para gliders swooping serenely and some cheeky lizards helping to finish off our sarnies and crisps. There were quite a few other people on the plateau, some we had seen earlier in the journey, the different nationalities reflected the international reputation that Arona has as a walkers delight. Return journeys are usually faster but that was offset by the need to not let the incline force our pace, especially on the shifting loose dusty earth. We were being shielded from what little breeze there was so the sun made its presence felt, the halfway stop brought a welcome wafting of cooler air. The cactus plants with their prickly pears became more plentiful as we got lower and there was always the white water trail of the pleasure boats and ferries etching their progress on the sea to distract us.

Barranco del Rey seemed a little easier going back, the walk is well maintained particularly in this barranco where rope and wood rails help to guide walkers down to the floor of the ravine. Painted markings at key points of the route also help to usher the wayward onto the true course, we still nearly missed the crossing point for the small gorge. We hit Arona plaza just over four hours after our start, that was at a leisurely pace, the cold drinks at a small bar were very welcome, Roque del Conde did us proud.