Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Coast to Coast through the Anaga Mountains

Coast viewed from the path to Chinamada from Punta Del Hidalgo

Last week, I hiked a two day 'coast to Coast route from the northern side of the Anaga Mountain range to the coast on southern side. Starting in Punta del Hidalgo, I climbed in superb scenery through the Barranco del Rio to the cave-house village of Chinamada, around two thousand feet above. 

The start of the path in Punta del Hidalgo

Heading into the Barranco

On the path to Chinamada

The village is a fascinating relic of a past way of life and although the cave houses now have electricity and some even have satellite dishes, it still retains an atmosphere of a bygone age. After a short break by the 'modern' church in the plaza, I followed a beautiful path towards Las Carboneras and enjoyed the stunning views across the Barranco de Tomadero to the tiny hamlet of Batan on the other side of this vast valley. At the top of a path called Las Escaleras, I stopped to refill my water bottle at a fountain by the side of the path, which proved vital later in the trip, and descended into Las Carboneras. 

Cave Houses in Chinamada

Las Carboneras & Roque Taborno

In the Barranco de Taborno

Here, I took a path across the Barranco de Taborno which meandered along on some delightful forest paths before climbing very steeply up into Taborno village. Leaving Taborno, the path rounded a corner and I was suddenly confronted by the awesome spectacle of the Afur Valley framed by the incongruous sight of a line of washing drying in a nearby garden and, deciding that this was probably the most scenic washing line in the world, reached for my camera. 

The worlds most scenic washing line

Descending into the Afur Valley

Descending steeply, I arrived in the village of Afur before beginning the steep climb out of the other side. My plan was to get as far as my legs would allow for the day although I needed to get to the Casa Forestal on the TF12 road on top of the Anaga ridge as I had read that there was water available and I would need to top up  my supplies again. 

Ascending from the Afur Valley

After a long, tiring climb I reached the Casa Forestal but was dismayed to find that the information I had read on the internet was wrong, or out of date. I checked my supply and discovered I still had 1.5 litres so decided I would have to make do with what I had. It was now getting into the early evening and I still had to find somewhere to pitch my tent but having crossed the TF12 and begun descending into the forest again, I was concerned that the ground was too steep for camping. As I descended further, a sudden opening in the forest gave me a superb surprise view down to Santa Cruz, my eventual destination the following day. A short distance further along I managed to find a level clearing in the trees where I could pitch my tent. 

First View of Santa Cruz

My Campsite in the woods

Having set-up camp, I cooked my meal and settled down for a pleasantly relaxing evening listening to music and the sounds of the birds in the trees. The following morning, I packed up early and began my descent down to Valle Brosque. The weather was cool and there was a little light rain but as the path emerged from the forest, I was confronted by a stunning view of Teide rising above the serrated Anaga mountain ridges. 

Teide rises above the Anaga Mountains

The vast volcano was lit up by the early morning sun and I stood for a while admiring this awesome view. My plan was to descend to Valle Brosque before climbing back up into the mountains a little and then contouring along a path following a water channel, which passed through some tunnels. The area around Valle Brosque was superb, a real ‘lost world’ of towering mountains, deep ravines, trickling streams and waterfalls, all set to the deafening soundtrack of hundreds of croaking frogs and the more melodious sound of birdsong. It was here that I managed to find more water.

Frog in Valle Brosque

Desecending to Valle Brosque

After climbing back up to around 1700ft, I located the path along the water channel and this is where my plan fell apart. A sign blocking the path warned of landslides and toxic fumes in the tunnels. This rather threw a spanner in the works so I continued to climb all of the way back up to the road I had crossed the previous evening. I knew that if I reached the road I could follow it to the Pico del Ingles mirador and pick up a pathway down though the Barranco Seco to Valleseco and the seafront at Santa Cruz. 

Descending in the Barranco Seco

In the Barranco Seco

The climb back up to the road was a real drag but not as bad as walking along the road, which seemed to go on forever. Having reached the stunning Pico del Ingles mirador, I picked up the path and descended into the beautiful Barranco Seco after which, I followed the road through Valleseco to the seafront in Santa Cruz. In all, over the two days, I walked 40 kilometres but more significantly, ascended 8,900ft and descended 9,240ft. I walked for 7.75 hours on the first day and 7 hours on the second.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Teide and the Canal de Vergara

Start of the Teide path

This week, I completed a two day hike starting on the Teide path before crossing the Las Canadas National Park and descending into the pine forest and finishing in Chio in the west of the island. Starting out on the Montaña Blanca - Teide path, I followed the route uphill for a short distance to around the 8,200ft mark where a path veers right to the visitor centre at El Portillo, which I followed for a few moments before leaving this for a path to La Forteleza. 

Heading for La Forteleza

This red coloured 'cliff' is a surviving section of the northern caldera wall, the rest having been destroyed during the formation of the current peak, Teide. Having climbed to the shrine on the summit of the Degollada del Cedro pass, I made my way to the Fuente de Mesa mirador where I had stunning views of the 'Mar de Nubes', or sea of clouds and the Orotava Valley. 

La Forteleza

The view from here was quite breathtaking and I had to stop to simply absorb the scene that resembled a frozen 'cotton wool' ocean hanging suspended above the pine forest. Although I had seen similar views in the past, this vantage point proved to be probably the best I have ever seen. 

The shrine on the Degollada del Cedro

Descending to a fire tower in the forest I then followed the Canal de Vergara water channel for many miles, sometimes walking on top of it, at others on a track alongside. This important water channel carries water from the Barranco de Vergara in the north to the south of the island and at around a metre in width, is wide enough to walk on. 

Mirador Fuente de Mesa

Most of the time on this section, I had stupendous views of Teide in all of it's towering splendour as I followed the channel for some hours before camping in a clearing next to the water channel to give me access to water. 

My campsite

Teide and the Canal de Vergara

Continuing the trek the following day, I set off in beautiful sunshine in the quiet of the early morning, again with beautiful views overlooking the Orotava Valley and the sea of clouds, and followed the water channel for many miles, often having to push past bushes blocking my way. 

Early morning over the Orotava Valley

By now, the views of Teide were behind me and I made a point of stopping occasionally to admire the ever impressive sight of the magnificent volcano. Eventually, I left the water channel and began climbing up through the forest towards the TF38 Chio-Teide road. 

Following the water channel

Rounding a bend, I was presented with one of the most stunning views of the entire trip when below me lay Montana Chinyero, the site of the last eruption on Tenerife in 1909, as well as Pico de Gala, easily identified by the masts on it's summit, and the island of La Palma on the horizon. 

Montaña Chinyero, Pico de Gala & La Palma

After a very long trek on a wide forest pista, I eventually reached the TF38 and followed it for a short distance before descending a very rough, volcanic path into Chio. 

Teide and Pico Viejo near the TF38

In all, I walked 55.75 kilometres, climbed 1,385 metres, descended 3,020 metres, walking for 8.5 hours on the first day and 7.75 hours on the second. 

Map of the route

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Climbing the caldera

Teide & Mt.Guajara from the caldera rim

One of the advantages of living in Tenerife is that it is possible to decide what type of walk you want to do, pick an area and within a short space of time, find yourself enjoying exactly the type of walking you want, such is the diversity of the terrain. This happened to me recently when I decided on a fairly strenuous high altitude mountain hike, so I drove for around three quarters of an hour to the Las Lajas campsite and recreation zone above Vilaflor for a hike onto the caldera rim.

Climbing through the pines to the caldera rim

The walk initially followed a path that was new to me, which ran below the TF21 Teide road before passing underneath it via a tunnel to the small parking area by the ruins of Casas de Fuentes Frias. From here, there are a couple of paths leading above the pines to the the caldera rim path and the dome-like Sombrero de Chasna outcrop.

Looking towards the south coast

I was fortunate to have picked a fantastic clear day with blue skies and little wind and I enjoyed the ever expanding views as I climbed quickly to the open ground above the trees. Being familiar with the path from the National Parador in the National Park, which runs along the caldera rim to Sombrero de Chasna before descending to Las Lajas, I have always wondered if it was possible to continue along the rim of the caldera in a westerly direction.

Sombrero de Chasna

Having reached almost 8,000ft, Teide made a dramatic appearance over the edge of the caldera and I stopped for a while to enjoy the views into the National Park far below.  Turning left along the edge, I continued to enjoy the stunning scenery as I followed a narrow but mostly clear path heading towards El Sombrerito, a prominent mountain above the Boca de Tauce road junction at the southern entrance to the park.

Teide appears above the caldera rim

After around half an hour along this path, I suddenly came to an abrupt halt as the ridge I was on ended at a series of serious looking crags and the ground dropped away steeply on both sides. It was clear that I wouldn't be going any further in this direction so I had a short break before turning round and heading back the way I had come. Having returned, I descended slightly before climbing onto Sombrero De Chasna. The view from the summit is somewhat disappointing as the top is a large plateau, which obscures all but the more distant views.

The view from the caldera rim

Leaving the summit, I descended into a valley and once again entered the pine forest for further fantastic views to the south coast as I made my way back to the Casas de Fuente Frias. Eventually, I arrived back at the Las Lajas campsite where I was alerted to the presence of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in a pine tree above. I stopped to watch for a while as the hollow 'rattle' of it's pecking echoed around before returning to my car after a wonderful five hour walk in spectacular mountain scenery. To download a GPS track of the walk, click on the 'Wikiloc' symbol below

Saturday, 7 February 2015

A hike to the Fuente Madre del Agua waterfall

Blue Chaffinch

One thing I miss about walking in Tenerife is the lack of running water as there are virtually no rivers on the island, so I was interested to read recently about a waterfall in the south of the island high up in the mountains above the village of Vilaflor. The waterfall, which is fed by the Madre del Agua spring, is located in the upper reaches of the Barranco de Las Vegas at an altitude of around 1840 metres. It is possible to drive along the Madre del Agua dirt road to the Madre del Agua campsite from where it is only a short half hour walk to the waterfall but I wanted to make a day of it, so chose to hike along the Paisaje Lunar path from Vilaflor. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Some 2014 Walking Highlights

As 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of the walking highlights from the past twelve months. 

A snowclad Teide seen here on a walk through the Chinyero reserve, site of the last eruption on Tenerife in 1909

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Two Springs Walk

View from Degollada de Ifonche

Summer is not a good time for walkers in Tenerife. The sun is at it's most powerful and this combined with the high temperatures make it very uncomfortable for walking. During this period, I usually plan which walks I want to do during the coming walking season, which I start as soon as the temperatures become a little more bearable, usually in the latter half of October. One of the last walks I did before the weather got too hot was to investigate some newly recovered and signposted paths to two springs in the Ifonche region. I had noticed the signs when walking in the area and took the opportunity to investigate them and in doing so, created a very interesting circular walk. Starting from close to the parapente launch point, at the foot of Roque de Los Bresos, I walked the camino rural before picking up the sign to the Fuente de Las Pilas in the Barranco del Rey. I have crossed the barranco at this point on many occasions in the past but never knew of the existence of the spring until the installation of the signs, so I was grateful to whoever is responsible for them. A pleasant path led me through trees and bushes initally, before descending to the rocky stream bed of the barranco, arriving a short time later at a neatly tended 'garden' surrounding the Fuente de Las Pilas. It was clear that someone was tending to the area around the spring as the plants and flowers were obviously planted and cared for. The spring flowed gently through a three-tiered rock 'water feature' creating a very peaceful and pleasing ambience. Leaving the spring, I continued along the rocky barranco floor to soon reach the top of a very dramatic dry waterfall in the Barranco del Rey. Peering over the edge was very exciting although it may not be to everyones taste as the drop is very sheer but it did give a stunning views into the deep part of the barranco below the El Refugio restaurant. Returning along the barranco, I climbed out and followed the dirt road from the restaurant to the Ifonche road, which I followed to the El Dornajo restaurant. This road is very quiet and largely traffic free so it is a pleasant walk.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Short Walk in Arico

Today, I have been walking in Arico, which is one of my favourite hiking areas on the island. The scenery is truly stunning and whenever I've walked in the area I've usually had it to myself as the region does not seem to be on the radar of the majority of hikers visiting the island.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Pennine Way

Jacob's Ladder

My trip to the UK to walk the Pennine Way last month didn't go exactly to plan. I had intended to walk the whole route but a number of problems with my camping equipment, which included a leaking tent caused me to review my plans. I abandoned camping in favour of using guesthouses, which meant that I finished around the halfway point in the tiny village of Keld in Upper Swaledale, as my budget wouldn't extend to using them for the whole route. This, coupled with the difficulty in booking rooms for a single night/person during a bank holiday meant that without the tent, I decided to split the walk into the Pennine Way south and north. I will return to the UK, possibly next year, to complete the northern section. You can find an album of photos taken on the walk HERE and a journal of the walk HERE

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Tenerife in Bloom

Tajinastes in Vilaflor

Recently, I have been training in the Tenerife hills for my imminent Pennine Way hike in the UK by carrying my rucksack weighing around 13 kilos, which is roughly what I'll be carrying on the walk. During my training I have been impressed by the beautiful floral displays I have seen on my walks, which as most of them have been in the south of the island has only highlighted that despite what many people believe, the south of the island is not a barren wasteland, good only for sunbathing or propping up a bar. The area around Vilaflor has been particularly stunning this year, helped no doubt by the rain in the winter and reinforced by a rather late season day of rain a couple of weeks back, which left Teide with a covering of snow in April! The Vilafor/Ifonche region has been a riot of colour with the dominant bloom being the California Poppy, although there have also been plenty of Corn Poppies as well. In the main plaza in the centre of Vilaflor, there were fine displays of the red Tajinastes just coming into bloom when I paid a visit the other day. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Emptying the Bucket List - Walking the Pennine Way

Much as I love day walks, there is something special about doing a multi-day, long distance trail and having completed a number in the UK in the past, including most recently the Coast to Coast walk, I decided it was time for another challenge. In July 2011, I walked the Coast to Coast with a friend who used to live here in Tenerife and we had a great trip, taking 13 days to cover the 190 miles from the Cumbrian coast to the North Yorkshire coast at Robin Hoods Bay.

High Cup Nick in the Pennines

I have had a 'bucket list' of walks I want to complete for many years and decided towards the end of last year that it was time to cross another off and it was the Pennine Way that I turned my attention to.

This National Trail, as the name suggests, stretches for 269 miles along the Pennine hills that form the 'spine' of England, starting at Edale in the Peak District and finishing just across the England/Scotland border at the village of Kirk Yetholm, after a grand finale that consists of a tough 27 mile crossing of the Cheviot Hills.

Once I had made the decision to do the walk, I contacted my friend Alan, who had accompanied me on the Coast to Coast to see if he was interested in joining me. Initially, Alan agreed to join me but later decided that he wasn't fit enough and because of work commitments, wouldn't have the time to do any training, which means that my trip has now became a solo one.

I have previously walked the Coast to Coast route solo in 1998 so have experience of spending time in the hills alone, so I wasn't too phased by Alan's decision. When walking these trails, they take on a life of their own and for a couple of weeks, you become totally absorbed in the day to day trials that the walk throws at you, including weather and fatigue, among others. For me though, the fascination with walking a trail such as this is the feeling of being totally immersed in the countryside and this feeling is magnified by being alone.

After doing some research, I decided to start the walk in May as statistically, May & June enjoy the best weather in the Pennines, although of course, there are no guarantees. I will be setting off from Edale in the Peak District on May 14th with the intention of camping as often as possible, partly to keep the cost down but also to increase the feeling of being a part of my surroundings. I am aiming to complete the walk in 16 days, plus one rest day, although this is flexible to take into account unforeseen circumstances.

Because of the terrain I will be passing through, I will often be out of range of a mobile or wi-fi signal, but whenever I can, I will be updating my 'Tenerife Rambler' Facebook  page with my progress, for anyone that is interested.