TENERIFE 27th Jan-2nd Feb 2015


The ferry timetable to Gran Canaria didn’t work out for me as I had some shopping to do to keep this blog up and running ( plug adapter and data credit etc) and the later crossings wouldn’t have given me time to complete the first stage. So I had another city day here in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
A big seemingly prosperous city it is too. I had found a cheap room between the bus station and the ferry port in an area near the cultural hotspots.
The first thing that I saw, and heard, was a gleaming red Ferrari throttling past as I stepped out to explore.
Just across the road from the hotel was T.E.A. Tenerife Exposition de Artes a huge modern building housing galleries theatre cinema cafe and the finest 24ht library I’ve ever come across with 1000’s of books, periodicals, movies and music and acres of desked study space.

On my way to the port to get my ticket for tomorrow I admired the amount of space given over to undisturbed street art and graffiti. Just a small selection here.



Even the municipal hoarding around building work at the port was covered in colourful artistic expression.

A very enlightened approach that other cities should adopt. In the book shop at the TEA there had been lots of books on street art, the bulk of it Spanish.
On my return I visited the Museo de La Naturaleza y El Hombre set in 3 stories of a fine old building with a contemporary remodelling. The geographical displays really helped me put my experiences of the different islands into perspective and to understand why they are so varied. A lot of it is to do with their vastly different ages as they erupted into existence from the Canaries hot spot beneath the sea floor. From Fuerteventura in the east 20 million yrs ago to El Hierro in the west only 1.2 million yrs ago they have been weathering and there age accounts for the widening of the ravines.
I learnt how the trade winds bring the low lying humid clouds between 500 and 1500 mt and deposit about 700 litres a square mt. I’m not sure how that compared with western Ireland but I can attest to its wetness. I was able to identify more of the trees I’d been hiking through in that damp cloud forest. Hollies, arbutus,viburnum,prunus Lusitanica, wild olive, tamarix, willows and others.
There was also a vast collection of animal exhibits and although not a huge variety of mammals have made it out here, butterflies and moths have.

One of the things that struck me in the Hombre sections was the connections between the Guanche , the Berber related original inhabitants, and the ancient Irish.
They lived in ,and built for spiritual purposes , similar circular stone constructions and along with Galicia, Portugal and the Moroccan high atlas used similar decorative symbols.

There were some fairly macabre displays of Guanche skulls that looked a bit like a Damien Hirst piece

And some mummies

After all of that it was time for some refreshment at the cafe in the Tenerife Auditorium, another presumably very expensive project designed by … Oops what’s his name… Calatrava ? He has a trademark arch thing going on and I think he did a bridge over the Liffey in Dublin.

So hopefully I’m all set for my final island tomorrow at 8.30.
And in the meantime I have about half a GB of data credit that runs out at midnight so I might try watching a bit of TV.


After my epic sleep and with no damage by falling trees I broke camp. I’ve been using pine needles to make a deep soft bed, Ray Mears would be proud, and I haven’t slept that long in any pension bed.
The days hike,20km or so, consisted of a lot more ups and downs nearly all of it in pine or laurel forest, the last half in the cloud, so views were limited.
There was a lot more wooden steps, it seemed at times like job creation, and a lot of zig zagging across debris strewn forest slopes.


Being out of touch I had forgotten it was a Sunday so was slightly surprised to be sharing the forest with so many mountain bikes, hikers, trails bikes and runners hurtling past me down the steep drops. And I often heard gunshot off in the distance although I haven't seen anything to shoot.
I think it's brilliant that all these ancient paths, and there are tens of thousands of kms of them across Spain, used for centuries, probably with a fair bit of drudgery involved, should be kept open and repaired for recreational use.

At the supposedly “well equipped” rest area of Siete Fuentes , where there were no Fuentes let alone Siete, and the table and benches had disappeared, I was joined by a middle aged couple of likely lads with big staffs out on a hike who insisted I shared their vino and some dry powder(?) with them. I shared my La PALMA fig cake and they then produced more vino and sweet cakes. I had only been hoping for some water. Water to wine– must be some kind of divine intervention.
I certainly needed it to deal with the next few hours of life in the wet mist,trudging along the muddy trails.


I past a wayside shrine, of which there have been many.


And eventually made it to LA Esperanza where the end of the GR131 on Tenerife was marked by a headless statue.

I was lucky enough to get a bus straight away to LA Laguna and another down to Santa Cruz where I catch my ferry tomorrow to Gran Canaria.


That was my camp on Fri night, up in the pine forest overlooking Puerto Cruz. There must have been a fiesta going on because I could hear drumming and fireworks. It looked strange because the cloud came over the city again and it was under lit glowing orange and white with flashes of colour when the fireworks went off.
It was a cold night up there and a cold start in the morning.
Down and down through the pines and into the laurel, tree heather and broom of the lower slopes in the cloud forest. And sure enough there was the most.


And wet grass- probably of no interest to you but I hadn’t seen any since El Hierro really.
There had been a lot of work done on the track. Clearing of bushes and rocks. It amazes me to think of all the upkeep and effort put into maintaining these trails. Fair play.
Coming down on the north side of Tenerife was like entering a different island. Moist dewy grasses, brambles, bracken and spuds growing in deep rich brown soil.

There were passages down the slopes made of log steps, seemingly a favoured track material on this side of the island as I was to see hundreds more.

I had been looking forward to some fresh water at the Fuentes y Cruz del Dornajito, a well known stop off spot for travellers for century’s as the only spring on the way up to Mt Teide.

I couldn’t find the spring unfortunately but soon I was accompanied by the sounds of burbling water as I walked beside a big covered acequias.

I was passing through a large area of laurel woods that had been thinned and cleared and I could hear the shouts of the workers as I went.

After what seemed a very long time, convinced I must have missed a turning somewhere as there were no trail markers, I eventually came out where I should have done surely proving the vast length of the Spanish kilometre.
Up to LA Caldera a so a recreativa set into a circular volcano cone where there was a restaurant for me to stock up a belly full to laste the next 24 hrs or so.
What comes down must go up again it seems because the next section had a 1000mt ascent involved.
It was 30km to the finish from La Caldera so I wanted to get at least another 10 km under the belt before camping. And with a good dinner in me, a fine day, what could be easier?
Within a few hundred mt I was confronted by a sign saying track was closed due to bad conditions.

After a discussion ( kinda) with some Spanish ladies about the dangers ahead I carried on around the red tape and soon came upon a big rockfall.

There then followed a good 3 hours of pretty hard going trail. Very steep in places, quite a few more rock falls and lots and lots of wooden pole steps. And wooden pole fencing over long stretches with long drops next to the track. Some of it was pretty dramatic. Towering shear cliffs with steps zigzagging backwards and forwards across them.
There were big trees in the woods and views out across the cloud with Teide still hanging in there.



There had obviously been some big winds because there was a lot of debris from the trees everywhere. Branches, cones(big) and clumps of giant needles(bigger) all of which made me a little wary of camping beneath them all.
But needs must, and with twilight approaching I found another little flat knoll to put the tent up on and sleep for 11 hours straight.




After another restful night at Almazen in Vilaflor it was time to load the pack and head for the high ground again.
Back up on the bus to the Parador in the Montana Teide National Park. The place was swarming with tourists again so I headed off down the trail I was on yesterday for a couple of kms till I could gain new ground.
I spent the whole day above 2000mt. Hiking for about 20km at nearly twice the height of the highest point in Ireland.
I could notice the thinness of air in my lungs and see it in the deep blue sky and feel it in the intense sunlight.
The track was levelish and straightish for km after km crossing the plain across the top of the island with Teide rising to the west and a ridge of mountains to my side on the east.


All day long I slowly circled Teide, watching the tiny specks of cable car slide up and down on invisible cables and seeing the patches of snow getting bigger as I moved round towards the North face.


I passed a lot of the flat areas, Canadas, once used for grazing sheep and goats in the summertime though on what I can’t imagine.

I seem to have a problem with uploading images so I’ll have to leave them till I have better coverage.
In fact it’s rather cold to be doing this at all. I have come down a little now. I didn’t end the day at the stage end on El Portillo but after a visit to the visitor centre and a tortilla at the bar, I carried on and have ended up in my tent on a little level bluff in the pine forest over looking the fluffy clouds below. Well I was, but now the clouds have opened here and there to reveal orange and white city lights twinkling away way down below me. Above me I have white shining stars and a big fat moon in a cold clear sky.
Too cold to be holding this phone up into trying for a better signal.
So time to get in the silk liner, in the sleeping bag, in the bivvy and in the tent.
Buenos noches


I think I’m getting my mojo back. After a relatively easy couple of days and good sleeps In Soft beds and square meals containing fresh veg I think my energy is coming back. It hasn’t really been tested because I’ve been pack free but I was actually running down the trail at times today and generally had a spring in my step again.
And I’m looking forward to getting going in a straight line again so to speak without the stopping and starting. I find it’s too disjointed and doesn’t have the sense of progress and journeying that starting at the beginning and keeping on till the end does. But it was very nice to loose the monkey off my back for a couple of days. I keep thinking that maybe I should ditch the tent but you can be sure the day I do I’ll rain and I’ll be in the middle of nowhere.
So I got the bus up to the Parador in the Parque National Del Teide this morning where there was a cafe, tourist info, hotel ,restaurant, coach and car parks not far from more car and coach parks for the cable car to take you to the top of mt Teide, or nearly.
I tried to explore the Roques de Garcia, plugs of sand coloured rocks standing sentinel at the base of Teide but the crowds were too great and I retreated back into the interior, out of reach of motorised transport.

First a few hundred mt climb up and around the back of Montana Guajara, the birth place of high mountain observatories after Piazzi Smyth, Royal Astronomer of Scotland, mounted an expedition to set up his 1.88m telescope on the summit to prove the advantages of altitude and clean atmosphere for astronomy. After his trip he named some lunar mountains he discovered ” El Teide ” and ” Tenerife ”
His expedition and following ones used the path I’m following ” Camino de Chasna” which I discovered had been used since before the arrival of the Europeans to link the North and South of the island. The Guanches used it to reach their communal pastures in Las Canadas and for centuries,before roads , it was the lifeline for the movement of people,livestock and goods of all kinds.
When I had climbed my way to the pass overlooking the south side of the island I was presented with a fluffy white thick blanket of cloud from left to right and to the horizon a long long way below me.
Before long I had reached the high point of my travels on Tenerife at the Degollada de Guajara at 2373mt and the luxury of downhill trekking began.
A rough and rocky path led me down to a vast area of black volcanic ash with my Camino marked out in stones.
Half way across the ash I met a young French man who asked me the way to “the summit”.
He was planning to spend the night star gazing so I told him of the astronomical history of Guajara and wished him well.
Not too long after, as I began to leave the ash and enter pine forest I stopped to watch a man staggering up a steep pathless slope from the trees towards me. An older Italian man he also wanted to now where he was and where was the Pueblo. I had to tell him there wasn’t one but sweetened the bad news by telling him the glorious history of astronomical research carried out on the mountain above by one of his countrymen. As we had no language in common it was understandable he was more impressed when I gave him my water as he had very little.
The track started to level and I couldn’t resist picking up speed until I was running down through the soft ash towards the all enveloping cloud ahead.
However this wasn’t the cold wet windy cloud of LA PALMA but cool and soft mist which was actually a bit of a relief after the intense glare of the high altitude sun.
And so down and down through the pines until I , suddenly, was back in Vilaflor.
Tomorrow it’s back to the pack.







I’m sorry all the pictures are at the end. I had hoped I could write the blog with bad coverage and then insert photos in text when I move to the cold outside for good coverage. But no. And just to prove its cold here too here’s some snow.



Whoever said “no pain no gain”?
I gained a lot of pleasure today from a 20km hike with just 400 mt ascent with no pack to weigh me down.
I left Vilaflor, the highest village on Tenerife, and initially climbed for awhile into the pine woods I would spend the morning traversing.
The blue of the sky merged with the blue of the sea and I looked down on a bank of cloud somewhere between.

All of these woods had been burnt at some stage recently but were now sprouting new growth from the dormant buds buried deep beneath the thick bark.

There was no wind and it was still and silent apart from the sound of my boots crunching on the red pumice path which had been badly eroded in places by, I guessed, mountain bikers. That may have been a false accusation though because later on the peace was shattered by the raucous sputtering of trails bikes.
The heady aroma of resinous pine kept washing over me on the rising heat waves.
Prosperous haciendas appeared now and again amongst the high terraces with fields of grey pumice in which they grow the potato the area is renowned for.

It also supplies a lot of water both for irrigation and bottling and there are complex webs of pipes running everywhere.

But there were also numerous abandoned terraces and fincas and some era’s, the round flat areas for threshing grain, seemingly miles from any ground capable of growing any.


At one point deep in the forest I came upon a chain of prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

I came out of the forest and onto a road at Ifonche where there was a bar and crossroads of trails. There were a lot of hikers coming and going and the tap tap of walking poles was like some kind of morse code I wasn’t in on.
The landscape changed and became more open, treeless and dramatic.


It’s been a recurring or ongoing fantasy of mine over my years rambling in the outer regions and coming across many remote but beautiful abandoned old houses in fantastic settings to put together a portfolio of Eco renovated off grid properties to rent cheaply to people seeking the tranquillity such places provide.
This place is one of them.

When I got down to it I discovered it had a lot of little cave rooms dotted around the place( for guest accommodation) and a well crafted stone cap over a large and deep cistern.

A whole mountainside of old terraces, now growing wild flowers and cactus reminded me of Machu Pitchu.


And the , just before I finished in Arona one last old era with a view.



I must be getting weary. I’ve been making mistakes. My mind is not in the moment and it’s not so much a case of .. Be here now… As ..Be where when?
First I leave my wallet on the bus. That should have got me to sharpen up but the very next night I walk away from the charging battery pack for my phone at the ferry port, realising just as we cast off.
And then, groggy from lack of sleep, when I hear the ship docking I hurriedly pack up and disembark, wondering why nobody else seems keen to be on their way.
There’s a lot of people on the dock waiting to board… Something’s not right… I look at my phone… It’s only 6.30 and we don’t arrive till 8.
I hadn’t realised we stopped at La Gomera on the way to Tenerife. I could very easily in my current sloppy state of mind have wandered off into town and watched the ship sail away !
When I did arrive at my destination I had already realised that I didn’t have enough time to walk the 8 hours from the bus at Arona to Vilaflor before dark so developed a cunning plan.
Take the bus past Arona to Vilaflor where I had my room at Almazen hostel.. Leave my increasingly heavy (must be the wearyness) pack there and hike DOWNHILL 20km on a 1400mt descent rather than the other way round with a full load on.
Then I reaLized I wouldn’t be able – starting at midday, to get down in time for the last bus back.
An even more cunning plan developed. Bus to Almazen. Chill out all day. Hike down in morning. Last bus back. Another €10 night.
I further advances this cunning strategy into a master plan. I would do as described above and then, the next day,with a stroke of genius , instead of hiking from Vilaflor to the Parador at the top of the trail involving another 1000mt climb… I would take the bus up and walk DOWN to Almazen for another €10 night. Then take the bus back up to the Parador the following morning to continue for another 3 days of level and downish hiking. Not only did this superior tactical thinking avoid me carrying a heavy pack against the wishes of gravity, it also avoided me camping out , illegally, in the Natioal Park at well over 2000mt.
The fact that I was excited about these effort avoiding strategies must mean I’ve hit a bit of a wall but what the hell, they’ve given me enthusiasm to hit the trail where a little bit of reluctance was creeping in.
I don’t have to go in one direction from beginning to end- I’m a free man- I’ll go up or down as i choose.
And as I ease up on one kind of rambling I let loose with the other.
When I got to Almazen I knew my plan was the right one.
A 400yr old rambling building, abandoned for 25yrs, with a terrace and extensive fruit and veg gardens and plenty of spring water rights. Views across the towns rooftops and surrounding mountains, nice people setting up a place for music and craftwork and healing and a cheap hostel to bring in the euros. They’ve been working hard to get it together since they moved in last November.
I strolled around the town taking pictures








Bought the makings of a big fresh salad and eased into my surroundings.



Today I would relax and not hurry down the trail gathering kms. Today I would…Be here now.