el hierro

EL HIERRO 18th JAN

A mercifully short days hike today after what I consider to be the Herculean efforts of yesterday. In fact I could have had a couple of extra hours in bed I overestimated the time needed so much.
Still when I got out to where I had finished last night I was glad I hadn’t camped. It was still in the cloud and cold and wet.
I started off through a kind of forest park and then continued slowly downhill on old cobbled and sandy tracks.

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It really was as if I was on a Sunday walk at home with muddy boreens and Friesian cows.

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The stone walls were coated in signs of clinging damp.

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The way was lined with plants both familiar from home like brambles, bracken willow and lush clover and also more exotic species that differentiated it from Ireland.

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There was agave, giant cistus(?),heather trees, avocado, eucalyptus and geranium hedges. A host of other plants I don’t know the name of but am sure I’ve seen them in pots in garden centres with expensive labels attached.
I stayed up In the mist until back down in Valverde.

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The path down to the ferry port was the old road where all goods arriving or leaving the island would have been taken by mule.

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The end in sight it started to get sunny and by the time I arrived the island looked different.

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I spotted a plaque commemorating 400 years of the pilgrimage down the road I had just travelled over the spine of El Hierro.

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So now a ferry to Tenerife in order to catch a ferry to Gomera. And just to let you know I have now taken over half a million steps. 500819

EL HIERRO 16th JAN

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I have made it to the Faro ( lighthouse ) de Orchilla, the start of the GR131 on El Hierro.
It took me 2 plane flights, 2 buses, a walk,a lucky lift and another walk.
It was simpler, quicker and nearly as cheap for me to get a through flight via Tenerife than get a plane and then ferry.
The planes operated by Binter are twin prop and connect all the islands. They also fly to the Portuguese islands and a few cities in Africa. It’s half price for residents as it is on the ferries too.
All very civilised on board with attentive hostesses handing out free papers,water,snackbars,boiled sweets and scented wipes.
The landing strip was a bit tight between the cliffs and the sea but no bother.
I have just walked past a monument to the zero meridian.
Before Columbus set sail from here to America this was the end of the western world.
It seems a very quiet laid back kind of place and very green. I was struck to see trees again. I was also struck by how steep and mountainous the island is, since I have to go from sea level to the top tomorrow.
It has actually got pretty wild here at the moment and I have got my rain coat out for the first time.
I got a bus to the end of the line at Sabinosa and hiked down to the northern coast road hoping for a lift some of the way out here. As I said, it’s quiet here so there were no cars on the road. I hadn’t realised the height of the mountains between me and the starting point and was reluctantly shouldering my pack when a German couple stopped and took me way beyond where they had intended going. And thank god they did, it was a hard enough climb for the hire car.

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The view towards the faro.

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It’s totally rigged lava flow here. Different again to what I saw on fuerteventura and lanzarote with lots of tubes and bubbles.

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But it’s getting even wilder and I need to batten the hatches, get some rest before I walk the Camino of the Virgin tomorrow.

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