GR131

GRAN CANARIA 7th FEB

The journey ended, as it began, at a lighthouse in a desert.
I was glad I hadn’t gone last night down the prescribed route of avenues, roundabouts, shopping centres, hotels bars and restaurants to finish but had instead run the gauntlet of all of the above from my room in San Fernando to the sea but then had walked across the Dunes de Maspalomas for the last few kms of my journey to the Faro.

2015/02/img_1238.jpg

2015/02/img_1240.jpg
It seemed fitting to finish as I had begun, with sand in my boots and to end at the beginning.
Although more tame and controlled and busy with tourists than the desert surrounding the Faro at El Puertito on Fuerteventura but it took me back to hiking on the soft yellow sand there and to muse on all the other surfaces my boots have been over on all the seven islands of the Canaries I have experienced since.
Sand in all its forms, from soft and deep to solidified and calcified, lava of every type, colour and contortion. Black ash, red and grey pumice, pine needles, lush grass, dirt track, fertile earth, moss mud and lichen. Pebbles, cobbles and boulders, concrete, tarmac and the finest of stone paved mule tracks.
But the shifting sands of Maspalomas were a fitting finish representing the final result of the process of erosion of the mountains, born of eruptions beneath the sea, eventually returning to it.

2015/02/img_1242.jpg

2015/02/img_1243.jpg
With the lighthouse in the distance I came upon a little mock up of what could have been a Guache ceremonial site or settlement. Just a play thing in the midst of the tourist trappings but their lives on these islands should be remembered.

2015/02/img_1245.jpg
On past the empty loungers on this grey day to the finish.

2015/02/img_1246.jpg

2015/02/img_1250.jpg
One million, twenty nine thousand, seven hundred and twenty five steps later.
Six hundred and fifty one kilometres.
Five metres short of twenty thousand metres of ascent.
I’ve noticed that most travel- hiking etc bloggers include kit reviews where the latest high tec , high spec, high price gear is given the once over.
My approach is somewhat different. I wanted to show you don’t have to spend a fortune to have adventures in the wilds.
I set off with bargain basement equipment and was wondering about approaching one of my main suppliers, Lidle for sponsorship ( not really but not a bad idea).
My 15€ Lidle tent, although not tested in extreme conditions has done its job well as has my cheap Alpkit bivvy bag.
30€ worth of sale priced Hi Tec boots have lasted better than top brand Brashers I used on the Camino.
The Lidle supplied hiking poles have saved many a fall and fitted into my hand luggage that the Leki never would.
Socks, shorts and bamboo t shirt, all Clivit brand from Lidle are as good as you need.
The Eurohike sleeping bag could have been warmer but I was using it at nearly 2000mt and it was ultra light.
In fact the equipment that let me down the most was the Berghaus rucksack and the IPhone.
So don’t let a lack of top of the range gear stop you getting out there- remember the stuff out celebrated explorers had, and I’m not talking about the ones with teams of porters carrying the champagne and truffles.
This Ramble is over now and I have a few weeks R and R before the next one begins.
At the beginning of March I’ll be starting off on the Camino Mozarabe from Malaga, joining up with the Via de la Plata, and hopefully making it to Santiago de Compostella about 6 weeks later.
If you have enjoyed reading any of these ramblings it would be nice if you left a comment because I have no idea who is out there, apart from my much appreciated faithfulls.
Buen Camino

GRAN CANARIA 3rd FEB

The day started soft and ended hard. There was a fine drizzle whilst waiting for the ferry and by the time we got to Gran Canaria there was thick cloud on the mountain tops.

2015/02/img_1083.jpg
On the hike out of Puerto de las Nieves I overtook a couple of well ladened backpackers and when we all met whilst getting supplies soon after we had a chat. They had been camping and hiking around the island for 10 days and were about to do the same 1400 mt climb as me. The difference was one had a pack weighing 22kg and the other 18kg!!
They said they were very slow and stopped often. They carried 4 or 5 litres of water each and had numerous items they admitted were a luxury. Like books and a mat just for sitting on. But how they struggled up those mountains was beyond me and helped my relationship with the monkey on my back. “He ain’t heavy, he’s my trail brother”
It’s a pity it was so dull because the trail was spectacular. One of the Germans took this of me as we rose up above the indented coastline.

2015/02/img_1087.jpg
Then I left them behind as i climbed on a lovely old road/trail/track/path up past an old era and remains of a limekiln and onto the flank of a 800mt mountain.

2015/02/img_1090.jpg

2015/02/img_1092.jpg

2015/02/img_1089.jpg
Luckily the gusty wind was blowing me against the slope because the path was like a thin line drawn across the mountain with a very big drop to the left and nothing to stop you till you hit the bottom.
After awhile I heard shouts and roars and saw a fella peering over a cliff edge and hurling rocks and abuse to something way down below. Sure enough a shepherd who had an errant flock. I came upon them in a bit grazing by a WATERFALL!

2015/02/img_1099.jpg
I hadn’t seen one of them in awhile but was to see plenty more and cross plenty of streams as I was climbing into the cloud again. Up more Tolkeinesque stone steps.

2015/02/img_1104.jpg

2015/02/img_1102.jpg
The track zig zagged up and up towards sheer looking cliffs but eventually found a way through to the high wet forest above dotted with eucalyptus trees and strange round hollow boulders ( a volcanic bomb perhaps).

2015/02/img_1107.jpg

2015/02/img_1105.jpg
And so I returned to the cold and wet I’ve been attempting to escape. All the now familiar signs were there the wet brown pine needles, the moss and the hanging threads of lichen now joined by the ghostly pale trunks of eucalyptus.

2015/02/img_1109.jpg

2015/02/img_1110.jpg

2015/02/img_1108.jpg
The visibility disappeared along with everything else into thickening cloud and heavier rain and it was with relief that I eventually reached the zona recreativa de Tamadada.
But it was too exposed without the shelters I had been hoping for so I carried on a km or so to the basic forest campsite where there were toilets but nothing else.
Apart from a deserted and crumbling youth camping complex where I found an open room in which to hide from the elements and hope for better conditions tomorrow.

TENERIFE 2nd FEB

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.

2015/02/img_1062.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1065.jpg

2015/02/img_1064.jpg

2015/02/img_1067.jpg
Even the municipal hoarding around building work at the port was covered in colourful artistic expression.

2015/02/img_1066.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1070.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1068.jpg
There were some fairly macabre displays of Guanche skulls that looked a bit like a Damien Hirst piece

2015/02/img_1072.jpg
And some mummies

2015/02/img_1073.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1079.jpg
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.

TENERIFE 31st JAN

2015/02/img_1006.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1015.jpg

2015/02/img_1020.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1024.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1026.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1027.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1028.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1029.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1030.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1032.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1034.jpg

2015/02/img_1033.jpg

2015/02/img_1035.jpg
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.

2015/02/img_1041.jpg

2015/02/img_1042.jpg

TENERIFE 29th JAN

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.

2015/01/img_0967.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0969.jpg

2015/01/img_0972.jpg

2015/01/img_0978.jpg

2015/01/img_0975.jpg

2015/01/img_0987.jpg

2015/01/img_0988.jpg

2015/01/img_0990.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0974.jpg

TENERIFE 28th JAN

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.

2015/01/img_0933.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0935.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0944.jpg
It also supplies a lot of water both for irrigation and bottling and there are complex webs of pipes running everywhere.

2015/01/img_0936.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0937.jpg

2015/01/img_0939.jpg
At one point deep in the forest I came upon a chain of prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

2015/01/img_0940.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0948.jpg

2015/01/img_0953.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0955.jpg
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.

2015/01/img_0957.jpg
A whole mountainside of old terraces, now growing wild flowers and cactus reminded me of Machu Pitchu.

2015/01/img_0962.jpg

2015/01/img_0965.jpg
And the , just before I finished in Arona one last old era with a view.

2015/01/img_0966.jpg

LA PALMA 24th JAN

So after about 25km, about 1200 mt descent and 800mt ascent I didn’t end up where expected.
When I got up it was still windy wet and cold.

2015/01/img_0808.jpg
I knew I had to get out off the cloud but didn’t know wether to go up or down. Down would mean abandoning mission.Up would mean hopefully above the cloud but into wind. And then the thought of the cold last night at 1450mt and thinking about the freezing cold at 2400mt and with the words of P. Dillon going through my thoughts” there’s nowhere to hide up there in bad weather”, I reluctantly turned my back on the GR 131 and embraced the PR LP14. It was a wet embrace but it was leading me down to where I knew the sun shone.
We went through dripping forest

2015/01/img_0809.jpg
and trees hung with yards of lichen?

2015/01/img_0811.jpg
We descended through a different kind of lava field to the others I’d seen. These were obviously in the ” wet zone” as they too were sprouting green primitive life.

2015/01/img_0816.jpg

2015/01/img_0814.jpg
But after an hour or so the cloud went up as I went down and I felt heat upon my skin again. Hallelujah
Looking back from the valley towards the ridge of the Cumbre Nueve that I should have been on I saw the thick cloud still swooping and swirling in what looked a malevolent fashion. Glad I’m not up there I thought.
I decided that as I wasn’t going to walk around the rim of the Taburiente crater as planned I would walk instead into the very heart of it and camp the night at a site deep and high surrounded by the peaks.
So I first visited the Centro de Visitantes of the National Park which involved following a trail across lumpy rugged lava.

2015/01/img_0824.jpg
When I got there it wasn’t, as the trail had made me wonder, sculpted out of a lava tube or in some knarley cave but a big modern concrete building on a main road. Inside were impressive displays and info panels and helpful staff handing out details of the park and hiking routes.
They also had weather charts…( wind moderate!! Not where I’ve come from mate!) and a model. This is the bit i climbed.

2015/01/img_0825.jpg
I had to get a bus from the centre to Los Llanos and start to walk into the caldera from there on the PR LP13, one of La Palmas “top walks”. It didn’t take long to see why after I’d left the town and its suburbs behind.
After a long climb (another) a bend in the road revealed the deep valley reaching in towards the high rim of mountains now in glorious sunshine. Wish I was up there I thought.
On the other side of the valley were fincas with land climbing up from the riverbed.

2015/01/img_0829.jpg

2015/01/img_0828.jpg

2015/01/img_0826.jpg
The trail to the camp ground led up the riverbed with many sections clambering over stretches of mountainside. There were notices warning that with rain the track becomes dangerous and impassible and you could see why.

2015/01/img_0833.jpg
A fine example of pillow lava I’m sure you’ll agree.

2015/01/img_0832.jpg
It was beautiful but longer than I thought 13km was supposed to be and steeper than a 600mt climb ought to be. We past miles of painstakingly made acequias or water channels cut through the mountain and carried high over the riverbed on concrete viaducts.

2015/01/img_0837.jpg
And a long way in was this what I imagine was an old hydro plant complex.

2015/01/img_0837-0.jpg
The climb went on higher and higher as the sun sank lower and lower till only the peaks were illuminated.

2015/01/img_0841.jpg

2015/01/img_0845.jpg

2015/01/img_0842.jpg
At last, with not a lot left in me, I passed through this prickly pear to the camp site that had miraculously solar lit service block and soft pine needle pitches.

2015/01/img_0846.jpg

LA PALMA 22nd JAN

The day started well with me finding a tapaterria ( sewing machine maestro) in the back streets of Santa Cruz de la Palma to mend my broken rucksack shoulder strap.
He fixed me up in minutes for the princely sum of 1€( I tipped).

2015/01/img_0742.jpg
I got some important information from the tourist office who assured me there was water available at three places on my route for the next few days so hopefully I won’t have to carry too much.
Then to a bus to carry me to the southern end of the island( the Canary Island buses are very cheap and seem to serve pretty isolated communities).
I had decided to treat myself in readiness for the hardships to come by getting a room and this one was a room with a view. Of the sea and the surrounding volcanic landscape.

2015/01/img_0748.jpg
I arranged to leave whatever I can do without for the next few days there to lighten the load as I have to carry food for 3 or 4 days.
The bus ride revealed another beautiful island, different again from the others. Looking prosperous, productive and fertile with tidy towns and houses painted a variety of pastel and muted shades.
Acres of banana plantations and gardens bursting with fruit and veg of all kinds.
The highest ground was hidden in the clouds but I was hopeful that id be climbing above that layer into clear skies.
To make my life easier tomorrow I tackled the first 6 or 7km of the route by hiking down to the faro below Fuencaliente, passing through an amazing volcanic landscape.

2015/01/img_0750.jpg

2015/01/img_0760.jpg

2015/01/img_0757.jpg

2015/01/img_0761.jpg

2015/01/img_0762.jpg
One of these volcanos, Teneguia, went up in 1971. It’s twisted and contorted lava was tinged with many colours and was “hot” until recently.

2015/01/img_0754.jpg
The old lighthouse has been converted into an Eco interpretive centre for the marine reserve that surrounds it and is full of shocking statistics about the despoliation of the seas by man and uplifting visuals of the natural splendours within it. And wise sayings about an individual’s power to do something. I liked this one.

2015/01/img_0769.jpg
The lighthouse was between an old fishing village and the salt pans built along the same lines as the ones I’d visited on Lobos island , Fuerteventura.

2015/01/img_0767.jpg

2015/01/img_0768.jpg

2015/01/img_0771.jpg
The shop in the salinas sold a variety of flavoured salts and also great supplies for my trek into the mountains. Dried bananas and mangos, almonds , fig cake and Bollos de Centeno, some kind of serious eye cake. All local bush tucker.
Finally on my way back I stopped at the local bodega ( wine cellar) and bought a bottle of Negramoll, grown right outside my door organically in the 2 my deep lapilli or volcanic ash.

2015/01/img_0776.jpg
So it’s uphill all the way for the next 2 days followed by a day around the top followed by a day coming down.
I don’t know about communication ability up there so I might not be able to post anything. We will see.
Hasta pronto

2015/01/img_0777.jpg

LA GOMERA 21st JAN

Now that was a day’s walk. 25 km of rough tough mountain hiking with 800 mt of ascent and nearly 2000mt of descent. I thought that the last third of the route, the downhill stretch would be quick but the paths were what Paddy Dillon described as very rugged so you can be sure they were.
Knee jarring, ankle twisting, shin spraining bolder paved paths. I prefer it when I get to a section that Paddy describes as gentle walking.
Still, the gods were kind to me today with cloud lifting for most of the morning and late afternoon with just a shortish stretch of the highest ground blanketed in the mist. The wind also got too strong at one dodgy route forcing me to take the road for awhile to save myself from being blown off the mountain.
I started out from Chipude under the dramatic bulk of La Fortaleza a sacred mountain to the natives of Gomera who practised divination and sacrifice up there.

2015/01/img_0675.jpg

2015/01/img_0677.jpg
I had set off in my waterproofs as it was raining to start with but I must have made the right sacrifice because the sun came out and the glories were revealed at every turn.
The day’s section took me an hour or so longer than it should because I stopped so often to take pictures.

2015/01/img_0685.jpg

2015/01/img_0679.jpg
This part of Gomera and the national park had been badly damaged by fire a few years ago but it is recovering very well and even some of the pines seem to be sprouting new growth.

2015/01/img_0691.jpg

2015/01/img_0688.jpg
There were impressive views down the ravines and canyons.

2015/01/img_0690.jpg
Then I turned and climbed to higher ground and entered the cloud again.

2015/01/img_0694.jpg
They were clearing some of the dead wood and replanting. The tracks became closed in with vegetation as I returned to the laurel forests that depend on lots of “horizontal rain”

2015/01/img_0695.jpg

2015/01/img_0703.jpg
Unfortunately the cloud hid the huge Roque de Agando from me but after that I descended into more sunlit vistas.

2015/01/img_0706.jpg

2015/01/img_0716.jpg

2015/01/img_0717.jpg
I was signed down a steep and rocky path for quite a way before being signed back up again behind massive cliffs. A long drop and climb but very little distance covered. They seem to be keen to keep you off the roads. Then began the rugged downhill terrain. The rough rock and Boulder paving meant you had to watch your step and not the scenery but there were more easy going stretches to soak up the surroundings on.

2015/01/img_0721.jpg

2015/01/img_0728.jpg

2015/01/img_0726.jpg
I came to a lovely flatish piece of land with glorious views that had white painted rocks around it, the sign that it is for sale. That got the imagination going. It even had a donkey.

2015/01/img_0731.jpg

2015/01/img_0730.jpg
Some simple houses were grouped together in the shelter of a rock face overlooking the sea.

2015/01/img_0732.jpg
The final leg down to San Sebastián was the real ankle hazard and it would have been too easy, in a hurry to finish for the day, to put paid to any more exploring of the Canaries GR 131.
But I made it down intact and after admiring this house

2015/01/img_0735.jpg
I found a bar for a pint and tapas and made my way to the ferry port for the boat to La Palma.
I’m going to give myself tomorrow to sort some things out ( my packs shoulder strap has come away and needs sewing) and make my way down to Fuencaliente where the serious stuff will begin.

LA GOMERA 19th JAN

Last night the resort of Los Christianos on Tenerife was a throbbing mass of humanity on holiday, mostly elderly, out to have a good time. The streets were busy with mobility scooters and lined with outlets for intoxicants.
Sucked into the vortex of the unholy alliance between cheap drink and holiday Bon homme I hung out for awhile in a dispiriting English karaoke bar where a slick suited and haired master of ceremonies tried to whip up some enthusiasm. I liked the sign announcing that due to local “noise pollution” laws, the doors would have to shut at 12!
I retired upstairs to the Irish bar where the fun was warm and open and I enjoyed a Jameson’s and a Guinness.

2015/01/img_0609.jpg

2015/01/img_0611.jpg
After all the excitement I had a good nights sleep in a dorm with six others at a sea front dive centre, and after a few errands in the morning ( I found a great replacement for my lost long sleeve top in a charity shop) I was back on a ferry.

2015/01/img_0612.jpg
Just over an hour later we dock at San Sebastián on Gomera with just enough time to get the bus to Vallehermoso where the route starts at the beach.

2015/01/img_0614.jpg
The bus journey took me through a big chunk of the island and my first impressions were of wild green lushness. High topped with deep canyons and jagged peaks. Palms and cactus and cloud over red tiled roofs.

2015/01/img_0616.jpg
Signs for hiking routes that snaked away through the mountains, orange trees gone feral and vertigo inducing switchback roads.
Steps of neat and fertile, stone walled terraces stacked one above the other in the water fed ravines and across the mountain slopes.

2015/01/img_0617.jpg
The seafront was windy with crashing waves, certainly no call for the thatched sunshades or loungers.
The cliff bottom road to the strange Castillo del Mar had been completely destroyed by both the sea and the crumbling cliff. Originally built to process, store and load bananas onto boats it had become a private property and is now a cut off folly.

2015/01/img_0621.jpg
Certainly no sheltered spots down on the coast so I started to walk up the valley and found myself a little abandoned finca to call home for the night.

2015/01/img_0624.jpg
It’s another 1500mt climb tomorrow so I shall let the croaking of the frogs in the barranco serenade me to sleep.