La Gomera

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.

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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.

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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.

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There were impressive views down the ravines and canyons.

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Then I turned and climbed to higher ground and entered the cloud again.

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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”

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

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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.

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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.

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Some simple houses were grouped together in the shelter of a rock face overlooking the sea.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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