Postcard 3 from the Canaries

A couple of walks on Teide.

This is a loop walk from Villaflor and whilst I didn’t complete it because of cloud it is safe in as much as the tracks that I walked are quite well marked and offer some wonderful views if only on the way there and what I mean by that will become, ironically, clear.

I’ve hired a car from the airport so that I have wheels to get me back there on Saturday morning. It means I’m able to explore the island in a less formal way than using public transport although I do enjoy that too.

Tenerife is great in many ways. There are the obvious such as climate and entertainment but there are also some wonderful mountains and subtropical woods along with national parks and walks.

Today I’ve planned a walk from Vilaflor which sits on contours of about 1400 to 1500 metres (4500 feet) and is a pretty little village in its own right. I’ve been going to it just to sit in the centre and enjoy a coffee and follow that with a wander around the old streets decorated with tubs of flowers. I’ve never been when it didn’t have at least a little colour, but today it’s wonderfully ablaze with colours that we won’t see in the UK until late spring.

As I enjoy my pre-walk coffee I’m joined at the next table by a man with a rucksack and I ask him if he’s been or going walking. It turns out he’s halfway through his plan and he looks at my loop walk plotted on my phone. He photographs it for his next trip and offers advice I’ll use in a couple of hours.

There is variable cloud, sometimes higher and occasionally lower but there is no rain and visibility is good as I begin the walk along one of Vilaflor’s back streets. It’s down so I have time to loosen up and by the time I leave the village I’ve an easy stride and ready for the first incline that takes me up about 300 feet but it’s over a distance of a kilometre or so. The lane has not been torn up by quads and the like. They’re banned by local by-law and it looks like they stick to it. The farming at this height is largely vines and they’re cultivated on terraces so there’s interest on both sides of the track and the measuring presence of the odd small casa (house) and each with incredible views. As I make my way down into a valley area before entering some woods I begin to think of some of the Yorkshire views. Clearly, we don’t have the lava and cinders but we do have the pine forests clinging to the moor sides with either fire breaks or access tracks running into them.

There has been a lot of talk of the firebreaks and access on this and the other islands following some significant fires here in Tenerife last October when some of the little casas had to be evacuated as a precautionary measure. The chance of fires today is low as there have been rain showers up here for a few days and whilst nothing is sodden or muddy (I’m not sure that the cinder-like top cover would make mud but I could be wrong there) the vegetation is certainly moist.

I walk down into the dip and start the next steep climb into the pine wood. The trees are not as close as the ones in our cultivated forests but they grow to very impressive size and they break the wind that’s been creating a bit of an edge to the temperature. In fairness, when I’m walking up a steep incline then that’s a welcome chill but it does make it slightly uncomfortable when I stop for a drink or to take a picture.

The cloud keeps teasing me by going higher then lower with only a brief chilly hug as it redistributes itself at its new elevation and I’m reminded of my conversation and the advice that I was given back in Vilaflor.

I’ve been walking for about an hour and a half when it begins to get chilly and the cloud swirls above me. I left the forest a few minutes ago and I’m walking towards a landmark peak that I’d identified on the map. I’m just about halfway around the loop and the cloud drifts down as it has done cyclically since I started and I expect it to drift up again but this time it doesn’t. I keep walking in the white gloom constantly looking down at my phone and the tell-tale dot that not only tells me where I am but also what direction I need to be going. I keep going for another ten minutes and the expected clearance of the cloud doesn’t happen.

I know that the next 500 metres or so is easily navigated because I saw it before the cloud descended but I couldn’t see further than that so my concern is, if the track after that is over some of the more desolate moonscape areas of which there are many.

I stop for a drink and a think. Thinking is always best done with a break and I eat one of my protein nut bars as I drink some more water.

The advice that I was given by my erstwhile new chum back in Vilaflor was, “If the cloud comes in and you’re walking by yourself then turn around and walk back because the ground will be more familiar”.

I toy with his words and look at the map on Outdooractive, I can change the map to look for more detail and I do but it doesn’t give me the information that I’d get off an OS map in Britain. The ones in Northern Spain are a little better and wherever there is a ski resort they’re quite good but nothing that I’ve found approaches what you get off Ordnance Survey.

By now my watch is telling me that the temperature is five degrees and I laugh out loud as I think that we’re just off the coast of Morocco but then we’re also at 5000 feet and in cloud. The cloud is drifting past and the density fluctuates but never more than three or four metres. I can’t see the edge of the wood that I know is only a few metres in front of me and I can’t see the small stone wall that I’ve just crossed. I think the decision is making itself if only because I have no backup. It’s not entirely unpopulated up here but it might as well be if I don’t know where to look.

I mutter a bit and one of the words is ’bollocks’ and then I laugh again as I realise that I’m talking to myself and listening to words of advice that are in the ether but just as audible as they were in the village square. My thoughts are telling me to go on and the cloud will probably disappear again but the disembodied advisory words win and I say ‘bollocks’ again, this time out loud but to no one in particular and begin the walk back.

As it turns out the dense cloud didn’t clear in the hour or so walking back so I’m comfortable if unhappy with the decision.

I jump in the car and travel a further 2000 feet up the mountain well above the cloud and find a shorter walk that’s more popular and, as a consequence safer. I spend a couple of hours on that but even this begins to get the forerunner of the cloud below in the form of a swirling mist followed by denser bursts of proper stuff but I’m in the car now and on my way down.

A bit of an anti-climax really but enjoyable too.

Enjoy the snaps. Love G x

Feel free to share for armchair ramblers who can’t manage it anymore.

Sorry about the number of snaps – I couldn’t make my mind up what to cull ? Also, the white stuff on the cactus is not a disease, it’s from the cochineal beetle that they used to breed and harvest here to be crushed to produce red dye. G x

1 thought on “Postcard 3 from the Canaries”

  1. It looks lovely there anyway, even if did turn out a bit disappointing and cause you to say “bollocks”! I’d like to go there if my feet were in better shape.
    Looking forward to reading more


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