Saturday, February 7, 2015

A hike to the Fuente Madre del Agua waterfall

Blue Chaffinch

One thing I miss about walking in Tenerife is the lack of running water as there are virtually no rivers on the island, so I was interested to read recently about a waterfall in the south of the island high up in the mountains above the village of Vilaflor. The waterfall, which is fed by the Madre del Agua spring, is located in the upper reaches of the Barranco de Las Vegas at an altitude of around 1840 metres. It is possible to drive along the Madre del Agua dirt road to the Madre del Agua campsite from where it is only a short half hour walk to the waterfall but I wanted to make a day of it, so chose to hike along the Paisaje Lunar path from Vilaflor. 

Casa Galindo on the Camino de Chasna

This is a steep hike with around 1,000 meters of ascent, initially along an ancient trade route called the Camino de Chasna between Vilaflor and the town of La Orotava on the north side of the island. This path climbs very steeply out of Vilaflor before crossing the Barranco de Las Mesas and the Pista Madre del Agua dirt road as it heads off up into the Corona Forestal pine forest. 

Pista Madre del Agua road

On the day of my hike, the island was experiencing a calima, which is a local word for an occasional phenomenon that occurs when the air fills with sand and dust blown over from the Sahara and hangs suspended in the air like a mist. In the summer calimas can cause the temperature to soar to 40c or above but in the winter it can have the opposite effect. The temperature on my hike was quite cool in the shade, perfect for hiking, although the views were a little restricted as it was fairly hazy. 

Los Llanitos

After a couple of hours, I left the Paisaje Lunar path for another path leading to the campsite, which was closed for the winter, the wooden cabins standing forlorn and uninhabited in a clearing in the forest. After a few minutes of trying to locate the path, I began the last section of the climb to the waterfall and after crossing the Barranco de Las Vegas, the scenery began to change and I suddenly heard something that I rarely hear on a hike in Tenerife, running water, although at this point it wasn't visible. 

Mt Guajara seen through the calima

It was here that I had the good fortune to see a pair of Blue Chaffinches at close quarters and managed to take a few close up photos. Soon, the path descended to a stream crossing and as I climbed further, instead of pines, found myself surrounded by Canary Willow trees. 

Madre del Agua campsite

Higher up the path, I encountered a number of the willow trees blocking the path and I had to crawl underneath them after removing my rucksack. In this area, the stream was now quite fast flowing as it meandered between the trees and carpets of  willow leaves, which gave the area the look and feel of an English woodland in autumn. I was amazed at how unlike south Tenerife the whole area looked and soon, this feeling was compounded as I rounded a corner and came upon a beautiful waterfall tumbling into a dark pool at the foot of a cliff. 

Stream flows through the leaves beneath the willows

I stood amazed that I had walked many times in the area without being aware of the existence of the waterfall and after spending some time enjoying the beauty of this hidden corner, I turned and made my way back to Vilaflor.

 Click on the Wikiloc symbol in the corner of the map to download the GPS file

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Some 2014 Walking Highlights

As 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of the walking highlights from the past twelve months. 

A snowclad Teide seen here on a walk through the Chinyero reserve, site of the last eruption on Tenerife in 1909

The town of Tamaimo in the Santiago Valley seen here from Montaña La Hoya

A cloud-capped Roque del Conde seen from the abandoned Suarez Finca between Ifonche and Arona

Crossing the Chinyero lava flow

Looking across the Santiago Valley to Pico Verde and Pico de Gala

Playa Colmenares on the Costa del Silencio

View towards Montana Roja from Monataña Amarilla, Costa del Silencio

Finca at Guayero in the Ifonche region

Spring Poppies near Trevejos

Jacob's Ladder on the Pennine Way, England. My big challenge of 2014, which ended
with me retiring at the halfway mark due to numerous equipment failures. I am returning in
June 2015 for another attempt. 

Above the Barranco de La Fuente

The deserted village of Las Fuentes seen from the summit of Montaña Tejina
Happy New Year and Happy Walking to all for 2015 from Tenerife Rambler

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Two Springs Walk

View from Degollada de Ifonche

Summer is not a good time for walkers in Tenerife. The sun is at it's most powerful and this combined with the high temperatures make it very uncomfortable for walking. During this period, I usually plan which walks I want to do during the coming walking season, which I start as soon as the temperatures become a little more bearable, usually in the latter half of October. One of the last walks I did before the weather got too hot was to investigate some newly recovered and signposted paths to two springs in the Ifonche region. I had noticed the signs when walking in the area and took the opportunity to investigate them and in doing so, created a very interesting circular walk. Starting from close to the parapente launch point, at the foot of Roque de Los Bresos, I walked the camino rural before picking up the sign to the Fuente de Las Pilas in the Barranco del Rey. I have crossed the barranco at this point on many occasions in the past but never knew of the existence of the spring until the installation of the signs, so I was grateful to whoever is responsible for them. A pleasant path led me through trees and bushes initally, before descending to the rocky stream bed of the barranco, arriving a short time later at a neatly tended 'garden' surrounding the Fuente de Las Pilas. It was clear that someone was tending to the area around the spring as the plants and flowers were obviously planted and cared for. The spring flowed gently through a three-tiered rock 'water feature' creating a very peaceful and pleasing ambience. Leaving the spring, I continued along the rocky barranco floor to soon reach the top of a very dramatic dry waterfall in the Barranco del Rey. Peering over the edge was very exciting although it may not be to everyones taste as the drop is very sheer but it did give a stunning views into the deep part of the barranco below the El Refugio restaurant. Returning along the barranco, I climbed out and followed the dirt road from the restaurant to the Ifonche road, which I followed to the El Dornajo restaurant. This road is very quiet and largely traffic free so it is a pleasant walk.

Sign in the Barranco del Rey

La Fuente de Las Pilas

La Fuente de Las Pilas

Top of the waterfall in the Barranco del Rey

Barranco de La Fuente

Montaña Carrasco

Cave on the newly recovered path to La Fuente El Chorillo

Leaving the road just beyond El dornajo, I followed a sign to the Barranco del Infierno and soon located a path into the Barranco de La Fuente, which is the upper section of the Barranco del Infierno. This part of the walk was very scenic with stunning views into the barranco. Where the path left the barranco to follow the Camino de Carrasco at the foot of Montaña Carrasco, I left it for a newly recovered path whose existence I had not previously suspected when walking in the area. 

This path was a delight to walk and passed numerous caves before arriving at the La Fuente El Chorrillo. This spring was not quite as impressive as the Fuente de Las Pilas but this area was obviously tended as well as there were numerous flowers planted around the spring, one of them a large beautiful pink flower that I couldn't identify. 

Looking inland to the pine forest

Continuing from the spring, the path began to climb and I had fantastic views back to Montaña Carrasco and also inland towards the pine forests. Soon, I arrived back close to the parapente launch point after a walk of around 3.5 hours.     

Above the clouds near the start of the walk

If you want to download this GPS track, click on the Wikiloc logo in the top right hand corner of the map and download from the website.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Short Walk in Arico

Today, I have been walking in Arico, which is one of my favourite hiking areas on the island. The scenery is truly stunning and whenever I've walked in the area I've usually had it to myself as the region does not seem to be on the radar of the majority of hikers visiting the island.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Pennine Way

Jacob's Ladder

My trip to the UK to walk the Pennine Way last month didn't go exactly to plan. I had intended to walk the whole route but a number of problems with my camping equipment, which included a leaking tent caused me to review my plans. I abandoned camping in favour of using guesthouses, which meant that I finished around the halfway point in the tiny village of Keld in Upper Swaledale, as my budget wouldn't extend to using them for the whole route. This, coupled with the difficulty in booking rooms for a single night/person during a bank holiday meant that without the tent, I decided to split the walk into the Pennine Way south and north. I will return to the UK, possibly next year, to complete the northern section. You can find an album of photos taken on the walk HERE and a journal of the walk HERE

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tenerife in Bloom

Tajinastes in Vilaflor

Recently, I have been training in the Tenerife hills for my imminent Pennine Way hike in the UK by carrying my rucksack weighing around 13 kilos, which is roughly what I'll be carrying on the walk. During my training I have been impressed by the beautiful floral displays I have seen on my walks, which as most of them have been in the south of the island has only highlighted that despite what many people believe, the south of the island is not a barren wasteland, good only for sunbathing or propping up a bar. The area around Vilaflor has been particularly stunning this year, helped no doubt by the rain in the winter and reinforced by a rather late season day of rain a couple of weeks back, which left Teide with a covering of snow in April! The Vilafor/Ifonche region has been a riot of colour with the dominant bloom being the California Poppy, although there have also been plenty of Corn Poppies as well. In the main plaza in the centre of Vilaflor, there were fine displays of the red Tajinastes just coming into bloom when I paid a visit the other day. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Emptying the Bucket List - Walking the Pennine Way

Much as I love day walks, there is something special about doing a multi-day, long distance trail and having completed a number in the UK in the past, including most recently the Coast to Coast walk, I decided it was time for another challenge. In July 2011, I walked the Coast to Coast with a friend who used to live here in Tenerife and we had a great trip, taking 13 days to cover the 190 miles from the Cumbrian coast to the North Yorkshire coast at Robin Hoods Bay.

High Cup Nick in the Pennines

I have had a 'bucket list' of walks I want to complete for many years and decided towards the end of last year that it was time to cross another off and it was the Pennine Way that I turned my attention to.

This National Trail, as the name suggests, stretches for 269 miles along the Pennine hills that form the 'spine' of England, starting at Edale in the Peak District and finishing just across the England/Scotland border at the village of Kirk Yetholm, after a grand finale that consists of a tough 27 mile crossing of the Cheviot Hills.

Once I had made the decision to do the walk, I contacted my friend Alan, who had accompanied me on the Coast to Coast to see if he was interested in joining me. Initially, Alan agreed to join me but later decided that he wasn't fit enough and because of work commitments, wouldn't have the time to do any training, which means that my trip has now became a solo one.

I have previously walked the Coast to Coast route solo in 1998 so have experience of spending time in the hills alone, so I wasn't too phased by Alan's decision. When walking these trails, they take on a life of their own and for a couple of weeks, you become totally absorbed in the day to day trials that the walk throws at you, including weather and fatigue, among others. For me though, the fascination with walking a trail such as this is the feeling of being totally immersed in the countryside and this feeling is magnified by being alone.

After doing some research, I decided to start the walk in May as statistically, May & June enjoy the best weather in the Pennines, although of course, there are no guarantees. I will be setting off from Edale in the Peak District on May 14th with the intention of camping as often as possible, partly to keep the cost down but also to increase the feeling of being a part of my surroundings. I am aiming to complete the walk in 16 days, plus one rest day, although this is flexible to take into account unforeseen circumstances.

Because of the terrain I will be passing through, I will often be out of range of a mobile or wi-fi signal, but whenever I can, I will be updating my 'Tenerife Rambler' Facebook  page with my progress, for anyone that is interested. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

'Winter' comes to Tenerife

Roque Imoque and the snow capped mountains of Las Cañadas

Here in Tenerife we have, at times, had quite a cool 'winter' with decent amounts of rainfall, which in the higher regions fall as snow. This weekend saw wintery conditions in the mountains and northern parts of the island, although here in the south, the 'bad weather' resulted in no more than a handful of showers in an otherwise sunny day. Today, (Sunday 16th Feb) I have been out walking in the Ifonche region and the weather was quite superb with clear blue skies, although, because of the altitude, it was quite chilly at times. The area looked particularly attractive with a backdrop of snow covered mountains above the pines. Of course, when the weather is bad in the mountains, this can be quite dangerous at altitude and over the weekend a group of walkers had to be rescued while trying to climb to the summit of Teide. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Last Walk of 2013

New Years Eve saw beautiful weather across the island and I took the opportunity to check out some alternative paths above the tiny village of Las Vegas in the south-east. This is a scenically stunning part of the island and it looked particularly good as I set off into the hills, the recent storm having left the countryside looking very green. One surprise on the walk was the sight of almond blossom in bloom in the Barranco de Las Vegas, which is very early as it normally appears sometime during late January. Here are a few photos from the walk.

A stone oven used for drying fruit and baking bread

Friday, November 29, 2013

Walking in Arico

View from the Lomo de Tamadaya

This week, I walked from the beautifully preserved village of Arico Nuevo to El Contador, high in the mountains above Arico. The walk, which was quite strenuous, is around 20 kilometres long, took 7.5 hours and involved around 4,600ft/1,400 mtrs of ascent. After leaving Arico Nuevo, I followed an old camino real to Villa de Arico from where I picked up the PR -TF86 path to El Contador, a recreation zone/barbecue area in the pine forest. From there, I followed another branch of the PR-TF86 back to Arico Nuevo. The scenery, particularly around the Roques de Tamadaya is stunning. Below is a video of photos and video clips taken on the walk.