It was time for a leisurely day out and we went to the north coast on the assumption it might be sheltered from the wind. We went first to Garachico, which is a lovely town. Its been rebuilt over the past couple of hundred years having been all but wiped off the map by a volcanic eruption and lava flow.
Those lava flows reached the sea and created some deep channels and pools full of crystal clear water. When we came last year we couldn’t get close as the waves were too big and scary. This year whilst still large we could take a closer look.
As you can see it was still pretty wild and the water was charging up and down the channels in a most impressive fashion. You see pictures of people swimming in these channels but I can’t imagine it ever being safe
There are some deep pools that are sheltered from the waves and they did look very clear and inviting (had it not been for a sanitary towel floating in one!). The crabs seemed to like it here though
The whole area is criss-crossed by concrete walkways making for a very entertaining amble with the added risk of the odd soaking from an occasional larger wave
I waited for ages to see if the family would get such a soaking but circumstances wouldn’t oblige
The old harbour has been splendidly restored and they have put exercise machines out. The juniors posed for me after some pressure. I would have had a go but I have a bad knee
We wandered into town and had a marvellous lunch in an excellent and exceedingly friendly restaurant on the town square. Goat and fresh fish was the order of the day
To fill the afternoon we thought we’d take a look at Puerto de la Cruz (PDLC), the original Tenerife holiday resort. We parked up by the western beach and walked along the shore, through town and back to get a feel for the place. The waves looked a bit scary so we declined a swim
Next to the beach was a huge area of piled stones, several hundred of them, all together, impressive and surreal in equal measure
The waves were mighty and judging by the efforts to block them and the obvious damage they still cause is testament to the power of the Atlantic swell
We wandered past the harbour into the busy heart of town
We wanted to take a look at the Lago Martianez, a huge complex of swimming pools that appears on every image of PDLC. It occupies all of the headland to the left of the hotel in the photo below and I have to say it looked pretty impressive and is probably worth a day out
PDLC also has some fine views direct to the summit of El Teide (you can’t see it from the west and south coast)
Apart from that and whilst we did enjoy our afternoon we weren’t all that taken with PDLC. It looks dated with lots of high rise from the 70’s and its loud, brash and a little tacky. I think it needs some serious money spending to bring back to life. The north coast is stunning but I think I’d choose to stay elsewhere
TJS had spotted a possible educational outing in Tenerife. The Funsters headed off by bus to spend a day on (or rather not on) the windy beach and me and the other sherpa headed back up to the high mountains. Before the planned activity we had time for a short walk before lunch
The guidebook mentioned a short walk that could be fitted in while waiting for a bus. It suited both my infirm knee and our limited time but up here even the shortest walk delivers.
It was a round of an old volcanic cone called Alto de Guamasa and it was sensational. Its perched high above the steep forested northern slopes and the views were awesome. A snowy El Teide on one side
This short was to shown people back home there was enough snow to ski on (many people were sledging on body boards!)
On the other side were spectacular views down to the north coast
The scenery was ever changing as the path completely circled the cone. Bare lava slopes of various hues, forests and El Teide always dominating
Only took an hour but another classic walk
After a brief lunch we were off to our main destination. TJS is planning on doing Astrophysics at University and when he saw that they did organised tours of the Observatory up here, well, he was rather keen
Its perched up at just shy of 2400 metres which probably explains why he looks so cold, seeing as it was just that, very cold in fact.
It has a whole range of telescopes and technology. Its primary function is as a solar observatory (the three big towers above) one of the top 3 in the world (the others are in Hawaii and Chile)
The best location for such things are oceanic islands with high mountains. When observing the sun the main challenge is local ambient heat. The ocean acts as some kind of thermal barrier that minimises the effect of localised and of course being high up in clear atmosphere helps a lot. Even the plants that grow up here help
Photo below shows a whole host of other technology (Gran Canaria in the background), one of which is a microwave telescope looking for the origins of the universe and the big bang and part managed by Manchester University where TJS hopes he might one day end up
Here we got look at the Electromagnetic image of the sun. There were no sunspots to see but you could see solar flares which was impressive
Of course from up here the views of the island were also damned fine
The two guys who did the tour were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and good humoured. I would have liked to have seen inside one of the solar telescopes but we did get to see one of their older reflective telescopes up close. They also did an audio visual presentation that was way better than any planetarium show I’ve ever seen
Needless to say TJS was in his element. Much of what was said went over my head a bit but like TJS I could see it would be damned fine place to work. Much better than being a Project Manager for an Mobile Phone company
On the way down we had to wait in traffic but in a spot where the views back to El Teide and the Roques de Garcia was superb in the late afternoon light. Two identical pictures, one taken with my phone one with my DSLR. Pretty hard to tell the difference!
Superb day out, something completely different and educational that I hope has inspired TJS still further to continue his hard work at college. Hopefully I can come visit when he works here!
In between Xmas and the unsuccessful attempt on El Teide was Boxing Day. Despite it being a very hazy day (more of the sand and dust in the air blown in from the Sahara) me and TJS wanted to do a walk. We agreed that the Funsters would drop us off we’d walk down to the coast to meet them. The drive was an event in itself. The road through the mountains of NW Tenerife is narrow with some seriously scary drops and busy with traffic. There are plenty of “whoaa!” moments as traffic bears down on you on one side and empty space with the sea below on the other.
Once we arrived at the start I was glad to revert to foot travel and the route while hazy looked good and so it turned out
The col was busy with tourists but 5 mins and we were alone. The route was quite superb. The path twisted through a verdant green of trees, shrubs and cacti, switching from the ridge and across to slopes on either sides
The target was the summit of Baracan (just left of centre in the photo below) at just over 1000m. I should point out that we started at around 800m so effort was minimal!
In places the path was spectacularly perched above the deep ravines that slice through this dramatic section of mountains
The views any further than a mile or so were vague and hazy so it was the local sights that held the eye.
This is looking back to the road and the pass where we started from
The diversity of flora was amazing, prickly pear being very common (one of the heaviest plants where it grows out of control and almost impossible to eradicate once its established)
After the summit we began to descend towards the coast, the landscape very reminiscent of Provence
We emerged from a short patch of very dark, dense and cool forest to this spot with red rocks and soil. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the stark colour contrast
We dropped to the sleepy little village of Teno Alto and the scenery suddenly changed to one of rural pastures
Another one of those stunning contrasts that Tenerife is able to deliver
We then dropped through a steeper section of terraced farmland perched on the side of the Barranco de las Cuevas.
And then suddenly the coast appeared where the farmland tumbles over 1000 feet of jagged cliffs and gorges down to the sea
The path did the same dropping in a series of endless switchbacks with the heat increasing as we went down
The path hit the road at this huge banana plantation or more accurately, production facility. Bananas are big business in Tenerife. Unfortunately
By the time we reached the road my knees were shattered by over 1000m of descent and were further hammered by a mile walk along the baking tarmac to the car park. We met the funsters and had a much deserved picnic on the lava above the sea and amongst the flowering prickly pear
There is small rather untidy and scrubby little harbour where its calm enough for a swim. The beach is never going to win any awards but the water is spectacularly clear. I went for a snorkel and had one 0f the best experiences I’ve ever had outside a coral reef. The waters were teeming with colourful fish, crabs, sea slugs, urchins etc. Alas I’d forgotten my waterproof camera. The water was also refreshingly cool after a hot days walking
We took a small stroll around the headland before we headed home
The views were still rather smoky and dusty but with lowering sun still impressive and atmospheric
One of the very best walks I’ve done in Tenerife, followed by an excellent snorkel and walk in one of my favourite places. Not a bad Boxing Day
After our first full day we had some rain! Mostly overnight and into the morning letting us have a lie in. The best thing about a winter sun holiday here is that spells of bad weather never last long and it was sunny by lunchtime. Time to spend a few hours lazing by and swimming in the pool
And nice sunset to end the day
Xmas Eve saw TBF and TJS head off for a walk leaving me and TJF to spend some quality father-daughter time together. We walked down into Los Gigantes (via a set of steps that went almost to the beach then suddenly stopped in the middle of waste ground so we had climb back to the top again) and paid a visit to the natural rock swimming pool.
Its perfect for a swim and has the added excitement of large Atlantic waves that break over the retaining wall turning the pool fizzy for a few seconds
Needless to say I had a swim to peer over the wall. Rather intimidating on day like this when the swell was rather large but perfectly safe (although there is no way I would I have stood on the slippery wall to dive in. Fall the other way and you’d be in very big trouble)
It was rather good to just stand in the pool and let the waves break over you
I was well chuffed with this photo. Just catching it perfectly with the breaking wave and three synchronised divers.
The views of the coast weren’t half bad either
We had a very nice lunch together and followed that with me accompanying TJF to do some shopping. I hung around outside with my wallet primed while she shopped, occasionally trying on silly hats to try and embarrass her. After another rolling of eyes I slipped away to take a look at the cliffs from the small town beach. It was a great day as we don’t very often spend time together just the two of us
Christmas Day and unlike last year we managed a swim. It was a bit breezy and cool but plenty warm enough for a swim on the beach at Playa de las Americas
Much better than spending all day cooking, watching TV and the rain outside. Another fine sunset before an improvised Christmas dinner that did involve poultry and roast potatoes. I even thought I’d managed to find some pigs in blankets. However what I thought were sausages wrapped in bacon turned out to be dates! I tried to pretend they were nice but they were pretty gross. Some kind of Tapas it seems. Dates in Blankets, who’d have thought
A couple of days later I dropped TJS and TBF off so they could climb El Teide, staying at the hut as last year. There was loads of snow and all was set for a successful ascent. However TJS came down with a bad case of altitude sickness (the hut is at 3200m) and they had to head down without reaching the summit. Me and TJF headed to the beach but it was so windy we couldn’t get near it without being sand-blasted. We did get some nice views of the snowy mountains on the way down by way of compensation
I had to pick up the weary climbers the next morning so we had the afternoon for another walk into Los Gigantes and more shopping
And, to finish off this post, yet another glorious sunset
More walking adventures to come
After a trip down the M1 and a night in the worlds smallest and hottest family hotel room at Luton Airport we were whisked away by Ryanair, back to Tenerife for the Xmas holidays. No time spent at home after leaving our weekend in the Dales. It was Britain when we arrived, cloudy and hacking it down with rain. We immediately felt at home. A short drive (via an unscheduled tour of some of the other coastal resorts) had us in our temporary home for a couple of weeks. Shopping and then a meal with some cheap cider set us on the right path after a long journey.
Our flat was excellent with another west facing view to admire the sunsets. Get used to these, there are a lot of sunset photos coming in future posts
Our first day was a little cloudy but still warm so we chilled with a stroll down and along the coast into Los Gigantes. Via some more unscheduled routes and clambers under fences and down unfinished roads (I still have the scars on my shin to prove it). Cloudy it may have been but it was still warm and pleasant and nice way to get into the swing of things
One day of leisure is enough though. Sun a blue skies returned and we were off out. Time for some walks in the clean fresh air of the caldera at 2200m. We were headed for the Roques de Garcia, one of the classic sights of Tenerife. This is La Catedral
And this is the most famous monolith Roque Chinchado or “Gods Finger”. I remember this one distinctly from my visit as kid but strangely nothing else about this area (other than the towering El Teide)
There are several large and distinctly different shaped and hued rocks and under the clear light at this altitude they are majestic. Unsurprisingly its a very popular spot and thronged with tourists. Luckily your average British/German/Japanese/Chinese tourist loses the use of their legs if they stray more than 100 feet from the tour bus so a short walk and you have peace and tranquility in this lunar landscape
There is a superb 3 mile hike that circles the rocks and whilst it looks hot and arid, its in fact pretty cool at this height so the walk is easy. The sheer variety of shapes and colours is amazing
Taking you back to the classroom for a minute there are generally two types of lava. Where the lava moves very slowly it forms large angular blocks and is called Aa. You see it all over Tenerife. Where it flows quickly like a river (like on any Volcano disaster movie you’ve ever seen) it forms smoother curves and looks a little like coiled rope. This stuff is called Pahoehoe and this area has some decent examples as below. When it flows downhill the outer layer cools and hardens and allows the inside, still insulated to run within and leave behind lava caves. There are some examples near here but they are off limits now although we did see a few small holes under the surface when we walked over one these flows. Fascinating stuff
In the photo below you can see where this lava has poured through the gap in the rocks
This one looked like swiss cheese
The variety of textures and colours makes you realise just what a jumbled and complex chemical mass of molten rock makes up lava. Its incredible to realise that Tenerife is effectively new. Just igneous volcanic rock recently ejected from the earth’s mantle
The walk takes you down and past El Catedral, a monstrous isolated rock, popular with rock climbers
Its a wonderful walk and one of the highlights of Tenerife well worth the effort to explore and lose the crowds. After a stroll what you need is a hearty picnic in the forest. This one is our favourite on the island, spread across a huge area, just sunny enough to be warm as its still at 1800m and chilly. The picnic was enlivened by several woodpeckers drumming on the trees right above our head
After lunch we had time for another walk, this time to the top of an old volcano called Samara. You can actually wander through the crater. Not much to see other than bare rock but its the idea that’s intriguing. Most of this landscape is only a few hundred years old. Whilst Tenerife is currently in a quiet spell (no eruptions since 1909) it does have regular small earthquakes of the size we occasionally get in the UK but never worry about. You see small white marker posts everywhere which I assume is to do with monitoring what’s going on. The Daily Express even saw fit to deem these tiny quakes worthy of news a few months ago claiming that Tenerife was on the verge of catastrophe. Technically I suppose it is as a spit of bubbling rock could spew out anywhere, any time. However a few quakes of less than 2 on the richter scale hardly qualifies for panic. For comparison on the odd occasion we get a quake in the UK that shakes a few roof tiles loose its normally around 3 on the scale which is logarithmic (3 is 10x stronger than 2 and so forth). I was hoping to feel the ground rumble at some point but it never did
Back to the walk and the views from the top are as good as anything on the island
This is a zoom shot of the Sombrero, one of the peaks on the caldera rim
I love the fact that you can sit at some serious height and always see the ocean far below
There is a pretty decent short walk that weaves through the dwarf trees and around some of the smaller cones. It still astounds me that anything grows here as there is no topsoil to speak of, just lava and dust
I love this photo for the contrast between the dark lava, the green trees and the blue sky with the line of clouds below you
We had to cut the walk short as it was getting late and there was a hint of showers in the air
A superb day out. The walks up here are just stupendous and a far cry from the common image of Tenerife. More to come
It’s Christmas time and rather than mistletoe and wine, for us its a bunkhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with our little troupe of friends from years gone by. The Old School Bunkhouse has been our home for the past 3 years and despite the fact the weather has been largely miserable, we love it. Well the adults do anyway. Some of the kids now think we should be staying somewhere more sophisticated (more shops, Starbucks etc and less spiders and damp) or even possibly abroad (Amsterdam was suggested, can you believe). Back in the real world this place does us fine, loads of space and huge kitchen make for a very convivial atmosphere
Well this year we actually had a reasonable forecast. In the event there was a great deal of cloud (apart from EWH who always walks around in his own deluded blue sky sunny interval) but it stayed dry and that’s the main thing
On the Saturday a small group tackled Ingleborough while others lazed and went shopping. This included my partners in crime The Dangerous Brothers. I’m an honorary DB, less for my love of danger and more due to my calamitous, clumsy nature that finds danger where no-one thought possible (benign beaches, avocados that sort of thing).
It was an atmospheric day as cloud swirled around the summits and gave us occasional glimpses above and through to sunnier skies above.
The climb up the steep slopes to the plateau were taxing and we’d hoped we’d break through the cloud as promised, but promise was all there was. Once we pushed up towards the top that was the last we saw of blue sky and the end of the photos
The summit was actually bitterly cold, highlighted by the fact that DB Jr had come out with only a T-Shirt under his cag. Cue the comical sight of him wearing ED’s fleece over the top. The size differential is on a cosmic scale. To his absolute credit he barely complained and seemed in chipper spirits the whole day. It was a harsh day and I was mightily impressed how the young ones coped with the inclement weather and longish walk for them
The evening was the usual mix of stories and cooking, treated this year to catering by TBF and her sous chefs ( a very fine shepherds pie). I joke many times about the fact we re-tell many old stories but these gatherings are so important to all of us. Thirty plus years of friendships has given a huge comfort of familiarity. We all do our own things or group together depending on how we feel with no animosity if people feel the need for some “me” time. There is lots of gentle ribbing and mickey taking but no offense is ever taken.We do have some more serious discussions safe in the knowledge that we are all of a similar mind and on the odd occasion we disagree its never taken to heart. I can’t imagine starting my Xmas break without this weekend or indeed any other time of year when we regularly get together
Anyway, back to the outdoor stuff. The Sunday needed something to get the kids engaged (walks are “boring”). We decided to take them caving (after some small scale play in the Runscar caves last year) and all the kids gave it a go. We took the very sensible decision to rent lamps and helmets (a bargain at only £3 each) and it proved a masterstroke – they give off way more light than your average head-torch. ED had done his research and found a small cave just outside Ingleton, Skirwith Cave. It was an old showcave but sounded accessible. After a short while searching the hillside for the entrance (a steep slide down a concrete pipe) we were in. What can I say but it was great, easy walking and loads of interesting features and flow stones. Alas I forgot my camera so if you pop over to ED’s blog, he has some excellent photos
That first cave was enough for most, the delights of cake and carols proving tempting. However the oldies and the Dangerous Brothers wanted more so we headed back to Great Douk Cave. I messed around in here many years ago with GM and ED and my memory was of a fun but short expedition. It turns out my memory let me down as I had no recollection of just how long, varied and feature packed it was. I did take some photos but they are, as you can see, a bit crap.
Again ED has much better photos over on his blog.
There was flowstone, waterfalls, roof openings and crawls and of course the now legendary “Pumffrey Back-Passage” (last time we were in here, GM got very excited thinking he dug out a whole new cave network until he realised me and ED were standing there looking at him as he burrowed back into the main passage . The DB’s were in their absolute element and despite the cold loved every minute (as did the grown-ups, lets be honest). By the time we returned to the exit the day was fading and we’d had pretty much a full day of enjoyment. More to come next year please, plans are already afoot
Interestingly whilst my photos came out badly, the video worked fine, there vare some clips in the brief slide show at the end
Another awesome weekend to kick off what has become our annual “leave home and the Xmas chaos behind” winter trip. We said our goodbyes and headed off to Luton Airport for another two weeks of fun in the sun
Well here I am up to date with my blog. More to do with the fact that injury has curtailed my activities but finally no blog-log, blog-age, blog-jam or any other made up words I find childishly amusing. A weekend in Nottinghamshire to help TBF’s mum celebrate her 80th birthday. I’m hoping that I still look as young, fit and sprightly at 80 as she does. The main event was a very nice Sunday lunch in the local pub but the previous day gave us a chance to visit Bradgate Park near Leicester
An urban park may conjure up images of muddy duck-ponds, battered play areas, graffiti and litter. Bradgate Park was a bit of a revelation.
I’d visited before on a very cold and bleak October day a few years back and hadn’t retained much of a memory. Its a huge sprawling spread of heathland, forest and lakes that incorporates a deer park. As you’d expect the deer are habituated to humans and are easy to get close to and photograph
The park is also home to the ruined mansion of Lady Jane Grey, the one who was queen for 9 days until someone got bored and relieved her of her head
Its a wonderfully open place to stroll and despite the cold we enjoyed a ramble out down the broad lower valley
Plenty more deer to spy as we walked, often only a few feet away
We stopped for tea and cake by the lake, as you do on cold winter parkland stroll and then returned by way of the higher ground up to Old John Tower and its war memorial. The views although a little grey were exceedingly fine. I especially like any vantage point where you can look down over a city skyline in this case Leicester
Light was fading fast as we reached the tower and it was pretty chilly but I was learning to love this marvellous “park” and its many natural and man made features
The photo below says “cold” with no need for words
A very fine and relaxing way to spend a birthday afternoon
And so that’s it for another blog year. We’re off at the weekend to see the rain splatter the windows at a private hostel in Ingleton with friends and then heading straight to the airport to fly out and spend the rest of Xmas break in Tenerife (to watch the sun stream across the poolside patio). That of course means I start the new year several blog posts down so normal service will be resumed
Happy Xmas and New Year to you all!