Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Lanzarote – Hiking a High Point   1 comment

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Time to get back to more serious walking. After a morning of lazy strolls and chilling by the pool me, TJS and TBF headed out for a walk in the afternoon. The weather was still stunningly clear and we wanted to bag one of the higher summits.

We started from another of the small quiet villages of the island, Uga. Heading out of the village and along a wide track into the hills

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We crunched our way along the ash track, reminded me of walking on snow in very strange way

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This is the valley of La Geria. It’s close to the area that erupted and was devastated not by lava but by ash. The area was quite well farmed and verdant before the eruption but after it happened most people left and never returned. More recently the area has been turned into a vast collection of vineyards. Each of these small hollows surrounded by a wall contains a single vine. Rather than protect from the wind the construction allows the dew to collect and trickle down into the hollow in miniscule amounts but its enough to sustain the vines. As you’ll see from the rest of the photos they dominate the landscape in such number as to be a marvel of effort to create that many. The unique pattern they create is one of the abiding memories of the island

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Back to our walk and we were heading for the peak in the centre right of the photo, Montana de Guardilama. Its one of the “Three Peaks” over 600m I mentioned and had supposedly stunning views

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We caught a glimpse of one of the Timanfaya tour buses traversing the slopes a few miles away

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The panorama shot gives a feel for the width and desolation of the uncultivated parts of the valley

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This lone palm tree caught my eye

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Our target peak getting closer

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As we reached the col the views along the east coast towards the resort of Puetro de Carmen and the capital Arrecife opened up

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All we had to do was climb to the top. Hard work on the loose rubble slopes and took far longer than I thought

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Fortunately the views from the top were stunning

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TJS struggling to keep up with the old man

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Couple of panoramas taking in 3/4 of the island

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We had an extended stay on the top. The air was stunningly sharp and clear. An absolutely perfect day for walking

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Looking south towards Playa Blanca

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The National Park where Hell was unleashed a few hundred years back

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TBF providing some foreground

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We’d started late and we had another summit to climb and a few miles to go so we had to push on. We slithered down the slippery slopes and I waited for the others to catch up. While I was there an old German man walked up and abruptly asked what the climb was like. I gave him the low down about how long the climb might take etc but that the views were well worth it. He then set off just as abruptly without another word or a thank you. Some people!

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We headed back up towards our second summit of Montana Tinasoria. Much lower and less steep it was an easy climb. We passed these ruined buildings, an area heavily used for paragliders as a launch site

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As the sun was starting to go down the shadows and the golden light on the islands dusty brown summits was just mesmerizing

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One of the things I loved about the island were the smooth sinuous curves of its volcanic cones. The low angle of the sun highlights them and the vine hollows perfectly

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It is the age of the selfie

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Reluctantly we headed down. I didn’t much fancy loose volcanic ash slopes in the dark

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We passed through the crater of the much smaller Montana Mojon. These Prickly Pears providing a welcome splash of green to the landscape

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There was a shallow crater rim so we wandered along it for some bonus views. By now the light was just sensational

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As we reached Uga again the sun was catching the white houses perfectly, picking them out against the black lava and darkening blue sky

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One final treat as we drove home and saw the sun setting as we crossed the col at Femes

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from the walking on Lanzarote but its magnificent, fascinating and surreally beautiful. This half a day walk was amazing and one of the highlights of the trip. Boxing Day sales in a retail park or a walk like this?

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Lanzarote – Schedule for a Perfect Xmas Day   9 comments

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Preparation:

Tell the family there will be no Xmas presents, keep the tree in and decorations in the loft. Avoid all expressions of Xmas while on holiday

Leave cold, storms, rain and snow behind and head somewhere warm and sunny

Xmas Morning:

Take a stroll before breakfast in the sunshine while there is no-one else about

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After breakfast on the patio take a long lazy stroll along the seafront to the beach (Playa Dorada)

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Pose on the beach for smug Xmas day photo

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Take a paddle in the sea

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Look at (but don’t buy) any souvenir tat from the shops

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Have lunch on the patio

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Xmas Afternoon:

Return to the beach (Playa del Papagayo), pose for another smug photo

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Enjoy the expansive blue sky, golden sand and calm clear water

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Take a scramble around the rocks to the beach next door, Playa de la Cera

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Take a swim in said calm clear water

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Return to the apartment for a late afternoon beer in the sun on the patio

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Take another stroll on the sea front to watch the setting sun

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Finish the day with an improvised Xmas dinner (no dates in blankets!) and a bottle of cheap Cava.

Now that’s what I call a good Xmas Day 🙂

Lanzarote – Volcanic Features Day   9 comments

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I’m a firm believer in keeping traditions going. I’m sure there is one that says on Xmas Eve you should go out and explore a volcanic landscape and have fish for lunch. How can you break with that!

Off to the north part of the island first to look at some lava caves. You can pay to go around one but a little research told me that a mile up the road was one you can take a look at for free.

This was taken from the road and the cave is only a few meters away. Without prior knowledge you’d never know it was there

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Walk a few meters from the road however and there it is

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A short scramble and you are into the bottom. Lava caves form when as the lava flows it cools on the surface and creates a crust that insulates the hotter lava inside, allowing it flow. As the lave supply runs out the bottom it leaves behind the tube it was flowing through as a cave. Here the roof has collapsed allowing you to see into both ends

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I’ve read about lava caves and always been fascinated but I’ve never seen one. I was pretty excited to be able to poke around in this one and have it to ourselves

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At one end you can walk quite a way in and look back out. We didn’t go too far in as they are notoriously unstable and dangerous

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I asked TJS to pose to give some scale to just how big this cave was

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It was nice to get back up into the warm sunshine and admire from above

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Buoyed and full of excitement after our caving trip, I allowed the family a nice lunch by the beach at Arieta. Some research led us to what looks like a pretty down-market beach cafe but all the reviews told us the food was superb and the staff extra friendly and so it proved

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It was another food highlight of the week. We had an absolutely enormous piece of locally caught fried fish each which was not only delicious but also (amusingly or grossly, take your pick) came with huge eyeballs still intact complete with pupil the size of a malteser and gelatinous mass surrounding it. It had us in fits of laughter and was the running joke for every meal the rest of the trip – “do you want an eyeball with your salad” – that sort of thing

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It had a view to die for as well, right across the beach and afterwards having devoured our fish and hiding the eyeballs discretely under a lettuce leaf took a short stroll

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Off we went again to find some more lava features. For those of you in the know there are two types of lava. The rough, blocky, slowly moving stuff called Aa where we saw the first cave and the faster flowing sort thats much smoother and often looks like coils of rope called Pahoehoe. We were off to see some of the latter

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We parked up in sleepy village in the middle of the island and took a stroll through the lava fields. It’s a bleak but hauntingly beautiful landscape, like nothing I’ve seen before outside the Canaries

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The two volcanic cones in the shot below were responsible for this lava flow and you can see the coiled rope effect and the fact this lava is different to the abrasive rocky uneven sort

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I like this photo where the road vanishing point leads the eye directly between the two cones

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Here we found what we were looking for the Cuevas de los Naturalistes. At one time it was lived in and had furniture although that’s all gone now

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A close up of where a skin formed over the lava as it flowed and has now cracked open like a shell

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Another short walk away we found another cave similar to the one from the morning with a collapsed roof

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This one however had no way down without a rope

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There must be hundreds of these caves out in the wilderness of lava but it’s very hard to walk through and exceptionally dangerous. You never know when you might be walking on top of a cave with only a couple of inches of brittle lava between you and nasty fall into a dark hole

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Me and TJS walked back to the car and collected the others for our final stop

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Timanfaya National Park is Lanzarote’s most famous attraction, the site of two major eruptions. The one in the 16th Century was all blocky lava and ash, the second one in the 17th Century was more fluid lava and plumes of salty mineral waters.

Most of the park is off-limits to visitors partly due to its delicate nature and partly as its exceptionally dangerous. Not in an active way but more the fact that it’s still sort of cooling down

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As it was late afternoon on Xmas Eve it was really quiet with only a handful of people there. I remember this from my first visit and I was eager to see the show they put on. As well as natural BBQ pits and holes where they set fire to stuff they have a number of holes into which they pour water to create a geyser. Evidence that it takes a long time for this sort of place to cool down after an eruption

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Even when you know its coming it’s still a shock. A little video to give you a taste

 

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The other part of the rather steep entrance fee is a coach tour through the park. I expected this to be a tame 10 minute look but in fact it was pretty good and lasted almost an hour. Only downside was they don’t allow you to get out so all the pictures are taken through the bus window

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It does give a feel for the otherworldly nature of the park that in essence no-one has really been into since the eruptions 2-300 years ago

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Some sections is all lava rocks and cinder cones, others smooth curves of ash and fine debris

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My favourite part was where they had pushed the road through a lava tunnel. You could see up close to where the lava had dripped and solidified like melted candle wax. It’s a real leap of imagination to see it and realise that it was melting rock that caused it. Sadly it was too dark to take a photo through the bus window

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The bus climbs quite high on its journey and at one point seems precariously perched on what appears like a pile of loose rubble and dust

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The views from up here were magnificent with an array of colours under a deep blue and clear sky

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The tour was over too soon and we’d been lucky to catch the last one when there were so few people about and in such great clear light

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We watched the shows again to make sure we had our money’s worth

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And then headed back home after an action packing and really interesting day out

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Perfect way to prepare for the excitement of Xmas Day

Lanzarote – Coastal Plonking   13 comments

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A phrase we used from our university days to describe messing about by the sea when the weather was too bad to walk in the mountains. Lanzarote has some great coastal scenery and two visits either side of a lunch back at the apartment shows the variety on offer. In the morning (minus TJF who elected to laze in bed) we headed a few miles up the coast to El Golfo. It’s on the fringes of the Timanfaya National Park where the major eruptions of the 16th and 17th centuries took place and devastated this corner of the island.

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It’s a pretty white stone village perched on the coast at the edge of the area of the most extreme devastation. The lava from Timanfaya flowed right into the sea and obliterated everything in its path. It left behind some remarkable scenery

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El Golfo is best known for this curious green lake, El Lago Verde, between the sea and the lava cliffs of Charco de los Clicos. Something to do with the minerals in the rock and a peculiar kind of algae that lives on it

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Compared to the dark blacks and reds of the volcanic rocks it’s an arresting sight

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You can’t go down to the lake any more as it’s a treasured site and the paths and cliffs are highly unstable

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You can wander about on the beach next door so we took a stroll and scramble on the rocks admiring the crystal clear water and weird shapes of the eroded lava

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A short drive away is another sight worthy of a detour. We parked up on the coast and looking back you can see many of the dozens of small volcanic cones that spewed lava, ash and all sorts of other stuff. Hard to imagine what this must have been like when it was on fire

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The coast is spectacular with jagged rocks in all directions.

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The real sights are however the caves of Los Hervideros. As the lava slowly tumbled in to the sea it created a network of caves and blow-holes.

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They have constructed a series of walkways and viewing platforms above the caves and cliffs where you can look through the holes to the sea below. Its pretty impressive

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You can see the columns of lava as it cooled, not dissimilar to what you see at The Giants Causeway

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The sun was in the wrong place to properly see the extent of the caves underneath where we were walking. You can make out the viewing areas and people in the images below

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When it’s particularly stormy and the waves are big apparently it shoots water out through the places where people were standing. That must be a sight to behold

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After lunch we headed over to one of Lanzarotes most famous beaches at Papagayo. It’s only a short drive from Playa Blanca but a fun one along a few kms of bouncy dirt tracks

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This is the next door beach of Playa de la Cera

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But this little beauty is Playa del Papagayo

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Its pretty much perfect. Golden sand, clear water and views to die for

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Another basalt Dyke running across the back of the beach

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I’m not entirely sure why but we didn’t take swimming stuff so while the others lazed on the beach I went for a wander along the cliff tops

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The views across the chain of beaches backed by the mountains we’d walked in the day before were immense

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The water is stunningly clear. These beaches must be mobbed in summer but at this time of year there was just the right amount of people to give a happy family atmosphere

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A look along the beaches of Playa de la Cera, Playa del Pozo and Playa Mujeres

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A beach well worth visiting more than once so we saved it for another day

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A beach that often appears in lists of the worlds best beaches and it’s not hard to see why

 

 

Lanzarote – A walk from Femes   8 comments

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Time to explore the mountains. Again, Lanzarote’s diminutive size was handy. Just a 10 minute drive to the pretty village of Femes in the mountains behind the resort and a start at over thousand feet. There were lots of walkers paths and it looked good for our first look at the islands mountains and old volcanos. We left the Funsters to go shopping and headed for the mountains

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We headed up from the village and a short steep climb to a goat farm and cheese making facility

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The path traversed across eastern flanks of Pico Aceituna. It looks a bit exposed but it was easy and safe

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A view down the Barranco de la Higuera to the sea

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And back towards the goat farm and the peaks above the Femes valley

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It was a short walk out and back to the summit of Pico Aceituna so we thought we’d bag our first summit. Grand views across the Rubicon Plain to Playa Blanca and Fuerteventura in the distance

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The Femes valley and the rest of the island

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Atalaya de Femes, second highest point on the island and one of what I liked to call the “Three Peaks” of Lanzarote. There are four summits over 600m although you can’t access the highest point as its covered in military paraphernalia. They like to do this in Spain. The highest peak in Mallorca is similarly inaccessible. We only managed one of the three peaks so good reasons to go back

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Panorama looking NE along the spine of the island

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And the expanse of the Rubicon Plain, Montana Roja in the centre of the shot

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The path then cut across the flanks of Pico Redondo, this time on the western flank, seen in the photo below. Again it looks exposed but again it was perfectly safe and easy

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The route we were following was doing a complete circuit of Pico Redondo but I wanted to climb it. It looked ok, if a bit rough going. TJS wanted no part in such a risky plan (he likes to stay on paths) so we agreed to meet around the far side. It was an easy climb in the end and the summit had a nice, narrow, rocky summit with extensive views. The mountains on Lanzarote are not especially high but their prozimity to the coast gives them a real sense of height and the views are excellent and of course unusual

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This is Hacha Grande, the highest point on this side of the ridge. One to save for another day

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The descent was on pathless terrain and pretty tedious. The photo tries to give some scale to the uniformity of the slope. All loose volcanic dirt and rubble

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I just took my time and despite losing my footing numerous times managed to avoid falling on my backside. We arrived at the broad col below within a few seconds of each other, barely breaking stride as we headed up to the top of the small peak below, Lomo del Pozo for some lunch

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The stunning views of our route and the rest of the island more than made up for possibly the worst pre-packed sandwiches it’s ever been my misfortune to eat. Luckily we had Paprika crisps, cookies and chocolate donuts to soften the blow

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Time to head back and a very pleasant stroll along the Barranco de la Higuera

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And a steep climb through the volcanic rocks to the Goat Farm where we started

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One of the many volcanic dikes on the island. Nature’s dry stone wall

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A view back down the Barranco de la Higuera to Lomo del Pozo

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Last views of Femes before we reached the car and headed back down to Playa Blanca

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A short route and short drive gives time to pack in some more activity. Nothing better than finishing off a day in the mountains with a stroll along the coast.

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And an hour on the beach to catch some rays and take a cooling swim at Playa Dorada

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Obligatory lazing on the beach/feet shot

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Nice time to be on the beach while the sun starts to go down

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Excellent way to finish the day

Lanzarote – Up North   8 comments

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After one full day I had itchy feet and they needed a travellers scratch. Time to explore the island. Lanzarote is quite a small island and it only takes an hour to drive from one end to other so we headed to northern tip to see what was there.

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Even though there are huge fields of lava from an old eruption this part of the island seems a little greener, maybe because it wasn’t affected by the major eruption in the south of the island in the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s the Malpais de la Corona, the “badlands”

We stopped off for a “comfort break” in an extraordinary landscape of black lava and pure white sand

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Seeing as all the rock type was black lava I assume that the sand has blown in from the Sahara a few hundred miles to the east. I didn’t see anywhere else on the island it could have come from

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Time for lunch so we stopped off in Orzola, on the north tip of the island. A sleepy, traditional village as far removed from the tourist resorts as you can imagine. Stunning views to the cliffs of Famara

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We had one of the best meals of the trip in a busy and friendly restaurant. An octopus, prawn and mushroom stew and a huge shared plate of fried local fish

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We returned to the coast and the amazing Caleton Blanco. The Lava has formed pools of calm, shallow, clear water and white sand. It’s almost tropical and makes a great place for a swim

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Or indeed a sunbathe!

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The views across the stark shapes of the lava and out to see to the distant island of Alegranza were amazing

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We spent a happy couple of hours here catching it on a perfect day sheltered from the westerly winds

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Back into the car for some sightseeing. The road climbs steeply through the badlands and the wonderfully named village of Ye. Just beyond you reach a car park and pay a cheeky sum to look at this view

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It’s the Mirador del Rio and one of the islands best known tourist attractions. They have built a series of viewing platforms both inside and outside, perched right above the dramatic cliffs of the Risco de Famara.

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The views across the to the island of La Graciosa are spectacular

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And back along the spine of the island to Monte Corona (the flat-topped one below and the source of all that lava down by the coast)

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Its 450m straight down to the sea and its undeniably stunning. However after further exploration later in the trip we discovered several other spots perched above these precipices (the cliffs are several miles long) where you can look at the view for free. The photo below doesn’t really do justice to how sheer the drop really was

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It’s the island of La Graciosa that holds the attention. You can visit by boat, more on this in a later post

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Time to head back home but one more stop off on another of the islands famous beaches at Famara

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Its named after the cliffs we were on earlier, in the background here

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The setting sun was lighting up the cliffs to great effect

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The beach is famous as a surf spot. It faces west and the full force of Atlantic breakers. It was windy now and felt more like a British beach in summer in the chill breeze and low sun. Fantastic spot though – for a few minutes anyway

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The local village is a real surf haven and on another day I’d have rented some gear and hit the waves. I meant to go back but we never did, too busy with walking and chilling. One for next time and to try the seafood in the village which is apparently superb

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The sun set on a really great day out

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A short drive home through volcanic desert of the south of the island and another wonderfully named village of Soo. I felt I was getting to the know the island better and away from the resorts it’s both charming and beautiful. I liked it alot. More to come

Lanzarote – Montana Roja   15 comments

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Playa Blanca sits at the bottom of the island at end of vast expanse of volcanic desert called the Rubicon Plain, that’s pretty flat and featureless. What it also has is its own volcano or least a relic of one, Montana Roja, that overlooks the resort. A tempting target for a walk so first afternoon we headed out to take a look.

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We stopped off at the tip of the island near the lighthouse for a coastal stroll first. Not one of the best walks, it’s all a bit untidy with loads of half-finished villas and roads

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It gave a different view of Montana Roja. It looks deceptively big from here even though its only 194m above sea level

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Add to the fact you can drive a good way up the slopes and it makes a very easy and very splendid short hike. On the way up the views across the old volcanic peaks above the village of Femes opens out, the outskirts of Playa Blanca in the foreground

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A panorama looking north towards the rest of the island

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TJF wasn’t greatly enthused by the walk and chose to sit on the rim of the crater with her phone pressed to her face. The rest of us chose to walk around the crater to the high point.

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The sun was close to setting so the light was stunning, turning the rocks and peaks a deep golden reddish-brown

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The walk around the crater is superb, albeit quite short. Nothing better than elevated views above the coast.

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A nice contrast between the stark landscape and the gleaming white buildings of the resort

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Had TJF not been sitting waiting for us (and we had food shopping to do) we’d have stayed to watch the sunset

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As it was, we enjoyed the short stroll and the changing colours. Lanzarote does reds and browns (and black) pretty well

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A last lingering shot of Fuerteventura across the water

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I meant to walk up here a few times as its such a wonderful viewpoint but we never seemed to get the chance. We did head up on last evening to watch the sunset but there was more cloud about and the views not so great. We did get a few interesting cloud effects though

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A small sunny patch on the village of El Golfo

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And the Timanfaya National Park (more on both places in later posts)

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A sunset hole in the clouds

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Fading light on the Femes Hills (my name – they don’t seem to have a name of their own)

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There seemed to be thin strip of oddly coloured yellow cloud hanging above Fuerteventura. You can just about make it out in the photos below.

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No idea what it was. My guess is sand in the atmosphere from the sand dunes on the north of the island

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Our first Lanzarote volcano. More to come

Posted January 10, 2018 by surfnslide in Lanzarote, Spain, Walking

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