Archive for the ‘Walking’ Category

Malverns End to End   7 comments

While we sit through a seemingly endless series of storms and heavy rain let’s remind ourselves that we had a small taste of spring a couple weeks back. Temperatures in the high teens and beyond and blue skies.

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The Malverns were a go-to spot for walks (albeit short ones) when I was a kid but we limited ourselves to a small section in the middle. I’ve always had a hankering to walk them end to end and finally an opportunity presented itself.

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The Funsters were watching a play in Malvern so I jumped at the chance to be dropped off at one end and then be collected at the other. I was dutifully left by the road at the base of Chase End Hill and began my challenge.

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A glorious day, warm enough to walk in shorts and short sleeves. No real distant views due to the blue haze that cloaked the horizon but a wonderful day to be out with a long walk planned.

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What the Malverns lack in altitude they more than make up for with descent and re-ascent, about a dozen as I recall, most of them steep.

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Next on the list was Ragged Stone Hill. Just a handful of people but as good a view point as anywhere else in the range.

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Looking north towards my next summit.

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The obelisk on the unnamed hill just off the main ridge.

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Onwards, downwards and steeply upwards to Midsummer Hill. Time for a break and a look at the next series of bumps and dips.

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I wandered out to the obelisk to take a look.

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Through some muddy forest and on to the next rise, Swinyard Hill.

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And then Hangmans Hill.

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And finally to Herefordshire Beacon, also known as British Camp.

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Looking over British Camp Reservoir and the Vale of Evesham.

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Time for a longer rest, a cuppa and a piece of cake while looking at the seemingly endless roll of Malvern summits.

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Refreshed I pushed on along the hardest section due to its constant ups and downs over a list of summits, Black, Pinnacle, Jubilee and Perseverance Hills.

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The blue skies were replaced with grey overcast ones and the wind picked up making it suddenly feel like February which of course it was.

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Last but far from least is the highest point, Worcestershire Beacon. Even though I’ve walked in the Malverns many times, I don’t think I’ve ever been up here and therefore another new summit and Marilyn to add to my collection.

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It was getting late and the texts from the Funsters started to arrive telling me they were done and ready to pick me up. Hurrying on was not a problem as I it was getting pretty cold by now.

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Over the final three summits at the north end of the ridge (Sugar Loaf Hill, Table Hill and the predictably named North Hill) and down to meet the family.

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And I’d made it. It felt like the hike was longer than the 11 miles my maps software told me (probably as I’d walked with only a couple of stops for about 5 hours). My legs did feel every bit of the 3500 feet of ascent. Not bad for a ridge that never goes above 500m. Cracking day.

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Weekend With Long Lost Friends and Offspring   6 comments

Another visit to the very friendly accommodating Hotel de Silverdale an excuse to catch up with our errant son now living the high life up at Lancaster University. As always a splendid weekend of locals walks, banter and great food.

We took several outings the first of which was a wander to Trowbarrow Quarry. Its another of those places that I’m sure Mark must have taken me before, probably many times but I was insistent I’ve never visited.

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A route through Eaves Wood and down to Hawes Water, now being remodelled with new boardwalks to protect the local flora and fauna.

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This local fauna sadly will only be protected to the point where it becomes sausages.

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Trowbarrow Quarry was rather fine. Lots of people rock climbing and the DBs took time showing me all the Mountain Bike routes.

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Rather foolishly I seem to have made a commitment to bring my bike on the next visit so they can take me biking in the quarry. Likely to end in amusement for them and injury for me.

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We stopped off at Leighton Moss on the way back and took a trip up their observation tower where the views were exceedingly fine.

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And then back across the golf course and the fields for lunch of homemade mushroom soup – also exceedingly fine.

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We went out for another brief stroll to the Pepper Pot in Eaves Wood hoping to see the sunset but the clouds had descended and it was a pretty murky. I tried a couple of black and white images to see how they came out.

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The evening was characterised by a takeaway curry and the arrival of Mark’s brother and his two kids. I’ve not seen him since his stag do – pushing 20 years so it was great to catch up and swap some old and new stories.

A morning walk around Jenny Brown’s Point and Jack Scout. Still gloomy and grey but its a fine walk.

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The weather and plenty of chatter meant only a couple of photos.

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Despite a gloomy forecast the afternoon was glorious and sunny and a final walk was in order. It wouldn’t be a Silverdale weekend without a trip up Arnside Knott. and the late afternoon sunshine was very welcome.

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Mark had found a new path to the summit – a very steep way as it happens but we timed our arrival with some stunning light conditions.

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The Lakes were still under the gloom proving that sometimes small and local is best.

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We reckoned if we pushed on at a brisk pace we could reach the Pepper Pot in time for what we hoped would be a better sunset.

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Our route took us past Arnside Tower which looked magnificent lit up by the setting sun.

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It seems rather sad that no-one seems to be looking after it and slowly it seems to falling down and will likely crumble at some point. A sad reflection that this beautiful historic building may not be around forever.

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We reached the Pepper Pot a matter of seconds before the sun went down and whilst not exactly fire in the sky it was a wonderful and peaceful way to finish a cracking weekend

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Thanks as always to Mark and the Family for letting us stay and making us welcome and great to catch up with old friends and enjoy the delights of this wonderful and unspoilt part of the world.

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Windy   11 comments

Between the last walk up Ysgyryd Fawr and this one we did a short walk on the Begwyns just north of Hay on Wye. The weather was so grey and dreary that I didn’t take a single picture so this is the next on the list.

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The circuit of Hatterrall Hill from Cwmyoy is default walk when we have an afternoon to spare. Long enough for a decent stretch but short enough to fill a half day.

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We’ve walked it many times but always in the same direction – clockwise – so tried it the other way round for a change including parking outside the wonky church at Cwmyoy rather than the village hall to shave off some time (the forecast was very uncertain)

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The forecast showers didn’t seem to materialise and it was in fact a very sunny and pin sharp day. The low winter sun creating some stunning vistas.

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What the photos don’t show is how extraordinarily windy it was. The forecast was for windy weather but not like this.

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I could barely stand up and was blown across the slopes a number of times even braced by my poles. TBF was actually blown off here feet a couple of times.

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Despite the cracking views we’d both had enough battling against the wind and abandoned the idea of the usual high level circuit.

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We pitched down into the corrie losing the wind and picked up what turned out to be a very fine traversing path we’ve never walked before.

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The photo below looking almost calm and spring-like – it wasn’t!

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We had a brief stop for lunch between these two walls. It was calm when sat down but peering over the wall was like looking into a wind tunnel.

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We climbed to the top of the small summit created by an ancient landslip where the wind was incredible. I’ve no idea how I managed to take this photo but the blurred background is indicative of just how hard it was to stand even remotely still.

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TBF has ben forced to remove a tight fitting hat to save from losing it!

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I’m a fan of the bare look of winter trees framing mountain views so here some good ones from the descent back to the car.

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Short, sweet and very, very windy!

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A New Perspective on Ysgyryd Fawr   10 comments

Back to the mundane normality of a cold grey British January. Ysgyryd Fawr is always a favourite when we need a short walk out in the hills. The obvious route has been somewhat marred by car park improvement that seems to have dictated a rather steep charge to park for a walk. Paying to park in the hills is a real bug-bear of mine. We should be encouraging people into the outdoors not putting them off. The end result was looking for a new route so we parked up – for free – in the lyrically named Llanvihangel Crucorney and approached from the north for the first time, passing Llanvihangel Court on the way.

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It was a grey day that looked like rain was imminent but we stayed dry and the route, clearly little known was deserted and pleasant.

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We skirted along the eastern slopes and back up onto the main ridge, turning to head for the summit. It was ferociously windy but refreshing and so far still dry.

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The most noticeable thing was how bare the summit ridge was. There is normally a path bounded by grass but it seemed almost stripped bare to mud across the entire width. I’m not sure if this was due to weather conditions or an increase in foot traffic bit it didn’t feel right at all. I’ll have to to return in the spring and see if the grass is making a recovery.

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We didn’t linger on the top due to the wind and took a similar if slightly variant route down.

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As we descended the skies cleared a little and there was a touch more in the way of blue sky.

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Some of the late afternoon light effects were quite dramatic and it finished off a quite a decent walk and will now be my default route up the mountain.

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Almost 7 miles in the end and a very enjoyable and much quieter route to the top.

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Sunset Part 2   12 comments

Final little post from the winter sunshine trip. After a day in the mountains, me and TBF had enough time to dash up to the ridge that overlooks the town and catch the sunset.

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Puerto Mogan.

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Taurito.

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It had clouded up which was bad for sunshine but great for a spectacular sunset.

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The sky turned a kaleidoscope of oranges and reds as the sun went down.

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Enhanced by the lights of Puerto Mogan and Taurito.

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It was an interesting descent back down over the loose rocks to the road in the dark. Wonderful views over the town coming to its evening life to finish off the day and the holiday. Just a final and rather excellent Italian meal to round things off.

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Another great New Year trip and another Canary island bagged and loved. I’ve said this many times but beyond the tourist spots they are stunningly beautiful each island in its won unique way. We are so, so lucky to have holidayed here the last few years and we hope to continue that for as long as we can.

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Posted February 27, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain, Walking

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Hitting the Heights   12 comments

Our final day and this time clear of spurious religious celebrations we were armed with a picnic and headed into the mountains one last time. Me and TJS were especially keen to see the highest point and were pleased to see yet another clear sunny day.

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Its a busy spot, Pico de las Nieves, but we squeezed the car in for a look around.

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The views were breathtaking with El Teide, as always catching the eye.

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Roque Nublo coming a close second.

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The drops down into Los Calderos Altos were jaw dropping and a long walk around the rim of this was high on my list and I was a little disappointed we hadn’t managed to squeeze it in.

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However TJF kindly agreed to wait in the car for an hour or so so we could fit in at least a short walk to the peak in the photo below. It does have a name on the map but its hard to read!

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A short but spectacular walk through the forests to reach the rocky summit.

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As with some of the other places we found, the top was sensationally exposed with huge drops to the south. What a spectacular island this is!

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Happy Hikers!

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This shot encapsulates everything about the island, gorges, cliffs, rock towers, forests, El Teide standing guard on the horizon.

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On the way back to the car, the radar dome that crowns the summit visible. A very Spanish thing it seems, crowning summits with military stuff.

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A grand walk needs a grand feast to follow so we headed off for an outdoor picnic. Despite missing the obvious picnic area we did find a fine spot next to the road to eat our goodies.

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As is the case almost everywhere in Gran Canaria, the views were magnificent.

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Time to return home that included a nervous search for fuel in the middle of nowhere. It gave us chance to see a couple of wonderful looking mountain villages that need a revisit when we return. In addition another fabulous viewpoint on the way to the coast, Degollada de las Veguas.

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A view down to the coast and the dunes at Maspalomas (another sight we missed).

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And back up the Fataga valley to the mountains. Another superb day out, just one final sunset post to come.

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Hike Around Roque Nublo   12 comments

Warning – this post contains a lot of photos!

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Time for another walk in the mountains and a visit to one of the islands most famous sights (away from the beaches anyway)

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Both my walking guides seemed somewhat fixated on linear walks using buses to return. The excellent Discovery Walking Guide Map I managed to purchase (after a fruitless hour looking for the worlds most secretive shop hidden in hotel complex) showed what looked like an excellent circuit. In effect a tour around, and a visit to Roque Nublo.

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Accompanied by more blue skies and clear warm sunshine we headed into the hills on a trail very reminiscent of Arizona and Sedona region I’ve walked in many years before.

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It was absolutely stunning and a joy to walk among the fragrant pine woods surrounded by towers of rock.

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As we climbed higher, Roque Nublo itself came into view and became the focus of my gaze and the camera for the next few hours.

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Although there were many rocks towers vying for my attention.

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We had a short stop to take on cookie-based nutritional supplements with a view over to Tenerife and El Teide.

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Before approaching close to base of Roque Nublo.

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A path headed away towards what looked like an interesting viewpoint so we took off for a look.

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Interesting was the word indeed. The path finished abruptly on the edge of a sensational view over the NW of the island.

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A prime spot for lunch.

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What the photos don’t show is how sensationally exposed the edge was. I couldn’t get near the edge as it was sloping slightly downwards and making my legs turn to jelly just thinking about the drop. I reckoned there was clear drop of at least a thousand feet just a few feet from where I ate my sandwiches. An amazing perch.

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We set off back towards our main route and tour of the area.

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We were pleased to watch some nimble climbers descending after a climb to the top of the rock.

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Another needle-like spire of volcanic rock. I think it’s called El Fraile.

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And more amazing views across the deep gorges that slice through this most mountainous and dramatic of islands.

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As we approached our goal we encountered the crowds. Its a very well know landmark and a relatively short distance from the road so we were far from having the rock to ourselves (although we saw hardly anyone for the vast majority of the hike).

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The climbers we saw earlier were on their final abseil as we approached.

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Its a fantastic spot, close to the highest point of the island and views are just magnificent.

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Another snack stop was in order to sustain us through the second half of the walk.

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To reach the car we descended to the small and pretty village of Ayacata through a gorgeous valley full of blossoming trees. After last years trip to Lanzarote we were craving some flora and Gran Canaria delivers wonderfully in this regard.

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The pine trees add a splash of green to the high mountains.

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You can see the pale pinks of all the blossoming trees in the shot below

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And some close up shots of the blossom as we hiked down for a cheeky cold drink by the roadside in the village.

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All that was left was the hike back across to the car. The map showed a path but it wasn’t mentioned in either guide book.

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It proved a little difficult to find the start and it was a bit vague in places but we managed to follow it, accompanied by more sensational views as the sun started to dip and bathe the rock in golden light.

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The contrast in colours here was remarkable.

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A short steep climb back up to the car finished off a wonderful days hiking.

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Gran Canaria was very quickly becoming my favourite of the Canary Islands. What it lacks in terms of an iconic big summit like El Teide, it more than makes up for with its rock towers and deep gorges. There are paths through almost all of the island and at this time of year its a paradise for walkers of all abilities. A superb day.

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Posted February 12, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain, Walking

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