Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Return to the West Coast   4 comments

Time for S to go home and we dropped her off at the airport with a fond farewell. We had grand plans for a picnic in the mountains but were caught out by the fact it was Epiphany – some big Catholic day in Spain and everything was shut – most importantly the bakery and supermarkets so no picnic lunch. We decided to head back to the port at Agaete as we felt sure there would be restaurants open.

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The natural rock swimming pools looked rather more impressive this time as the tide was in and large waves were washing over the edge. A swim could wait as it was time for lunch.

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We had an excellent seafood lunch overlooking the harbour and the Tenerife ferry comings and goings.

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A stroll around the harbour followed. I really rather liked this place with its more local feel and superb clear water.

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Back to the rock pools for a swim (for me anyway, no-one had brought swimming stuff and I improvised with a pair of shorts). It was wonderful sitting on the outer wall with waves washing over me.

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We spent a very happy hour pithering about and watching the waves crash and surge along the lava rock channels

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Its a cracking spot and one of my favourite places on the island.

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We were home early enough for TBF to take a swim and for me to wander about on the now deserted beach in the late afternoon sunshine as the sun went down.

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The rocks of this part of the island simply glow under a low sun. Great to wander on the beach at this time of day in winter.

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We headed out to the rock shelf to watch the sunset but with less cloud around it wasn’t as good as the first time

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Still pretty good though.

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The boats in the harbour as the light faded.

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A final view along the coast to Taurito before heading back for a quiet night in.

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Posted February 24, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Sunset Part 1   12 comments

Another day of relative rest such that I can’t remember what we did in any form. I’ve reached that point where unless I have photos I have no recollection of my activities. Welcome to late middle age.

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I do remember (at least my photos do) that we went for an evening stroll up to the viewing platform above the town to watch the sunset.

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Some good views over the town but we still couldn’t see the setting sun.

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On the way back I saw a stream of sunset light along the road and followed past the end of the road and through a rather smelly collection of bins behind the harbour.

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There was a shelf of rocks above the sea that had a grandstand view of the sunset.

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Clearly a well known spot, there were dozens of people there. A mix of tourists and hippies playing bongos and the like. There was a strange sweet smell in the air, no idea what it was.

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With some clouds around this time the sunset was superb

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El Teide was perfectly placed in silhouette.

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Th sky blushed with oranges, yellows and reds.

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A small boat drifted by to create some extra foreground interest.

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It gets chilly at sunset even this far south so time to head back after natures show.

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It was S last night so we returned to our favourite restaurant for a farewell meal (and to share a glass of Sangria).

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More sunset glory to come.

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Posted February 22, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain

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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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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Local Walk Part 2   12 comments

Another day of rest, another morning on the beach, restless feet and a need for a walk. This time I convinced TBF and S to join us on our local walk. Not sure they were all that impressed with my steep scramble to the road to cut the corner off.

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A quick visit to the closed road before heading back up onto the ridge.

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This time we followed the shallow valley all the way to its head to reveal a different aspect to the walk.

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The clouds had rolled in across the mountains creating some dramatic vistas.

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We were much further inland along the ridge, a view down over the resort of Taurito next door.

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The ridge was superb, sheer drop offs on both sides and narrowing to dramatic crest at the far end.

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One of the few short stretches where the coastal motorway pops out from its maze of underground tunnels.

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We watched the sunset from the ridge this time rather than at the end where it overlooks the sea.

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The golden glow on the red rocks was spell-binding. A wonderful spot to sit and watch the day end.

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Withe more clouds this time the sunset was more dramatic but still not as good as others we’ve sen on previous trips to the Canaries.

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It was pretty dark on the walk down, care was required on the loose ground but worth it for the nighttime views over the resort.

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A walk I could happily do every day to watch the sunset.

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Posted January 30, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain, Walking

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Day out to the West Coast   10 comments

After a day off – sort of – it was time for more exploration. A day trip to the spectacular West coast was in order on a stunning clear blue sky day. The drive took us along another series of mountain roads to the Degollada de Tasarte where the views were stunning.

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We headed to the beach at Playa de La Aldea. The approach through the untidy town and scrubby land behind looked unpromising but when we parked up it was a superb spot.

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A small peaceful village with a long pebble beach, backed by spectacular mountains and framed by a deep crystal clear sea.

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We had a wander along the beach and across the to the harbour in the warm sunshine, enjoying the superb views and the peaceful ambience of this little known and remote corner of the island.

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We watched a local fisherman land his catch of – well – fish.

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Lunch out was the order of the day and a very fine one it was too. A small friendly little restaurant that did fine seafood and one of the largest plates of fried chicken I’ve ever seen.

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Onwards and upwards to one the most sensational roads I’ve ever driven. We parked up at the Mirador del Balcon where the view along the coast to these symmetrically aligned peaks was jaw dropping.

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The road climbed higher but was closed to through traffic due to subsidence. If you look closely in the photo below you can see just about make out the road clinging precariously, some would say insanely, to the cliffs. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to drive it even if it was open.

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Tenerife and El Teide floating above the haze.

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This was as far as we could go but it was well worth the out and back detour.

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On with the tour, through the longest road tunnel in the Canaries to get around the closed section and along another breathtaking and scary section of road forced across seemingly sheer cliffs. To the relative peace and quiet of Agaete and Puerto de las Nieves. The views back along the coast were just as magnificent.

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We were here to look at the pools of Las Salinas, semi-natural rock pools refreshed by the tide.

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Me and TBF took a swim and it was wonderful in the cold clear water under a warm sun. The views were ok as well.

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Not a bad place to have a holiday home.

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After enjoying a swim and a gentle laze in the sun we headed back to the harbour to watch the Tenerife ferries and grab an ice cream.

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Me and TJS took a stroll along the harbour wall while the others scoffed.

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A glorious afternoon light turned everything golden and I decided I liked this place very much. None of the tourist trappings just a handful of small restaurants and shops and very quiet out of season.

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The water looked very inviting for a swim although very hard on the feet.

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I wanted to spend more time here – so we did a few days later on an unplanned visit.

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A fine day out exploring a completely different and quite stunning side to the island. We headed back the long way around the other 3/4 of the island by motorway. It says much for the winding roads on the coast we’d driven through that it took longer to drive the 1/4 in the morning than the 3/4 on the way home!

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – Local Walk   13 comments

A day of leisure was in order after our walk the day before. The morning was spent sunning ourselves on the beach and swimming in the cool clear Atlantic waters.

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There is only so much leisure I can handle in one day on holiday though. I convinced TJS to join me in an exploratory stroll up to the top of the ridge between Puerto Mogan and Taurito. There were no obvious paths (its pretty much a long line of cliffs but I reckoned we could find a way up. Worst case we could take a look at the road that clings precariously to the cliffs and see why it’s been closed for several months.

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After sneaking through a posh hotel to access the walkway around the old ruins (you have to pay if you enter the other end) and then scrambling up to the road we found a shallow valley that seemed to have a path through it. We found another path that hopefully forced a route through the crags. It did but it was exceptionally loose and a little precarious in places. We were both glad when the angle eased.

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It turned out to be well worth the effort. The broad ridge had superb views both to the sea and back to the mountains and was crossed by numerous paths.

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A view down to Puerto Mogan.

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And a close up view of our apartment. Its the one top centre with the white canopy on the right.

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TJS poses for the sunset.

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We found an infinitely better way down into the shallow valley which in turn proved to be an interesting dry and eroded watercourse.

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The setting sun created wonderful colours on the volcanic rocks.

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This is the closed road. No cars but clearly now a very popular walk or cycle ride.

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The sunlit rocks above the road.

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And here is why the road is closed. A good part of it having fallen into the sea! I doubt they will ever open the road again as there is very little left to work with. On the right hand side you could pretty much jump straight into the sea. They have some really spectacular coastal roads in Gran Canaria.

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We watched the sunset from the road but with such a clear sky and no clouds it was a bit of a damp squib.

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Still, not a bad place to be in early January.

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We hadn’t been out on New Years Eve so we did a New Years Day night out. Puerto Mogan has dozens of restaurants and we found a really nice friendly place that did a fine line in Fish, Paella and Calamari.

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Happy people enjoying a happy holiday.

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And a nice view across the harbour to the beachfront strip.

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Having a local walk is always an advantage wherever we stay and this one was a really good one. We went up another couple of times which I’ll cover in later posts.

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Posted January 26, 2019 by surfnslide in Gran Canaria, Spain, Walking

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Winter Holiday in Gran Canaria – El Aserrador and El Juncal   16 comments

After a couple of days R&R and mountains on the doorstep, we had itchy feet and needed to go out for a hike. The weather had returned to glorious clear blue skies so we headed out and back up the winding mountain roads into the heart of the island (stopping for another look at view of the valley behind the resort)

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Using our trusty – or rather less than trusty – Paddy Dillon guidebook we planned a walk from the pass of El Aserrador.

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What became instantly clear is that Gran Canaria is absolutely stunning. Huge deep valley’s and gorges slice through massive towers of rock, all of it cloaked in sparse forest and shrubs. We pulled over and parked up and after a quick remark about how cold it was in the wind (we were at over 1500m after all) we took in the utterly breathtaking views.

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We set out as per the guidebook instructions looking for the path but couldn’t find it. After a speculative rummage in the undergrowth I found a trace of a path which turned out to be the real one now largely obscured. Mr Dillon needs to revisit the island and update his book to say “walk up the road a bit to find the well marked broad path” rather than trying to find this unmarked sheep track.

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No matter when the walk takes you along past rock towers like this and along a superb and easy high level path twisting around a ridge above deep gorges and lakes.

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As soon as we reached the ridge we started to catch sight of El Teide on Tenerife across the ocean.

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Having climbed it a few years back it was great to see from a distance. It dominates the skyline when you are in the right spot and it will feature in loads of my photos both on this post and others. Being west of Gran Canaria it catches the winter sun and is very clearly seen most days. An iconic sight and a pleasing one when you’ve been to the top.

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The path was wonderful with open expansive views all around. It defied the guidebook description of “occasional views”!

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From the sketches in the guidebook it was hard to tell what kind of walk it would be and I wasn’t expecting a high level walk along a ridge. On a clear day like this it was a magnificent stroll.

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I had no real mental picture of Gran Canaria other than the coastal strip of high rise hotels and beaches. I had an idea the interior was mountainous but no real concept of just how dramatic it was. Coupled with some really splendid small, quiet mountain villages its truly amazing.

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The path allowed us to take in some of the small summits on the ridge and we stopped on one of the higher ones for a spot of lunch.

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Continuing on for more of the same – as I say my camera was going a bit crazy with the images, especially the contrast between the trees, rock and deep blue sky.

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The lake in the left of the shot below is where we had lunch on the first day.

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The pointy rock in the distance is Roque Nublo one of the islands most famous sights. More on that in a later post.

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Panorama shot looking west across the mountains to Tenerife and El Teide.

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Everywhere, there deep gorges, small villages, rocky crags that just begged to be explored. Gran Canaria has a great network of well marked paths that would take weeks to explore to the full. This one was a really good start.

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This is the highest peak on the ridge, Morro de Pajonales, which I’d like to have climbed but it had a band of rock near the path that looked tricky and massive sheer cliffs all around. Another visit perhaps.

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This is a shot looking back up the valley we needed to walk to return to the car (it was parked under the cliffs in the middle of the photo.)

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The return took us along a forestry track which I normally don’t like. This was one had views at every turn and was a very nice easy descent back to the bottom of the valley and the sleepy village of El Juncal.

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Sadly a descent to the bottom of the valley to cross it meant a long climb back along the road. We were learning that valleys and gorges in Gran Canaria are very deep and routes that cross then involve a lot of ascent and descent.

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The amount bare rock is quite extraordinary and not what I expected. There are huge and towering rock faces in every direction and some of the paths we found wandering through were superb. Again more of that in later posts.

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The pointy rock here is Roque Bentayga, a sacred site for the original occupants of the island.

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We returned to the car fully satisfied after a fantastic introduction to the delights of the mountainous interior. On top of that we’d come across no-one on the walk. Never a better illustration about how reality can be so radically different to expectations from tourism.

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A superb day out and back home for a very quiet New Years Eve. I don’t really do party’s and late nights. This is how I think you should bring in the New Year.

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