Archive for the ‘chinyero’ Tag

Spring Interlude   12 comments

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The Beasts from the East seem to have had domain over the British weather this year with another one apparently on the horizon for Easter. How pleasant it was then for a walk that didn’t involve putting on goggles and burying my head in a waterproof. The rest of the family were otherwise engaged so a solo walk in one of my favourite parts of the Black Mountains.

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Parking was full in Capel y Ffin so I headed up the very narrow lane in the Nant Bwch valley. Where you reach open fell there is plenty of off-road parking. As I’d be walking back that way anyway it made no difference to the route. It was a glorious day and warm enough to ditch warm hats for a baseball cap to keep the sun off

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I dropped into the village having decided to do the route the other way around from how I’ve tackled it before.

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The best part of the route is a splendid path that traverses between the fields and the open fell. I’ve always walked this stretch at the end of the day when it’s in shadow. This time it was in warm sunshine and its an absolute pleasure

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Despite the number of cars in the village and on the valley road, I saw no-one. Not sure why I’ve never seen anyone on this path as it’s an obvious route and a joy to walk

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Lost in my own thoughts and in the views of fell and field I ate up the miles as the path slowly climbs onto the shoulder of Bal Mawr

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It was half past lunchtime when I reached the ridge so I hunkered down in a heather and horse manure filled hollow for lunch. The views across Ysgyryd Mawr and the Sugar Loaf, all the way to the Severn Estuary and the Mendips were extensive

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So began the long back along the ridge paralleling my route in the valley below

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Its a fine ridge and the miles continued to roll by

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It was clear and sunny but the clouds were starting to fill in and it was chilly in the breeze

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Always hard not look self-conscious and concerned whenever I take a selfie

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The stretch that leads along towards the north edge of the Black Mountains escarpment is a bit of trudge and a boggy one at that.

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Time for a brief rest while sun was out

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Once above the higher reaches of the Nant Bwch valley I cut off from the path across country and back down to the path home. It looked a little rough but I managed to thread together a mix of sheep and pony tracks that made a rather easy route

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Quite surprised to see this walk ended up over 13 miles. My knees, feet and hips were feeling it by the end. A fine warm day before another spell of winter

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Island in the Sun – Volcano Day   9 comments

Time for a family day and an effort to convince TJF that a walk in the mountains was a very fine way to spend a day. The zone of forests between the coast and the high caldera of Las Canadas that we drove through on our first day looked very inviting for a walk so we headed up that way

Once again the air was crisp, clean and pin sharp, just perfect for walking. My guide book had a short walk of around 4 miles around the Volcan de Chinyero that looked ideal for a morning, pre-lunch amble

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Chinyero was the scene of the most recent eruption on Tenerife in 1909 and the path crosses several chaotic lava streams. It’s a very surreal experience made all the more unusual with the realisation that the ground you are crossing is only a 100 years old

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The views across the lava and trees to El Teide and Pico Viejo were very fine

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The scenery is really bizarre. Look upwards and you see the tops of a green forest. Look down and your feet are crunching on lava and ash with almost nothing in the way of grasses or shrubs. I was quite amazed that anything can grow on this landscape. Nature is wonderful in the way it can rapidly colonise the harshest of landscapes

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As the path climbs, the small barren lava cone of Chinyero is revealed. You can’t climb it although I’m not sure if this is because it’s not safe or because its fragile. There was a path to the top but this must be for the geologists who study it – at least that’s what I assumed

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The scenery is a reminder that Tenerife is still technically an active volcanic island. No spewing lava or bubbling mud pots. Its the idea that’s interesting. It may never erupt again. It could erupt tomorrow. I found the juxtaposition of green lush forest and barren lava flows quite beguiling

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It was a lovely easy circular walk that finished it some very large and impressive trees that must have survived the eruption. In fact several trees seemed to still bear the marks of scorching which I assume was from the heat of the lava as it passed nearby. A walk in clear mountain air through pine scented forests around and recently active volcano – very fine indeed

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Learning our lesson from the first day we chose a picnic site in the sun. They do picnic areas well in Tenerife. This one was just up the road and called Chio. It was huge with a vast array of massive wooden tables and even free BBQs to use. Set amongst the trees it was a marvellous spot.

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Indeed it would have been perfect had I remembered a sharp knife to cut the bread, meat cheese and fruit. Improvisation was called for. Seeing as I only fly about twice a year I will never accumulate any useful air miles. My frequent flyer card for Iberia therefore came in much handier as a blade although cutting a chorizo sausage with it was something of a challenge 🙂

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After lunch we needed another volcano fix. Our friends J&A had told us there was a very fine one next to the road a couple of miles away. It was a fine recommendation. Alas I’ve forgotten what it was called and no amount of web-searching has found the name

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It was higher than Chinyero so the views across to Las Canadas, El Teide and Pico Viejo were even better

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It was also a fine viewpoint looking down over the smaller cones that we’d walked amongst in the morning. Chinyero is in the photo below somewhere and you can just see the distant island of La Palma above the clouds

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It was a fine if rather uncomfortable spot to rest and admire the views. Looking again at the images the blue of the sky still takes my breath away. It really was wonderful up there

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As was our routine know we headed down mid afternoon to be down by the beach for a swim before sunset. We went to Playa San Juan (where we’d tried to swim on Xmas Day and been blown back by the Saharan wind). The weather was much kinder but it looked like the sand had been washed away leaving a pebbly beach. I have to say it was bloody hard getting in the water with quite a swell trying to bowl you over whilst you you hobbled over the stones. TBF was knocked over and spent the rest of the experience cursing about it. I thought it was a lovely swim to end the day even if my feet said otherwise as I hobbled back to the safety of my flip-flops

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Another tick in the box for Tenerife. The place was really embedding itself in my soul

Island in the Sun – The introduction   8 comments

I mentioned in my last post that we had to leave our Ingleton weekend in a hurry as we had places to go. After a drive home down the M6 in the rain (in a broken car with no turbo), a madcap 2 hours unpacking and re-packing, squeezing all four of us and 2 weeks luggage (which includes my daughters fifty pairs of shoes) into a 2 door hatchback, a hurried meal in Ross on Wye, another drive to London and an overnight in a stuffy hotel, we were all ready at Terminal 5 Heathrow for a winter sun holiday.

TBF has been badgering me for years to take a winter sun holiday but I’d always ruled it out as too costly. After 3 years of wet and dreary Xmas breaks and stories from friends raving about how good taking a Xmas sun holiday was, I relented. Decision making was spurred by TJS being denied a place on the school skiing trip when it was oversubscribed and he was unlucky to be drawn from the hat. When I mentioned we could go somewhere sunny with mountains and one in particular at nearly 4000m, he was in! Needless to say the Funsters needed little convincing and the plan was set

Now I’m not a superstitious sort but the omens were good. Having negotiated the tedium that is check-in and security at a modern large airport we needed breakfast. The first one we picked was mobbed but we were shown to a table next to the huge windows that overlook the runway so we could watch the planes while we ate. The signs were good

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Still it was a long day, two flights via Madrid and it was gone 11pm by the time we’d landed, driven to the villa, shopped and eaten. Exploring our holiday destination would have to wait till morning

By the way, that destination was Tenerife

Our first morning delivered exactly what I’d hoped.

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Replacing endless storms, rain and grey skies was a cloudless blue sky and a leisurely breakfast on the terrace in the sunshine. The villa was in the NW corner of the island near Los Gigantes but away from the town amongst the banana plantations. The villa was clean and tidy but the grounds were gorgeous and the views over the sea and the mountains behind were stunning. Best of all we had several fruit trees in the garden so fresh lemons, oranges and grapefruits were readily available. Rather splendid indeed, this winter-sun-thing was going to be hard habit to break.

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The first day was spent chilling out in the sunshine, shopping and eating (a day of airport and airline food does that  to you). The weather was sensational, warm enough to laze comfortably in the sun without being too hot.

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The end of the day confirmed what I’d hoped that the position gave superb sunsets over the nearby island of La Gomera. We were very happy!

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The next day we were restless – well I was – and with the weather set fair did a tourist day and headed up to Las Canadas, the Volcanic crater and landscape that holds the summit of El Teide, Tenerife and Spain’s highest point. The road goes up to well over 2000m and once you leave the coast behind and climb, the skies become a deep blue and the air crystal clear and pin-sharp. It reminded me of the air clarity of summer days in the Alps, only with volcanos

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The landscape is remarkable. Sparse forests of pines cut through with barren lava flows. Its a reminder that in geological terms, Tenerife is still very much active. It has experienced regular volcanic events for the past few hundred years although nothing since 1909. That was Chinyero and we took our first Tenerife wander around the forests that surround it with our first views of the huge mass of El Teide. The mix of lush forest and lava devastation is amazing and the warm sunshine in the cool mountain air was wonderful.

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Onwards with the tour as the road spills over into the Las Canadas crater. El Teide disappears for a moment behind the bulk of Pico Viejo, Tenerife’s second highest peak. As impressive as Teide itself but more on this in later post.

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The road through the lava flows is extraordinary. It seems impossible to imagine an engineer looking at the mass of twisted wreckage that is a lava flow and thinking “we could put a road through there”

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It was time for lunch and a tactical error. I thought it would be good to picnic in the forest on the northern side of the crater. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that at 2000m in the shade of trees in December is pretty chilly, even in Tenerife. We hurried through lunch and headed back to the sun

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The landscape inside the crater is breathtaking. A veritable moonscape of dusty bowls, rocky towers and lava flows. Its very reminiscent of a desert but it’s all volcanic action, and everywhere, El Teide watches over you silently, ever present. It’s an iconic mountain, instantly recognisable and it dominates the whole island. You might see one or two photos of it in the next few posts!

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What the photos, desert-like in their impression, don’t convey is just how cold it was. Car thermometer was showing 7C although out of the wind the power of the sun at this altitude kept us warm

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Another of Tenerife’s iconic sites are the Roques de Garcia and especially Roque Cincho. I visited Tenerife in my teens on a schools cruise and it was this spot I remember.

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The sun was lighting up the rocks to stunning effect. Here, as well as Teide we were watched by Guajara, Tenerife’s third highest peak and part of its very own “Three Peaks”. It really was rather cold here, exposed to the wind so we took advantage of another of the islands advantages.

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Despite its height Tenerife is still quite a small island. This means you can explore the base of a volcano at 2000m and 45 minutes later be on the beach. Cool!

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We headed to Playa Arena just down the hill from the villa. Lots of lava rock also means black sand beaches and this one is a beauty. It feels wrong to tread on black sand. In the UK you normally associate black sand with dirt and oil but this beach was spotlessly clean. The waves were far too big and powerful for a proper swim but we had fun jumping in the waves and generally messing about.

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We took an early evening stroll and stopped to look at the cliffs above Los Gigantes (that give the town its name) bathed in setting sunlight.

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Sunset at the villa finished off a grand day

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Not a bad way to spend the Xmas Eve don’t you think!

 

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