Archive for the ‘el teide’ Tag

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 – 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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Reach for the Stars   16 comments

TJS had spotted a possible educational outing in Tenerife. The Funsters headed off by bus to spend a day on (or rather not on) the windy beach and me and the other sherpa headed back up to the high mountains. Before the planned activity we had time for a short walk before lunch

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The guidebook mentioned a short walk that could be fitted in while waiting for a bus. It suited both my infirm knee and our limited time but up here even the shortest walk delivers.

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It was a round of an old volcanic cone called Alto de Guamasa and it was sensational. Its perched high above the steep forested northern slopes and the views were awesome. A snowy El Teide on one side

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This short was to shown people back home there was enough snow to ski on (many people were sledging on body boards!)

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On the other side were spectacular views down to the north coast

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The scenery was ever changing as the path completely circled the cone. Bare lava slopes of various hues, forests and El Teide always dominating

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Only took an hour but another classic walk

After a brief lunch we were off to our main destination. TJS is planning on doing Astrophysics at University and when he saw that they did organised tours of the Observatory up here, well, he was rather keen

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Its perched up at just shy of 2400 metres which probably explains why he looks so cold, seeing as it was just that, very cold in fact.

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It has a whole range of telescopes and technology. Its primary function is as a solar observatory (the three big towers above) one of the top 3 in the world (the others are in Hawaii and Chile)

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The best location for such things are oceanic islands with high mountains. When observing the sun the main challenge is local ambient heat. The ocean acts as some kind of thermal barrier that minimises the effect of localised and of course being high up in clear atmosphere helps a lot. Even the plants that grow up here help

Photo below shows a whole host of other technology (Gran Canaria in the background), one of which is a microwave telescope looking for the origins of the universe and the big bang and part managed by Manchester University where TJS hopes he might one day end up

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Here we got look at the Electromagnetic image of the sun. There were no sunspots to see but you could see solar flares which was impressive

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Of course from up here the views of the island were also damned fine

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The two guys who did the tour were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and good humoured. I would have liked to have seen inside one of the solar telescopes but we did get to see one of their older reflective telescopes up close. They also did an audio visual presentation that was way better than any planetarium show I’ve ever seen

Needless to say TJS was in his element. Much of what was said went over my head a bit but like TJS I could see it would be damned fine place to work. Much better than being a Project Manager for an Mobile Phone company

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On the way down we had to wait in traffic but in a spot where the views back to El Teide and the Roques de Garcia was superb in the late afternoon light. Two identical pictures, one taken with my phone one with my DSLR. Pretty hard to tell the difference!

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Superb day out, something completely different and educational that I hope has inspired TJS still further to continue his hard work at college. Hopefully I can come visit when he works here!

 

 

Posted January 17, 2017 by surfnslide in Spain, Tenerife, Walking

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Tenerife Bits and Pieces (and more sunsets)   6 comments

After our first full day we had some rain! Mostly overnight and into the morning letting us have a lie in. The best thing about a winter sun holiday here is that spells of bad weather never last long and it was sunny by lunchtime. Time to spend a few hours lazing by and swimming in the pool

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And nice sunset to end the day

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Xmas Eve saw TBF and TJS head off for a walk leaving me and TJF to spend some quality father-daughter time together. We walked down into Los Gigantes (via a set of steps that went almost to the beach then suddenly stopped in the middle of waste ground so we had climb back to the top again) and paid a visit to the natural rock swimming pool.

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Its perfect for a swim and has the added excitement of large Atlantic waves that break over the retaining wall turning the pool fizzy for a few seconds

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Needless to say I had a swim to peer over the wall. Rather intimidating on day like this when the swell was rather large but perfectly safe (although there is no way I would I have stood on the slippery wall to dive in. Fall the other way and you’d be in very big trouble)

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It was rather good to just stand in the pool and let the waves break over you

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I was well chuffed with this photo. Just catching it perfectly with the breaking wave and three synchronised divers.

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The views of the coast weren’t half bad either

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We had a very nice lunch together and followed that with me accompanying TJF to do some shopping. I hung around outside with my wallet primed while she shopped, occasionally trying on silly hats to try and embarrass her. After another rolling of eyes I slipped away to take a look at the cliffs from the small town beach. It was a great day as we don’t very often spend time together just the two of us

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Christmas Day and unlike last year we managed a swim. It was a bit breezy and cool but plenty warm enough for a swim on the beach at Playa de las Americas

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Much better than spending all day cooking, watching TV and the rain outside. Another fine sunset before an improvised Christmas dinner that did involve poultry and roast potatoes. I even thought I’d managed to find some pigs in blankets. However what I thought were sausages wrapped in bacon turned out to be dates! I tried to pretend they were nice but they were pretty gross. Some kind of Tapas it seems. Dates in Blankets, who’d have thought

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A couple of days later I dropped TJS and TBF off so they could climb El Teide, staying at the hut as last year. There was loads of snow and all was set for a successful ascent. However TJS came down with a bad case of altitude sickness (the hut is at 3200m) and they had to head down without reaching the summit. Me and TJF headed to the beach but it was so windy we couldn’t get near it without being sand-blasted. We did get some nice views of the snowy mountains on the way down by way of compensation

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I had to pick up the weary climbers the next morning so we had the afternoon for another walk into Los Gigantes and more shopping

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And, to finish off this post, yet another glorious sunset

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More walking adventures to come

Back to the Volcano – The Roques de Garcia   6 comments

After a trip down the M1 and a night in the worlds smallest and hottest family hotel room at Luton Airport we were whisked away by Ryanair, back to Tenerife for the Xmas holidays. No time spent at home after leaving our weekend in the Dales. It was Britain when we arrived, cloudy and hacking it down with rain. We immediately felt at home. A short drive (via an unscheduled tour of some of the other coastal resorts) had us in our temporary home for a couple of weeks. Shopping and then a meal with some cheap cider set us on the right path after a long journey.

Our flat was excellent with another west facing view to admire the sunsets. Get used to these, there are a lot of sunset photos coming in future posts

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Our first day was a little cloudy but still warm so we chilled with a stroll down and along the coast into Los Gigantes. Via some more unscheduled routes and clambers under fences and down unfinished roads (I still have the scars on my shin to prove it). Cloudy it may have been but it was still warm and pleasant and nice way to get into the swing of things

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One day of leisure is enough though. Sun a blue skies returned and we were off out. Time for some walks in the clean fresh air of the caldera at 2200m. We were headed for the Roques de Garcia, one of the classic sights of Tenerife. This is La Catedral

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And this is the most famous monolith Roque Chinchado or “Gods Finger”. I remember this one distinctly from my visit as kid but strangely nothing else about this area (other than the towering El Teide)

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There are several large and distinctly different shaped and hued rocks and under the clear light at this altitude they are majestic. Unsurprisingly its a very popular spot and thronged with tourists. Luckily your average British/German/Japanese/Chinese tourist loses the use of their legs if they stray more than 100 feet from the tour bus so a short walk and you have peace and tranquility in this lunar landscape

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There is a superb 3 mile hike that circles the rocks and whilst it looks hot and arid, its in fact pretty cool at this height so the walk is easy. The sheer variety of shapes and colours is amazing

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Taking you back to the classroom for a minute there are generally two types of lava. Where the lava moves very slowly it forms large angular blocks and is called Aa. You see it all over Tenerife. Where it flows quickly like a river (like on any Volcano disaster movie you’ve ever seen) it forms smoother curves and looks a little like coiled rope. This stuff is called Pahoehoe and this area has some decent examples as below. When it flows downhill the outer layer cools and hardens and allows the inside, still insulated to run within and leave behind lava caves. There are some examples near here but they are off limits now although we did see a few small holes under the surface when we walked over one these flows. Fascinating stuff

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In the photo below you can see where this lava has poured through the gap in the rocks

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This one looked like swiss cheese

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The variety of textures and colours makes you realise just what a jumbled and complex chemical mass of molten rock makes up lava. Its incredible to realise that Tenerife is effectively new. Just igneous volcanic rock recently ejected from the earth’s mantle

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The walk takes you down and past El Catedral, a monstrous isolated rock, popular with rock climbers

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Its a wonderful walk and one of the highlights of Tenerife well worth the effort to explore and lose the crowds. After a stroll what you need is a hearty picnic in the forest. This one is our favourite on the island, spread across a huge area, just sunny enough to be warm as its still at 1800m and chilly. The picnic was enlivened by several woodpeckers drumming on the trees right above our head

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After lunch we had time for another walk, this time to the top of an old volcano called Samara. You can actually wander through the crater. Not much to see other than bare rock but its the idea that’s intriguing. Most of this landscape is only a few hundred years old. Whilst Tenerife is currently in a quiet spell (no eruptions since 1909) it does have regular small earthquakes of the size we occasionally get in the UK but never worry about. You see small white marker posts everywhere which I assume is to do with monitoring what’s going on. The Daily Express even saw fit to deem these tiny quakes worthy of news a few months ago claiming that Tenerife was on the verge of catastrophe. Technically I suppose it is as a spit of bubbling rock could spew out anywhere, any time. However a few quakes of less than 2 on the richter scale hardly qualifies for panic. For comparison on the odd occasion we get a quake in the UK that shakes a few roof tiles loose its normally around 3 on the scale which is logarithmic (3 is 10x stronger than 2 and so forth). I was hoping to feel the ground rumble at some point but it never did

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Back to the walk and the views from the top are as good as anything on the island

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This is a zoom shot of the Sombrero, one of the peaks on the caldera rim

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I love the fact that you can sit at some serious height and always see the ocean far below

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There is a pretty decent short walk that weaves through the dwarf trees and around some of the smaller cones. It still astounds me that anything grows here as there is no topsoil to speak of, just lava and dust

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I love this photo for the contrast between the dark lava, the green trees and the blue sky with the line of clouds below you

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We had to cut the walk short as it was getting late and there was a hint of showers in the air

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A superb day out. The walks up here are just stupendous and a far cry from the common image of Tenerife. More to come

Island in the Sun – Top of the World   6 comments

This was the “big one” as far as me and TJS were concerned.

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An ascent of Spain’s highest peak and easily TJS’s most significant mountain. An afternoon start was all that was needed so a chance for morning in the sun by the pool to get ourselves “in the zone” as it were.

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At 3718m El Teide is a significant eminence in anyone’s book. Much higher than I’d originally thought and even though you can ascend most of the way by cable car a major undertaking to climb if you do it properly. It needed some planning.

Interesting side story is that we’d have some company. My friend JB asked me somewhat pointedly and with a little more than passing interest where we going on holiday at Xmas, where we’d be staying, that sort of thing when met up a couple of months earlier. I told him while he looked back at me with a wry smile before telling me they were also heading to Tenerife, at exactly the same time and staying in the same area. Quite a coincidence since I didn’t know they were planning to go and visa versa. We’d made some plans to meet up for a walk but as I’m lumbered, sorry blessed, with two kids (one of whom hates walking) our paths didn’t quite cross (although we did go out for a very fine Tapas meal and they also cooked us a New Years Eve meal as I mentioned previously). However that changed with the El Teide climb

Anyway as I say climbing El Teide takes a bit of planning. Whilst a big mountain it’s relatively easy and you can drive to 2200m (still leaving 1500m though). Problem is that with a cable car to near the summit they operate a permit system to prevent hordes of tourist from trashing the delicate environment that is the summit crater. A check before we went revealed, probably unsurprisingly, that all permits were taken for about a month either of side of Xmas. Bugger!

I hatched plans to climb it one go through the night or arrive after the last cable car and walk down in the dark. Maybe even bivvy somewhere up near the summit. A little more research revealed a hut near the summit that if you stayed meant you didn’t need a permit. Even better was that there were spaces on January 1st, likely due to the fact people were recovering from New Years Eve excesses. I booked online within minutes and told J&A to do the same before places were sold out. Phew! We had a plan. In the event staying at the refuge doesn’t actually “waive” your need for a permit. It simply means that you are high enough and close enough to the summit to reach it before the day’s first cable car that carries the staff who police the permit. Also has the other major advantage that you can see the sunrise from this most iconic of mountains, well worth the effort as you’ll see.

So we had our plan and around 2:30 we were dropped off by TBF ready to begin our ascent

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The start of the walk is along a broad track/road, easy of gradient and effortless under the warm sun. One thing about having to plan a walk a month in advance is that you are at the mercy of the weather on that day. Many anxious days were spent watching the forecast, hoping we wouldn’t get a poor day for our big day. Our luck held and the weather was as clear and glorious as it had for most of our holiday

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The trail passes through a mixture of lava, ash and pumice as it wend its way slowly upwards. These dark round lumps are Los Huevos del Teide or the eggs of Teide. I think the technical term is Pyroclasts, lumps of lava blown out during an eruption. Turns out they form rather like the large balls of snow you make when building a snowman. Small balls of lava roll down over the molten stuff collecting more lava that cools and hardens as they continue downhill. This is one of the best examples or so the sign said

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The views down across the caldera were stunning

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We climbed the peak (well the rounded hump) of Montana Blanc form where we could see our objective for the night and the steep climb that preceded it. If you look very closely at the photo below you can just about make out the refuge on the skyline on the left hand edge

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A stop was in order to take on food and energy for the steep climb to the hut

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The views just got better and better as we climbed and the sun went down and played its winter light on the surrounding mountains

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The setting sun gave us our first view of the dramatic effect of El Teide’s shadow cast onto the island. It’s the unique effect of such a uniform shaped peak with nothing else around to interrupt the effect. Great in the evening, amazing at dawn, more to come

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The climb to the Atavista Refuge was easier than it looked, altitude only starting to affect us on the last few zig zags. We check in with the friendly warden, bagged a table in the small communal kitchen and spent the evening eating, drinking hot water and looking at the impressive views outside

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As the sun set outside and El Teide’s shadow slowly faded we were expectant for the summit climb the next day and in my case quite excited to again be climbing a major high summit for the first time in around 20 years since my alpine climbing days of yester-year

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It was a restless night, mountain refuges are almost exclusively noisy, stuffy and snorey if there is such a word. We were up a 5:30 and out walking 15 mins later while everyone else faffed about. It’s a well made path to the cable car station but rough and very tough to follow in the dark.

TJS was finding it very testing indeed, a combination of his first experience of high altitude and the fact that he was still recovering from his virus. At the cable car station he was in pretty bad shape and really suffering. We encouraged him to eat and press on the final few hundred meters to the summit and he gamely gave his all. He wasn’t going to fail at the last hurdle. In truth he coped well and in fact as we approached the summit he seemed to quicken as the older members of the group started to suffer. We made the summit before sunrise just as the first rays of light appeared over Gran Canaria

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It was perishingly cold and we took a few obligatory summit photos before settling down to watch the show

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The famous shadow appears just before the sun seems to pop out from behind Gran Canaria. It’s the largest shadow in the world projected onto the sea and its always triangular in shape even though the mountain is not perfectly symmetrical. Cool eh! I don’t think the photos do it justice as its a very surreal experience to see a mountain casting such a distinct shadow

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The sun started to appear and all was glorious

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The summit crater is pretty small only about 100 feet across and as you can see there are plumes of sulphur gas escaping from the ground all over. A stark reminder that things are still bubbling deep down there. The gas does give some warm, albeit rather smelly way to warm your hands in and the light effects are dramatic

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I’ve been lucky  enough in my younger days to have climbed a few alpine mountains and 4000m peaks. El Teide is very different as its on a island with nothing else around and its seems strange to stand at this altitude and be able to see a coastline and the sea. In the Alps all you can see are other mountains and valleys

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More summit shots as the ever rising sun created images on my SD card and in my mind to last a lifetime. I was worried that the summit might be a bit of circus but the effort to get there is considerable so the numbers are relatively small. In the end, even though there were 50 other people on the summit it was a quiet, reverential and respectful atmosphere as everyone took the scene of wonder in, lost in their own thoughts. Or possibly it was 8am, we’d been up since 5 and it was freezing cold

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As the sun rose, so it delivered what everyone wanted by now which was warmth. We had a very long way to descend and we needed to be off the summit before the permit police arrived. It’s a truly iconic peak to look at and to climb and we were all chuffed that we’d made the summit and seen the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean at New Year. I was pleased that circumstances had led me to Tenerife without ever realising I wanted to visit. Pretty glad I did

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Rather than reverse the way up, we’d chosen a route to traverse Pico Viejo, the second of Tenerife’s “Three Peaks” on the way down. We stopped at the mirador that overlooks it for some food and to admire its shapely features

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Topping out at 3135m it looks like something of a bump on the side of El Teide from below. From above however it reveals its true form. While El Teide has a small crater, Pici Viejo’s is massive. It was originally much higher with the highest parts you can see today the remains of a lava lake long since eroded. It’s truly an impressive site and another of those surprise features of Tenerife that I had no idea was there. I was looking forward to climbing it

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Unfortunately between us and it was a massive lava flow, Los Charcos. We came to realise that crossing a lava flow, even on well made path was very trying and tiresome especially on tired legs. It seemed to take an age to descend through the maze of boulders down to the pumice below Pico Viejo although to be fair it was a good 1000 feet of descent. The novelty of walking through a lava landscape wore off pretty quickly but the views across Pico Viejo to the coast were stunning

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It was with some relief we stepped onto the pumice and climbed to the top of the crater for a sit down and some more food

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Its a vast crater and hugely impressive to sit on the edge. Walk around the rim and even down into the crater itself would be amazing were it not barred and out of bounds. Not a bad place to stop for a rest

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The peak on the right in the photo below is Guajara that we climbed earlier in the trip which gives an idea of how high we still were and how far we still had to go to get down.

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Looking back up to El Teide shows how far we’d already descended including the the tortuous Los Charcos lava field

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1000m of knee-jarring loose descent followed. Much as I grew to love walking this bizarre volcanic landscape I had to admit it wore a bit thin on this day.

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The way down takes you past these dark craters, Les Narices del Teide, quite literally “the nostrils of Teide” which erupted in 1798 creating the immense lava flow behind the crater where the roads forges its route through

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I like the photo below for no reason other than everyone looks totally lost and out of place in this weird moonscape!

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I like this photo as well. Captures the volcanic landscape and smaller cones below as well as being able to see all three of the western Canary Islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma. Nice one to finish on.This was the last photo before my tiredness took over and determined that I couldn’t be bothered to take any more shots.

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And with that we trudged the last seemingly endless miles through the lava to the car and returned back to Los Gigantes to collect the Funsters (they’d been on a boat trip to see the Dolphins). A tiring an exhausting couple of days but one’s of immense pleasure and fulfillment. There are only a few such volcanic peaks within reach of the average walker and it was a special moment to watch the sunrise from this giant of the Atlantic. Quite hard to be believe it shares the space with a heaving holiday metropolis no less than 30 miles away in both directions.

And that was our Tenerife winter break in the sun. Our last day was a chill down after the endeavours on El Teide. Breakfast and lunch in the sunshine at the villa and an afternoon on the beach

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While I enjoyed the walking immensely, it’s what I do most of the time even through winter. There was just something extra special about sitting on beach in shorts and t-shirt in the warm sunshine in January. So very different from what that time of year brings at home and exactly what we’d all been looking for when we planned the trip

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We had one final glorious sunset to enjoy and one more meal at our favourite restaurant before it was time to pack ready for an early flight back to a wet, windy and flooded UK

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Goes without saying that Tenerife was a huge success for us. Pretty much the perfect destination. The temperatures were perfect, warm enough to laze in the sun, cool enough to enjoy walks without overheating. Endless walking opportunities, rocky peaks to climb, volcanos to watch the sunrise from, beaches to laze on. So much we wanted to see but didn’t have time. Next time

Island in the Sun – North Coast   4 comments

New Years Eve! An excuse to go further afield in our exploration of this island full of surprises. TJS had been up all night with a sickness virus and wasn’t all that keen to come out. I talked him into it as we were heading for the north coast and he’d been keen to see it. The road plummets down an astonishing series of hairpins to the coast. It’s pretty much a cliff and an amazing piece of road, one of many on the island. It pitches up in the small town of Garachico and very lovely it was too.

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The waves were absolutely enormous, all the more impressive in rising from the deepest blue sea. For a moment it looks incredibly inviting for a swim until you realise you’d be smashed to a pulp within seconds

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Its a lovely little town. It was completely destroyed by a lava flow in 1706 but has been lovingly rebuilt in the traditional style. That same lava flow has created deep channels into the sea that make perfect natural rock swimming pools. Well they would if the waves weren’t crashing around them. Everything was roped off for obvious reasons. You wouldn’t last more than a few minutes in the foaming water

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We spent a happy hour watching the waves over a coke and a coffee. Me and TJF went for a stroll around the harbour. Proceedings were enlivened by a drain hole under the harbour wall where the waves were gushing underneath causing a skirt-lifting rush of air every time the waves broke.

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Despite crashing waves the water was still a deep, clear, tropical blue and very fetching

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On our way back to the car we noticed some dark lumps on the rocks that I first thought were seaweed washed up by the waves. Closer inspection with the camera showed they were crabs. Very colourful ones and lots of them. I’m used to spending European sun holidays by the Med which is pretty lifeless. I forgot that this is the Atlantic and teeming with life

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We decided to head west to find somewhere nice for a picnic lunch figuring it might be less busy. It was an inspired idea. The road is spectacular, climbing high above the sea in a series of hairpins then burrowing through the cliffs in a couple of very long dark tunnels. Considering there is only a banana plantation and a lighthouse at the end of the road it seemed an extraordinary effort of engineering. However seeing as it led to a very fine spot at the Punta de Teno we weren’t complaining. Before exploring we sat down on the lava cliffs amongst the cacti for lunch.

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It was stunning spot away from the crowds, albeit a little hot. TJS was still feeling off colour so he stayed in the car

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The contrast was startling. On one side, towering cliffs plummeted down to a relatively calm sea with views back to Los Gigantes.

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On the other side the coast was being smashed by enormous waves. A 20 foot swell I reckoned.

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They formed perfect “white horses” and I was fascinated. As you know I love to surf on my kayak so big waves always grab and hold my attention. These would have given one hell of ride, emphasis on the one as I doubt you’d survive long after one wave

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The other side of the headland was calm and almost tempting for a swim from the jetty. The water was crystal clear and more large crabs scuttled around on the rocks. I just wasn’t sure I could get back onto the steps without a bashing from the swell

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The views from high up by the lighthouse were fantastic

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There was a small man made harbour on the other side and here it was calm and shallow enough for a dip. The beach was a little untidy as it’s a working harbour with all kinds of boat related detritus. Once in the water though it was warm and clear and full of fish life and it was a wonderful swim to end the day

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Even TJS felt well enough to sit outside on the rocks for a while and enjoy the views

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A fantastic spot that we’d picked on a whim and yet another spot to add the treasures Tenerife has to offer

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Rather than head home on the main road we took the one through the NW mountains. It’s a white knuckle ride of hairpins, narrow bends and oncoming traffic. The views however in the late evening light were just stupendous

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Ridges and deep gorges were the order of the day. Paths led off along and down them just aching to be hiked. We only did the Masca gorge on this trip but there is easily a weeks worth superb walking in this corner

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Out to sea you could see the islands of La Palma and La Gomera floating on the sea of cloud and haze

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Inland, as everywhere El Teide and its neighbour Pico Viejo dominate the island

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We stopped off several times to take in the amazing views (and catch our breath from the hair raising drive!)

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As it was New Years Eve we went into Los Gigantes (TJS stayed home and went to bed) where our friends J&A cooked us a lovely meal and we stayed and chatted until it was time for the fireworks. The hotel complexes put on a decent show which of course you can see for free from the balcony of a friends apartment. A fitting finale to a great day and indeed a great year.

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“Should auld acquaintance be forgot” etc etc

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