Archive for the ‘Tenerife’ Tag

The Great Escape – Sunset   11 comments

A fitting last entry for our Gran Canaria trip.


The theme was set on our first day, Christmas Eve. A long flight, drive to the town, unpacking, shopping etc meant we headed down to the seawater pools at the end of the day for a swim and watch the sunset.


It was magnificent. The experience enhanced by the new beach bar so we could enjoy a beer while watching the show.


We enjoyed the experience so much we went down pretty much every night of the holiday. We had no view to speak of from the apartment but this spot only 5 minutes away made that irrelevant.


Every evening gave something new, either from the effects of the clouds, the tide, the waves (or maybe the beer!)


The ferry always made an appearance around that time and provided a great pose across the setting sun.


All these first few shots are from that first evening. We were hooked on a feeling.


When the bar wasn’t open we sometimes just sat on the benches on the seafront with our own beers and snacks.


If you were lucky you could snag a spot sitting on the wooden platforms (the rocks are a little sharp and uncomfortable)


Lemon Wheat Beer became a firm sunset drink favourite for me and TJS.


The evening sun always lit up the Tamadaba ridge to dramatic effect.


The light over the pools was always a tempting image capture.


The golden light betrays the fact that these rocks are essentially black in full sunshine.


Body Boarders were regularly out in the scary waves (rocks under the water, not sand!)


A time when the whole family would sit together and enjoy the ambiance.


A happy couple enjoying some quality time.


El Teide on Tenerife always looks magnificent at this time of day. Nice to know I’ve been to the summit when catching a view.


The dragons back of the coast further along also held my gaze every time.


Most nights we enjoyed crystal clear skies which is great for warmth and light but the lack of clouds sometimes gave something of a one dimensional show. On a couple of nights we had some clouds to really turn up the colour setting.


The saltwater pools a perfect mirror for these reds and pinks.


And the waves an ever present feeling of motion and sound.


End of a trip, end of, I think, the best of our winter sun holidays. Even the flight home gave us some spectacular views over Grand Canaria, Las Palmas and El Teide. Hoping to repeat the trick in 12 months time.


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)


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!


We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)


Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep


A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)


A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10


And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless



Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later


A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill



The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb


Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year


2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!


And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts



More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.


Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer


I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal


May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan



No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF


Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks


Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax



A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change


One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug



After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye


By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)


Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.


Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon



The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)


A monster thunderstorm in Turin


My favourite seafront walk in Venice


The Colloseum in Rome – of course


Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)


The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”


A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon


And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne



Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!


But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons



A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)


More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University


And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot



After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr


And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain


A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor



And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains


The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful


The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs


Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach


Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

All is Quiet on New Years Day   4 comments

We didn’t really celebrate New Years Eve, not really our sort of thing. A quiet night in although TBF and TJS stayed up to watch the fireworks (put on by local hotels) from our balcony.

I thought New Years Day would be good for an outing, assuming many others woukld be recovering from the excesses from the night before. We’d never been to the NE corner, the Anaga Pensinsula so I though we ought to put that right. The nice thing about Tenerife is its diminutive size so it only took an hour to drive from one end to the other.

I’d read that the Anaga is rather splendid and so it proved. I asked TJS to take us to some obvious spot to get our bearings and he chose Mirador Pico del Ingles


It was breathtaking and the weather crystal clear. The views were just stunning. There seemed be one long central ridge where the road runs with several deep ravines carved on either side and numerous small villages perched impossibly on the sides


There was a wonderful covering of forest in complete contrast to the barren moonscape on El Teide (seen in the haze below)




It was wonderful and breathtaking vista and the whole area just begged to be explored


We only had one day so options were limited. We headed down to Taborno on the northern side figuring we had a better chance of avoiding the very keen wind. The views from the village were equally stunning. Alas my camera had reset itself to minimum size and resolution so the photos are reduced in size and not the best quality but I think you can still see the majesty of the place


The gorges plummet down to the glittering sea. Everywhere we could see paths snaking down to distant headlands and beaches. The walking in these parts looks superb although hard work as everything is either steep up or steep down


We had our picnic in the deserted village square by the church. A few laughs watching TBF chase our litter around in the wind



We took a short stroll out towards the pointed spire of Roque de Taborno


The slopes were especially good for lizards and we saw several scuttling about including some decent sized specimens


There is a path that completely encircles the base and is supposedly pretty spectacular and exposed. We were limited by time so just too an amble out to take a decent close up


I even managed to get the kids to pose for a photo



We took an alternative unsigned path on the way back that was pretty vertiginous in its own right. I was a glorious walk, only about an hour but as enjoyable as any I’ve done on Tenerife. The clear weather and contrast in colours was memorable.




Walking needs satisfied we finished the day off at the beach. We plunged down a ravine that emerged straight on to Playa de las Teresitas, one of Tenerife’s finest beaches



Its a strand of golden sand, unusual in Tenerife and I’m pretty sure the sand is imported from the Sahara. The beach is protected by a large breakwater and is perfect for families with gentle slopes into a calm sea. There was added interest from the ships berthed off shore and the para-gliders circling above. I liked this place a lot


Me and TJS took a wander to the end of the breakwater from where there was a splendid vista back across the beach





We spent a happy couple of hours wandering up and down. As it was late in the day the beach had enough people to feel welcoming without being in any way crowded




The setting of the sun behind the headland told us it was time to go


This is how New Years Day should be spent. No idea what the weather was like back home and frankly I didn’t care! 🙂

The North Coast   12 comments

It was time for a leisurely day out and we went to the north coast on the assumption it might be sheltered from the wind. We went first to Garachico, which is a lovely town. Its been rebuilt over the past couple of hundred years having been all but wiped off the map by a volcanic eruption and lava flow.

Those lava flows reached the sea and created some deep channels and pools full of crystal clear water. When we came last year  we couldn’t get close as the waves were too big and scary. This year whilst still large we could take a closer look.



As you can see it was still pretty wild and the water was charging up and down the channels in a most impressive fashion. You see pictures of people swimming in these channels but I can’t imagine it ever being safe


There are some deep pools that are sheltered from the waves and they did look very clear and inviting (had it not been for a sanitary towel floating in one!). The crabs seemed to like it here though



The whole area is criss-crossed by concrete walkways making for a very entertaining amble with the added risk of the odd soaking from an occasional larger wave


I waited for ages to see if the family would get such a soaking but circumstances wouldn’t oblige



The old harbour has been splendidly restored and they have put exercise machines out. The juniors posed for me after some pressure. I would have had a go but I have a bad knee



We wandered into town and had a marvellous lunch in an excellent and exceedingly friendly restaurant on the town square. Goat and fresh fish was the order of the day


To fill the afternoon we thought we’d take a look at Puerto de la Cruz (PDLC), the original Tenerife holiday resort. We parked up by the western beach and walked along the shore, through town and back to get a feel for the place. The waves looked a bit scary so we declined a swim

Next to the beach was a huge area of piled stones, several hundred of them, all together, impressive and surreal in equal measure



The waves were mighty and judging by the efforts to block them and the obvious damage they still cause is testament to the power of the Atlantic swell



We wandered past the harbour into the busy heart of town


We wanted to take a look at the Lago Martianez, a huge complex of swimming pools that appears on every image of PDLC. It occupies all of the headland to the left of the hotel in the photo below and I have to say it looked pretty impressive and is probably worth a day out


PDLC also has some fine views direct to the summit of El Teide (you can’t see it from the west and south coast)


Apart from that and whilst we did enjoy our afternoon we weren’t all that taken with PDLC. It looks dated with lots of high rise from the 70’s and its loud, brash and a little tacky. I think it needs some serious money spending to bring back to life. The north coast is stunning but I think I’d choose to stay elsewhere

Posted January 20, 2017 by surfnslide in Spain, Tenerife

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Hazy Shade of Winter/Summer   10 comments

In between Xmas and the unsuccessful attempt on El Teide was Boxing Day. Despite it being a very hazy day (more of the sand and dust in the air blown in from the Sahara) me and TJS wanted to do a walk. We agreed that the Funsters would drop us off we’d walk down to the coast to meet them. The drive was an event in itself. The road through the mountains of NW Tenerife is narrow with some seriously scary drops and busy with traffic. There are plenty of “whoaa!” moments as traffic bears down on you on one side and empty space with the sea below on the other.

Once we arrived at the start I was glad to revert to foot travel and the route while hazy looked good and so it turned out


The col was busy with tourists but 5 mins and we were alone. The route was quite superb. The path twisted through a verdant green of trees, shrubs and cacti, switching from the ridge and across to slopes on either sides


The target was the summit of Baracan (just left of centre in the photo below) at just over 1000m. I should point out that we started at around 800m so effort was minimal!


In places the path was spectacularly perched above the deep ravines that slice through this dramatic section of mountains


The views any further than a mile or so were vague and hazy so it was the local sights that held the eye.


This is looking back to the road and the pass where we started from


The diversity of flora was amazing, prickly pear being very common (one of the heaviest plants where it grows out of control and almost impossible to eradicate once its established)



After the summit we began to descend towards the coast, the landscape very reminiscent of Provence




We emerged from a short patch of very dark, dense and cool forest to this spot with red rocks and soil. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the stark colour contrast


We dropped to the sleepy little village of Teno Alto and the scenery suddenly changed to one of rural pastures


Another one of those stunning contrasts that Tenerife is able to deliver



We then dropped through a steeper section of terraced farmland perched on the side of the Barranco de las Cuevas.


And then suddenly the coast appeared where the farmland tumbles over 1000 feet of jagged cliffs and gorges down to the sea


The path did the same dropping in a series of endless switchbacks with the heat increasing as we went down


The path hit the road at this huge banana plantation or more accurately, production facility. Bananas are big business in Tenerife. Unfortunately


By the time we reached the road my knees were shattered by over 1000m of descent and were further hammered by a mile walk along the baking tarmac to the car park. We met the funsters and had a much deserved picnic on the lava above the sea and amongst the flowering prickly pear


There is small rather untidy and scrubby little harbour where its calm enough for a swim. The beach is never going to win any awards but the water is spectacularly clear. I went for a snorkel and had one 0f the best experiences I’ve ever had outside a coral reef. The waters were teeming with colourful fish, crabs, sea slugs, urchins etc. Alas I’d forgotten my waterproof camera. The water was also refreshingly cool after a hot days walking

We took a small stroll around the headland before we headed home


The views were still rather smoky and dusty but with lowering sun still impressive and atmospheric



One of the very best walks I’ve done in Tenerife, followed by an excellent snorkel and walk in one of my favourite places. Not a bad Boxing Day


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



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



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


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)


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



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



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




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


This one looked like swiss cheese


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


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



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


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


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


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



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



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


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



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


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.


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.




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


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



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



The views down across the caldera were stunning


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


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


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




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



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



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


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


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



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


The sun started to appear and all was glorious



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





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


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




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


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


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


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



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



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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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



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


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




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.



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


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



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.




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


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



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.


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



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


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


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




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


The views from high up by the lighthouse were fantastic



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


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


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


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



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



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



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


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


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.



“Should auld acquaintance be forgot” etc etc

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


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





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


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




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



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


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


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.


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 🙂


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


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



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


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



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



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

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