Thursday, 12 March 2009

Into the Valley - a Tenerife Walk

I’m waiting on the path for Jack to re-appear.
In the distance I can hear a great deal of rustling and the occasional muttered expletive.

Five minutes ago a large bird ran across the path in front of us and disappeared into the undergrowth, hotly pursued by Jack, camera in hand. Now I have a funny feeling that the distinct lack of stealth I can hear emanating from Jack’s traverse through the bushes is not exactly working in his favour.
Eventually he emerges.
“It was too fast for me” he sighs. “What do you think it was; a grouse, a Barbery Partridge?”
“I’m fairly sure it was Roadrunner” I reply.

Climbing out of the little hamlet of Arguayo we emerge onto a ledge which skirts Montaña de la Hoya.
8oo or so metres below us the Santiago Valley spreads its green, undulating mantle all the way to the Teno Mountain Range beyond it. Down the valley wall the road zigzags its way past the settlements of Tamaimo, El Retamar and El Molledo, while out to the west the sun is shimmering on the ocean’s surface at the resort of Playa de la Arena.
Up here, we feel like Gods. We’re standing on the edge of the world looking down on the painfully slow snake of Dinky-sized cars that are threading their way up the TF 82 behind a banana truck, and we’re smiling to ourselves at the sheer beauty of our surroundings.

All the way around the mountain the breathtaking views accompany us and we stop frequently to drink them in.

We’ve still got at least a couple of hours walking ahead of us, some of it involving hot, uphill slogs, but the memory of those views stay with us all the way, augmented by quaint villages, starkly contrasting black volcanic lava fields and meadows bursting with wild flowers, an ascent through Tenerife’s version of Helm’s Deep and the occasional fleeting glimpse of cartoon wildlife in the bushes.

This is a big walk through BIG country high above Tenerife’s southwest coast. The trail takes you through great swathes of fertile valley, the site of Tenerife’s last volcanic eruption, dense pine forests and deserted quarries, some of which now form natural pools which are a haven for wildlife and all the while, Mount Teide gazes benignly down on you while the islands of La Gomera and La Palma float on the horizon. Walks don’t come much better than this.

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