Sunday, 5 April 2009

Walking on Tenerife - San Miguel to Mirador Centinela

One of the factors which makes Tenerife ideal for walkers is that, within reason, you can pretty much walk everywhere. You don’t tend to get red faced farmers jumping up and down waving sticks at you.

Camino Reales (old trading routes) and goat trails from past centuries have left a network of paths across the whole of Tenerife. Some are quite short and perfect when you want to stretch the legs, but aren’t in the mood for a 20 kilometre hike.

One of these is the camino real linking San Miguel de Abona and the Centinela Mirador in the south of Tenerife.

Armed with a route guide we picked up free from a tourist office we headed up hill to the starting point at San Miguel.

I’ve got a soft spot for San Miguel. It was the subject of our first location report for Living Tenerife Magazine and it was the place that made me realise that even in the main tourist areas in the south, you don’t have to travel far to find the Real Tenerife.

What happened next highlighted something we’d been saying ever since we started exploring this island on foot. Many of the officially produced guides are nice enough to look at, but are little more than guidelines in practice.

We couldn’t find the start of the route. There were no signpost and the directions in the guide didn’t match reality. We saw a postman so decided to ask him where the camino real was. You’ll never guess his reply…

“Hmmm, sorry…I don’t know where it is,” then he added a classic. “I don’t know this area very well.”

Talk about instilling confidence. We searched the area and eventually, after exploring a couple of back streets, settled on a road which looked promising. Within a few minutes we knew we’d chosen well. A tell tale cobbled path led into a barranco and soon we left the town behind and had descended into a barranco where the only sounds were the haunting cries of a pair of kestrels.

It was fascinating to think of the traders who had treaded this path in the past. Despite being able to see the airport and some of the modern coastal resorts like El Médano way below us, it felt as though very little had changed up here in 100 years. The path snaked past old jablé terraces and rundown cottages emerging onto a tarmac road with no signs. It took a bit of searching to find where the camino real started again near a place called La Hoya where there was a small, mostly abandoned, settlement of traditional agricultural architecture and an old tile kiln.

Just past La Hoya there was a wonderful little rural hotel. It was in a beautiful location, but we wondered how much business it would get out here. However, when you think about it though it might be ideally placed; feeling as though it’s in the middle of nowhere, yet it’s only short drive from Tenerife’s modern resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas.

We continued along the path until we emerged just below the Centinela Mirador. If you were starting the walk from the mirador, you’d be hard pressed to notice where it started as whoever landscaped the area around Centinela had completely obscured the path.

Conveniently placed benches below the main building were ideal for having a rest and some lunch. We tucked into our bocadillos whilst also feasting on some of the best views of the south coast you’re likely to find.

It’s a great little walk and opens up a very different face of the south of Tenerife. One note of warning; the Centinela Mirador is a wonderfully scenic spot for lunch, but the second you unwrap the bocadillos you’ll find yourself starring in a lizard version of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’.
The San Miguel to Centinela walk is part of The Old South Island Walks, delivered to your email within 24 hours.

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