Thursday, 3 September 2009

Walking on Tenerife – Into the Eastern Anaga Mountains

Yesterday was one of those days where I turned into ‘Mr Bean does Walking Tenerife’.

We were exploring some new routes in the north eastern Anaga Mountains and by the end of the day my hat and sunglasses had blown down a barranco, I’d nearly ended up on my backside three times, I had a grazed foot, a bruised ankle, sunburnt knees and cactus spines embedded in my right leg. Andy escaped completely unscathed.

As we hadn’t been walking for some time we decided to ease back into it with what I thought would be a relatively easy route beyond Igueste.

Route details were typically scarce save for one brief online Spanish description which sort of said there’s a hard bit at the start and a hard bit at the end and that was about it…hmmm.

But surprise, surprise the initial stages of the route were clearly signposted with the walkers’ yellow and white markers.

Did I say we thought it was going to be an easy route? Anyone who knows the Anaga Mountains will know that ‘easy walking in the Anagas’ is an oxymoronic statement. Any route is going to involve lots of ups and downs.

This one was a real thigh tester. The path was good hard volcanic rock, but it snaked directly upwards and walking in the September sunshine made the ascent just that little bit more strenuous. However, numerous stops to catch the breath and glug down plenty of fluids gave us the opportunity to soak up the scenery. There was a bit of a haze, so the vistas weren’t as impressive as they would be on a clear day, but still we could see the outline of Mount Teide dominating the centre of the island and the coast all the way down to Las Galletas.

One of the things which fascinates me about the Anagas is that they are full of sleepy little villages and hamlets stuck in time and yet the island’s bustling capital is only a relatively short drive away. From our position on the hillside we could see the little town of Igueste, with its fruit trees and neat plots, and also in the distance, the ultra modern Auditorio gleaming in the sunshine – complete opposites.

The path seemed to climb upwards for ever before we eventually reached the top and almost immediately began a steep descent – what was that about a hard bit at the beginning and end? Where was the bit in between? Walking markers became scarcer and then petered out altogether along with the path at a curious abandoned lookout point called the Semiforo where there were pretty amazing views along the coast on one side and over a deserted remote bay on the other.

At this point we decided to try another route. The path became less of a path and more of a goat trail and I picked up injury number one as my heel made contact with a pointed rock (not normally a problem, but I was wearing walking sandals, so had no real protection for my foot). The goat trail climbed to an old derelict building (strangely with a brand new door) on the summit of a ridge and just as we arrived the cloud descended and the wind blew up a gale. Andy sensibly decided to stay sheltered beside the derelict building whilst I went to explore an old mirador, which is where my hat was rudely removed from my bonce, taking my sunglasses with it and thrown down a barranco by the wind. I picked up the grazed foot and leg-full of cactus spines while Andy sat blissfully unaware that I was risking life and limb to retrieve a pair of cheap sunglasses and a NYY baseball cap which was probably older than some NYY players.

Unfortunately the low cloud made the views of secret and completely remote valleys less impressive than they should have been and we headed back down to Igueste along a trail which had seemed solid on the way up, but on the way down became a slithery trail of scree. Cue three ‘cartoon stepping on marbles moments’, which Andy at least found very amusing, before we emerged back at Igueste.

Overall, it was satisfying to give the leg muscles a decent workout and it was interesting to explore a new area, but whether to include it as a walking route when we complete our eastern Anaga routes, we’re unsure. I’m still deciding if ending up with a pin cushion leg was a price worth paying.

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