Friday, 23 October 2009

Fuzzy Walking Directions – A Recipe for Disaster

The term ‘recipe’ seems quite appropriate to use when talking about walking routes, especially when talking about writing walking routes.

Let’s be honest here, most walking routes anywhere have been written out any number of times by any number of people over the years. It’s very rare to find a completely ‘new’ walking route, but that doesn’t mean to say that there’s not something fresh to say, or a different approach to take.

It’s the same with recipes. Most recipes are variations on ones which have been handed down through families or recorded in cook books over aeons. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing new about the recipe. A dash of cumin here, a sprinkling of fresh herbs there and you’ve got something which improves on the original.

I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this…hang on in there, I’ll get there in the end.

The recipe analogy came into my head the other day as I surveyed a bewildering noughts and crosses grid of identical looking paths heading in all sorts of directions. I’m sure from the air it must have looked like one of those ‘landing strip for flying saucers’ images from Erich Von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods.

I was heading up to the summit of Montaña Guaza beside Los Cristianos and had reached a crossroads of paths which had me scratching my head in confusion.

You might be thinking, ‘surely if you’re heading to the summit of a mountain, it’s pretty obvious which way to go… up’.

And normally I’d agree, but in this situation I was following instructions which very clearly told me, against my better judgement I have to add, to ignore the obvious and then held me tightly by the hand until they deserted me at the crisscross of paths at which point they ran off into the distance feebly shouting ‘I’ll meet you again when the path becomes a bit clearer.’

It was like following a recipe for a curry which, when it got to the stage of adding the exotic seasonings, told you to ‘now add some spices’ but didn’t tell you which ones.

I was pretty peed off, especially as It’s not the first time this has happened with these particular ‘walking instructions’ and decided to do what Andy and I regularly decide to do when trying to work out what we think is the best walking route – follow our instincts. More often than not this ends up being our way of adding those extra tasty spices and handfuls of aromatic fresh herbs.

As it turned out the route we would have followed, had the directions not told us otherwise, was the most direct and was much, much simpler. God knows why we were encouraged to go off on some wild goose chase.

But once again this is exactly one of the reasons we are putting together a series of walking routes for Tenerife which we think are more user friendly than… well anything we’ve come across yet.

We’ve specifically designed them so that they look great and are full of beautiful photographs and interesting snippets of information about the area and what people should look out for.

However, the most important aspect of them for us is this.

Unlike the instructions we were using which basically just ignored the fact that there were paths in all directions, we want to be there holding your hand, saying ‘don’t worry; we’ll stick with you all the way, especially when the path ahead is unclear.’

P.S. Our version of which route to take up Montaña Guaza is now available as part of our new ‘Island Walks – The Old South Routes’.


Pegasus said...

I felt exactly the same yesterday on "Taborno". It started out as a quick walk around the summit as we were starting late. We got halfway around only to find the track led us into midair!
Backtracked tried a path higher and more in the clouds and that was the problem........ clouds are very disorientating and hence our reliance on good instructions. we got down at 6pm..... we could only see 20 metres in front and it was getting dark.
Good luck with the new project.

Real Tenerife said...


It's incredible how when the bruma descends everything disappears. We were walking above the Erjos pools (before the fire) and couldn't even find the forest because the bruma was that thick... and it chilled through to the bone.

So we retired to the Fleytas bar for the afternoon instead. Much better plan in those sort of conditions.

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