Sunday, 22 November 2009

Good News for Tenerife Walkers

The press invitation had quite clearly stated that walking shoes and warm clothing should be worn but it seems that for the staff of the local Town Hall, a visit from the President of the Tenerife Council was too important an occasion not to dress up for.

18th November was the 100th anniversary of Tenerife’s last volcanic eruption which came from Mount Chinyero in the pine forests of Santiago del Teide municipality. To mark the anniversary a plaque was to be unveiled at the foot of the volcano and some doves were to be released to fly over the frozen black lava that today fills the landscape.

Heeding the advice in the invitation and wearing sensible shoes and a warm jacket, I had to stifle my giggles as I watched the ‘suits’ from the Island Council and the local Town Hall trying to walk over the lava fields to where the plaque was being unveiled. Even funnier were the women, one in little white ballet-type shoes, one in gold sandals and one in high heel knee boots.
Apart from the Dick Emery type gait that they all had to adopt as they slipped and wobbled on the pumice rocks, they all had hunched shoulders and goose-pimply flesh from the distinctly nippy breeze that was blowing around the volcano.

Still, plaque uncovered and doves released, we all trooped our way back to the Casa del Patio in Santiago del Teide for the much more sedate second part of the centenary celebration.
Casa del Patio is the 17th century former home of the Hoyo y Solórzano family who used to own Santiago del Teide and it has now been beautifully restored by the Tenerife Council. Housing a permanent exhibition to the Chinyero eruption of 1909, this was the perfect occasion to officially open the Casa to the public.

It’s in an idyllic setting just behind the church in Santiago del Teide and stepping through the gates is like stepping back in time. Apart from the assorted cockerel, ducks and geese underfoot, there’s a wine museum, a wonderfully atmospheric Tasca with cheeses, hams and local wine and a rather elegant restaurant. There are also riding stables and there are plans to open riding trails locally so everyone can enjoy the spectacular scenery on horseback, the way many locals still do.
If you’re planning a trip to Masca I recommend stopping off here for an hour to wander the grounds, browse the shop and museums and sample some local produce at the Tasca.

Best of all, there’s a small rural hotel on the site which is due to be opened shortly and which will be the perfect stopover for hikers.
The trails around Santiago del Teide valley are some of the most diverse on Tenerife with terrain moving from lush, wild flower-filled valley, to pine forest and frozen lava fields around Mount Chinyero. You even move through climate zones from the humid, cooler Erjos Pools to the arid south at Arguayo. Walking these hills and valleys is akin to walking on at least three different islands.

When Casa del Patio Rural Hotel opens we’ll be able to combine a great day’s walking with a night in a stylishly rustic hotel and lunch at the Tasca.
Now that’s something to look forward to.

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