Thursday, 20 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife: The Abandoned Village of Las Fuentes

For me the best walks on Tenerife, or anywhere, involve routes which offer lots of interesting curios, OMG scenery moments and also have something that little bit different which sets them apart form other walks.

The route we followed yesterday fitted this criteria perfectly. As we navigated our way along a partially overgrown merchants' trail, we detoured to an old tile oven and a communal water tank which in the past was used to refresh the animals and clean the clothes – imagine cleaning your laundry next to a slavering great beast of burden.

The path also skirted the occasional abandoned house, one of which occupied an enviable spot with vistas from Alcalá all the way to the edge of Costa Adeje. We spent a few minutes exploring and imagining how wonderful it would look when fully renovated. Oddly enough the place was littered with the soles of old shoes making us wonder if a zapatero (shoemaker) had lived here.
All around was evidence of a thriving agricultural past that had been long since abandoned, possibly because of the lure of a far more lucrative income offered by the pleasure palaces on the coast below. There were rows of neat empty terraces, more eras (threshing circles) than I've ever seen in one area and old disused fountains where the green slimy puddles showed that the water of life still trickled.

We followed a cobbled trail lined by tabaiba, cactus groves and wild lavender, stopping where paths merged to make educated guesses (hopefully) at the right direction. The path undulated along gentle ravines before a completely hidden path ascended steeply to a ridge, then descended to the base of an oasis of a ravine where it disappeared into wild vines and long whispering grass.

Tracing the faintest outline we pushed the foliage apart and made or way up through a narrow ravine until we reached a point in the path where a pumice dry-stone wall bordered one side and an agricultural enclosure the other. The contents of the enclosure were covered so I couldn't see what was being grown, but it was clear that it had been tended recently; up ahead the faint sound of human voices broke the silence.
I've got to admit to my imagination running away a wee bit here and suddenly visions of Leo DiCaprio in The Beach entered my head. This was supposed to be an abandoned valley, yet it clearly wasn't. Suppose it was now a marijuana factory or something?

However rationality knocked these fanciful thoughts from my head. I've never walked anywhere that feels safer than Tenerife; the chances of being machine-gunned were remote to say the least.

We carried on toward the voices and pushed a curtain of grass aside...and there it was; Las Fuentes, an immaculate little agricultural valley hidden away in the hills.

I love those moments when you reach the highlight of a walk when suddenly one step opens up a whole new world. The Montaña Guajara walk is a bit like that. But this was a place I'd never even seen a photograph of, so it felt extra special.

A couple of old guys tending a row of vines were the only signs of life in the place. They told us that they sold their wine in Guia further down the hill and pointed out where the path continued. We spent some time exploring the hamlet before scrabbling up to an ermita high above the village where we ate lunch, drank spring water from a fountain in the village and generally just enjoyed the hot sunshine atop what must be the best viewpoint along the south west coast.

This sort of experience is what walking on Tenerife is all about.

A detailed guide of the route will be added to Tenerife Island Walks soon, that's a definite.


Dennis said...

Another good read, how do you guys keep finding these places?
These sort of areas make you want to run away from the modern world & live a simple life!!

Real Tenerife said...

Cheers Dennis,

Definitely a simple life up there and by the looks of the terraces and vines you'd never run out of spuds or wine...but the question is do they get Man U games?

JR@The Drifter's Blog said...

thanks for this inspirational post. its good to see that there are still beautiful places out there where you can experience the feeling of being truly at peace and balanced. hopefully more countries will begin to recognize the value of holding to places like this and preserve this experience for the future. JR@TheDriftersBlog