Friday, 21 May 2010

Walking on Tenerife – Into the Unkown; South West Tenerife

I get excited by the thought of walking in areas that you rarely hear mentioned, so when we parked the car in a hamlet above Tenerife's south west and headed to what we had worked out would be the start of the new walking route we were researching,  I had mixed emotions when we were faced with a shiny new board with information about the route.

I say mixed emotions because on the one hand I wanted to feel we were exploring territory which is generally ignored even by the island's most enthusiastic walkers. On the other it was good to see that the local council were recognising that walking on Tenerife has enormous potential and providing signs to help walkers find their way around this wonderfully diverse island is a step in the right direction.

Within a hundred yards we realised that whilst the board was a step, it was a baby-sized one. Ahead of us were three paths; none signposted. It turned out that the signpost at the start of the route was the one and only signpost along an old merchants' trail which skirted abandoned houses and terraces, with potential paths leading off in various directions along the way.

Six years ago, when we first started exploring Tenerife on foot, I'd have been flummoxed by the lack of clarity regarding the way ahead. But experience since then of not relying on signs, trusting our instincts, and learning to spot the merest hint of a path hidden by the overgrown undergrowth has made us a bit wiser. I say a bit - there are still times when Tenerife's maze of trails confound, that's when the old compass comes in handy.

As it happened we successfully found our way to our objective, a partly abandoned  valley hidden in the folds of the hills without use of the compass. And to be truthful, the lack of sign posts and directions on many Tenerife walking routes adds a buzz to finding our way to places which are way, way off the beaten track.

However, visitors to Tenerife who fancy exploring its rural delights and head off along a signposted trail to find themselves faced with tracks heading in all directions and no more signposts to show the way, may not agree that 'buzz' is an accurate description of the emotion they feel at that point.


Michael Bolognesi said...

I couldn't agree more with you on this. The trekking over here is so underrated and totally forgotten by local authorities its hard to believe.

Tenerife so much to learn from their neighbor La Palma. Over there most trails a well marked with proper signs and distance info at every dubious intersection. On top of that all the popular ones have proper parking with info boards, mini maps available, fresh water taps along the routes etc.

We "discovered" this hidden valley 8 years ago and was even invited into the private home of the old Canarian that lives in the really curious house close to the abandoned village. His caves that he personally had carved out were amazing just next to the barranco.

Did you do the trek from Acojeja or Vera de Erques?

Real Tenerife said...

From the Vera de Erques side. I've been meaning to do the Las Fuentes walk for a long time, but there were so many great walks to get around first.

I'm finding this all over the place with the signs. There have been very few places where signposts have been company throughout the fact I'm struggling to think of any - and I could name a couple which actually sent me in the wrong direction. It's as though they stick up a couple of posts and get bored.

La Gomera is similar to La Palma re info and decent signage, but they've been attracting German walkers for a long time and are a bit more tuned in to what visitors who are into walking expect.

Still, adds a bit of excitement:)