I may not be a walker, but I know many of my readers are, therefore, I have decided to run a weekly series of walks from the Bowland Climber. He may describe himself as “a now over the hill, climber and walker” but the description of his walks in Tenerife make even a couch potato want to get out the boots and tramp our beautiful island.
JD and myself are back on Tenerife and staying once again in a fabulous Airbnb next to the church, Nuestra Señora del Carmen, in Los Cristianos. All is peace and tranquillity with this family. We go round the corner to the busy locals’ Restaurant Raymond and enjoy a typical supper, salad and then Merluza with Papas Arrugadas. The Tenerife house wine is good but the large serving of post dinner firewater Orujo [a transparent spirit from the distillation of the remains left after pressing the grapes with an alcohol content often over 50%] could mean trouble. Their paella apparently is superb – next time.
The GR131 through Tenerife follows in the main part El Camino Natural de Anaga-Chasna an ancient route crossing the island used when most people lived away from the piratical coast. My map shows the route from the harbour in Los Cristianos to the harbour in Santa Cruz, 125k, thus linking with ferries to the other Canary Islands, the original idea of a continuous route through all seven. The Cicerone guide only details it between Arona and La Esperanza, 85.5k, as does the signing on the island; we were to find out later why.
We also intended to visit the summit Mt. Teide on the way, which involved pre-booking the AltaVista Refuge on the mountain to avoid the restricted permit system.
Escaping the suburbs
This should have been an easy stroll but we arrived in Arona hot and sweaty after a frustrating morning and a climb of 900m. We had underestimated the climb and distance and come to realise our map is poor. The GR131 didn’t exist on this section. Not a good start and in the evening we need a good meal and wine to lift our spirits.
From our B&B we had headed down to the harbour and began a coastal walk – the well-known Los Cristianos, Playa de las Vistas and Playa de las Americas. It is already above 20°, people are heading for the beach, joggers are sweating past and the hint of full English breakfasts wafts out of the cafes. In fact, we stop off for an orange juice and scrambled egg.
There has been no sign of any waymarks for the GR131 but we follow the red line depicting it on my map and head inland. Busy roads are negotiated and the motorway crossed. We are feeling pleased with ourselves until we become trapped in a new housing maze not shown on the map. The hills can be seen across vast banana plantations but there is no way out and we turn tail and head down again, always a humiliating experience.
The locals can’t help and thoughts of giving up cross our minds as we traipse the pavements and overheat. By chance, we meet a Dutch couple doing a circular walk, their GPS points us onto a scruffy lane marked private. At last, we are heading into the hills up this narrow road, which leads to a water pumping station. A fortunate small arrow points our way and silver paint marks help keep us on a small track up to an aqueduct crossing the now rough hillside towards Roque del Conde. However, familiar plants appear, deep gorges drop away, and we feel in the wilds at last.
Steep climbing brings us to a col with views back down to the holiday sprawl. In complete contrast, an isolated pig and goat farm is passed which looks to be in another century. Steep lanes lead into the small town of Arona where lots of walkers seem to be congregating no doubt having enjoyed pleasanter paths than ours. There is no accommodation here so we hop on a bus, full of walkers, back down to Los Cristianos.
Next week, Bowland Climber moves on to Vilaflor and the Parador Teide