Posts Tagged ‘walking’

At Al Campo yesterday they had this wonderful stand with all the vegetable ingredients for puchero – a traditional Spanish stew. Incidentally, for all you veggies, the translation of puchero as a vegetable stew is a huge misnomer because it contains beef and pork.

I thought it was brilliant that there was a special display to save you gathering all your own ingredients and it’s very typical of the habits of the masses here – it’s post Christmas, so everyone will be using up their leftover cuts of meat to make puchero.

The stand had all the ingredients except the meat and the chickpeas:  cabbage, corncob, pumpkin, chayote, French beans, sweet potato, pears, marrow or courgette, carrot, leek, garlic, onion and tomato.
To make puchero, chickpeas, beef, pork, saffron and thyme are added to the above and the whole lot are simmered into a warming, fragrant stew which is usually served with fresh crusty bread.

For hikers, there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of puchero at the end of a long walk when the sweat is drying and the chill of the mountain air kicks in. And I have it on very good authority that the best puchero on the island is to be found at Casa Lala in Arico Viejo.

I have yet to try Casa Lala myself and will have to try out a new walking route that ties in with finishing there, but we’re planning a walk around the Erjos Pools soon and I might just pop into Bar Las Fleytas to try theirs…watch this space.


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The best place to be if you need a reminder of why you love Tenerife

Sometimes events conspire to make me wonder why on earth I continue to live in a region of Spain.

A week or so ago I was chatting to my brother who lives in the UK and after my groans about the stagnant feel of the tourist market at the moment and the slowness of work, he said:
Oh well, the World Cup starts soon so at least that’s something to look forward to.”
Except that it wasn’t. Well, it was…and it wasn’t, because although I love the World Cup and would happily watch every single game (in the unlikely event that deadlines permitted), Spain is one of the few countries in the world that is not actually airing all the games on free-to-view TV.

But the World Cup is all about embracing nations in the love of the beautiful game! For God’s sake, Andy, get out of Spain and get back to Britain where you can at least watch the footie!” said my bro’.
I laughed and explained that the list of reasons in the ‘for living in Tenerife‘ column far outweighed the ones in the ‘against living in Tenerife‘ column, but a seed had been planted.

Only showing one live game a day and concentrating on Spain performances is indicative of a country that exhibits astounding levels of insularity. Hamstrung by outdated monopolies and an autocratic business culture, Spain has a complete aversion to looking outside itself for anything, and ‘best practice’ and ‘benchmarking’ are not just conspicuous by their absence – they’re an anathema to Spain. When the rest of the world saw the financial crisis looming and took damage limitation measures, Spain carried on with business as usual which is why it’s now facing financial melt-down. I could go on…

A couple of days later Jack and I walked the Chinyero Volcano route for a new walking guide we’re preparing and within 5 minutes of setting off I had mentally registered any number of things I loved about Tenerife. The smell of the pine forest; the fact that I could see the sea from almost everywhere on the island; the unrestricted ability to walk wherever I wanted; La Gomera and La Palma on the horizon…

Some time ago, when we first set up Tenerife Magazine, Joe Cawley wrote a short piece entitled ‘10 things I hate about living in Tenerife‘ and clearly it rung a bell with lots of people who added their own pet hates to the list. So when I got back from my walk, I compiled a list of ‘10 things I love about living in Tenerife‘ – mainly to remind myself why it is that I continue to live in Spanish territory. It’s not an exhaustive list, it’s just the ones that popped into my head and I’m sure others will have their own reasons which will be nothing like mine.

I just wish Tenerife wasn’t in Spanish territory and could sub-contract its World Cup coverage from the BBC. That’s number one on my ’10 things I wish about living in Tenerife’ list.

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Last week we had a meeting in the south of the island at 10am and not being sure how bad the morning traffic into Santa Cruz would be, we decided to set off by 8am. It’s a journey that would normally take us just over an hour so we were erring on the generous side.
At 7am I leapt out of bed and went into the kitchen to put the coffee on. Through my sleepy haze I could see a dozen or more ants running around the draining board. Raising my eyes I noticed a thin black highway of ants running up and down the wall above the sink and slowly, as I scanned the worktop I saw the thin line running to and from the old plastic container in which we keep peelings and egg shells that are destined for the compost heap.

The night before, I’d taken some eggs out of the fridge to make an omelette and had just slightly knocked one against the other (well you know what they say about making an omelette without breaking eggs). When I looked down, there was a small hole in one but as I couldn’t be absolutely certain that it had only appeared that instant, I didn’t take any chances and put it in with the compost peelings. Clearly, I had inadvertently given the local ant population a midnight feast.

View of Los Cristianos from Montaña Guaza

View of Los Cristianos from Montaña Guaza

Immediate action was called for. The ants were ‘tapped’ back up the wall until we could see where they were coming from and then rounded up from all over the worktops and herded back whence they’d come before spraying the wall with ant spray (sorry environment – short on time). We were planning to hike up Montaña Guaza after the meeting and so had to make up sandwiches, pack clothes to change into, hiking shoes and water into the rucksack. Not to mention, have some breakfast.
By 7.30am we were still in our dressing gowns and hadn’t even drunk our coffee.

Half a headless chicken hour later and feeling like we’d already put a full day in, we were driving at a nifty pace up the motorway until we rounded the corner just shy of Santa Úrsula (about 8 km into the journey) and ground to a halt. For the next 45 minutes we watched the clock race and the speedo’ crawl until we finally reached the Tacoronte turn off and took the exit. We crossed the bridge and headed back on the westbound carriageway.
An hour after we’d set off, we were back at the Puerto turn off and heading towards Icod to take the shorter, but considerable slower route over the mountain to the west coast.

Normally a spectacular Tenerife drive to be enjoyed and savoured, it seemed today like just about every other vehicle had developed a top speed of 15 kilometres an hour, causing much high blood pressure and an inordinate amount of swearing. Eventually we arrived at the southern end of the motorway and picked up speed, only to grind to a halt once more in the rush hour traffic heading into the south from the west side of the island.

We finally arrived in Los Cristianos at 10.50 am, the perfect time to not find a parking spot. A brisk ten minute walk later, we arrived at our meeting, 3 hours after we’d set off.

Meeting over, we drove out to Montaña Guaza and parked up. A quick change of clothes, a swiftly swallowed butty,

A barren landscape

A barren landscape

some slapped on sun cream and off we set. We knew we were in for about a three hour hike so Jack set the pace like a greyhound out of the traps. All was going well until the directions we were following told us to ignore the path straight ahead and detour off into the barren, arid wasteland whose only identifying features were a grid of trails leading in every direction, none of them reflecting the instructions in the book.

After going miles out of our way, we finally tracked back to the path we’d left in the first place but by then the humidity and greyhound pace had sent me into light headed land from which I could not escape. No amount of ‘head between the knees’ would banish my near faint and I had to concede that I wasn’t going any further.

We got back home at around 6.30pm to find several ants on the worktop where they’d presumably spent the day running around, directionless and thwarted at every turn. I knew just how they felt.

Some days the Gods are just not with you.


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The views are well worth the uphill slog.

The views are well worth the uphill slog.

I woke up yesterday to one of those perfect summer mornings. The sun shone down from a cloudless sky, the birds were in full voice and the warm air carried the scent of the last of the jasmine. On the mountainside above us, the ochres, mustards and russets of Mount Teide saturated the skyline.
In short, it was the perfect day for taking to the hills.

It’s been a while since our last ‘serious’ walk so I knew the 600 metre ascent from the La Caldera forest pista to the top of the ridge was going to make itself known to my legs and lungs, and I wasn’t wrong.
Stripping layers and pinning hair up as I went I found myself sweating, gasping and grunting my way up the forest path whilst bitching about the 3 litres of water, waterproofs, sunscreen, lunch etc. that I was carrying in the rucksack.

After an hour and a half of re-staging ‘The Hill’, we finally arrived at the

Stunning scenery comes as standard on the La Caldera walk

There aren't many walks where scenery like this keeps you company

stone gate that marks the end of the ascent and took a well deserved break on a promontory looking out over the entire valley with Teide shimmering above the emerald carpet of the Corona Forestal.

For me, this is where the best part of this walk begins. A fairytale dappled path twists, undulates and zigzags its way along the ridge through forests filled with the heady perfume of broom, pine and a multitude of endemic plants with the omnipresent Teide above and the shimmering Atlantic below. It’s a hiker’s paradise up here.

Then we rounded a corner to see something absolutely unspeakably, outrageously incongruous in this rustic Eden; a red wire barrier had been placed right across the path with a sign showing a hand raised in ‘STOP’ position and the words “Alto! No Pasar!” written above it.

Thats what we think of that!

That's what we think of that!

Gobsmacked, we stood and stared at the obscene article before saying almost in unison “Fuck that!”

There is NO WAY that I have huffed and puffed my way for an hour and a half up a 600 metre ascent to be told by some ‘job’s worth’ medio-ambiente worker that I have to turn back.
The sign was given all the respect it deserved and climbed around.

If we arrive at something that seems dangerous or if there’s some kind of activity that we’re encroaching on, we reasoned, then we’ll turn back. But as far as we could see, there was absolutely nothing going on and no earthly reason for the sign to be there.
For the next 6 or 7 kilometres we hiked along the path with no visible sign of

Drama and beauty - if you look closely youll see me holding the handrail on this particularly vertiginous section of the walk.

Drama and beauty - if you look closely you'll see me holding the handrail on this 'squeaky bum' section of the walk.

any activity at all save for a couple of green plastic bags into which forest debris had been cleared and a few bags of cement and some large plastic containers of water lying by the side of the path at one corner.
Eventually we arrived at the other side of this ludicrous path closure and similarly climbed over that to descend through the forest and back to La Caldera.

I’m not advocating anarchy when it comes to warning signs on Tenerife, but with a little bit of commonsense and caution exercised, don’t assume that ‘access denied’ signs on this island are either current or necessary, because sometimes they simply aren’t.

The ‘La Caldera’ walk is available to buy on PDF, sent straight to your inbox


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D’y think we’ve been walking for more than 15 minutes yet?” asks Jack, re-reading the scant directions in his hand.
More like 40 minutes” Sue and I agree.
We’d been hiking steadily uphill through the forest and, according to the ‘map’, should have taken a right turn 25 minutes ago.
Compass!” Jack was like a surgeon calling for a scalpel.
He laid the compass on the map in what, to my mind, was a series of indecipherable, coded movements.
Directions have always been a mystery to me. Maps are a foreign country. I have no in-built compass or sense of direction whatsoever and could, were it not for the landmark of the house, get lost in my own back yard.

We’re on the wrong path” came the diagnosis, “we need to re-trace our steps and take a left turn”, the prescription.

It was Sue’s second day and first hike with us. We’d been enthusing about this walk ever since she arrived; about the beauty of the Anagas, the difficulty of the terrain, the need to be properly prepared with adequate water supplies, good boots, a hat and of course experienced hiking companions who knew the lay of the land and the language of the forest.

This way!” shouts Jack, “there are stairs to the path.”
Sue and I had resolved to stop walking until satisfactory evidence that we were on the right path had been brought to our attention.
Having hiked all the way back down the forest trail and taken the allegedly ‘correct’ path to the left, the trail had petered out and Jack had gone on ahead to see if it re-emerged further on.

Yet another wrong trail in the Anaga MountainsThe ‘stairs’ turned out to be two boulders stepped into the gorse covered slope followed by a series of laddered indents in the sheer rock face of whatever else it was, was not a path.
Ha! A regular staircase!” said Sue, the sarcasm barely masking her fading confidence in her hiking guides.
It’s okay, it gets better up here” says Jack “trust me, it’s the right path.”

I wonder how many times in the history of the universe those words “trust me” have come back to haunt whoever uttered them.

We climb the non-existent path for 15 or so sweaty, scratchy minutes, the views opening up around us to reveal a plunging barranco to our right and Tenerife’s equivalent of the north face of the Eiger to our left.
I really don’t think this is a path” says Sue, the red wheals beginning to raise around her ankles and calves. “Andy, do you think this is a path?” she asks, not unreasonably.
Well no, I don’t” I have to confess. “On the other hand, in my experience, Jack always gets us back to the path eventually, even though it can be by unorthodox routes.”

Er, this isn’t right.” Jack eventually concedes that, without the aid of crampons, ropes and harnesses, there’s no way through.

However difficult the uphill trek was, going back down was worse. Sue and I inch our way over the dry dust and loose stones, grabbing handfuls of sharp gorse to steady us as we puff and grunt our way back down the ancient slope.

Okay, then it has to be this way” Jack’s boots raise a small cloud of dust as he heads off again in the direction of the barranco. Sue and I follow. Ten minutes later, we’re re-tracing our steps again, back up the slope towards what is now becoming a familiar crossroads of goat trails.

A further attempt to reach the far side of the barranco is aborted before finally beginning a desultory return to where the so-called ‘stairs’ had first taken us in what was now indisputably known as the wrong direction and agreement was generally reached that we should have stayed on the original path up through the forest.
Two hours had passed during which we were all pretty much exhausted and we hadn’t moved more than 500 metres away from our starting point of Chamorga.

It now being 1.30 pm and far too late to begin the hike again, we head back to the little church plaza in Chamorga and eat our packed lunch in quiet contemplation; Sue admires the beautiful yellow butterfly that’s flitting through the bamboo…or is it sugar cane? Jack mutters to himself over the map and the words ‘typical’ and ‘mas o menos’ are heard repeatedly; I slip the compass out of the rucksack and into the pocket of my shorts; it seems to me that sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.


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El Medano; where the breeze is constant and the views hold some surprisesYesterday I was in the kite-boarders’ and wind-surfers’ paradise resort of El Médano and I’ve never seen so many naked men in one place.

That’s not to say they were wandering around the streets, nor even stretched out on the town’s main beach. No. I had to walk quite some distance to find them.

‘Walking’ and ‘hiking’ would probably not be at the top of most people’s list if you were to ask them what Tenerife means to them. But the island is in fact a kaleidoscopic matrix of trails that take you from tropical coastline, through arid badlands and heavenly scented pinewoods, to a 17 kilometre wide volcanic crater and climbing the World’s third largest volcano – Mount Teide.
There’s enough variety of terrain and spectacular scenery to keep even the most hardened of hikers whistling “Happy Feet”.

I’m currently making a concerted effort to hike as many of Tenerife’s trails as I can, and yesterday I opted for the bohemian, laid back resort of El Médano for a spot of coastal walking.
Leaving the town and heading out towards the red mountain which landmarks El Médano and is imaginatively named “La Montaña Roja”, it wasn’t long before my first naked buttocks came into view, beside the lagoon at the end of the dunes.

Continuing along the beach and following the path up Bocinegro, I diverted onto a lesser trodden path that took me to some amazing wind-sculptured sand and salt rock formations amongst which, I slowly became aware of a large number and variety of more flesh toned scenery. Naked men were wandering along the white pumice giant’s causeway; sunbathing and swimming in the small coves below the rocks, and generally standing around with their hands on their hips and their willies looking out to sea.

I’d clearly breached a favoured naturist, and presumably gay, location. Either that or it was the local ‘tackle-out fiesta’ and I hadn’t spotted it on the calendar.

Feeling oddly out of place and keeping my eyes more or less straight ahead, I continued on my way, skirting the base of Montaña Roja and then scaling its 173 metres just for a change of scenery.

It’s amazing how much variety you can see in one short hike on Tenerife!


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