Yesterday we broke free from these screens and headed out into the hot sunshine to hike a path we last undertook a few years ago on a damp(ish) morning.
My memories of the walk were of a long uphill slog on the outward journey, a hot puchero (Canarian stew) in a bar in Teno Alto to escape the chilly damp of the cloud that shrouded the hamlet, and a fantastic downhill return through scented woods and wild flowers.
The weather yesterday could hardly have contrasted more with that memory. The sun shone mercilessly from a sky so blue it defied existence and the air temperature nudged lazily into mid-30º C as midday approached and we arrived in El Palmar.
El Palmar is a beautiful valley in which a very good friend of ours lived for many years. In all the times we’ve visited it, rarely has there been a day when cloud didn’t obscure the upper valley, even when the lower valley basked in sunshine. But yesterday there was not a cloud in sight.
We began to climb the cobbled path which wound its way between cultivated fields, pushing through the overgrown tabaiba and creeping arms of brambles which betray the fact that the path gets little regular usage.
As the gradient of the path grew steeper and the air temperature rose, we sweated our way gradually higher above the valley until we could see, not only the tip of Mount Teide, but the whole of its bulk, flanked by Pico Viejo. Below, the valley spread cloaked in the greens and yellows of vines, potato crops and spurge flowers; the silver threads of scarecrow ribbons tied to poles fluttering in the breeze and reflecting the sun like a frenzy of flash bulbs.
The path levelled out and wound its way through dappled forests where a gentle breeze on our skin felt like cool water to a drowning man. Emerging from the forest, views over the Teno headland opened up, the pyramid of Montaña Vallado clearly visible on the horizon.
We traversed barrancos of rich, emerald pine forests accompanied by the sound of crickets in the grass, kestrels reeling above us and the tinkling of goat bells from a nearby finca.
Finally we arrived in the tiny hamlet of Los Bailaderos in Teno Alto where we bought a slab of local goat’s cheese and retired to a stone wall to enjoy lunch while we gazed over the amazing transformation of one climate zone to another. Flanked by dense green foliage, the edge of the hamlet morphed into a desert of sun scorched grasses which stretched to the horizon above which La Gomera and La Palma floated.
And just as the landscape transformed itself from one zone to another, so the El Palmar to Teno Alto walk changed from one we enjoyed, to one of our favourites.
Seen from Teno Alto, when the sun shines on El Palmar Valley there can be few places on Earth that offer a more breathtaking aspect.