We’d been more or less shackled to the computers over the last week and a half., so yesterday decided a bit of great outdoors time was long overdue.
Walking in an area we hadn’t really explored before appealed and with yesterday being our wedding anniversary, and a long leisurely meal was due to be the reward for a morning’s walking, we didn’t want to travel too far.
A hasty bit of research turned up the usual. The official website for Los Realejos waxed lyrical about their wonderful countryside, but didn’t actually provided details of walks. In the end we settled on La Matanza, scene of a great Guanche victory over the conquistadors, because their website did outline some suggested walks. However, with typical attention to detail they didn’t actually say where the walks started.
Still, that’s part of the appeal. We decided to try a coastal route which ran from the fishing hamlet of El Caletón along the coast before skirting banana plantations and returning to the village. That’s what the route on a map with no names on the website showed anyway.
Tenerife’s coast which stretches north from Puerto de la Cruz can be a coy mistress who keeps her treasures and pleasures hidden from all but the most inquisitive suitors. A road without a signpost leads down to the tiny fishing hamlet of El Caletón; a place with more parking spaces than houses.
We parked up and Andy’s brand new walking sandals had their first touch of Tenerife soil, or more accurately Tenerife dog dirt as she’d parked beside the hamlet’s canine latrines. Cursing, she walked to the boot to grab the rucksack and her sandals had their second dog dirt ‘up close and personal experience’ of the morning. Not a great start.
Things didn’t improve when we looked along the coast where the path should have been to see that the banana plantation extended right to the edge of the cliffs where the route should be. There might have been a path fifty years ago, but it was long gone. This is a real problem with these official routes, there’s a tendency to just reprint something which was written decades ago.
Luckily we had a back-up plan. We set off back up the road past houses fronted by bougainvillea, and pink oleander which smelled like bubblegum until we reached a rough track which skirted the boundary of the banana plantation. Despite it being cloudy, it was very warm and the exertion of climbing upwards got the sweat glands working overtime.
As we walked the clouds parted to leave a clear circular gap over the coast around us and at the lower Orotava Valley. The only signs of life around us were a couple of Toyotas with wire mesh cages in the back – hunters training their dogs. At one point a car pulled up beside us and a smiling hunter asked us if we’d seen his dog, chico which had done a runner. At least we thought that’s what he said as most consonants in his vocabulary had also done a runner
We left the track and headed along a barely discernible path which dissected the peninsula we wanted to explore.
After five minutes, the path disappeared amidst a volcanic riverbed and tabaibal plants that pulled and scratched at our legs. It was another path which had clearly become overgrown long ago.
Retracing our steps, we continued on the track we’d left toward the coast and immediately encountered something on Tenerife which drives me absolutely potty. A car was parked across the path. Inside a not exactly young couple were enjoying an aventura de amor. Her T-shirt was bunched up exposing her midriff and he was fumbling about ‘upstairs, outside’ as Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes might say.
They were shocked to see us…and that’s what drives me mad. If you park across a path you shouldn’t really be surprised if someone stumbles across you in flagrante. One time we turned a corner and nearly fell across a naked couple who reacted as though we were some kind of perverted voyeurs.
The car almost entirely blocked the path, so being British and not wanting to create more embarrassment, we followed a faint path leading in the opposite direction to the other side of the peninsula…and that was when this part of the north coast revealed her box of treasures.
Huge cardons covered the volcanic landscape giving it an appearance similar to the Malpaís at Güímar. People talk about the rainier north, but anyone who knows their plants only need look at the flora and fauna around the coastal areas to tell them what the weather is really like. The path skirted sheer cliffs which could easily have brought on a vertigo attack. At the base of the cliffs were ramshackle fishermen’s huts, rock arches and sheltered rock pools of brilliantly clear aquamarine water. A path that would have made a goat’s knees tremble curved down to one but I didn’t have the bottle to get closer. In front of us a huge bay curved along the coast completely hidden from Puerto de la Cruz which could be seen in the distance. It was quite a stunning vista.
This was the pay-off; the bit that makes an exploratory walk worthwhile. It was difficult to find, and the paths are confusing so it isn’t going to make it into our series of walking guides. However, for anyone interested in exploring areas way off Tenerife’s beaten track, it’s an interesting little peninsula with great views, but do be careful of stepping in dog dirt, or even on a courting couple.