Unless you’ve been participating in a full sensory blackout programme for the past 2 months or so, you can’t fail to have noticed that things which have lain dormant for a very long time have suddenly become active again, causing consternation and disruption.
And at the same time as the resurrection of the Tory party…volcanoes have been the hot topic of the landscape and of the headlines.
Living on a volcanic island, it’s hard not to be aware of volcanoes; not just when they erupt in Iceland, but every morning when I draw back the bedroom curtains and see Mount Teide guarding the horizon. And this week, in the aftermath of Puerto de la Cruz hosting the Cities on Volcanoes conference (COV6), we decided to keep up the volcano theme and add another route to our burgeoning collection of walks in the west of Tenerife – the Chinyero circular walk.
Chinyero was the site of the last volcanic eruption on Tenerife which occurred in November 1909. Today its lava fields litter the upper reaches of Santiago del Teide, Garachico, Icod and Guía de Isora creating a landscape of petrified molten rivers of black twisting through emerald pine forests.
The day was hot and still as we left the coast to drive up into the mountains. Being a circular walk, there are various points at which you can join the route and this week, we chose to join it from above the Arenas Negras zona recreativa (picnic zone) in upper Garachico.
We began the route in dappled forest, the air thick with the scent of hot pine. Before long we were deep into lava territory, crossing black fields of boulder strewn wasteland, the spilt remains of an angry tantrum thrown over 100 years ago.
As we made our way towards the start of the path which circumnavigates the volcano, I found myself thinking “Hmmm, lava and pine, lava and pine”, as if it were some kind of monotonous landscape.
Ahead of us, Mount Teide and Pico Viejo shimmered in a hundred shades of red and sand; all around us the pine trees wore trunks of blackened charcoal – scars from the forest fires three years ago – from which branches of bright green sprang to silhouette the azure sky; in the distance the forest spread in mantles of jade; to our right the bulk of Chinyero rose, orange-tipped, its frozen lava spread like black icing across the landscape.
As we progressed, the path became lined with a thick border of pink blossoms which the font of all flora knowledge, the Bard of Ely, informs me is Rumex maderensis known as Sour Madeira. At the mid-way point on the circuit, the vegetation changed to reflect the different micro-climate we were now entering. The Sour Madeira which looked like pink candy floss in a rock garden was replaced by the bright, yellow faces of daisies and clumps of white broom which punctuated the lava in a defiant splash of contrast.
It’s amazing how rich a palette of colour you can find in ‘lava and pine’. It’s an incredible landscape which changes with the seasons as different wild flowers come into bloom and the light alters the tones reflected in the volcanoes.
Volcanoes might be getting a bad press at the moment, but this volcanic walk is a real beauty.
Latest in the Island Walks series, West Tenerife, coming soon.