We’ve just received a one star review on Amazon for our Walk this Way Tenerife Guidebook. That’s fine, we know not everyone is going to like what we produce. We don’t write for everyone, we write for people who we hope will enjoy the same things as us.
Additionally, criticism can be good, as long as it’s of the constructive type. You learn and improve from that, so we welcome constructive feedback.
In this case the main criticism was the walks in the book were too short. The guidebook lists 23 walking routes which are under 10km and eleven which are between 10km and 20km, the longest being 17.5km. In truth, we’re not aiming at hardcore walkers, we’re aiming at people who enjoy walking and being in nature. We regularly walk for days on end, creating walking holidays around Europe, but don’t consider ourselves to be hardcore hikers. We don’t consider ourselves to be hardcore because we’re not interested in route march type walks. A walking route being lengthy doesn’t mean it’s a good one as far as we’re concerned. The fundamental ingredients we look for when it comes to choosing our walking routes include diversity of scenery, interesting aspects to routes, cultural features etc. When we walk we want to enjoy nature and good scenery, but we also want an insight into whichever location we’re walking. We also enjoy that element of challenge, but not at the expense of everything else or by making routes artificially long.
The ideal length of a route is an interesting aspect when it comes to planning on walking anywhere, and one we consider in depth on a regular basis. A 20km route in one location isn’t the same as a 20km route in another destination. That might seem obvious, it might not; but I can quote any number of instances where people have been caught out because it’s a factor they haven’t taken into account.
Basically, there are short 20km routes and there are also long 10km ones.
Last year we walked 16km routes in Provence which felt far, far easier than the average 10km one on Tenerife. A few weeks ago we felt a real sense of achievement at completing a route in Slovenia which was just under 8km. It might sound on the short side, but a section involved a 400m ascent over 1.5km. It’s terrain like that which adds on invisible extra kilometres to a route.
We’ve just finished putting together a walking holiday in Portugal which is going to be graded as 2-3 level difficulty. The definition of this grade is “moderate-to-challenging walking on more rugged terrain with significant ascents / descents on most days.” One route was around 10km and involved a steepish 670m ascent and an even steeper 600m descent (due to it being over a shorter distance). It was a stunner of a route and, because of the terrain, it felt a lot longer than 10km.
The reason I mention it is that as we completed it a friend and colleague asked “How do you think this compares to walking in the Canary Islands?”
The answer was, although the landscape had a completely different appearance, there were clear similarities.
Climbing in and out of valleys and ravines is an unavoidable feature of walking in the western Canary Islands as I’m sure anyone who’s walked in Anaga or Teno on Tenerife, or on La Gomera, El Hierro, and La Palma will agree. The challenging terrain adds extra kilometres to routes, as does the make-up of paths; many are narrow goat trails, or on an uneven camino real. For that reason, we consider a route of around 14km to be an ideal length for anyone who wants some relatively challenging walking; it’s maybe the equivalent of 20km in locations where the ascents and descents aren’t quite so dramatic. I remember getting feedback a couple of years go from an experienced walker who had completed a walking route of around 25km on Tenerife who then had to take a couple of rest days afterwards before taking to the trails again. A few years ago when we put together a route of 21km on La Gomera a friend who’s an accomplished walking guide there thought it was crazy to have a route that length.
But people underestimate walking on Tenerife and the other western Canary Islands all the time. It simply isn’t the same as hiking through the rolling hills of Provence or Tuscany. It’s a far rawer world in those untamed ravines, which is why we’ll always advise people to pull back on the kilometres a bit and initially try what they might consider ‘shorter than normal’ routes when hiking on Tenerife and the other western Canary Islands for the first time.
Also, a route length which doesn’t overly intimidate puts exploring Tenerife’s countryside on foot within the scope of a wider range of people.