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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Walking the GR131 on Tenerife - Vilaflor to Siete Canadas



Distance: 10 Miles Ascent: 3,500ft Descent: 1,120ft Time: 5 hours 40 mins

For the second section of the GR131, or Stage 6 as it is officially known, I set out on Tuesday morning from the Plaza San Pedro to the sound of workmen renovating the square. This seems to be taking an age to complete, which is a shame as normally it is a pretty, peaceful spot to sit with a drink and enjoy the sun. Today however, it was a pleasure to be leaving the sound of digging behind as I located the route out of the village. Strangely, although the GR131 and the Lunar Landscape walk coincide for the first two or three miles, they leave the village by different routes! Soon, I was climbing steeply out of the village on a section of the Chasna Royal road called El Atajo or The Shortcut. The Chasna Royal road is an ancient trade route from Vilaflor to La Orotava in the north of the island and was used for transporting goods and herding goats to the high pastures of Las Canadas for grazing during the summer months. After passing Casa Galinda, a finca in a picturesque setting near the top of the climb, I descended into the Barranco de Las Mesas on a path that pushed it's way through a number of giant Tajinaste Rojo plants that depite now being green, had been a riot of red flowers on a previous visit a few weeks earlier. Crossing the Pista Madre del Agua, I continued climbing as the peaks of Montana Guajara, Roque Encaje and Montana Arena provided a spectacular backdrop to the surrounding pines. Soon, the Lunar Landscape path and GR131 parted company and the path now climbed steeply above the Lunar Landscape, which I could see far below in a valley to my right. Continuing the climb, the scenery began to change as the black, sandy mound of Montana Arena became more prominent and I descended into and out of a barranco as I admired fabulous views down through pines to the sea of cloud below. Leaving the trees behind, I emerged at a junction of paths and followed a pathway marked by a two lines of stones as it ascended the back of a broad, black-sand ridge towards the peak of Montana Guajara. The walking now became more difficult in the loose sandy soil and this combined with the effects of the altitude made for slow progress as I stopped fairly frequently to catch my breath. Leaving the black sand of Montana Arena behind, I climbed a rocky path on the slopes of Guajara and after passing the turn-off to the summit, the peak of Montana Pasajiron came into view above the Degollada de Guajara pass. Reaching the pass, I decided to stop for a lunchbreak and enjoyed the superb scenery from the rim of the caldera where I had a chat with a group of German walkers walking from the parador to the Lunar Landscape and back again! Wishing these intrepid if somewhat insane hikers farewell, I descended to the Siete Canadas trail where I left the GR131 and turned left to the parador. After admiring the rock formations of Piedras Amarillas I reached the parador where I pushed the boat out and paid an outrageous price for a large slab of chocolate cake and a coffee before catching the bus back to the south.
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