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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Walking in the Barranco de la Mula & Barranco de Las Monjas

The 'Shark-Fin' of the bridge on the TF1
Yesterday, I started a walk in the south-east of the island from a car-park next to a Mercadona warehouse by the side of the TF1 motorway. This may not sound like the best area for a walk but although the terrain I walked through was desert-like and fairly barren, I really enjoyed what proved to be a fascinating route.


Entering the Barranco near the start of the Walk
I set off by crossing the TF1 over a motorway bridge that looks a lot like a shark-fin before heading into the Barranco de La Mula.
View towards Teide
As I left the motorway behind, silence descended and I was soon enjoying the stark volcanic pumice landscape, softened by balo bushes, tabaiba and cardon spurges. The walk initially followed a track into the barranco and I had good views to the summit cone of Teide, protruding just above the high mountains surrounding the National Park.
View from  Natura Park
As the track began to diminish, a number of low buildings appeared on the ridge on the left of the barranco and I climbed up to find an abandoned holiday village project called 'Natura Park'. The abandoned 'holiday villas' with unusually shaped windows stood looking forlorn around a large hole in the ground that was obviously intended to be a swimming pool.
Natura Park
The buildings were made from the same white, volcanic pumice of the surrounding landscape and as with all abandoned buildings, I found the atmosphere rather a melancholy one. Descending back into the barranco, I continued as the way now became a narrow path before disappearing altogether and I walked in the stream-bed until the path re-appeared further along the ravine.
Circular 'window' in the pumice cliffs

The path throughout the rest of the walk followed this pattern of changing from being a well defined route through the shrubs and spurges to converging with the stream-bed. Often on walks on the island I am confronted by many 'wow' moments and I didn't expect to be too impressed by the terrain on this walk.

Path through the spurges

However, although the walk passed through a very dry and barren, desert-like landscape, I found that the unique nature of my surroundings made this walk as interesting as any I had done recently.  At one point, I spotted a kestrel hovering just above a circular 'window' eroded into the pumice cliffs but by the time I had retrieved my camera, it had gone.
Stream-bed in the Barranco de La Monjas
After a while, I began to wonder if I had missed the way out of the barranco leading into the Barranco de Las Monjas but as the path was still well defined I continued through the spurges until eventually, I spotted another path ascending from the barranco to my left and follow it up to a track on the top of the barranco wall. From here, I had a good view down into the Barranco de Las Monjas and was surprised to see an isolated finca on the far wall of the ravine. I sat for a while for a break enjoying the sunshine before descending the narrow path to the stream-bed.
Pumice 'Statue'
Here, as in the Barranco de la Mula, the path was intermittent but where I lost the path, it soon re-appeared on the bank of the stream-bed and the going was quite easy apart from this. After walking along the stream-bed for some distance, the path now ascended a gentle incline up the barranco wall, eventually passing a number of bizarrely eroded pumice 'statues', which gave the impression they had been deliberately carved .
Pumice 'Statue'
Eventually, the 'sharks-fin' of the bridge came into view in the distance signalling that I was nearing the end of the walk and I followed the stream-bed towards it before passing through a tunnel under the motorway and returning to the start point after what had proved to be an unusual and  interesting walk. 
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