Looking out of the hotel window this morning its dull, the palm trees are waving in the north wind, unseasonal weather and the locals are ‘muy frio’. After a good breakfast we decide to head up to the north coast to a low lying crag. The motorway quickly takes us up and through Las Palmas [looks a nice city] and on along the north coast. The sea looks dramatic with high waves breaking onto the rocky coast. New roads mean the guide book description is out of date and frankly useless. Lost – calling in at a cafe for coffee and info they can’t help, but send us up to Moya to a tourist bureau. The people here draw us a lovely map to reach the parking for BARRANCA DE MOYA. We quickly retrace our route and find the way. Park up below the new roads which must have cost a fortune!

A short walk up the barranco alongside the water channel brings us to the first buttresses. The rock looks rounded and smooth! Start  on a IV which proves to be awkward and ends with a jump to the chain! Not what we were expecting. An easier IV and a slabby V restore confidence. After a lunch we walk up and out of the wild barranco on a rather indistinct track through prickly undergrowth to drop back into a sector, Paraiso, with lots of good climbing.    Climb a lovely rounded slab at a IV grade and then a steeper V wall. This end of the Barranco is like a lost world.

The weather had changed and it was overcast with the odd drop of rain as we walked out of the barranco to the car for our trip back to Vecindario. Before supper I had a walk along the main shopping street in town. This is when the Spanish do their promenading, shopping and cake eating. All the bars were busy and long queues were forming outside the panaderias and pastelerias selling delicious sugary concoctions, all smelling irresistible. Not so sure about the buns displayed below and there affect on your digestive tract!

Further along the street every evening the older gents gathered to put the world to right, though they are not having much success with the Spanish economy.

According to the guide book there is a very extensive and quality climbing area in the mountains in the NW of the island, TAMADABA National Park. This is an extensive pine forest at just over 1100m with several canyons within giving the climbing areas. To quote the guide book – climbing here during the summer can be very hot. The best season is winter,but it can be very cold if covered by clouds  So despite the fact that it had been cloudy yesterday we imagined from the forecast that the weather was improving and set off on the long drive up and over the central mountains. Within half an hour of departing we were driving up the beautiful Barranco de Guayadeque with its famous cave houses. The scenery became more dramatic the higher we went until suddenly the road gave out [despite being marked on all the maps and directed there by a local] so back to the start to find another route. Driving in Spanish towns is never easy as direction signs are very rare, especially where you really need them. A lot of circling around and  backtracking is usually needed to exit a town on the correct road.     We quickly gained height this time on a narrow winding road but unfortunately we just drove into the cloud. This made driving difficult and we lost all the views. Having started at sea level in 19degrees we watched the temperature plummet and when up at 1700m a scary warning bleep was heard from the dashboard as the temp was down to 3.5 – possible icy roads! The way then went downhill and some blue sky appeared, our spirits were briefly lifted. The scenery being dramatic.

Roque Bentaiga

When we arrived at the parking spot the cloud was down again. With no hope of climbing we nevertheless went off in search of one of the climbing sectors, Lomo Caraballo, which took some finding in the trees on the edge of a steep canyon.  The rock looked great and the views down the canyon and out to the Atlantic would be stunning! Another time. Now it was time to retreat to a warm bar in the nearby village of Artenara for a hot coffee and some tasty  Truchas de Navidad. These are little pasties with a variety of filings – potatoes, almonds or fruit. They were being made fresh by two girls in the back room of the bar. Traditionally eaten at Xmas and the carnival before lent.

Fortified we set off all the way back to the different world of Vecindario and our hotel. In retrospect  we obviously chose the wrong day to go high, but it must be difficult to judge the prevailing mountain conditions when you are down on the coast. Mountains the world over have their own micro climate. I think on a future occasion, if there was more settled weather, it would be preferable to stay up at Artenara for a few days to give easy access to the Tamadaba crags. Watching the news that night saw that Spain was having quite a lot of snowfall in the cold weather. So it still is an awful lot better here!

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