Puerto de las Nieves – Tamadaba.
Aeroplane and bus had us onto the Island and into the busy capital Las Palmas, where Christopher Columbus stopped over  as did we; and the next morning over to Puerto de las Nieves, a sleepy port on the north-west coast. Time over coffee to adjust to the sun and temperatures climbing into the high 20’s. The GR131 is not marked as such on Gran Canaria, but the route across the island is covered by a series of well signed and numbered paths. We picked up the S90 on the edge of town and started climbing.
The path was well contoured through the volcanic ash and soon typical Canarian plants were distracting us from our task. A new bulldozed track gave us easy walking, its purpose we found out was to access land where millions of trees were going to be planted. The workers put us on to our smaller continuing path up the rocky crest [a sign will be needed]. Steep slopes were crossed and a large party of 25 walkers met descending, there is a walking festival on the Island at present. At over 600m old terracing appeared and an ‘era’ threshing floor. I suppose this was the reason for our old path in the first place. Surrounded by cliffs and with good views down to the coast this was a good place for a rest and snack. Also, an opportunity to compare the carrying properties of our respective packs, my back was soaked in sweat from my basic Golite sack whilst John was dry using an updated airflow Osprey pack. Sometimes the quest for the lightest carry has its downfalls.
This was a different world of shade and mist with silent needle covered paths, hanging lichens and giant heathers. The absence of any other walkers enhanced its spookiness. We hit the road where I had hoped the taxi would appear and sat and wondered if it would. There was no mobile reception.
This is not a particularly busy road, we only saw one other car, so when a taxi came round the bend we stopped it and jumped in. The driver’s replies to my stuttering Spanish had us worried whether we were in the right taxi – he didn’t seem to know my name or where we were staying, and his phone number was different from the one I had. The simplest solution was to keep quiet and get to our hostal in Artenara. We arranged to see him in the morning for the journey back.
Our hostal was in fact a cave house, and a very good cave it was. Adam the ‘warden’ was from Hungary and the other guests from France and Belgium. The laissez faire [can’t translate that into Spanish] atmosphere was perfect for the situation – a cave with the most fantastic outlook and that black cat, Sombre. [El Warung Cave Hostel]. We had no food with us so wandered into the village to eat only to find that due to some previous local festival every bar was closed. A shop provided us with pasta, beer and wine, and it was back up to the cave for a convivial evening. The stars were fantastic and the planets almost aligned. Should be good tomorrow.
PS. The taxi was the correct one.