Vallehermoso – Chipude.
The GR131 has been recently waymarked and signposted so it is difficult to get lost, but that is what we managed within a few hundred metres in Vallehermoso. Well not lost really, we had the excellent Discovery Guide map highlighting the walking routes, unfortunately at an early junction the signing was debatable. At least we debated it, John would have gone left whereas I wanted to follow the map. Later we found I was wrong, despite the odd fading red and white flash, but we had gained height and were reluctant to turn round. Worrying private signs kept appearing but the track was good and going in the right direction ie. upwards. We eventually joined an improved track which turned out to be the 131, there had obviously been a new diversion. Ahead were heavily forested complex mountain ridges through which the path wandered with occasional views back to the valley. Mainly it was steeply up through the trees 1200m to be precise. We were walking in the Laurisilva, a type of cloud forest where the trees obtain much of their moisture from mist. Fortunately there was no mist today.
In a clearing in the mainly Myrtle trees we stopped for lunch, it was a busy spot with walkers using a short circular route. German seemed to be the prominent language. We spent time feeding crumbs to what we thought were Blue Finches but I think turned out to be Canary Island Chaffinches, different to ours. In fact when you look up birds on these islands they often seem to be a canariensis variety. One of the commonest we saw was a kestrel with dark plumage.
On the top of the plateau are several small villages so we were able partake of regular refreshments as the afternoon wore on. Between Las Hayas and El Cercado we traversed round the rim of the massive barranca leading down to Valle Gran Rey, the last time I was here in thick mist I never even realised it was there.
Delightful field systems brought us on old tracks into Chipude and Sonia’s bar. All I had from Victor, the brother, was an email reply to my booking request saying OK. Beer in the sun was a perfect end to the afternoon. The room was comfy but the bath minute. For supper I chose the delicious tuna in an onion sauce – looking back had exactly the same last time I stayed. Angela the Mother is a great cook and Sonia the most efficient hostess. On the big screen watched Arsenal get the run around by Messi and his Barcelona team. We were glad of the heater in the room as it turns cold at night at 1200m.