Tag Archives: Gran Canaria.

Not the GR131 GRAN CANARIA – Festival time.

Hoya Pineda – Galdar and onwards.

As you can imagine we had a slow leisurely start to the day, dragging ourselves away from the Hostel we climbed back up into the village and contoured round the west side of the mountain. Walking through the village dump we found a path under steep basalt cliffs and height was slowly lost. Over to the west were the steep Tamadaba hills and ahead the volcanic cone above Galdar.

Lanes were met and led us past dog infested houses to St.Maria de Guia, a pleasant little town with supposedly an area of historic houses. We were sidetracked by a car rally in the plaza. The narrow streets, cobbled with black volcanic rock, and old houses in the higher part of town were  explored. What struck us most was the height of the doors in proportion to the properties. Why?  The area is also famous for its Queso de Flor de Guia made mainly from sheep’s milk curdled with Cardoon [thistle] flowers. We found ourselves in the courtyard of a house selling this and opted for a taster of three cheeses and wine. The cheese was salty and served with a biscuit like bread, I wasn’t that impressed. However the olives we ate were some of the tastiest I’ve ever had and the ambience in the hot sun perfect.

Galdar is a stones throw away across the motorway. Some of its houses seem precariously built on the side of the volcanic cone. We found our way to the Santiago church and walked into the local festival, marching bands, fancy dress, dancing troops and a very loud pop concert. It was a couple of blocks away before we found a quiet cafe for a drink.

Galdar.

                                                               Galdar.

Santiago Church.

Santiago Church.

The Guagua [local bus] soon had us into the capital, Las Palmas, for a couple of days relaxation exploring the old town with more festivities, unusual modern art galleries, tropical gardens, lovely beach, fish restaurants, local back street bars…………… All a distant memory now we are back in the good old UK.

Not the GR131 GRAN CANARIA – downhill all the way?

Tunte – Hoya de Pinata.

Today we left the  northern part of the GR131 which we had previously walked and continued on our pilgrim route across the Island. We set off in cold mist and despite my assertion that we would be walking downhill all the way spent an hour climbing steeply towards Moriscos. Out of the mist appeared our friend the runner, now with followers in tow, we will check how he performs in the grand run in March. This wet weather is due to the trade winds from the NE which had brought Christopher Columbus to the Island and established it as a trading post in the Atlantic. We bypassed Mt. Moriscos and Mt.Negro, the latter a perfect ash cone and arrived at the view point into Caldera de Pinos. That was quite impressive and ‘only’ 3000 yrs old. Nearby were some Canarian Pines 300 yrs old.

Mt.Negro.

Mt.Negro.

Caldera de Pinus.

Caldera de Pinos.

Steep descending on ash through the pines brought us out into rolling green countryside with  grazing sheep, Tagasaste plantations [used for animal feed] and flowering almond trees. Quite a contrast to the higher areas of the Island. A door admitted us into a small bar for a Tropical beer and bocadillos once we had pronounced them correctly. The local police stopped by for a drink and a chat. We emerged into hot sunshine and carried on down lanes past farmsteads and barking dogs. Over to our left the Tamadaba hills seemed impressive in profile, we had climbed them last November. The village of El Saucillo was next and in our endeavours to support the local economy coffee was taken in the cafe. Despite the fact that there were only three people at the bar the volume of conversation was off the decibel scale, I’m sure it was all very friendly. Our onward route was identified on the road signs.A little peace and quite followed as we strolled down the lanes and into Hoya Pinada. Our hostel for the night, the Camino Art Hostel, was the last house in the village after the church,  on the very edge of the wild barranca. Beata, an Hungarian girl, made us very welcome and proudly showed us round her gardens and property. The girl sharing our dorm was Ukrainian and others staying there Polish and Spanish.  As the wine was cheap we stayed put for an evening of International discussions.

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Hoya Pineda, Camimo Hostel salmon coloured house right middle above barranca.

Hoya Pineda, with Camino Hostel, salmon coloured house right middle above barranca.

GR131 GRAN CANARIA – to be a pilgrim.

Tunte – Cruz Tejeda.

In Tunte there is a church dedicated to Santiago [St. James] and one in Galdar at the North end of the Island, between them is one of the ancient Camino Reales which has been recovered by the Cabildo Insular [Regional Government]. A pilgrimage route has been established along this although the route itself is pre Spanish Conquest and Christianity. So today we can complete our GR131 and start a pilgrimage after our obligatory coffee in Plaza Santiago, I still haven’t got used to the taste of the local Canarian coffee, don’t know what they put in it. We spend the next 4 hours climbing up into the centre of the Island. Initially on a steep made up path through pines to the road at Cruz Grande and a rest whilst looking over Tunte and further to the East coast. Across the road is the start of a magnificent cobbled  track zigzagging through steep volcanic scenery. At the top the path goes across bare rock and we stop for a snack [tuna again] as runners pass through. The day is passing and we don’t seem to have gone far on the map but the ground levels out through a pine forest on ash and magma below the highest point of the Island, Pico de las Nieves 1949m,  which being military is out of bounds.

At Garanon there is a youth camp and we can get a coffee from a machine, the huts have an appearance of a concentration camp so I hope the kids survive.

Suddenly we are on a balcony path looking out to all the famous landmarks of Gran Canaria – Roques El Fraile, Nublo, Bentayga,  Mt. Altavista and distant Mt. Teide on Tenerife. Some scenery and we are just in time as the mist starts to role in. Onwards to Cruz de Tejeda and El Refugio for the night. It is surprising how quickly the temperature drops up here once in mist and we are glad of heating in the rooms. Later we are treated to a spectacular sunset over Mt.Teide.

GR131 GRAN CANARIA – the empty quarter.

Ayagaures – Tunte.

Déjà vu at Ayagaures as the taxi dropped us off the next morning, but this time we were heading north on the GR131.Crossing the dam above Ayagaures led to small houses with surrounding Garden of Eden plots. Hard work had created fruit and veg that anyone would be proud of.From there we climbed a clear path into a scattered pine forest looking out for elusive Blue Chaffinch as we went, no luck.

As height was gained we seemed to be heading for a pass but we continued traversing above it into a more and more remote area with views back down to the coast. Some mountain bikers sped fearlessly downhill past us and low and behold that hill runner nonchalantly trotted by. Lost valleys appeared below. The original route has been closed due to a landslide and the volcanic rocks hereabouts looked friable. Lunch was taken before we reached the col at Manzanilla. I was so impressed by the feeling of spaciousness up here.

Two curiosities en route –

Giant dandelions, 3ft high, growing everywhere; you should see the size of the rabbits!

– and water on tap out of the rock.

So eventually over the top and onto an ancient looping track down to Tunte. We were chasing the 14.30 bus but on arrival at the stop found the timetable had changed, we didn’t fancy a three hour wait for the next. The ploy is to go into a bar and ask for a taxi knowing full well there isn’t one, this usually finds an ‘hombre’ willing to do the job. The helpful lady in our bar of choice did just that and before long we were on the way again in an unlicensed car with a driver who would probably failed even the most lenient of alcohol tests.

 

Who is driving?

                                                         Choose your driver.

We arrived safely and reflected on a yet another brilliant day’s walking in a beautiful and remote area of the Island.

GR131 GRAN CANARIA – Barranco de los Vicentillos.

Ayagaures – Maspalomas.

Virtually within an hour of landing at Gran Canaria airport I was in the pool of our cheap bungalow complex at Maspalomas, with an air temperature of 25degrees. It is January, we had  just spent 5 euros on a decent bottle of wine, nuts and olives, and are relaxing before a trip to one of the good fish restaurants for supper.  When John asked me back in England just over a week ago if I fancied a return trip here I readily agreed – we had unfinished business.      https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/gr131-gran-canaria-change-of-plans/

The GR131 through this Island is not waymarked as such, the Cicerone walking guide gives a version of what may transpire. Their last section [N-S] follows a road all the way from Ayaguares to Maspalomas,18k, surely there must be a better alternative. This is where Barranco de los Vicentillos comes in, it looked an obvious route but paths on the map were marked intermittently – there was only one way to find out. The taxi dropped us off in the virtually deserted village of Ayaguares at 9.15, the bar didn’t open till maybe 10 so we just set off walking. A winding lane took us steeply up and over the intervening ridge where we could look down into the Barranco, it did look inhospitable. However paths led down to the dry river bed and we then could follow the rough stony ‘trail’ through reedy vegetation. After heavy rain this would be impossible but today we enjoyed blue skies and increasing temperatures.

John became preoccupied with plans to convert the stout reeds into trecking poles thus avoiding the hefty aircraft charges for hold luggage containing our own ‘weapons’. His schemes probably still need refining so Ryanair needn’t  worry about loss of revenues just yet. The Barranco was quite deep in parts with ‘Swiss Cheese’ volcanic rock on either side. A wide selection of plants and shrubs were encountered, the prickly pears were particularly vicious.  We only met one person down there, an awesomely fit hill runner preparing for an Island race later in the year. Eventually we emerged under the motorway into the outskirts of Maspalomas and a welcome coffee at a kiosk outside the health clinic. We had previously followed the tracks onwards down to Faro lighthouse at the coast so we took a short cut  back to our bungalow.

For anybody following the GR131 I would highly recommend this route for the last stage to the coast.

GR131 GRAN CANARIA – change of plans.

From Top to Bottom.

All good things come to an end. I was up all night with the most awful abdominal pain!  If I’d been at home would have gone to hospital – ?appendix ?kidney stone. Eased up after 7hours and spent the rest of the day resting in bed feeling sorry for myself and disappointed about missing the walking in this fantastic weather. The hotel were very helpful and we booked another night. John had a great day’s walking with a taxi back to Cruz de Tejeda. Saturday I was feeling better but didn’t dare set off into the wilderness. So we had a pleasant short walk down to the village of Tejeda, a lovely little spot where we dallied on a bar terrace overlooking the valley down to Artenara.

Roque Nublo above Tejeda.

Roque Nublo above Tejeda.

Sleepy Tajeda.

Sleepy Tajeda.

Towards Artenara with Cueva de los Candiles high on the right cliff.

Towards Artenara with Cueva de los Candiles high on the right cliff.

The bus didn’t leave from where we thought so we had a bit of a rush down to the small bus station. I didn’t envy the drivers task of negotiating the steep narrow hairpins over steep drops, he did hit the barrier on one hairy section! Two hours later we were in the busy holiday resort of Maspalomas, installed in our hotel apartment and enjoying a swim in the pool. Another world from where we had been. Our complex was massive but  surprisingly pleasant and clean. Didn’t really like the fitting of a wrist band for our stay, shades of electronic tagging. Are they trying to stop us running away, not something I’m used to. We were given a map of the complexes and it took us some time to locate our room, even worse when we tried to find the restaurant. We ended up on the streets outside and arrived back where we started, the areas all looked the same! Maybe tagging would be useful for finding lost, and hungry, guests.

Sunday was our last full day, John was not happy to go back up into the mountains whilst I could possibly take a turn for the worse [somebody has to have some sense]. So after a leisurely breakfast we walked through the no man’s land of apartments and shops to Meloneras beach where we had a swim and dried of in the sun before heading back to a little restaurant, La Esquinita del Mar, for lunch. Papas arrugadas con mojo sauces and then the local fresh Cherne [Wreck fish].

As an aside I noticed a quirky translation elsewhere  of ‘papas arrugadas’  wrinkled potatoes. Mis hijos quedaron encantados con sus papas arrugadas – became – My children were delighted with their parents wrinkles.

Walking back past some exclusive looking hotels along the wide promenade ‘living statues’ were in evidence, some quite clever. At the lighthouse at Faro, a prominent landmark, it was 28degrees and everyone was making use of the good weather sunbathing and swimming. One can see why Northern Europeans flock here in the winter. The southern tip of the Island is famous for its sand-dunes above the beach and I was keen to see them, I wasn’t expecting all the other sights I saw. Some things are best kept hidden.Can’t really end with that photo so here’s another cheeky chap seen along the way …..

Gran Canarian Giant Lizard.

Gran Canarian Giant Lizard.

All being well we will be on a plane home tomorrow, I hear the weather back in Britain hasn’t been that good – can’t wait.

GR131 on GRAN CANARIA – caves in the sky.

Artenara – Cruz de Tejeda.

Another leisurely start and another perfect day. we say goodbye to the lovely people at the cave. Breakfast at Bar Tamadaba was taken in the town square, tomate tostada and good coffee. Lanes led to the hills above with views once more to distant Mount Teide. On the ridge we came across a sign for Cueva de los Candiles describing it as one of the most important pre – Hispanic caves with hundreds of carved triangles possibly representing the female pubes, fertility symbols?  The approach to the cave was described as dangerous and precarious so we were soon scrambling down the loose cliff face in search of the cave. After a few false descents we found a metal ladder taking us down to an exposed terrace leading to the cave in the rock face.  Disappointingly the entrance was barred and it was difficult to make out the carvings but what a situation 400m above the valley.

The best 'triangle' I could see.

The best ‘triangle’ I could see.

We had not seen much in the way of bird life in the hills, some Kestrels yesterday but up here we spotted a Barbary Falcon flying across the cliffs below us. Continuing along the ridge we found more caves [all barred] Cuevas Caballero which were worth exploring, this time without risking life and limb. There was an interesting carved face in the rock but this was probably of a different date.

Back on the ridge we had a surprise view down to the capital Las Palmas.

The day was disappearing and we hadn’t gone far but good paths led us towards the col of Cruz de Tejeda where all the day trippers land up in the centre of the island. We had a beer on the terrace of the exclusive state run Parador hotel but couldn’t afford a swim in their heated pool. The view down the caldera is impressive, as is everywhere in these mountains. The sombre pilgrim cross overlooks the busy tourist cafes and stalls and our more modest hotel, El Refugio, was tucked away behind. There were pleasant gardens with a pool which looked inviting in the hot afternoon sun – but turned out to be freezing, about 15degrees [we are at 1500m], so we didn’t linger.

We were in a cheap attic dorm type room and suffered several head injuries as we moved about. The couple running the place were most charming and provided a good Canarian evening meal with honey/rum to finish. Recommended.