El Hierro

30th March

A transit day today in preparation for tomorrow’s flight to El Hierro.

A leisurely breakfast and a bus trip to Aguimes which is closer to the airport.

On the walk to the bus stop some German or Spanish elderly gentlemen had a little tussle, I think the cyclist was annoyed by the walkers yapping dog, but he went back to them, we didn’t see the whole thing but he was pushed off his bike by one of the men and it looked like punches were about to be thrown when the women stepped in to try to calm things down, oh the excitement. The irony was this little tussle took place in a park dedicated to
Mahatma Gandhi and around the park there were plaques with quotes denouncing violence.

The bus route dropped us off 7k from Aguimes so we jumped in a taxi, we were glad we made this decision as the route was all main road with no footpaths.

Aguimes was a nice surprise, it is a little tourist town with narrow streets and loads of bronze sculptures, the kind you can interact with.

Our accommodation was in an old townhouse with huge high ceilings, we had a shared kitchen and loos.

Not long after arriving it started to rain pretty heavily (and rained for the rest of today). The house had an open courtyard and it was weird watching and listening to the rain. The rooms led off the courtyard and it was strange having parts of the house open to the elements.

In a rain break, we had a wander around looking out for the many sculptures and even treated ourselves to a beer in a bar.

We had bought pizza and bread to make our own garlic bread but on return to the house, we found the electrics in the kitchen had failed.

The man came out and couldn’t fix it, he said it was the rain, he did move the microwave to our room for us.

The internet t the rescue, I searched for the best way to cook a pizza in a microwave and found a method thus;

Bing the microwave for 1.5 mins
Then heat the base on a job for a few minutes ( the hob was electric so didn’t work so I used our camping stove instead).
Having added some more fresh ingredients re-microwave for 2 mins, then heat again on the makeshift hob to keep the base crusty.
Meanwhile garlic bread in the toasting grill, again using a plug-in our room.

Dinner was actually OK but it was a lot of faffing around.

 

31st March
Travel day to Le Hierro

I had four bad things in the first 10 minutes, turned the shower on only to find the head was pointing upwards, the water cascaded all over the bathroom, spilt sugar, dropped and smashed a glass and discovered I had set the alarm to 6.30pm. Just as we woke early as we had a plane to catch.

Breakfast of porridge and coffee made from the kitchens kettle that we had to plug in our room as the electric was still off.

We called a taxi at the taxi rank just as a bus came around the corner, which was a surprise because our interpretation of the bus timetable was that buses didn’t run on Sundays. We clearly read that wrong, as there were several buses operating. We ran (well hobbled along) to the bus stop to see if we could catch it. Turned out the bus for the airport would leave at 8.00am, giving us 15 minutes this was great as it saved us a few bob, the buses on Gran Canaria are really cheap.

I loved the flight as we had great views over the Canary Islands, I could pick out landmarks, as we flew over them. It was interesting to see there was snow on the top of the mountains in Tenerife.  There were only 14 people on the plane and that included the air hostesses.

Arriving at le Hierro the island was covered in a huge dark cloud. Ginette had checked the weather and it looked like rain so had booked us into a room for 3 nights. We could have camped in the mountains for a few Euro a night but if it rained it would make an unpleasant walking experience. We only have a couple of sets of clothes and would not be able to dry them out.

Another influencing factor was the fact that it was much colder in the mountains, wild camping was not really an option as we wanted to walk without any weight in the hope this will enable Net’s foot to heal.

Initial Impressions of El Hierro is it is quiet and not as tourist developed. Unfortunately, the cloud over the island makes everything look a bit greyer than it probably is.

We have decided we will walk parts of the island but not cover the GR131 route, as this would mean wild camping and carrying our rucksacks. However, we will cover the middle stretch, over the highest point on El Hierro, which is based on the centuries-old pilgrimage route, the Camino de La Virgen. Every four years the whole of the island walk the length of the GR 131 route, this would be an impressive time to be on the island.

The main town of Valverde is really small, we arrived on Sunday, all the shops were shut and there was hardly anyone around so probably not the best first impression. Added to this we were approached by a man who was down on his luck, he had stitches over his eye and looked in a poor state. He wanted money for a meal, we bought him some bread and cake. We saw him again later in the week as we moved onto a new area and again felt compelled to give him some money for food. We have not seen any other beggars on our travels in the Canary Islands.

The buses are easy to get around on. We took a bus straight from the airport for €1.16 each. Then another to Frontera for the same fee.

We are just on the outskirts of Frontera in Tiguary.

The room is pretty poor and has no cooking facilities but at least it’s dry and we can go walking with no kit on.

The sea was a 2.5k walk downhill to a rocky cliff face, most of the island is rocky cliff faces, the walk was OK we passed pineapple and banana plantations en route. There was a guy fishing but his spot on the rocks looked a bit precarious.

We splashed out and had dinner out it is nice to eat out but it seems such an expense when we can cook food exactly as we want it for far less cost. Not eating out means we are not interacting with the locals as much as we would like to.  We are trying to learn spanish and the best way to do this is to speak the language. We found trying to read the menu difficult even with our translation apps. So we learnt a few new phrases for cooking terms last night.

 

1st April

Although we had no kitchen we boiled water on our little terrace and had coffee and porridge to start the day.

We decided to walk the first half of the GR131 Camino de Le Virgin but doing it backwards and straight from our accommodation.

I carried a light rucksack, with our coats and lunch, Net was able to travel light, in the hope that this will help with the healing process, however, we still had a 20k walk to do.

The first 5k was up a steep mountain behind our village of Frontera. At first the track was not signed and had been barely walked and we found ourselves bouldering as it was so steep, however, we joined a far more defined and signed track for the rest of the walk up the hill. It was hard going but great.

We walked through a rain forest environment, very lush and green with moss growing on all the trees. At the top, we were in the cloud cover so unfortunately, we did not benefit from the views, that I am sure would have been quite spectacular.

We passed a church near the top in the middle of nowhere with only a grass track to it.
Once at the top we found the Camino de le virgin trail and was able to follow this for the next 15k in a mostly downhill direction.

In some areas, it was like walking in the Peak District with pine forests, stone walls, sheep farms and lots of greenery. The weather was overcast and cold at the top, which helped reinforce the feeling of being in the UK.

Once in Valverde we treated ourselves to a beer and caught the bus back.
All in all a nice walk, it would have nicer to be treated to the views and to some sunshine but it beats working for a living.

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2nd April

The weather forecast for all the Canaries was not great for the following three days or more, we checked out the other islands and they all had a similar report to various degrees of cold and wet. We had booked our room for three nights but we needed to decide our next move. We figured we may as well stay on El Hierro and find somewhere to stay which will offer us better accommodation, and a new area to explore.

On our last day in Frontera, we braved the weather and walked the 4K to the coast rock pool swimming area of La Maceta, it started to rain as we arrived and we got pretty wet.

The area was well laid out with a protected swimming area, but the sea was so rough it was crashing over this area so unfortunately, we could not go swimming. There were shelters around the beach with BBQ areas so we sheltered under the driest we could find.

Sitting watching the sea smashing into the bay is a great way to while away the hours.
Our thoughts went to our friend Alistair who tragically lost his life in the sea, he would have loved El Hierro.

We boiled coffee, relaxed and eventually the rain stopped.

We had the area to ourselves, I bet that wouldn’t be the case in better weather.
I took the opportunity to try out the fishing kit off the rocks, the first couple of casts and the spool was all tangled again, this time instead of spending ages trying to sort it out I cut it off and pocketed the mess, after this, it was much better.

It was not the best spot to fish, although I was up on the rocks the waters below were only full when the waves smashed in, then I was left with shallow rocky bits.
I really enjoyed this session, I didn’t catch anything but my casting came on and the sea crashing right near me was a good adrenaline rush.
I stopped after a few hours after the spool bird nested again as I had wound it the wrong way.

Ginette had spent the afternoon watching the waves and reading we had only intended to stay an hour but we had managed to miss both our buses back, whoops.

We didn’t care we decided to cook dinner down by the sea, a rice tuna and vegetable dish, what a great place to relax in.

Just as we were leaving two busloads of kids and teachers turned up with provisions for dinner so we had picked the right time to leave.

Just along the way was another small cove Charco Los Sargos, this was another swimming spot but with no shelters. There were wood floor sunbathing platforms and two stairways leading into the sea. No chance of trying these out in the rain.

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3rd – 5th April

We have relocated to an area called Restinga, the accommodation is much better. However we did have a bit of a hiccup when we arrived, we couldn’t contact the host and could not gain access to the apartment. Eventually, she arrived, very embarrassed and flustered, she claimed she had not received the booking. She quickly tidied the property and left apologising profusely.

I got up when I woke at 6.30, it was still dark. I put the fishing rod together and rigged up the tackle then spent the dawn fishing off the harbour wall.

I could see the splashes where the large fish were jumping, but this was on the opposite side of the harbour. The water was really clear so after an hour when the sun was up I watched as a pretty nice size fish swam to my line, swam down to the bait, looked at it then looked up at me with its middle fin up and swam off.

I returned to the apartment empty handed and made us breakfast of poached eggs.

We walked over to a sheltered swimming area approx 5 k around the coast called Cala de Tacaron. This was down a steep cliff face, it had a similar feel to the previous swimming spots with wooden bathing platforms and several ladders into the sea.

On route to this area, we strayed off the set path as it was not clearly marked. We ended up having to walk across a volcanic lava field for about an hour. This was hard going with undulating and uneven jagged rocks to navigate. Ginette slipped and was scratched and bruised, when we did finally reach a track there were signs warning not to go into this protected area, whoops.

We had a meagre packed lunch at the swimming area of dry bread and cheese with onion and warm water, there was a bar/cafe in the area but it was shut.

I had a swim, the sea was still a little excited so I didn’t stray too far from the steps.
It was when I got out I spotted several small purple jellyfish, these had been washed into the swimming area and remained there all afternoon.

Ginette spent the afternoon sunbathing (the sun has finally come out to play). We are both reading the same book on our Kindles, and Ginette being competitive is keen to finish before I do. I spent the time teaching a silver plastic imitation fish how to throw itself into the sea and make its way back to me via a small line, during this time it had to avoid contact with any other real fish. This little artificial fish goes by the name “bait “, well he is a quick learner as he managed to spend the whole session avoiding any real fish.

The walk back was cut short by Ginette’s able left thumb, gaining us a lift back to Restinga by a nice Austrian couple. My earlier attempt at thumbing a lift failed miserably and received a middle finger response.

As we walked back to the apartment, a very suntanned man in his 40’s with dreadlocks down to his waist stopped to talk to us. He was keen to know if we were on the island to sail, we explained we were hiking the Canary Islands. After a while, we ascertained that he was a sculptor and he invited us back to his apartment. We were intrigued but on guard, probably unnecessarily he seemed to take great delight in showing us his work, however, we suspected a sales pitch so made our excuses and went on our merry way. He seemed very genuine and this may have been a lost opportunity to know a little more about the island. Everyone seems to be genuinely welcoming and really laid back.

We spent the evening exploring where to go next, the weather for La Palma and Tenerife North is still threatening more rain whereas La Gomera and Tenerife South look sunny. However, the latter is more expensive. We shouldn’t complain but it is amazing how much of our time we can spend trying to get the best deals and travel as inexpensively as we can. Ginette suddenly realised today that our tickets to El Hierro had been purchased as residents rather than non-residents the price difference is staggering. After several hours of playing on the internet, she has managed to secure a deal for La Gomera but it involves travelling via Tenerife North and having an 8-hour stopover. As we have mentioned before we are time rich, money poor and this flight was the most economical one we could find.

Last day in Resinga, Net has a bit of an upset stomach so we stayed local. I tried fishing again and a local kindly informed me I needed to use some crab as bait. We saw him later talking to a man on a fishing boat and he kindly gave me a small crab. I tried this and eventually caught my first fish, a tiddly little one but all the same a fish. I tried to remove the hook without much success and Ginette suggested we use him as bait. I tried this but still didn’t catch anything bigger. I have learnt a lot in the past few days including having a bigger weight is better for casting and it is essential to have the right bait.

The evening was spent chilling, playing the ukelele and writing up the blog.

We have followed doctors orders and had a restful week but we are both keen to pick up the GR131 route in La Gomera and return to wild camping. Our budget is not going to last very long if we keep forking out for apartments.

 

2 thoughts on “El Hierro

  1. Bob H

    Really appreciate your updates and pics, thanks so much.

    The thought of a shared kitchen/bathroom sounds a little ‘odd’ to us softy British types, but no one seems to die of it in exotict places so it must be ok.

    Just keep your breakfast away from the loo. 🙂

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    1. ggcorr Post author

      It’s amazing how quickly you get used to sharing kitchens and bathrooms, especially after camping in the wild for weeks xx

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