We moved to another accommodation, as we wanted an apartment with a kitchen and washing machine. The place Net found was great, it was an old typical Canarian home. It was a little odd though when looking out the kitchen window I was treated to Net waving at me from the loo as the rooms looked over each over and the windows were wide open.
We washed a load of clothes by hand, I had started a machine wash but before I pushed go I thought I had better check the soap powder on google translate, just as well as it turned out to be a bleach again.
Today we rested, sunbathed, looked around the pretty town of Santa Cruz.
Dinner was Alfonso, a Red Sea bream cooked with vegetables and potatoes.
Fish is really expensive here, these two fish cost us €8.
We ventured out later to see if any Easter parades were running, there was a build up of musicians forming slowly outside the main church.
Net went back to the room as it was getting cold and dark. I waited and watched as the parade started. They manoeuvred this heavy idle of Christ out of the church and down all the steps, it didn’t look easy but it was done slowly as with as much grace as they could muster. Then the parade took a very slow walk down the high street with the band playing behind and the locals all gathered and I followed as well.
It’s an amazing sight to behold.
I went back to the apartment, I was cold and I knew I had a glass of wine and a packet of Maltesers with my name on them. We had seen a very similar parade only the week previously so didn’t feel I was missing anything. It was lovely having an hour by myself. When Gary got back we curled up on the settee and watched another episode of Fleabag. The small pleasures in life.
We took full advantage of the kitchen and had poached egg and mushrooms on bread for breakfast.
Our bus was not till 11.15 so a leisurely morning.
We managed to buy another gas bottle this time with the right screw fitting so I will not need to use the adapter, this was from a small hardware store just like Browns in Nailsea, this guy had everything.
Our bus was later then we thought as it was running on weekend timetables, one of my rucksack securing straps was on its way out so I went back into town to try to get a sewing kit, luckily a small cobbler had a spare needle and thread that he gave me for free, even threaded the eye of the needle for me.
I repaired my strap whilst waiting for the bus.
Whilst I was at the cobblers an older man and women behind me started to chat (in Spanish) quite animated as they had spotted my hearing aids and were both deaf themselves. This couple stopped again to chat to me and Net at the bus stop, they were a nice couple but towards the end they showed us some information that they were keen for us to have, it turns out we have now been chosen by the local Jehovior witnesses.
The bus took us to Los Canaries, we had a spot of lunch. I had a piece of cooked chicken and Net chose a dish that turned out it needed cooking so she ended up with bread and cheese. We purchased a lemon drink from the fridge and we both thought it tasted odd, it turned out to be lemon beer.
I think we made an error as we took a taxi down to Fuencaliente lighthouse for about €17 but we found since then we may have been able to get another bus.
The lighthouse area is pretty, the beach is black sand and rock. The sea looked inviting but it was very windy and was already 1 pm.
The walk from the lighthouse and the beginning of the GR131 route in La Palma went straight up climbing over 800 metres in the 7k we walked. The initial terrain was all volcanic, Ginette was strong today and was flying up the hills, from behind she looked like she was summiting Everest. I was feeling pretty weary, I think we are a bit overloaded as we are stocked up for a few days.
Once we were back to where we got the taxi, the town of Los Canaries, the terrain changed to pine forest. The walk was still climbing and will be all day tomorrow as well.
Net managed to find a lovely clearing in the woods to camp, we had to be quiet as the walking track was nearby and sound travels, we could hear the odd walker going by, but fortunately, no one seemed to see us.
It is great wild camping but we really don’t want a fine for illegal camping which means we have to be constantly on our guard, this adds to the excitement but is a little exhausting as we are constantly on alert.
Net had another bad night, I had to get into her sleeping bag to stop her shivering, she is a worry. In my mind I had worked out I could leave the tent up and take Net down the hill in the morning if she was no better.
Ginette – I am not sure what is going on with my body, it has happened three times now, I suddenly feel very strange, I feel like I am going to faint, be sick or go to the loo. Last night it was the latter, but I was extremely shaky and like the other times my body went instantly into shivering mode. I took some paracetamol and it calmed down. The next day I had similar pains in my back as I had on previous occasions. Very strange but obviously nothing serious as I soon bounce back. I think my body takes about 6 weeks to realise I am actually going to be adventurous whether it likes it or not. On a funny note, I got up at about 4.00am with an urgent need to go to the loo again, it was possibly wind but in a tent, I was taking no chances. I scrambled out of bed and tried desperately to find the toilet roll in the dark, I didn’t want to wake Gary so gave up and grabbed what I thought was the baby wipes. Fortunately, it was just wind because when I looked down at the ‘baby wipes’ I realised I’d grabbed a bar of chocolate, I had a little giggle to myself and stumbled back to the tent, I so wanted to share the moment with Gary but he was fast asleep.
It was Easter Sunday but, other than the religious festivals it would be hard to tell, no Easter bonnets and not a chocolate egg in sight.
We set off about 8am we were not sure how far we would get but agreed to give it ago. Breakfast was planned at the picnic area, approximately 2km away from where we camped. It was a tough 2km all uphill. Net struggled to moderate her breathing so we took frequent stops and walked slowly, but she is so strong willed she kept plugging away and eating into the miles.
We hadn’t realised the recreational picnic area would be off our route and down a steep path so rather than adding a further 0,5km we decided to have breakfast on the route. I used the last of the old gas bottle so it took a little while to heat the water for the porridge and coffee.
In the morning we were overtaken by several runners who appeared to be taking part in an uphill race. They definitely looked fitter than we did.
At our lunch break, we had a little doze, Net was woken up by a large crow trying to get into her rubbish bag attached to her rucksack. The cheeky bugger was as brazen as brass, he didn’t fly off when we jumped he hopped about wanting to be fed.
The day was mainly uphill and several times I suggested we could stop for the day but Net wanted to persevere. Our water supplies were low but manageable. As we approached the last 4km before our planned stop at a recreational ground we agreed to call it a day but the route suddenly changed and instead of climbing mountains we were able to make the distance easily.
Once at the campsite we were keen to have a shower but they were freezing cold, I eventually got some of my bits in and Net opted for a strip wash. We blagged a couple of cans of beer from Spanish lads, we offered to pay but they gave them as a gift.
The views today were glorious, we had blue sky and could see for miles. Sometimes you could see Tenerife, La Gomera and La Hierro in all the same view. We were above the cloud cover at a height just under 2000 meters.
The downhills were a little scary we both looked as if we were auditioning for mission impossible.
We did try to book the campsite last night before we left Santa Cruz but the offices shut as we arrived, we needn’t of worried as we were the only campers there for the night. All the family’s in the neighbouring park left as it got dark.
In the morning following a good nights sleep we set of with only one bottle of drinking water, three other bottles we filled from the taps so at the campsite so that we could boil the water for cooking.
The tap water in La Palma is not suitable for tourists so we are playing safe and trying to boil water or buy bottled water.
Ginette is far better today and set a fair pace all day, I was tired and let the feeling enter my head for the morning. I had to have a talk with myself, yes I am weary but it’s not that bad, once I started singing, the blues disappeared.
We spent the first few hours walking in cloud cover and rain, but once we gained some more altitude we broke free from the clouds into a bright hot sunny day, spending the rest of the afternoon above the clouds. Of course, this sunshine could be due to Ginette’s chanting to great sun gods to let the clouds clear 10 minutes before it actually did, she is a bit of a witch you know.
At one rest point, we were bombarded by an elite squadron of fighter pilots, they were zooming right next to us so close we could hear the windbreak as they whizzed past, we think this elite fighting force may have been Swifts.
Net had saved half a litre of wine to drink this evening, she has been carrying it around for 3 days and rather embarrassingly when she put her rucksack down she must have punctured the carton and found herself with red wine leaking down her legs. I tried to help but ended up bursting the carton which made it look like her waters had broken. There was only a couple of sips left in the carton so I did the decent thing and finished it off.
We reached Ponta De La Roques at about 3pm, there was a well-built cabin with sleeping quarters of 4 large wooden bunk beds for approx 20 people and another room with tables and chairs. It had one water tap outside but no toilet facilities which would explain why the area was scattered with wet wipes as we approached. Wet wipes are a sin when it comes to walkers, they are scattered around where people have done there business but unlike the shit which can and has decomposed these bloody wet wipes remain to spoil the countryside.
We filled our water bottles but didn’t stay as by the time we had soup and hot water it was 4pm and we felt we could get a few more miles in. A German couple that were there said we may be able to camp at the car park of Pico De La Nieve. The couple were staying in the cabin along with at least one other. They explained they’d rang ahead and 12 people were scheduled to stay the night. The female of the group was keen that we went on, to the lower area, eagerly telling us about the flat ground and how we could cover the distance in 2 hours. The male was much more relaxed and argued we had all the time In the world. On balance we decided we preferred a little more privacy so decided to walk on.
The walk today once out of the clouds was again very hilly but not as bad as yesterday as we are already up pretty high, each rise or corner turned was greeted with a fantastic view over all the clouds with the higher mountains poking out.
When we reached the turning for Pico De La Nieve it turned out we had a further 2K walk downhill to get to a car park, which was off our route, we didn’t fancy this so, at the first camping spot on the route down to the car park, we pitched our tent. We camped on the footpath itself in a slightly wider area so if anyone does use the route then they can get by.
It was a cold and windy start but the clouds were well below us so once we got back on the ridge we had a day of fantastic views again.
We had worked out that if we could not finish the route today we had enough food to wild camp but not enough water. When we finally reached the star observer which was on the highest ridge (this seemed to take ages as you could see them from a long way off) we set about finding water. Ginette managed to ask a worker who shot off in his truck and came back with a pack of water, he gifted two us free of charge, there are some lovely people in this world.
We continued to the highest point at around 2500 meters of Roque De Los Muchachos. It’s a little disappointing to get there and find a car park, with lots of tourists visiting the scenery the easy way. It is well worth the drive up (or the bus) as the views are great. A family group were desperately looking for their two lost dogs, we hadn’t seen them but offered to call them if we did. We could only hope they hadn’t fallen off one of the cliff edges.
Whilst we ate lunch
Ginette had a little wobble and was worried we wouldn’t find anywhere on route to camp, we had a further 17km to complete, I was keen so we set off with our fingers crossed.
The route was mainly downward with a few ups for fun, the going was hard as in some areas we were both slipping on the loose stones. It has been interesting watching people running up the hills and then skidding down them. They are a lot braver than we are.
We traversed a whole range of rock types on the way down, flint, red sandstone, yellow sandstone, chalk, granite, sand and volcanic rocks.
With about 9km to go, we were both weary, La Palma has been a hard walk, we managed to stop at about 5 pm and set up camp next to the path, there was nowhere else as the mountainsides are really steep. I wrote my blog on the ground sheet and we cooked dinner, the tent had to will till nearer sunset, this way we avoid being fined for illegal camping.
Ginette shoes are falling apart, tonight she has tried to pack under the insole for the remainder of our walk tomorrow.
Sleep was intermittent as we were on a slope and every time you turned over you had to reposition yourself on the small mattress, ours are the shape of the sleeping bag so are tapered at the feet so there is not a lot of room to play with. The wind also picked up in the night and you could hear it walking through the woods, fortunately, the trees were helping deflect it from us a bit. In the morning it was raining so we had to pack everything away soaking wet.
The initial walk continued downhill through the woods in the rain. The terrain improved and we began to think we could have gone a bit further the previous day but that soon changed.
It did start to clear up and stopped raining and eventually the clouds cleared and we had a clear sunny but windy day.
We stopped for breakfast at a clearing on route and rang my mum to wish her a happy birthday, as we sat there we could see the sea about 1,000 meters below us and in the opposite direction, we couldn’t see anything through the wet, cloudy mist.
Not long after setting off from our breakfast stop another couple of walkers caught us up, they had found a piece a loose string at a dry spot where someone had been camping and thought it might be ours. I dare say the dry campsite they had seen was ours but the string was not, they were fine about our wild camping and had been doing the same themselves, they had also done the GR131 from the lighthouse. This couple were Spanish and live in Gran Canaria, they had also walked La Goroma but they did this at Christmas. This couple were younger than us and were travelling much lighter, compared to us they looked like they were sprinting down the hill, we felt very slow and clumsy in comparison.
To reach our final destination of Puerto De Tazacorte we had to divert off the GR131 as it was closed for maintenance and follow the GR130, this was a slightly longer route but looking at the cliff face we would have had to come down may have been easier.
We saw a few more tourists on day walks heading up the hill as we got closer to the towns, they had no bags and seemed to us too unprepared and in some cases very white, sweaty and unfit.
Puerto De Tazacorte was very windy and the sea really rough. We witnessed a lady be dragged into the waves as she paddled too far into the breaking sea, a lifeguard had to go and help her as she was dragged back and forth in the breaking surf, it was funny at first but then started to look very dangerous and scary, in fact she was lucky to have been rescued.
We met a charming elderly German couple, we had seen them a couple of days ago at the top of the mountain, they came for a chat and we exchanged travel tales, he had been on many adventures himself in the past and he enjoyed sharing these with us. That will no doubt be us in 30 years time, who am I kidding that is us now.
We took the bus to our booked accommodation at the nearby larger town of Los Lanos. It took us a while to gain access, booking.com had the place marked in the wrong place on their map and when I called the number the lady had no English. After an interesting exchange over the phone and with the help of google translate, we finally find the correct street.
Our first task when we entered the property was to wash our very dirty bodies and clothes after 4 days of wild camping we were very smelly.
Interestingly neither of us could sleep well, we had a warm dry and quiet room but I wrote this blog update at 4am as I was wide awake, perhaps I should have slept on the floor in my sleeping bag on the terrace roof?
Last night we were both exhausted and we were looking at the alternatives we had for the remainder of our time in the Canaries. We were considering camping on a free site either on this island or even travelling right back to La Gracosia on Lanzarote. We also considered booking accommodation. But yesterdays mornings walk was not so bad and the cost of accommodation is pricey on all of the islands as it is Easter and this is a special time for the families here. So we have opted to stick to the plan, therefore we are off to Tenerife to finish the walk. We have another day on La Palma, we plan to take a bus back over to Santa Cruz where we have another place booked, this time with no kitchen but we have worked out that this place is cheaper so will allow us to eat out. We will also be able to buy Net some new boots as her big toe is now hanging out the bottom of her boots.