My last day at work felt very surreal, for most of the day I had no desk, I gave it up for my successor on the 12th Feb, over 2 weeks before I officially left work on the 28th Feb. It sounds like a generous and daft thing to do but as we are in the process of refurbishing new offices and relocating it was a bit of a no brainer. Dave (The new Director) needed the desk more than me and I didn’t have the heart to move anyone else at a time when everyone was working flat out to make the move a success. The day passed in a bit of a blur, I tried to work in the kitchen from my laptop but every time someone popped in for a coffee they’d stop to ask me how I was feeling, Karen our Finance Officer came into the office early in the morning and I spotted a tearful farewell and asked her to hold it together otherwise I’d have spent the whole day blubbing.
At the end of the day, I made my way to the Wetherspoons by the train station. I was a little early so continued to work at one of the tables and waited for Gary. He was returning from Nottingham, he’d left work the previous day and had chosen to return his works vehicle in person and get a train home. His last day had been very emotional, working for the same company for 27 years will do that to you. We had or a couple of drinks before heading off to my leaving do. The team had pulled out all the stops, Will, our senior solicitor played DJ, Jayne had organised the catering and almost all the team and colleagues from other organisations had turned up to wish me farewell. I felt very loved, respected and a little embarrassed. But to be honest, for perhaps the first time in my life, I loved the attention. I had worked hard for two years and it was lovely that the team recognised this. It was hard to contrast the evening with the send-off I had received by my last team, who had been appreciative and generous but were a little fatigued by people leaving the Council.
As our tenants had moved in the previous day we had been staying with our good friends Jackie and Julie. We arranged for them to meet us at my work so that we could go for a meal, however rather than leaving at 7.30 they came in and joined the party. I wanted to leave at 8.30, it was time for Dave to enjoy the team and that was a little difficult with me still insitu. We made our way back to the car and decided to get some ingredients to make a supper back at home. On the way back, in the midst of all the excitement and chatter about the evening and my last day at work Julie lost concentration and jumped a red light, fortunately, her reactions were brilliant and we stopped just in time. The driver of the car heading towards us was not impressed. We were glad to have survived the near miss, this meant we could live another day where Gary could show his arse. This is not to be laughed at or encouraged it can be a little bit embarrassing being the CEO of a charity and having your husband drop his trousers whilst the photos are being taken at your leaving do. Yes, seriously he really did do this and he had not met the team before!
We had a fantastic evening with J and J, sharing food, wine and looking at photos. We are so lucky to have these two beautiful people in our lives. We don’t see them enough, we will change that when we return to the UK.
The 1st of March (day 1)
This was the first day of our adventure and it did not start very well, Gary had lost my phone, fortunately, it had been picked up by Geraldine at work and she agreed to leave it on reception for us to pick up. Unfortunately, this meant a trek into Bristol, which took over an hour in traffic. Again J and J came to the rescue. We had sold our car earlier in the week and we were totally reliant on them.
In the car on the way to the airport, we reflected on how smoothly our plans had gone. We had rented our property out within a week of it going on the market, and we’d sold my car with no hassle at all. We should have known a Corr adventure does not go that smoothly.
We arrived at the airport, said goodbye to J and J and headed straight for the check-in desk. We didn’t consult each other we simply headed to the EasyJet desk. The airport was quiet which meant we had no queues which is just as well as we hadn’t quite got the art of packing the rucksacks and we were struggling to carry them. At the desk we were met by a young man, who smiled sweetly and asked us for our passports. After a second or two it was clear to see he felt uncomfortable as he looked up and asked which flight we were on. We looked at each other, our hearts beating louder and said Lanzarote. The young man was clearly new at his role, he asked his colleague for the code for Lanzarote, he entered the code again and his cheeks flushed as he explained to us that EasyJet were not flying to Lanzarote. My mind was going ten to the dozen, first I thought, oh bugger I’ve booked the wrong day and then I remembered we were flying with Ryan air. At least I thought we were. Due to all the rushing around with selling cars and renting out houses we had not checked in online so we couldn’t recall which airline it was. We didn’t panic, we took ourselves off to a quiet spot took out the laptop and checked our emails. Surely we would have received one prompting us to book in. Nothing! We looked again, fortunately Gary found an email from me confirming the flight and stating we needed to book in. However when we logged in to the account we didn’t have a booking. Strange, no booking and no email asking us to check in. We had both already thought of a plan B and C however we decided not to give up and to approach the Ryan air desk. Phew we had got seats on the plane but we needed to check in online and we only had 10 minutes to spare. Our problem was our Ryanair account did not recognise us, we spoke to the ticket office but they could not help and informed us that if they had to check us in it would cost us a further £50! I sat down with the computer and logged back on to the Ryan air account and suddenly remembered I had logged in using my google account as at the time of booking the flights I couldn’t remember my Facebook password. Joy of joy we were able to check in with minutes to spare. As we returned to the desk we still could not print off our boarding passes but the lady at the front desk took pity on us and printed them off for free.
The flight was uneventful, we sat apart, preferring not to pay the astronomical fee for choosing your seat. I read a book about Lanzarote whilst Gary spent the flight fighting the desire to pass wind. He had eaten a huge fried breakfast and the sausage and bacon were seeking their revenge.
As we departed I was surprised to see Gary talking to a young lady, I couldn’t see who it was but they looked really friendly. As I got closer I was surprised and delighted to see it was Shelley from our Dragon Boat club, What a small world we live in.
We decided to take a bus from the airport to Arrecife, which is pronounced Arresievey not cliffy as I found out when I asked for directions. The apartment was only a short walk away, we were met at the door by a Spanish lady who showed us around. We were delighted with the room, it was big and contained everything we needed. As we were both knackered we decided to head back to the Spar and to make a snack and have an early night. We had hoped to reduce our drinking on this trip but as we can purchase a bottle of wine for as little as a euro I don’t think that is going to happen.
We hit the sack at 9.30 too tired to read, but struggled to sleep, the apartment was exceptionally noisy we could hear our neighbours all night. We don’t think they were intentionally noisy but we could hear them talking, cooking, and playing their music until at least 05.00am. I was so grateful I had my ear defenders with me. Gary struggled a little less as he had taken his hearing aids out.
2nd March (day 2)
It’s taken a long time since the end of our last trip to get here, far longer than both of us thought, so much so I think we have forgotten how to do this relaxing thing.
Today we walked to Fundación César Manrique, this is the house of a famous local artist. It is built into a volcanic lava flow and is pretty impressive. His art, however, looks to me like something my kids would have been able to do.
In the afternoon we struck lucky as there was a carnival going on in town, so we spent the day mixing with the locals. It was great to see so many costumes, hundreds have people had come out to play and to listen to the live bands. The atmosphere was great. Apparently, the carnival/festival takes place every year during February and March sadly we will miss the main carnival as we will have moved on.
Ginette is already in travel costing mode, a small shop tried to charge us €1 each for some cans of beer, so we walked another mile so we could get them for 40 cents. I totally agree with this principle as we are now time rich but money poor.
3rd March (day 3)
A better nights sleep, we think our neighbours were still out partying but I had a bad dream, not a nightmare just a bit weird.
We were at a family BBQ and a cute little bird kept pestering me, these new hearing aids mean I hear the birds a lot clearer, but in my dream, this bird was showing me I needed to dig up a bit of our garden. My 2-year-old daughter was also telling me to do so, when I did we found the bones of another child and my 2 year old proudly announced that she had killed this kid as he didn’t want to play with her, she also enthusiastically told me about another 150 bodies she had buried. Ginette thinks the recent Fred West programme may have bought on this weird and unpleasant dream.
So back to real life, breakfast in the apartment of scrambled eggs mushrooms and tomato yum yum.
Then off for a walk north up the coast, not much to see in the morning, the walk out of Arriclife was past the dockyards.
Entering Coste Teguise we stopped at a supermarket for rations, Ginette managed to buy beer at 19 cents and wine for €1 so all the essentials.
We walked along the prom in Coste Tequise and stopped for an hour on one of the beaches for a picnic and to sup some chilled beers. This looks like a nice resort to stay in, we passed one hotel which had its own Lido and all the rooms had beachfront access, very good for kids.
Leaving the town the track and terrain changed, we had rough volcanic pathways following the coast having to climb near the cliff edges.
This was a bit hairy as were loaded with rucksacks and it made the walk hard going. The rucksacks feel heavy and uncomfortable, but I am sure our bodies will adapt to carrying the additional weight.
We moved slightly inland onto another track, as it was not possible to use the track due to the volcanic terrain. We set up camp on a dusty mud plain, it was a bit windy and we had to take care when putting the tent up that nothing blew away, including the tent.
4th March (day 4)
It was a windy night and our fragile tent was put to the test. We had a very secluded spot which was great. Breakfast was porridge followed by some lemon biscuits and coffee. We took our time packing up and setting off. Much to our surprise, our bodies did not ache as much as we had expected. Our muscles were sore but the pain was manageable and knowing they’ll get stronger day by day helps. It was chilly in the wind and it took until 3.00pm for the sun to burn through the cloud.
I am walking without an iPod for company, this is interesting, my mind wanders all over the place, I am hoping it will soon settle down. We passed a house called Casa Barbara, my mum’s name and we laughed at the fact that she would have hated to live in such a windy position. She wouldn’t understand my desire to walk the island and would tell Gary ‘take care of her, won’t you’. So far Gary is being very patient, I whinged a lot yesterday, but today I have bit my tongue, knowing Gary will be hurting as much as me and that airing our pain doesn’t make it go away.
We stopped on route to see the Jardin de Cactus, we did contemplate walking on by but as this will probably be the last time we visit Lanzarote we decided to pay our €5 entrance fee and I am pleased to report, it was worth it. If you are in Lanzarote we’d recommend a visit. Not long after leaving the cactus gardens we could see the sea and the peninsula this was our end destination for the day. Gary checked his Garmin and declared it was 42km to the top of the island this did not seem right and we were pleasantly surprised to learn later in the day that it was only a further 13km to go.
On our way to the peninsula we stopped in one of the villages, Punta Mujeres to purchase some cold beer to drink by the sea. Gary took this opportunity to try out his new fishing rod. Not surprisingly he didn’t catch anything but at least he has had a go and I am sure his confidence will grow in time. There are a lot of natural sea pools for people to swim in, unfortunately, our swimming kit was not accessible and there was nowhere to change. Note to ourselves to put our kit at the top of our bags along with towels.
Another night of wild camping, we were in an area which specifically bans camping so we spent the early part of the evening on high alert (like the UK it is illegal to wild camp in Spain including the Canary Islands, however, it is tolerated in most areas). It was great to be near the sea, we tucked ourselves out of sight. It was almost as if the area had been used for camping or toilet facilities (lots of baby wipes on the ground, the alternative is the area is used as a dogging site yuk).
Before setting up camp we made our dinner, figuring if anyone was going to object to us staying the night they would before it got dark. We had couscous which is so quick and easy to make on the campfire, followed by chocolate cake yum yum. The evening was spent listening to the sea, writing the blog, reading and drinking red wine – perfect.
5th March (day 5)
Finished my book last night (Summer of Impossible Things, it was very enjoyable), we went to sleep at 9.00ish, our bodies are tired in a way that we don’t experience on the bikes. We’re not physically exhausted due to high cardiovascular exercise, we’re battered and bruised because we have treated our bodies like donkeys. We’re both carrying approx 15-17kg in weight which is slightly less than a quarter of our body weight (I started this adventure at 65kg and Gary at 67kg, we had a very lazy winter and ate and drank far too much).
We had coffee and porridge on the beach, it was quiet, we were the only people on the secluded beach. We watched in amazement as the sunbeams broke the cloud and glistened on the sea. Once we had packed up we made our way along the coastal route. Gary started singing, I turned to say how great it was to have the old Gary back, he got all choked up, I don’t think either of us had appreciated just how stressed he was. Not long after starting out the terrain turned almost Jurassic in parts, like walking on another planet. Big broken rocks of solidified lava, surrounded by broken shale like substance. I was pleased I’d worn my walking boots with supportive ankles instead of my walking shoes. Gary found the going hard, instead of watching the beautiful views he found himself watching his sore feet to make sure they didn’t slip on the rocks. Many years ago, he had damaged his ankle skipping with Hayley and ever since it has been weak and makes him feel quite queasy when he thinks of hurting it again.
We took a couple of breaks on our route to the ferry port, Gary was finding it hard going so I gave him my insoles and we walked along the road instead. On route we saw two hikers that had walked past our campsite the previous night, we played a bit of cat and mouse but they beat us to the town. We caught them up at the supermarket in Orzola. Gary spoke to them whilst I purchased some water and cold lemon drinks. The couple were from Lanzarote and they’d taken a week off to walk around the island following the carnival and festivities.
There are so many cyclists in Lanzarote, far more than cars, mixed gender groups from all over Europe. It is interesting watching them whiz by as we amble slowly along the road. I am liking the slower pace, enjoying the views and listening to the wildlife (what there is of it) but Gary would rather be on a bike. Although it is fair to say we would be constantly overtaken by the road bikes that all seem to be racing or in training mode.
The ferry was just about to depart when we arrived at the port so we quickly purchased our tickets and jumped on board. We left our rucksacks upstairs and made our way downstairs for a comfy seat. The ferry cost €20 each return, €5 for the locals. As we sat there enjoying the views Gary said ‘Ginette look at your shorts’ I looked down but couldn’t see anything, Gary said look down and suggested with his eyes, I look at my crutch area and to my total embarrassment, I realised I had split them from the zip to the crutch! What was more I wasn’t wearing any knickers! I quickly covered myself up with a scarf whilst Gary valiantly went and got me a pair of board shorts so that I could cover myself up. I say valiantly but as we later reflected whilst giggling, he could have covered me with the scarf and then informed me of my predicament rather than telling me several times for all to hear and possibly see. I am pretty sure they must have ripped when I put Gary’s wallet down them, which meant I had only been exposing myself for about 20 minutes.
It didn’t take long for the ferry to reach La Graciosa, we disembarked and went in search of a supermarket. The plan was to have some lunch, a cold beer and use our dongle to connect to the internet. However, the dongle didn’t work. Gary left me with the rucksacks whilst he went in search of the campsite. It didn’t take long, he was soon back and directed us to a free campsite on the beach. It is idyllic, but we had other campers all around us. Some quite happily exposing all their bits, which meant we fitted in perfectly. However, we definitely prefer our secluded spots, bar humbug. We’d chosen the designated campsite because it was next to a toilet/shower block. Gary set up the tent whilst I went and washed our smelly clothes. The shower block was vile, smelly and sandy. The only way to clean the clothes was to strip down to my bikini and wash them under the shower. The shower was cold and spurted water for a total of 2 seconds before switching off. This was a challenging task, made even more challenging by the fact that 3 local women wanted to shower after coming off the beach. It was an open shower with very little room, their husbands waited patiently in the area immediately by the door. I should have felt self-conscious but after my earlier faux pas, I think I’d given up caring and simply carried on washing the clothes and hanging them on the hook next to the door. One of the advantages of getting older is you don’t beat yourself up as much about what people think about you. Life is too short and the reality is everyone is so caught up in their own lives that they really don’t care what you look like or what you do.
The afternoon was spent blissfully by the sea. Gary ventured in for a swim but I could see it was cold so I remained on my towel feeling the sun, kiss my body. Gary returned and after watching the locals decided to give fishing another go. Unfortunately, this ended in frustration. First, his new hooks were knotted, Ginette to the rescue, then not long after venturing out on to the rocks he returned with a knotted line. Again Ginette to the rescue, I knew the art of disentangling jewellery would come in handy someday. As the sun started to go down, it started to get cold so I ventured back to the tent. Gary’s adventure continued, he dropped his spool and tangled his line again. He returned to the tent looking a little disappointed and frustrated. We had seen one of the locals pitch up and catch a fish with his first cast off, the fish were definitely out there, but they didn’t want to come and play with Gary.
Dinner was a repeat of the night before but made with a local sauce, yum, yum. I am really enjoying Gary’s culinary dishes. As I had washed the clothes, Gary ventured to the toilet block to clean the dishes, he was not a happy bunny, he had to unblock the sink before he could use it. YUK.
March 6th (day 6)
I didn’t sleep very well, I was a little bit shivery in the night. I had tummy pains earlier in the evening and woke with lower backache, all symptoms of my kidneys playing up. I got up to have a wee and drank some more water. Fortunately, I woke up a little grumpy but feeling fine (grumpy due to a bad dream that involved a very messy room and unwashed dishes. It surprises me how I can live in a tent with no running water, or cleaning materials but in the real world I’m reluctant to leave the house if I have not hoovered it first). I spent the day drinking more and peeing lots. To cheer myself up, I went for an early morning shower brrrr!! It soon woke me up, I washed my hair and the wind dried it for me, I look like a crazy English woman with very wild hair and a sunburnt face. It is so very windy here on the island, more so at night during the day. It is surprising the flimsy tents stay up but somehow they do. We purchased a new tent for this trip it is 2kg lighter than our Hilliberg, it is a very similar design but much more flimsy. When the wind blows at night the inner tent flaps down on our bodies. It is not unpleasant, it is cosy in the tent but it does mean lots of fit full sleeping with some interesting dreams. I’m pleased to report most are not about cleaning. It would be interesting to wake up and write them down but unfortunately, sleep begs and they soon fade away, never to be shared with anyone.
We had hoped to log onto the internet in the morning but we had very little joy, our dongle would not work and the only cafe to offer wifi to guests was closed.
It drizzled first thing so we closed the hatches and read our books, we could hear a man outside asking people for their booking details, as we hadn’t made a booking we stayed very quiet. The man put a label on our tent informing us we had camped outside the permitted area and informed us we had to move. We had a choice, we could pack up and walk the island with our backpacks, pack up and leave or move our tent and see how we could pay for another evening. The island is beautiful so we chose the latter, only to find the campsite was free, we simply needed to register our details online. We had tried to do this when we arrived on the island but without joy, the man at the national park kiosk on the island was only too pleased to help us register. This meant we could have a guilt-free day on the island. I’m a little reluctant to put this in our blog but it is possible to camp on the island for up to 7 days for free as long as you register beforehand. The site can take up to 200 tents but I think it would be a little cramped and the toilet facilities are very basic. There was no water at all in the evening, even for flushing the toilets. We later learnt that several people stay on the island throughout the winter for free but shhh don’t tell anyone.
We spent the day walking across the island, our feet are sore so we decided to walk without our backpacks. The walk was interesting, the island is totally desolate, we saw a couple of small lizards and few birds but nothing else. We had picked up a map at the national park kiosk and chose to follow route C. The walk took us inland and then back out towards the Atlantic Ocean. It was great to walk along the coastline and watch the waves crashing down on the rocks. As we walked we could see two men ahead of us, we lost sight of them for a while but when they started to walk back towards us my heart sank. We had walked 6km and the map had indicated the walk only went to Mountana Amarillo, this meant we would have a further 6km to walk back to the campsite. At the start of the walk, Gary had checked his Garmin and informed me that at the end of the route (set out on the tourist map) there was a path back to the campsite. I can’t believe how naive I can be ‘the Garmin said’ you think I would learn my lesson. As we reached the end of the designated walk the path ran out, we could see that the ‘path’ did not go round the mountain, it went up and over the mountain. No wonder we had seen people walking back, not many tourists would look up and make the decision to climb over the mountain, especially when they would have no idea where the path would lead to or whether it would suddenly end. We like an ‘adventure’ this basically means attempting something we had not planned or something totally new. Life is for living, and without much hesitation, we started to scramble up the mountain, which was probably once a volcano. It definitely was not for the faint-hearted. At the top, two seagulls were nesting on their eggs/chicks and took offence at us walking so close to their nest. In protest, they flew above us shitting and screeching until we walked in the other direction. The walk across the top was along a high ridge which was windy and slightly hazardous, but from the quick glimpses, we dared to sneak, the views were spectacular. The route down was a little nerve-wracking there was a lot of loose shale which meant we had to be very careful walking sideways and holding onto any rocks for dear life. We both remarked that although it should have been very scary, we were pretty high up, we both felt very relaxed. I think this was because we were being super cautious I’d even taken the scarf from around my neck and tied it to my waste so that if I did fall, it wouldn’t strangle me. I know this sounds extreme but if one end had caught on something as I fell off/down the mountain anything was possible. A safe rather than sorry approach meant we arrived at the bottom in one piece. Our next obstacle was walking across some rock pools, this was exciting, although there was very little to see other than some crabs scurrying away.
We had hoped to purchase some fresh fish for dinner but could not find any which was a little surprising for an island renowned for its fishing. Instead, we had couscous with eggs, peas and sweetcorn which I rescued from the freebie bin. I have also scavenged gas and suntan lotion from the freebie area. Now that we are time rich and money poor I find I am constantly looking for a bargain or free treat. It is amazing how quickly we adapt to our surroundings. It is also interesting how much we change over the years. As we sat eating our dinner, watching the sunset feeling very contented, we reflected that the same set up 20 years ago would have been my worse nightmare. Windy, uneven beach, smelly toilets with no running water, no wifi and no money to go to a bar or restaurant. However right at this moment in time, it feels perfect, it is just where we want to be and we may even stay another night.
The island is 27 square kilometres and in time gone by used to trade fish for fresh water and food from the mainland. It is a little piece of paradise and definitely worth a visit but don’t all rush at once. The beauty of the island is that it is unspoilt by tourism.
7th March (day 7)
It was another very windy night last night, at least we thought it was windy, one of the locals seemed to think it was mediocre. I say ‘local’ we have met several people on the island that come across of the winter and then return March/April for the Easter/summer season. The first chatty ‘local’ we met was from Pontefract, in Yorkshire, his name was Steve Kidd. He had discovered the island several years ago and now returned most winters. He was a very intelligent man but he liked to rant about life, he was a self-proclaimed angry man but from the exterior, he seemed quite calm, friendly and articulate. He liked to walk the island and snorkel in the crystal blue sea. Steve introduced us to Marcos who appeared to be drunk from the night before. We met both of these characters and a lady from Amsterdam and a man from Sweden whilst charging our electrical devices from a socket inside the toilet block. It was too smelly to sit inside so we opted to take our seats out on to the sand. It was rather surreal meeting people first thing in the morning, we hadn’t brushed our teeth and I was still in my pyjamas.
Marcos sat with me whilst Gary went to buy some fish, he apparently works in a pizza kiosk in Seville during the summer. His father has died and his mother lives on 200 euros a month which is nothing. He does not want to work like them or live like them so he works hard during the summer and lives frugally in the winter in the sun. I did think another option would be supporting his mother, but as he was still full of drink there was little point.
Most of the ‘locals’ we have met have a similar story, of wanting to live off the grid, I suppose it is about choice and compromise. I can see the merits of working during the summer and escaping to the sun during the winter. We live a crazy existence in the UK working in excess of 40 hours a week just so we can feed ourselves and fund our leisure time when the reality is we don’t need much at all.
Again we tried and failed to access the internet. We have worked out we can get online whilst the ferry is in port, but unfortunately we only got 5 minutes of internet time. We used these precious minutes trying to access our Three account, which is supposed to provide us with free internet access. Gary finally accessed the site on my phone and was able to ascertain we had no coverage, frustrating but at least we know the dongle works. We’re not missing being in contact with the outside world but we feel obliged to let everyone know that we are fit and well.
Gary bought a fish in the morning from a vendor on the harbourside, we’d been informed by one of the ‘locals’ that it was a smelly fish and we needed to deep fry it. We didn’t have this option so shallow fried it instead. Gary prepared it with lots of spices, onion and garlic, it was delicious.
Before returning to our tent for the afternoon we had another attempt at charging up our devices. This time we were entertained by a very adventurous lizard who scampered towards us and tried to get into our bag where we had a packet of biscuits. We caught him just in time, also in the bushes nearby we could see a mouse who had also been attracted by our biscuits and crumbs. It is a strange island we really haven’t seen much wildlife, we’ve never been camping before where we could leave food out all day and not be attacked by ants or flies or both. It is a delight to cook and eat outside without being bothered by wildlife.
Our afternoon was really chilled, lots of reading and playing in the rock pools. The weather wasn’t great, very overcast most of the day with intermittent drizzle. We met a German lady who informed us that the previous Saturday everyone had been confined to their tents or the restaurant as a sandstorm from the North swept in. She explained that this was very unpleasant but not as bad as when the sandstorms came up from the South, which meant the island was very hot and it was extremely difficult to sleep in the tents because of the heat.
We had only planned to stay on the island for one night but stayed three. We feel refreshed and revitalised and will be moving on tomorrow. I really wouldn’t recommend you visit this island it is very sandy and volcanic there’s very little to do. It is very quiet, there are only very few small shops, bars and restaurants. The beer and wine are ridiculously cheap, the camping is free and there’s very little wifi. Please stay away we would like to visit again sometime in the future and find it just as unspoilt as it is today.
8th March (day 8) first day of the GR 131 walk
We left our little spot of paradise, it looked like it was going to be an overcast day and lots of people were arriving on the island for a triathlon event. We had enjoyed our stay but it was time to go.
We had hoped to use the wifi on the ferry but sadly it was not working. We somehow managed to miss the first ferry, it was in a slightly different position to the ones we had watched the previous day and it was only when it started to pull out of the harbour that I noticed the name along the side. Several ferry companies operate in and out of the island it was not a major issue, we had plenty of time to play with and only had another 1/2 hour to wait for the next one. We spent the time people watching, the harbour was a hive of activity, mainly preparing for the triathlon, but we could hear old men sitting on the bench next to us gossiping away, a young girl stopped off to show her baby and we could see a local fisherman bringing his catch up to the restaurants. The time flew by, the crossing was very choppy, we loved it.
Once on shore, we could officially start the GR 131, stopping off first for some lunch essentials. The route is clearly marked with information points and posts with red bands every kilometre or two. The walk starts off on the main road, however at approx 2 kilometres the signs point up and throughout Lanzarote that is the basic route instead of following the road round to the next village, the route goes up and over to the next village. This provides some fantastic views but it is very windy so if you intend to do the route make sure you have a jumper and a waterproof.
At Maguez we nearly missed our turning as we got down to the main road we couldn’t see the signposts. Fortunately, we had downloaded the route to our Garmin and turned left before the minimart and picked up the route again. Talking of the Garmin, I am pretty sure that whoever plotted the routes for that ‘devil machine’ also plotted the route for the GL 131, be prepared for a very voluptuous route.
The route has plenty to over, volcanic scenery, farmland, local people and views as far as the eye can see. It is difficult to imagine farming the land, as it is an extremely windy island. The locals have tried many ingenious ways to protect their crops but the most successful seems to be dry walls and building terraced plots to plant their crops. We have also learnt that they grow wheat to protect the ground crops. Many of the farmers use picon, small black volcanic stones to plant their crops, apparently, they hold moisture and enable the crops to grow. As we were completing the walk in early March we didn’t see many crops, those that we recognised were potatoes (we saw two men harvesting these at the end of the day), aloe vera, this is grown as a crop but we have seen plants in the wildest of landscapes, it is a hardy and a pretty plant and grape vines. Lanzarote makes a very nice red wine at a very reasonable price.
We are pretty loaded up and this has attracted some strange and admiring looks, one Dutch couple actually stopped on the path to wait for us to walk on pass them. Their faces were a picture you would think we were the first hikers with backpacks they’d seen. In fairness, this was on a very steep hilly section and it was a little bit challenging walking up with our packs, we were grateful for the walking sticks our son and his fiancee had bought us for Christmas.
We arrived in Haira a little before the supermarkets opened and to pass the time we enquired about wifi facilities. Although the bar where we enquired didn’t have any the young lady was able to direct us to the Biblioteca (library). The library was closed but we could still log on from their signal, it was fairly weak which made downloading maps and books slow but we managed to complete everything we wanted to do, before stopping at a garage for some supplies only to find on our return to the village the supermarket was open.
We ventured off with the intention of stopping at about 4km or 5.00pm, 8km later and 2 hours later we still had not found anywhere to stop. We initially found ourselves walking uphill for several kilometres, it was extremely steep and not ideal for camping. A road with scenic look our points dotted along our route. Once at the top and away from the busy (busy for Lanzarote) we tried desperately to find somewhere to camp. The wind kept getting stronger and stronger and we knew we had to find somewhere with shelter. Initially, this was fun, identifying a spot and then dismissing it but this became tiresome and as the sun started to set we started to get very worried and a little anxious. Eventually, we found an old small dwelling that was not in use with a very overgrown garden. It was opposite the Neive House (a tourist attraction) and just above a military base (we didn’t know this at the time). We had very little space but somehow Gary managed to squeeze our tunnel tent into the tiny courtyard. As he tried to get the tent to take shape, I climbed over the wall and went in search for rocks to hold the tent down. This process took much longer than it normally does because of the wind. Gary ended up cooking dinner in a tiny space with a headlight. We finished the evening with a thermos cup of red wine, I got into my sleeping bag (I never get into my sleeping bag, but it was so cold) and started the sleep battle whilst Gary finished his book. It was so windy, I thought the tent would fly away, in the middle of the night I got up and put more layers on and a balaclava over my head.
9th March (day 9)
Gary’s dairy (my computer ran out of charge)
A very windy night but our tight sheltered spot helped us stay upright all night although the sides of the tent were often thrust right against us. We had a very cold night, we camped at 600 metres so it was bound to be a bit colder. Our new lightweight Terra Nova tent is not as sturdy as our trusted Hilleberg, the tent was letting some of the breezes in. We both slept dressed and Ginette even slept inside her sleeping bag zipped up which is a first, with hindsight she should have also used the sleeping bag liner, like me as she was cold whereas I didn’t suffer so much.
Our camping spot may have been sheltered but it was not comfy so in the morning we packed up and set off planning a breakfast stop a bit later.
We first visited Ermita de la Neves, as we had camped in the grounds, the panoramic views were great but the wind was really strong, it made us grateful for the shelter we had found.
We were treated to some great views as we walked down these included some great views on either side of the ridge. We arrived in Tequise at 10.30am, it is a pretty little tourist spot. We took advantage of the public toilets to have a proper wash and to wash a few items of clothing. In the town there was a museum of music it was €3 each entry, Ginette wasn’t keen on visiting the museum but I asked at the desk whether they had an English translation and as they said they had we agreed to pay the small fee and educate ourselves. The English translation turned out to be one small booklet with one paragraph we could read. We wandered around a load of old guitars that looked great but we had no idea what they were or who the photos of the people were, it was only €6 but what a waste of our money.
We wandered around a local church and had a couple of photos together outside.
The next stage took us across what is considered farmland here. But to us, it looks dry and half barren, we wonder if in another later season these fields of black stone (picon we think it’s called) may be abundant with crops.
We have learnt they cultivate sweet potato, melon, tomatoes but all we have mostly seen is weeds. We did pass a crop of tomatoes that looked like they’d been abandoned so we ventured into the plot to help ourselves to a couple that was on the ground but they were all in a poor decaying manner.
It was a good days walk but it was tiring with the backpacks on, Ginette’s feet were feeling the heat she has several blisters and an infected toenail.
We reached San Bartolome (town of barking dogs) and headed for a chemist so she could buy some insoles for her boots, we then rested with boots off while she tried to fix the damage.
We ended up wandering around the town looking for an open shop, but it was siesta time, which means most shops are closed between 2.00pm and 4.00pm. After a while, we stumbled on an open supermarket and bought dinner for the evening tuna to go along with some pasta and some much-needed water for cooking.
Eagle-eyed Ginette spotted a free WiFi sign so we stopped again and unpacked the laptop to try but no joy, our Three network dongle is still no use to us, we are paying a monthly fee for this and if it doesn’t improve this will have to be cancelled.
We left the town and headed out but as we were climbing in the wind we spotted a suitable sheltered camping site and decided to stop early, it was about 4.30pm. To make sure the area was OK we pegged out our groundsheet and wrote our diary’s whilst drinking beer which cost us 40 cents per can. There is nothing better than a cold beer at the end of a hot day walking/cycling/paddling.
10th March – day 10
A good sheltered spot last night breakfast with views of the sea and volcanoes behind us.
The tent was damp with dew so we waited until the sun reached our sheltered spot and dried us off before we packed away so a late start of around 10.00am.
Setting off in the morning is no longer a jaunt with a spring in our step, we have slightly weary bodies plus Ginette’s feet are really suffering from goodness knows how many blisters, in fact, one of her feet is no longer there it is just a mass of compede plasters.
The walk today was very up and down, the down usually a small town, the up some nice views. The area is not pretty but the distances you can see are impressive and interesting.
Around lunchtime we reached Conil and I used the iPhone to find a supermarket just a short way off route. This was uphill and Ginette had a little wobble as her feet hurt and I think she was getting a little Hangry. As it was Sunday I encouraged her up the hill as this could have been our last chance for food. We shopped just as the store closed.
Later in the afternoon, we had a chat with a nice Dutch couple at the top of one of the hills, they offered us water and a lift to the next village. We declined as we were enjoying the walking and had not long since stocked up with water supplies. They told us that they’d like to rent a motorhome and travel America and Australia. It is great to meet adventurous like-minded people. We have started to take regular breaks, usually walking 4km and then stopping and taking our boots and socks off. This was our first roasting hot day and thankfully the winds had dropped.
Near the end of the day we headed down a hill towards Uga, the terrain was very different and would have made a good Star Wars set. The hillsides were full of vineyards but not like we know them, each vine had its own scalloped out dome to grow in and there seemed to be no order to the way they were laid out. The result was hundreds of black volcanic Pecon gravel bomb craters. I mean everywhere you looked were hollowed out bowls with one vine plant as far as the eye could see.
We dropped into Uga with a view to buying a beer and have a break, luckily there was an open supermarket next to a bar so we saved a few bob and settled in the local churchyard to sup beer and eat sweets.
It had gone 4.00pm and we needed to find a campsite before the next town which was only 4K away. Walking out of town we saw what looked like a large peloton cycling towards us, no it was walkers, no as it came closer to us we could see it was 30 camels walking in a train with people baskets on both sides but no one in them other than the one herdsmen.
We turned a corner to discover the next section was over a lava flow which meant there was no way we would be able to camp so we hunted the section we were in to find a suitable spot.
I am not sure how suitable the spot was but we were sheltered from the wind, hidden from sight and did our best to pick a pitch away from any obvious camel prints.
We camped near a camel tourist route and we could see the tracks they walk. Ginette had tried to block our campsite with palm leaves from the tree we parked under, we could only hope this would deter them if they were laid out to pasture in the night.
Dinner was couscous, tomato, onion, pepper, half a jar of mixed veg and a can of Calamari. Followed by cake and now a bottle of red wine which cost €1.55. Luxury.
Ginette’s contribution blisters ouch! Views wow! Sunshine 😎😎😎😎
Enjoying Lanzarote but it is hard going on the feet. Some very innovative hydronic solutions to the lack of water pre-1970.
The route is well marked but we strayed off route twice today, I am glad we had the Garmin. The first time was a minor error we had climbed out of St Bartholomew and was heading down to the next town when we realised we were slightly off course we could see the red sign slightly below us so no harm was done. Again as we dropped down into Ago we found ourselves walking along the road but we could see the signs inland so we were not too bothered. On both occasions, we didn’t lose any time or have to do more mileage than necessary.
The signage and information points are great they provide a real focus to the day and a point of conversation.
11th March – day 11
We woke early and as we had camped near several walking paths we packed up the tent and laid it to dry in the sun.
We didn’t have far to walk to get to Yaiza, once there we visited a free museum about the Aloe Vera plant and salt. It was interesting, a coach load of tourists had stopped at the restaurant next door to the museum but very few seemed to have ventured inside. From the museum, we headed up some steps to complete the walk. It would have been easy to take the wrong direction as the route was not clearly marked but Garmin to the rescue and we could see we needed to head down from the road and turn left along the track. It is possible to make most way marks out but sometimes they can be a little elusive.
We stopped before the next village for an early lunch, baguette, cheese and tomato followed by more cake and the last of our water. We had hoped to replenish in the next village but unfortunately, the shop had closed the previous year. As we entered the village, the signage was nowhere to be seen but we headed right from the bus stop and soon picked up the signs. With only 5.6km to go, we didn’t think the lack of water would be an issue but it was a very long 5.6km, more like 7km. The walk into Playa Blanca was disappointing, there was rubbish on the ground and mattresses thrown over a wall not a pretty sight but an indication we were entering a very tourist area.
Once in the centre of town we made our way to a bar by the seafront, we needed to access wifi to book a room for the next two nights. It was extremely expensive with the exception of one room slightly outside of town, which was €35 a night. We decided even with the cost of a taxi this was a good deal. However, when we arrived we started to have some doubts. We were greeted by two Spanish men in their 20’s who could speak no English, they indicated we needed to call the owner, which we did. Fortunately, a woman arrived about 10 minutes later to show us to our room. I initially thought it was going to be awful the young men had the TV on blasting out music videos but it turned out to be a quiet night. Too quiet, we had become accustomed to the sound of the wind and found it difficult sleeping in a light warm room with no noise.
Lanzarote route completed, I had not been looking forward to walking this island, I had been on holiday to Lanzarote several times and found the landscape boring and dismissed it as just volcanic wasteland. Gary had not visited the island so was a little more open-minded. However now we have walked the island and read about its history we now think the island is geologically fascinating, full of history, the weather has been ideal for walking and the scenery has been more diverse than we thought it would be. The main disadvantage is the wind and after 5pm it can get very windy indeed. If you like walking it is possible to walk the island in 5 stages over 5 days. Accommodation may be a little challenging but wild camping is always an option.