A surprising winter walk near the coast

This walk starts from the most unpromising place imaginable, the edge of an industrial estate, but is remarkably interesting and different. It is not excessively energetic in terms of climbing – only 204m – or in length – 10 km – although it is a little rough underfoot in places. And as it is near the coast, avoiding the mist and cold higher up at this time of year, it is an excellent walk for the winter.

A view of a snowy Teide from early in the walk

The walk starts from corner of an unused carpark at the edge of the industrial park on the Granadilla coast.  You leave the motorway at a bridge known by our walking group as the ‘shark fin bridge’ as it has a curious metal structure above it a bit like a shark fin.  This takes you down into the industrial park, you cross 2 roundabouts and go right at a third which takes you up to the right of a large warehouse building with ‘Mercadona’ on its side.  At the next junction turn right and a few yards on the road ends with a large tarmac carpark.  Park there and walk out of the far corner, near the motorway, heading towards the shark fin bridge.  There is a good footpath to start with, heading for what appears to be a rather pointless viewpoint, but before reaching that you go down to the right with the bike tracks and down a steep stony slope to the streambed of a barranco.  This bit of path is about the worst you are likely to encounter in the whole walk, but is only short.  Crossing the barranco, we took the track which led us up to the edge of the slip road near the bridge, which we crossed and then joined the road crossing the shark fin bridge.  On the other side of the motorway we took the sliproad right, but did not follow it as far as the motorway but went up a steep eroded bit of track, headed across a bare bit of ground to join a well-defined and easy-to-walk track heading uphill.

The flowers of the Balo (Plocama pendula) the weeping tree which is so common on the dry lower slopes of the island.

We came to a fork in the track and took the right hand one and continued along it until we reached another fork and again went right, following this track up the barranco which earlier had been on our right, the Barranco de la Mula.  When the track finally ended we were near the bottom of the barranco, and on the ridge to our left was a curious collection of bungalows with odd-shaped windows, built out of the pale pumice, and surrounded by a pumice wall with upright rocks at intervals.  This place, which announces itself as ‘Natura Park’, we looked around when we were exploring for this walk.  It is a half-built and abandoned project which would appear to have been aimed at tourists since a large half-built swimming pool was on the site as well.

The ubiquitous Pitch plant (Psoralea bitumenosa) was one of the few plants in flower

From the end of the track a path continues up the barranco, initially dipping down a steep rocky slope into the streambed itself.  It looked a bit daunting but since the rock was a well-cemented pumice conglomerate with pebbles embedded it was easy to walk down with care.  From then on the path alternated between the stream-bed and path beside it, crossing from side to side as the terrain demanded.   The vegetation this year is very dry, so there were few flowers, but the plants were typical of the dry lower zone, with Balo (Plocama pendula), Sweet spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera), Aulaga (Launaea arborescens) and Canary Lavender (Lavandula canariensis) being the main shrubs on the barranco bottom, with Cardón (Euphorbia canariensis) on the rocky barranco sides.

At one point there was a path going up to the right which we ignored, continuing up the barranco  until we had been walking for about 1.25 hours from the start when the path went left up a white pumice slope and joined a track at the top.  A track junction was nearby to the left, which we walked to turned right on the other track and within yards went left onto a path descending into the barranco on the other side of the ridge, the Barranco de las Monjas.

Cardon or Canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis) on the barranco wall

The Barranco de las Monjas (which translates as the Nuns’ ravine, though I don’t know the origin of the name), is a natural protected area for its varied volcanic landscape.  There are several different types of volcanic deposits visible in the barranco, which are of interest.  The most visible is the deep deposits of white pumice, some of them etched into decorative shapes by the action of the wind, but in addition there are welded pumice deposits with red, and yellow matrix, some with large angular rocks embedded in them, others with finer-grained lumps, like modern concrete.  One deposit in the streambed half-way down contains rounded inclusions of obsidian – black shiny volcanic glass – about 15cm across.  All these rock types are the result of explosive volcanic eruptions.  Also in the streambed are bands of blue-grey lava, which is a more resistant rock which sometimes forms places where waterfalls occur when the water runs.

The welded pumice deposit with obsidian inclusions

On the walk we saw a Great grey shrike, Berthelot’s pipits, kestrels and a beautiful buzzard circling low and give us a fine view of its underwings.  Chiff-chaffs and spectacled warblers were also heard.  In addition there were a number of Bath White butterflies (Pontia daplidice), which were intent on mating.

The path into the Barranco de las Monjas goes down the hillside to join the streambed at the bottom and from there goes in and out of the streambed like the path in the other barranco.  The walking surface varies from pumice ‘sand’ to welded surfaces like concrete, to rock hopping from one lava stone to another.  Keep following the path until you reach a track, where you have a choice.  If you go left on the track it joins the track you were on at the beginning of the walk, to return the way you came.  If you cross the track and continue in the streambed of the barranco you will pass through a tunnel under the motorway and about 50 yards on from the mouth of the tunnel you will find the steep slope you came down at the very start of the walk, by which you can return to the car park.  There is one place where you will need to follow a path to the right of the barranco to avoid a ‘waterfall’ drop in the grey lava.

A Bath white butterfly (Pontia daplidice) on a Canary lavender in the barranco

The whole walk took around 3.5 hours.  A GPS track of the walk is available on Wikiloc:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=2505543

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About Sally Whymark

When I retired and moved out to Tenerife a few years ago, one of the things I really wanted to do was go walking in the mountains. The scenery is very dramatic, and varied. The views are amazing. The native birds and butterflies and other fauna are remarkable. But the flowers - they're just stunning. Little did I know how this would fire up my interest in plants. While living in England, I had always had an interest in flowers and plants, indeed I ran a plant nursery with my husband for many years, but had not spent a great deal of time pursuing botany. But when walking in Tenerife, I noticed all the unfamiliar shapes of the local flowers, and longed to find out more about them. There are literally hundreds of species endemic to just Tenerife (or even just one part of it), the Canary Islands, or Macronesia (the Atlantic Islands, including Madeira, Canaries and Azores). They are so exciting, and so many of them are really showy as well. So I have started this blog to share with you my excitement at all the great sights I see when walking in Tenerife. I hope you'll enjoy it - and want to come here and experience it for yourself.

Posted on February 19, 2012, in South Tenerife, Walks in Tenerife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for posting the details of this very interesting walk, which I did today. I found your directions easy to follow and the walk was fascinating.

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