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The Barranco del Infierno, Adeje, in summer

'Sea Rosemary' - Romero marino (Campylanthus salsoloides) was still in flower in July - it flowers over a very long period

‘Sea Rosemary’ – Romero marino (Campylanthus salsoloides) was still in flower in July – it flowers over a very long period

The view to Adeje from the first part of the walk

The view to Adeje from the first part of the walk

I have not visited the Barranco del Infierno for several years because much of that time it has been closed to the public, but it is now open again. The paths have been considerably improved, although they are still rough in places and do need good suitable shoes or boots. Numbers are now limited to 300 people per day and this makes it much more comfortable to walk. This means you need to book your visit in advance, which is easy on the website. I was able to book in July the day before, but I suspect at busy times of year it will be necessary to book much further in advance. The website is: http://www.barrancodelinfierno.es/en/

Mignonette - a local endemic species of it - (Reseda scoria)

Mignonette – a local endemic species of it – (Reseda scoparia)

Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia)

Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia)

July is not the best time of year to visit the Barranco because much of the vegetation is shutting down for the summer, losing leaves, and so on. In fact I was not expecting to see many flowers at all, or to see much water in the waterfall and stream, but in both cases I was pleasantly surprised. So it was still an enjoyable and interesting experience. We did make a fairly early start, though, at 9.30 and finished our visit when Adeje’s church clock was striking 12.00. It was already getting quite hot in the sun in the barranco, so we were pleased to finish early.

 

Tolpis crassiscula - a very local endemic - was in flower up the cliffs in lots of places

Little Teno Lettuce – Lechugilla de Teno -(Tolpis crassiscula) – a very local endemic – was in flower up the cliffs in lots of places

Flowing stream and pool - a rare sight in south Tenerife

Flowing stream and pool – a rare sight in south Tenerife

The Barranco is an amazing landscape. It starts at the top of Calle Molinos, a very steep street right at the top edge of the old town of Adeje. There is an entrance office where you buy or show your tickets, and an area where a briefing is given about the rules of entry, and where helmets are provided for visitors to wear. After that you make your way into the Barranco along the well-defined path, which you are not allowed to leave. The path is both the way in and the return route, so as the day goes on returning visitors meet incoming visitors, and in places the path is so narrow, that one or other has to give way. The fact that entering visitors are in time batches, and the total numbers are limited, means this is not such a problem as it would be with uncontrolled numbers.

Part of the waterfall at the end of the walk - it is so high it's difficult to photograph all of it.

Part of the waterfall at the end of the walk – it is so high it’s difficult to photograph all of it.

A view on the way out of the narrow gorge part of the Barranco

A view on the way out of the narrow gorge part of the Barranco

At the start of the path the barranco is wide and there is view across it to the flat-topped Roque del Conde. As you walk further into the barranco it narrows, until it becomes a very narrow gorge, and finally ends with a 200m sheer cliff down which the water falls, down into a small pool which then flows out into a stream with various rock worn pools on the way. In the first, open, part of the barranco has an ecosystem dominated by Euphorbias, like most of the coastal areas. The middle part contains a thermophile ecosystem with a greater variety of plants, many of them requiring a moister atmosphere than the first part. In this part are examples of typical plants such as the Almaciga (Pistacia atlantica) ,Tree Bindweed – Guaydil (Convolvulus floridus), Maple-leaved Lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia) and Ceballosia (Ceballosia fruticosa). All of these, except a few Lavatera, had already flowered and so I was unable to get pictures. The other abundant plants that were in flower in this area were the Balo (Plocama pendula) and the Mataprieta (Justicia hyssopifolia) both of which are Canary endemics.

A fine specimen of the rare local endemic 'Cliff cabbage' - Col de risk - (Crambe scaberrima)

A fine specimen of the rare local endemic ‘Cliff cabbage’ – Col de risk – (Crambe scaberrima)

Returning through the wider part of the Barranco

Returning through the wider part of the Barranco

The remaining part, the gorge, contains little on the ground between the sheer walls apart from the stream, the path, various Canary Willow trees (Salix canariensis) and Sweet Chestnut trees (Castanea sativa), and brambles. The only really interesting plants were water plants and the local endemic plant, Lechugilla del Teno (where it also grows) (Tolpis crassiscula), which is listed in the Red Book as vulnerable. I was pleased to see a large number of these growing and flowering beside the path and up the cliffs.

Hyssop-leaved Justicia (Justicia hyssopifolia) flower

Hyssop-leaved Justicia (Justicia hyssopifolia) flower

Revisiting the Barranco de Erques walk, with a shorter version

The path descending the opposite side of the Barranco near the start (and end) of the walk

The path descending the opposite side of the Barranco near the start (and end) of the walk

I wrote a blog about this walk earlier this year, on 15th February, entitled ‘The Barranco de Erques, Vera de Erques and Tejina’.  However, one friend who did not go on that walk wanted to do it too, so we chose to do it on 30th July. Normally we would not have walked it in the summer, due to lack of shade, but this was a cloudy day. It was, however, quite humid and warm, so the climbing was a little sticky, and we decided to do a shorter version, missing out the Camino Montiel and Las Fuentes, and heading down from Vera de Erques to complete a shorter circle.

The Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsaloides) was still in flower

The Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsaloides) was still in flower

Consequently, when we reached the main square of Vera de Erques, near the church, we turned left and took the next left off that road to descend a road that wandered around various attractive houses and gardens and join the main road lower down, where we crossed it, going slightly to the right to take a path descending from the bend. The path follows the southern edge of a barranco till it reaches a small group of houses, and a narrow tarmac road which we continued on for a few yards before taking a sharp right turn to descend into the barranco on the path again. This part passes numerous animal pens for dogs, chickens, rabbits and even a small black pig, before crossing the streamed and ascending the opposite side.

Madama still in flower beneath a rock overhang beside the path ascending out of the Barranco de Erques

Madama (Allagopappus dichotomous) still in flower beneath a rock overhang beside the path ascending out of the Barranco de Erques

 

 

 

The path then crossed a concrete driveway and continued along a house wall before turning downhill again. Lower down the path turned right to cross another barranco, but this time we went straight on to join a track passing some buildings. The track joined the main road going up to Vera de Erques again, and we went right on it to a hundred metres or so, turned right onto the road to Tejina, and then turned left off that road about 100m further on.

The path, Camino La Morra, heading back towards the Barranco de Erques, with water pipes.

The path, Camino La Morra, heading back towards the Barranco de Erques, with water pipes.

 

 

 

Within a few metres we turned onto a dirt track going straight ahead, instead of following the tarmac road to the right, slightly lower than the track.  We were now back on the route returning to the Barranco de Erques crossing which we started at.

Lesser white bugloss (Echium aculeatum) was still in flower in a damp spot along the Camino la Morra

Lesser white bugloss (Echium aculeatum) was still in flower in a damp spot along the Camino la Morra

This shorter version of the walk was only 8.72km as opposed to 12.03km for the longer version. It took us 4.25 hours at a slower pace due to the warmth and humidity.

 

 

The Camino La Morra ascending to the village of Vera de Erques along the edge of the Barranco de Erques

The Camino La Morra ascending to the village of Vera de Erques along the edge of the Barranco de Erques

(Update 2.3.2015) A GPS track of this shortened walk is now available on Wikiloc:

 

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=8983364

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some fine bunches of ripening grapes hanging over a wall in the village of Vera de Erques

Some fine bunches of ripening grapes hanging over a wall in the village of Vera de Erques

The red, 3-cornered seed heads of the Canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis)

The red, 3-cornered seed heads of the Canary spurge (Euphorbia canariensis)

Cardo de Cristo, or Willow-leaved carline thistle (Carlina salicifolia)

Cardo de Cristo, or Willow-leaved carline thistle (Carlina salicifolia)

The Barranco de Erques, Vera de Erques and Tejina

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A view of the Barranco de Erques near the start of the walk

The Barranco de Erques is the border between the municipalities of Guia de Isora and Adeje on the west of Tenerife. The whole of its length is in protected areas, most of it in the  Protected landscape of the Barranco de Erques (Paisaje protegido del Barranco de Erques). It is a very scenic barranco, but also interesting botanically, especially where an old pathway crosses it just above the bridge for the main road from Adeje to Guia de Isora (TF-82).

Canary Lavender (Lavendula canariensis) beside the path as it crosses the barranco

Canary Lavender (Lavendula canariensis) beside the path as it crosses the barranco

We did this walk to use two traditional paths on the inventory by the Ayuntamiento of Guia de Isora (Town council) which I had never walked. I knew one, the Camino La Morra, went alongside the Barranco de Erques for part of its trajectory, and was interested to see what it was like.

The pink flowers of the Sea rosemary (Campylanthes salsaloides) in front of the bright green of the Bitter spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii) in flower.

The pink flowers of the Sea rosemary (Campylanthes salsaloides) in front of the bright green of the Bitter spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii) in flower.

We parked beside the TF-82 on the Adeje side of the bridge and walked down to the bridge.  Behind the crash barrier a path leads to the right and up some rudimentary stone steps up a slope to join the old path disrupted by the building of the TF-82 road. The path leads along the Adeje edge of the barranco, and uphill a little before beginning the descent into the barranco on a well-cobbled path.  There are a lot of Euphorbias here, but, unusually, there are three species together, which normally grow in different habitats. There is the species that is common in coastal areas, the Sweet spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera), the Bitter spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii) common in mid altitudes, and the Purple spurge (Euphorbia atropurpurea) which normally grows only higher up the mountains. The altitude here is around 450m above sea level, so I suppose it is a mixing point.

Purple spurge, (Euphorbia atropurpurea) a canary endemic which grows normally at higher altitudes around 800-1200m

Purple spurge, (Euphorbia atropurpurea) a canary endemic which grows normally at higher altitudes around 800-1200m

The path climbing the opposite side of the barranco was, in places, badly eroded and somewhat overgrown so needed some care, but at the top we reached a reasonably clear, though rough, path going straight up to the right.  We walked up this path for about 500m and I noticed a clump of Canary mignonette (Reseda scoparia). This is again a plant of coastal areas but it seemed quite at home here. We were approaching a dip in the path to cross a minor barranco when we reached the junction to the right for the start of the Camino La Morra which would take us back to the edge of the Barranco de Erques and then along its edge for a while on the way to Vera de Erques.

Canary mignonette (Reseda scoparia) beside the path

Canary mignonette (Reseda scoparia) beside the path

Vera de Erques is quite a substantial community with its own primary school, church and cultural centre. It is surrounded by good farmland, and at this time of year many blossoming almond trees. We arrived on the main street opposite the cultural centre, and turned left downhill till we reached a bend where the next footpath leaves.  There is a signboard describing the Camino de Montiel at the start, which is a track at first, but after about 10 metres it is important to look for the footpath going down, concreted at first as it also allows access to a small allotment. Before you reach the allotment the main path goes right and from then on it is very easy to follow.

The start of the Camino la Morra. It is a little hard to see.

The start of the Camino la Morra. It is a little hard to see.

The Camino de Montiel passes a house of the same name on its way to Las Fuentes, a small village which is reached only by a dirt track, but which used to be a very important area for growing cereals for Guia de Isora. These days the houses are largely uninhabited, although some are used at weekends and in the summer by the families that own them. Many of the fields are still cultivated by the families, and once every 5 years the village has a fiesta in March when all the families gather up there for a weekend. I have never seen so many people up there as I did when the last fiesta happened in 2010.

A view of the Barranco de Erques from the Camino la Morra

A view of the Barranco de Erques from the Camino la Morra

We did not go right up to Las Fuentes this time, but joined the track where the footpath comes close to it, and walked down the track to Tejina de Guia. There we went left along the road for a short distance, crossing the beautiful Barranco Cuéscara, and then turning right off the road to rejoin a path for a while. That path ended on the road from TF-82 and Vera de Erques which we had to walk along for about 500m before reaching a path again leaving on a bend. This path took us back to the junction with the Camino la Morra where we had turned earlier and we followed the same route back down to and across the Barranco de Erques, taking more time to enjoy the flowers as we crossed it back to the cars. There were lots of Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsaloides) plants with their pink flowers. There are also some fine clumps of Cardón, or Canary spurge, (Euphorbia canariensis) on the barranco sides. Also in this area, though not in flower at this time of year (April/May would be the time for them) are some uncommon shrubs of the Canary endemic Shrubby Bindweed (Convolvulus scoparius).

Canary sage (Salvia canariensis) by the road as we approached Barranco Cuescara in Tejina

Canary sage (Salvia canariensis) by the road as we approached Barranco Cuescara in Tejina

The walk was 12.06 km /7.5ml long, involved 651m of ascent and descent, and took us 4hrs 25mins. A GPS track of the walk can be seen, and downloaded from, this site:

http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=6125439

The old washing places, or lavanderos, near the Casa Montiel, which lends its name to the footpath. There is also an old wine press in a cave behind and below these.

The old washing places, or lavanderos, near the Casa Montiel, which lends its name to the footpath. There is also an old wine press in a cave behind and below these.

Canary spurge, or Cardon, (Euphorbia canariensis) on the side of the Barranco de Erques

Canary spurge, or Cardon, (Euphorbia canariensis) on the side of the Barranco de Erques

A Botanical exploration of the Barranco del Infierno, Adeje

On Friday I had a walk with two friends interested in nature and we had a great day out.  We first visited the upper part of the Nature reserve of the Barranco del Infierno, reached from Ifonche, but much of what we went to see there had suffered from the fire in July.  Although while we were there we had some close encounters with two Canarian woodpeckers, and four Barbary partridge, which we spent many happy minutes watching and trying to photograph.  

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Looking up the Barranco del Infierno from near the start of the path, with Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsaloides) in the foreground

Then we decided to go down to Adeje to look at the lower part of the barranco there.  It had previously been closed to the public but we found the gate open and scores of people walking both ways along the narrow path.  There is a warning, quite rightly, of the danger of rock falls in the barranco, which is especially dangerous in the narrow gorge section at the far end.  Clearly it would be inadvisable to walk there in wet and windy weather when falls are most likely to occur, but on a fine and sunny day as it was last Friday it posed no more risk than many other mountain footpaths which we venture onto.

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Mountain carrot (Todaroa aurea)

The first part of the path is high above the watercourse of the barranco on the northern side, where it winds in and out around the natural contours of the barranco.  This part is much exposed to the sun and has vegetation which tolerates this.  This included the non-native Prickly pears (Opuntia sp.), Bitter and Sweet Spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii and balsamifera), and Canary Spurge (Euphorbia canariensis).  But among these, the most notable at this time of year were the Mountain Carrot (Todaroa montana) and Sea Rosemary (Campylanthus salsoloides), both of which were present in great numbers and full of flower.

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Canary bryony (Bryonia verrucosa)

After a few bends in the path taking us deeper into the barranco we reached areas less exposed to the sun, with shrubby plants such as Canary madder (Rubia fruticosa), Spiny buckthorn (Rhamnus crenulata), Balo (Plocama pendula), and Cornical (Periploca laevigata).  The Canary madder and the Cornical were both in flower but both are greenish small flowers that some may not notice, though they are worth looking at.  Draped over some of the bushes were the climbing stems of the Canary bryony (Bryonia verrucosa), covered in yellow flowers at the moment.  Perhaps the most noticeable flowers of this section were the purple flowers of the Canary lavenders (Lavandula canariensis), and the white daisies of the Marguerites (Argyranthemum gracile).

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A section of the path around the middle of the barranco, with Canary lavender in the foreground (Lavandula canariensis)

 

After about 40 minutes of walking the path descends to and crosses the streambed.  Immediately after crossing the streambed the vegetation seems more luxuriant, and, in addition to many of the previously mentioned shrubs there were Tenerife Tree bindweed (Convolvulus floridus), Wild jasmine (Jasminum odoratissimum) and Maple-leafed lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia), the latter two in full flower.  Up the cliff side to the right were two Juniper bushes, (Juniperus phoenicia ssp canariensis) the species that grows in the lower regions.

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Maple-leaved lavatera (Lavatera acerifolia)

 

The Barranco turned a bend shortly after and we were into the shade.  We crossed the streambed again, zig-zagged up a small slope and arrived at a small clearing with a wooden trunk-like storage box.  Nearby a signpost had a 5 on it.  From here on the barranco narrows to a gorge and the path is more difficult with many stream crossings on bridges or stepping stones, and several obstacles such as fallen trees partially blocking the way.  It is a pleasant change, though, for those used to walking in south Tenerife, to walk next to a running stream, with luxuriant vegetation around.  There were Canary bell-flowers in this section, and Canary willow trees (Salix canariensis) with their large flowers like pussy willow, and I saw one Maytenus tree (Maytenus canariensis), though it was not in flower.  Eventually the path ends at a pool fed by a waterfall coming down the side of the closed end of the gorge.  It took us one and a half hours to walk to the waterfall, but we were walking quite quickly with few stops, and could have easily spent a lot longer, there was so much to look at.  

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Immature fruits of Tamus edulis, a scambling climber we saw in the narrow gorge at the far end of the walk

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The waterfall at the end of the Barranco del Infierno walk

From the waterfall it is necessary to turn around and go back the way you came, and enjoy  afresh the lovely landscape and the great range of plants.  I did not take the GPS on this walk as the satellite coverage can be difficult in a gorge.  The distance is probably about 4km each way, if you go to the end, but you can turn around at any time.