I recently heard that some of the signage on this walk, (no 22 in the book ‘Tenerife Nature Walks’) has recently been changed. Whereas before this circular walk was signed with green and white signposts and paint marks, it is now largely yellow and white. This is because the authorities are signing and improving another, longer circle, which goes higher up. It is another walk I know and love, going up through the barranco past the impressive rock-climbing cliff called “Risco de Muerto” and then to the east to come down past Montaña Tames (an excellent lunch spot), and down to join walk 22 on its return to Las Vegas. There has also been a lot of work done repairing and widening parts of the very popular circle described in walk 22.
To avoid confusion, if you are doing walk 22, follow the signs which say ‘El Molino’ (the mill ) until you get to the mill, which is a stone tower below a round reservoir (point 6 in the book). There is a renewed signboard explaining how the mill used to work, as there is now no water channel to the top of it to make it more obvious. From this point on, follow the signs back to Las Vegas.
I walked this route last Saturday, March 8th, and it was such a delight for all the flowers and scents, I had to blog about it. Las Vegas is a charming village in a very beautiful area of the south of Tenerife, and it is always lovely to walk there, but at this time of the year the flowers make it even more of a treat.
We started the walk from the bottom of the village, where the old Camino Real (Royal Road) enters and leaves the village. Caminos Reales were the modern highways of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, when the landowners, who were gifted the land in return for services rendered in the conquest of the island, were required by the Spanish crown to construct and maintain roads connecting the main towns and ports. The road goes up to Las Vegas, which seems now to be an insignificant village, because it was an important early settlement due to its prosperous farmland and good water supply. There are some fine old houses in the village, including one which is used as a Casa Rural for holidaymakers.
We walked up through the village and straight on up a track that continues where the tarmac finishes. We passed a wrought iron gate on the left leading into a vineyard, and continued to the next turning left which had a chain across it suspended between 2 barrels filled with concrete. We squeezed past the barrels and walked the path down to the barranco streambed and across it following the cairn, and up the other side. The path is narrow and passes through flowering shrubs, including Tenerife Vipers bugloss (Echium virescens), Vinegrera (Rumex lunaria), Bitter spurge (Euphorbia lamarckii) and Canary madder (Rubia fruticosa). In the midst of this profusion is a small grove of neglected orange trees, which were covered in sweet-scented blossom. Growing over the orange trees and some of the other shrubs was the local Canary endemic Bryony (Bryonia verrucosa) with both flowers and fruits.
The path climbs out of the barranco past some rock cliffs used by local rock-climbers, and near the top the Canary endemic of the Broom family, Teline canariensis at the edge of the barranco we took a track to the right past a reservoir, which then became a path going up the edge of the barranco, with lovely views. This path is somewhat stony, which on the steep bits are quite dangerous when walking down, which is why we tackled this bit of the walk first, going upwards, when the path is OK. The plants around were mainly the White-flowered cistus (Cistus monspeliensis), but draped over some of them was the Canary endemic annual vetch Vicia cirrhosa.
We continued upwards, reaching a track which was driveable. It was at this point there is a junction with another path crossing the barranco, but we continued uphill along the barranco edge, taking a shortcut with no path, and then joining a path to continue past neglected vineyards to join the track. This time we stayed with the track even when it turned away from the barranco, and followed it for about 500m till we saw a footpath going to the right which we took, continuing right at a junction with a better footpath. This took us across back towards the barranco on a good footpath till it reached a junction with the yellow and white signposted footpath from Las Vegas to the Lunar landscape. Here we turned right, downhill at last. From here on we followed the signposted path all the way back to Las Vegas.
Soon we passed an era (threshing floor) where we had lunch and then continued down the zig-zagging path till it squeezed through between rocks to re-enter the barranco. This section down the cliff and into the barranco was again full of flowers, including the Palomera (Pericallis lanata) on the cliffs, Canary mountain figwort (Scrophularia glabrata), and more Tenerife Vipers Bugloss, etc in the barranco. There were also some of the very pretty Tassel hyacinths (Muscari comosum).
The path down through the barranco was delightful. Tall flowering shrubs tower either side of it, with glimpses to the scenic rocky cliffs either side. The path is generally easy to walk, so you can enjoy the flowers and the views.
At one point, the yellow and white signposted path takes a sharp left off a stony path to cross a barranco and descend by a lovely ridge. On this section I was delighted to see on the path a very small Campanula I have only once seen before. It is barely 15cm / 6in high with little blue bell flowers about 1.5cm across, but it is another Canary endemic Campanula occidentalis.
The walk took us just under 4 hours walking at quite a fast pace. It was 10.77 km/ 6.75 ml long and involved 626m of climbing and descent.