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Puerto de la Cruz - Tenerife 2017

After two long walks the next trip was shorter and closer to Puerto de la Cruz. The initial idea was to go to visit the old town of La Orotava which can be reached by many different buses and is in the hills above Puerto de la Cruz. Then we found several interesting paths described in the Sunflower Walks 2 to 6 around the village of Aguamansa and La Caldera. The walks usually started or ended at the Trout Farm in Aguamansa. Bus 345 provided an hourly service to La Orotava and onwards through Aguamansa and to its terminus at La Caldera where there is a cafe/bar. Instead of starting Walk 3 at Aguamansa we started at La Caldera thereby reducing the walk by 25 minutes. The caldera is a large flat circular sandy area, with a childrens playground and lots of picnic benches and groups of BBQ places. There are toilets and a water tap. In the summer, and at weekends, it must be very busy. Circling the caldera anticlockwise, the first turning right was the Camino de los Guanches, which would be our return walking route. Our turn right was next, signposted to the Camping area. Compared with previous walks it was busy with cars parked in the trees and is popular for walking dogs. The camping area was well signed but only suitable for caravans and campervans. The path was good and gave nice views towards Los Organos as the clouds started to build. The target was Chimoche and the Choza Chimoche which is a shelter with benches. The tunnel of the Galeria Chimoche is behind white buidings amd then after 25 minutes uphill we reached the Choza. The sign showed 2.9kms from La Caldera.

We had climbed from 1200m at La Caldera to 1450m in about an hour and now there were many choices for the return route to La Caldera. The cloud was descending and although it was easy to retrace our steps we chose an alternative and shorter route along the Camino de los Guanches. First there was a short walk along the main path towards Ramon Caminero and then a sign pointed down towards La Caldera. As we descended into the sunshine the worries of clouds disappeared. The path was well marked with the usual white and yellow bars, but it was narrow and a rough surface compared to the forest roads we had used on our way uphill. We crossed water, but it was contained in a pipe. We reached the end of the Camino de los Gaunches in just over an hour. The clouds had forced us to delay our lunch instead of resting at the Choza Chimoche and there was an hour at La Caldera before the next bus. As we ate lunch the temperature dropped and the clouds started to come down so we were pleased that we were not still walking. Looking towards the coast wearing our anoracks we saw that Puerto de la Cruz was basking in full sunshine below. Back at the hotel there were complaints that it had been too hot and there were several people who were glowing red from too much sunshine. Overall the area around Aguamansa and La Caldera is an excellent place when the weather is too warm on the coast, and we will explore further in future years.

The Tenerife bus service is different on Saturday and some only operate during working days. We were determined to do more walking, and to also have more time to visit Garachico. Sunflower Walk 16 also showed the possibility of a walk dowhill from Erjos to Los Silos, along the Barranco de Cuevas Negras marked as TF53. The walk is only 5.8kms with an intermediate marker of the Cuevas Negras at 3kms and is supposed to take 2 hours. It descends from 1000m at Erjos to 100m at Los Silos. Los Silos is good for transport and is on the 363 bus service from Buenavista to Puerto de la Cruz. Erjos is on the 325 route, which is a direct bus and leaves Puerto de la Cruz at 1030. It passes through Icod and through San Juan del Reparo.

From the bus stop in the centre of Erjos the footpath to Cuevas Negras is well signed, passing behind the distinctive church. The street ended and the path continued as access to a few houses before taking the typical character of a footpath. The barranco descended steadily, with the well-defined path alongside a modern waterpipe and the remains of old concrete water canals. After one hour walking we reached a derelit house which was partially inhabited and soon after arrived at the small group of houses which are Cuevas Negras.

One of the empty houses gave a good view down to the coast below and it was clear that most of the height loss would be in the next hour of walking. We slowly and carefully moved downhill towards our destination, passing a group of tired walkers struggling uphill and all carrying walking poles or sturdy metal tipped sticks. The views were spectacular but the zigzag path downhill was memorable for its rough stones and it was slippy. We were often too busy looking at the ground to admire the views.After 45 minutes there was the first glimpse of the valley floor, with gardens, orchards and bananas. There was a car parked there so the surface of the walk must improve. At the valley car track we found it was still 1.5kms to Los Silos. We had spent an hour walking only 1.2kms downhill from Cuevas Negras.

The rest of the walk was easier and Los Silos was interesting. Lots of families were working in their gardens because it was a weekend. The path crossed a ford and two bridges, all well signposted, and passed a rehabilitation of the traditional laundry of Susana. In 2017 a group of 17 young volunteers from the whole of Spain spent 15 days repairing the old washing area which relied on the water from the barranco.The road is the Calle Susana and the bus stop was at the corner where it joined the main road between Buenavista and Garachico. The main square with the church was directly opposite. The bus route was along the coast and gave good views down onto Garachico. The phrase "gara chico" means small rock and this is because of the rock which is just off the coast.

We got off the bus at Garachico so we could explore the famous natural rock pools and then walked along a footpath towards the main swimming areas, between the rocks. The tide was coming in and splashing the many crabs. There were lots of local people swimming in the crystal clear water or just having a picnic with their family.

We continued past the 16th century San Miguel Castle to the Park of the Puerta de Tierra, where the Puerta de Tierra is all that is left of the port. It was once the Land Gate at the waterfront but is now inland following the volcanic eruption of 1706. Passing the Church of Santa Ana with its white bell tower, we followed the route of the little white tourist train to the main square, the Plaza Libertad. There is a small 2*HR hotel, formerly the house of the Marquises of la Quinta Roja and built in the 17th century. It is an interesting square with the Baroque palace of the Marques de Adeje, and the old monastery of San Francisco which dates back to 1524 and adjoins the Town Hall. We had plenty of time to get to the Fragiola waterfront ice cream counter, and consume our purchase. We also had to buy a new BonoVia bus card from the supermarket next to the bus stop, before catching the 1630 bus from Buenavista to take us directly back to Puerto de la Cruz.

These 14 days spent in Puerto de la Cruz have been excellent, and the various walks have each been memorable in different ways. There is so much to do in Tenerife and many more walks for the future. Puerto de la Cruz is a good centre with good bus links to the north of the island. It suits us very well and we will certainly go back again. However we would have liked to explore the National Park and Mount Teide and then it is necessary to hire a car or to stay at the Parador hotel.

Package holidays to Tenerife depend on one aircraft flying out and the same one coming back, and the flight time is over 4 hours. With our convenient afternoon flight from Birmingham we sufferred from the return flight landing at Birmingham well after midnight. The Ibis/Novotel at Birmingham airport, just a short walk from the terminal building, suited us well and was not expensive, and we were far too tired to drive home.

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Content revised: 10th October, 2017