I had originally planned to do the Dales way in the middle of March 2016, however, after a bit of number crunching, discovered I could do a full week somewhere far warmer for around the same price and so I packed my bags and headed to Los Cancajos, La Palma.
Thursday 10th March 2016
It was a very early start for the 09:15 Thomsons 737-800 flight from Manchester to La Palma.
After landing at the the small airport, it only took about 5 mins to reach the H10 Taburiente Playa hotel.
I was allocated room 110 on the first floor. A good sized room with a balcony over looking the pool…. and the departing aircraft!
The weather was cloudy but fairly warm so after unpacking I ventured out for a stroll to one end of town then back towards the beach. Los Cancanjos is a very small town so can be covered in a very short time. There are a handful of restaurants, bars and a Spar which (unusually for La Palma) opens late on a Saturday and is also open Sundays. Sadly the town’s shopping centre has seen better days with only a few units open.
Back at the hotel for food. The buffet dinner was nice. Salad, paella, chorizo, wrinkled potatoes, mojo sauce and a banana for desert. Bananas soon became a frequent addition to most meals!
I had to take the key card to dinner to pay for any drinks. A member of staff, sat by the door, takes a copy of the room details on to a slip then the total amount is paid at end of holiday at reception. This works well and saves having to carry money to dinner. The same process is used when getting drinks from the bar.
After a 04:30 start, an early night was in order. The quietness and black out curtains in the room ensured a good night’s sleep.
Friday 11th March
Huge choice at breakfast. My meal included banana smoothie, cheese balls, bacon, scrambled egg, bacon and beans (no black pudding!). Cava was also available for anyone fancying a glass of bubbly with breakfast. The freshly made omelettes were also quite tempting.
Today, I took walk to the capital city, Santa Cruz.
Taking a right from outside the hotel, I stayed on the road, avoiding a climb up several steps from the beach. The road becomes one way and runs alongside the beach. At the roundabout I took a right on Calle El Fuenrte, moving away from the shore and passing the military buildings.
The road continues past a number of car show rooms, Cupalma, a large banana distribution building and some sort of gas works. After passing these, the road becomes a more pleasant tree lined avenue with the beach to your right.
At the edge of town is the port and bus stops which can take you further out around the island. I headed up the main, mostly pedestrianised shopping street, O’Daly, containing a mix of shops; clothing, souvenir, supermarkets etc.
Around half way up is the Plaza Espana and the Church, Iglesia de El Salvador . It is also worth taking a small detour to the market on Avenue el Puente . Here, you’ll find stacks of sugar cane, local bananas and papayas. I purchased 40g of saffron for the extremely reasonable price of €4.
Returning to O’Daly, I walked to the Plaza De La Alameda.
At the road junction is the wooden replica sailing ship the Barco de la Virgen, home to a naval museum.
Just in front of the boat is the Enano statue. This character is found on a lot of the souvenirs from the island and is even celebrated during the ‘Dance of the Dwarves‘ event.
Taking a right at the road junction, I headed to the seafront and followed the road down towards the small castle, the Castillo de Santa Catalina, which was built in the 17th century to fend off pirate raids. There isn’t really much to see around the castle but it was free to enter.
I meandered my way back to Los Cancajos following the same route I took to get here. I took a break on the craggy, volcanic beaches for a spot of ‘rock pooling’. Plenty of crabs to be seen!
In total the round trip was around 9 miles. The route I took can be downloaded as a GPX file.
Saturday 12th March
After fueling up at breakfast and armed with my La Palma Walking Map, I left the hotel. Heading north along the road towards Santa Cruz, turning off to climb the steps heading up to El Cantillo restaurant. Two lines are pained on the wall, one yellow, one white, marking the path 18.1 to San Jose.
The path heads South West, over the LP2 road by the bus stop continuing towards houses. Near the car parking for the houses, the path leaves the road and rises steeply to the LP 204 road. Given that La Palma is apparently the World’s steepest island, most walks have a fair amount of climbing!
Follow the road to the entrance of Parador Nacional hotel, past the hotel’s gardens and through the car park. Round the back of the hotel, the route joins Calle San Jose, the road south to San Jose.
Most towns in La Palma have a Spar shop and San Jose is no exception. I popped in to load up on more drink then continued south to the end of town.
Take the right hand turning on LP 206 out of San Jose (with the white houses to the right) , leaving the road on the right hand side to continue on path 18.1. Away from the village, the views now consist of trees and tropical plants.
Cross another road, the LP202, towards Montana de Brena You can continue on the route south or take a detour to the viewpoint (it’s the same route up to the peak and back)
It is worth making the effort as the the 565 metre peak offers some great views over the eastern side of the island.
Also on top of Montana de Brena is the Millennium Cross which joined the cross erected to commemorate the arrival of the 20th century, in 1901.
After wandering back down and continuing south, past a bbq area with play area and toilets. 18.1 continues along a quiet road before turning off towards the pleasant but hilly town of Mazo. Luckily it was all down hill from here. It was along this road I stopped to pick some ‘wild’ oranges by abandoned building. Lovely!!
It is worth taking a short wander around the town to see the old buildings such as the town hall before heading to the church. Here the route becomes path 17 heading North East towards Playa del Hoyo passing banana plants….lots of banana plants!
Playa del Hoyo this isn’t much of a beach, just a car park with a restaurant. I stayed on the road, walking up to the airport where I popped in for a coffee and to use their free wi-fi to keep up with the Tranmere Rovers game!
Leaving the airport, I followed the road back towards Los Cancajos heading under La Palma’s runway. The route has a pedestrianised walkway to the side of the road for most of the way apart from a stretch past the tunnel but the road is fairly quiet.
About half way along I stopped at the airport viewing area, Mirador del Aeropuerto. The elevated point gives a great view across the entire runway.
Leaving the viewing area, take the right hand fork for the road back down to Los Cancajos and the hotel.
Download this route from my ViewRanger site.