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La Palma Pt 2 ( Muchas Volcán)

Sunday 13th March
This morning, I walked the 4 km to Santa Cruz for the  number 300 bus towards El Paso getting off at the Caldera de Taburiente visitors centre.  There are road signs to the visitor centre so it’s easy enough to spot in time to ring the bell.
This  journey cost €2.10* and, on the whole, La Palma has a decent bus service although some more remote villages only see a handful of buses each day and there are a lot less buses running at weekends.
There are just two fares €1.37* for short journeys and €2.10* for longer ones. The La Palma transport website (in Spanish) contains timetables and other useful information. One thing to note is all buses stop on the same side of the road (the side with the BP petrol station) There is a timetable for the Norte bus on a bus shelter on the opposite side but the bus does not actually stop here!

After getting off the bus, I took a quick look round the interesting visitor centre (and made a visit to their toilets!) The centre has been voted the number one attraction by TripAdvisor in 2016. Guides are available to provide information on the walking/cycling routes in the area. Another room contains a ‘mini museum’ of artifacts and information boards with information on the area, the flora and fauna.

Leaving the visitor centre, I followed the road West, taking the first road on the left, Calle Las Moraditas,  signed to the El Pilar refuge.
Initially, the path follows this road\track and, according to my map, it continued for some distance, however, the signs pointed me away from the road and on to a path meandering through woodland.  On the whole the path is well marked with  signs and pained yellow and white lines but, at one point where a track crosses left to right (flagged on the route),  the marker is hard to spot. The actual path is straight across but a quick detour on the left hand track offers some great views!

Views on walk

Path down
The drop to the road can be steep at times

Returning to the correct path, I headed towards Montana Quemada then turned right at the track on to footpath 14.
The path starts at 2790 feet (850m) and reaches 4828 feet (1471.5m) so there is a lot of climbing, however, it is quite gradual over the distance of 5 miles/8km.  The terrain varies between woodland and baron, rocky volcanic paths. Keep a look out here for the local wildlife, it’s not difficult to spot lizards, buzzards and falcons.

The path crosses the LP-301 road a couple of times before reaching  El Pilar, a great place for a break. Situated in a pine forest,  a van serves all sorts of drinks, snacks and hot food. Cross over the road to find toilets and bbq areas.

Leaving El Pilar, I followed the road East for a few meters. turning off to the left to join path 18. From here it’s downhill all the way, dropping down through the clouds.
There are several routes back towards Los Cancajos/Santa Cruz. After leaving the woodland, I went through Las Ledas then straight down to Los Cancajos. All routes follow quiet roads and tracks after leaving the area around La Quebrada.

The GPX of this walk is available to download

Wednesday 16th March
After walking to Santa Cruz, I  took the 10:15 number 200 bus to Fuencaliente,  arriving at the the centre of Los Canarios just after 11:00.
This part of the island is a great place for wine lovers, there are a number of wine producers in this area, however, I was here for the volcanoes and salt.
Views from volcano routeI headed West down Ctra. General, taking the first road on the left heading South towards the visitor centre.  Most walkers headed straight up the nearest volcano, San Antonio, sadly, time constraints meant it would be difficult to do a volcano and complete the rest of the planned walk.  Instead, I followed the GR131 path heading South West.  This almost scree like path headed down to a wider track which was also used by cyclists. One part follows a concrete path but, rather than continue on the GR route, I turned off on to the ash path along side the square reservoir (marked on my GPX route).
Again, many walkers take the popular route up the next Volcano, de Tenegula but I pressed on continuing downwards towards the Salinas at Faro. The route was rather baron, lots of volcanic rocks along the dusty, black path which I shared with several lizards.
LighthouseShortly after passing   Tenegula,  the salt pans and two lighthouses came in to view.

The original lighthouse opened in 1903. It was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1939, and had to be rebuilt. It is now a museum. The current tower, in traditional red and white stripes was built in 1985.
The ‘salinas’ themselves are vast. There is an interesting  self-guided walk around the Jardin de sal which produces around 500, 000 kg of sea salt every year by evaporation of the sea water in a series of pools.  This salt can be bought all around the island but is particularly cheap from the onsite shop.  The building also contains toilets, a restaurant and an upstairs bar upstairs is both cheap and offers great views from the terrace.  Work was underway to include  a spa area to the basement.
After picking up two packs salt for €4.50 each (almost half the price the airport charged), I made my way to the edge of the car park.  There is no bus stop sign, the  bus back up to Los Canarios just stops near the car park entrance buy only once  every two hours (hence not wanting to take too long going via volcanoes!) The journey costs €2.10. * and takes a route passing the Princess hotel. There was then around a twenty minute await for the hourly Santa Cruz bus. I got off at a stop before Santa Cruz  on LP2 by an over pass. At the stop, follow the road, under a bridge to a set of steps to the right. At the bottom, it is then a short walk (1.4km) following the one way  road to Los Cancajos, cutting out the stretch through the industrial area.

Thursday 17th March
After breakfast, I took a stroll around the beach area and quick look in the shopping centre before the short trip to the airport. ‘Shopping centre’ was pushing it a bit. One diving shop, sewing handicraft type shop, yoga \massage building and a medical centre. Some units were closed, one, a restaurant presumably would open later in the day but others appeared to be closed permanently with a few units up for sale.
It was another hour and sunny day. Many more people were down on the beach and in the sea, sadly, however, I was heading back home at 12.

Funnily enough my total mileage for the holiday was  not far off the  distance of the Dales Way but got far better weather, more unusual scenery and the trip cost a less money!

*prices correct at time of writing, March 2016

La Palma Pt 1 (Ze Planes, Ze Planes)

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.
View from hotelAfter 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.

Ship and EnanoReturning 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.

Crab in rockpoo 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

Start of mont brena path
Start of walk 18.1

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.
walk to Montana de Brena 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!!

Centre of Mazo villageIt 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!

737 Aircraft La Palma airportLeaving 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.

Part 2 – Muchas Volcán

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