Okay, enough of the cold, wet, windy miserable weather in the UK. Sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures seem to be a distant dream. What’s to be done? If you’ve enough spare cash and no commitments, you could simply find a sunny break on the internet and be off and away in a matter of hours.
But for most of us, that’s not realistic. But, consider this; many people find more pleasure in the planning of a holiday than they do when they’re actually there. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, just planning or anticipating your trip can make you happier than actually taking it.
So, in this most un-summery of British summers, why not lose yourself in the pleasure of cyber-travelling as you seek out your next holiday destination? Thank goodness for the internet, which allows us to zoom across the planet and home in for a closer look at potential places to explore. There’s also the many reviews to look at of other traveller’s experiences which can help you home in on a few choices. Give yourself an hour or two’s virtual adventuring. Mountains? Beaches? Citybreaks? Cruising? Activity Holidays? Backpacking? The world’s yours to choose from (well, a good amount of it). You could start making shortlists of where and when you’d like to go, making notes on the best times of year to visit. Look for trips that fit your budget, or maybe dream of that lottery win. TripAdvisor is one good source of ‘what-to-dos’ for your chosen shortlist.
Even if your plans don’t become reality this time, losing yourself in the fun and fantasy of your perfect holiday gives you a pleasant few escapist hours. And when you’ve got the time, money and opportunity, you’ll already be armed with great ideas.
If you do happen to be in the position of just getting up and going right now, here are one or two suggestions:
Hop From Tenerife to La Gomera
There’s no doubt that Tenerife is one of the most popular island destinations, easily reached in around 5 hours from much of Europe and enticing with sunny skies, warm temperature, beaches and mountains and (if you want it) plenty of nightlife.
If you fancy a complete contrast, sample a day on the island of La Gomera, so close to Tenerife yet oh! so different – rugged, shaped like a well-risen circular cake topped by ancient laurel forests and with mighty ravines slicing down to the sea.
It’s laid back, offering astounding views and walks, little tipico cafés and restaurants, flamboyant plant life and stunning geology. Oh, and it has beaches.
Frequent ferries mean you can be there in under an hour from Los Cristianos, Tenerife, landing in Gomera’s capital San Sebastián, where public buses await in the harbour to take you onward. Car hire ofices and taxis are located here too.
Journey time: The fastest crossing from Tenerife to La Gomera goes via the harbours Los Cristianos de Tenerife to San Sebastián de La Gomera. The Benchijigua Express Ferry covers this distance in about 50 minutes. Other (slower) ferry services are offered by Naviera Armas. Pre-booking is essentail.
What to do? In one day, you’ll need to be selective. Take a look at these Trip Advisor suggestions.
If you are one of the many who found a Garmin GPS in their Christmas stocking, this post is for you.
Get your hands on a free sample ‘real-time’ map and see your Garmin come to life. You can choose a sample map of Graciosa ( off Lanzarote, Canary Islands) or Sierra de Aracena (Andalucia, Spain).
What you’ll get is a highly detailed real-time Tour & Trail digital download map, which you can save on your hard drive, transfer to your Garmin GPS CustomMap memory or onto a micro-SD card; you can also use the maps in Garmin Basecamp and Google Earth.
Alpujarras (Sierra Nevada, Andalucia, southern Spain)
Costa Blanca Mountains (Alicante, southern Spain)
Axarquia (Andalucia, southern Spain)
Sierra de Aracena (Helva province, southern Spain)
Winter is a great time for walking in the Canary Islands. La Gomera is easily reached yet remains wild and natural with breathtaking scenery and the winter weather is usually fresh yet gentle, with plenty of blue skies; though there can be periods of rain it rarely lasts for long.
We thank Pamela and Malcolm Boura for these useful and detailed notes they made on their visit there this December; they were using the guidebook Walk! La Gomera and La Gomera Tour & Trail Map.
All of the new paths and those missing from your map, referred to below, are shown correctly on OpenStreetMap. You may need to use an editor to look at some of the tags for detailed information such as tarmac/unpaved.
Start of walk: OpenStreetMap shows a path running from a little way down the path to La Laja to Wp2. We did not walk this but the west end looks good and it looks clear on aerial photographs. It probably provides an alternative to the road. According to some rather uncertain contours, it adds about 30m of ascent.
Easy route first paragraph: new path avoiding buildings and noisy dogs to Wp5, see OpenStreetMap. Adds a few metres of ascent but is shorter and is the signed route.
We walked the first part of Walk 1 as the start of Walk 2.
If the start of this walk is not in La Laja, part of the descent to and ascent from the village can be avoided by taking a good donkey path, with fine views of the village, which starts as you cross the spur after Wp16 and emerges to rejoin the main route at the last houses of La Laga, where the sculptures are, after Wp2. This good and useful path is not shown on your map. See OpenStreetMap.
We think this walk should be done in reverse with the steeper and rougher paths as ascent and then the long, fast, gentle descent for the return. Climbing up Barranco do los Cocos would also be much safer than going down, especially in rain, as well as giving a better opportunity to appreciate this lovely valley.
The start of this walk in Playa Santiago has changed after recent works on the river bed. Now follow the east bank until scrambling up the road embankment at the end of the track at Wp2. The first zig and zag are tarmac. Alternatively, parking is available at the adjacent rest area.
There is a clear signposted path branching left before Wp7 which leads directly to the new wooden bungalow. This avoids the final part of the climb towards Targa and the short length of road. This good and useful shortcut is not shown on your map.
The track up Barranco del Valle Gran Rey at present can not be accessed from the lane which starts behind the bus station. This may be temporary.
We walked this in reverse and the start in this direction is confusing and needs instructions. Suggest “A few metres after leaving the road, head right up some rough rock cut steps.”
Some of the “path” is washed away crossing the gullies between Wp2 and Wp3. OpenStreetMap shows a path directly from the start to Wp6 which may provide a better alternative.
Just before reaching the road at the top of the barranco, the path goes to the north of the summit. This is not obvious on the ground and it is shown incorrectly on your map. The route shown on your map goes across a steep and dangerous hillside. See OpenStreetMap.
At Wp17, go slightly left across the road to a painted waymark on the crash barrier. The path from there goes directly to the cemetery.
Taking the alternative route in the last paragraph on your walk, turn right down a track just before the dirt track reaches the road. When the track reaches the bamboo, turn left on an overgrown but passable path to emerge on the road where the path entrance is marked by a cairn. NB This is a new road not shown on your map.
See OpenStreetMap for the extra paths and roads.
We very much enjoyed this straight forward walk but where the track junction is shown on your map between Wp7 and Wp8, we took the track forking left which continues as a good signposted path running parallel to your route but avoiding the road. This leads directly to the saddle between Mt Bianca and the masts and then along the ridge to the masts. See OpenStreetMap. We saw the ends of paths that probably bypass the masts to the NE, cutting the corner.
There is a signposted junction to the west of Wp8, at N28 10.802, W17 17.708, but the signpost has been sited sufficiently far from the junction (a few tens of metres east) to be misleading, especially if doing the walk in reverse. This needs checking on the ground before more can be said, as there were signs of a rough path north from the signpost, although I suspect that was due to people that had been misled!
Unfortunately, the dirt track up Barranco de la Palmita has become a tarmac lane for much of its length. See OpenStreetMap for details of which bits (you may need to look at the editor information to get details of the surface).
‘Inspire Our Trip’ on twitter said:-
“Brilliant hike and a great day walk. Thank you Charles Davis for Walk 31.”
Charles Davis is the author of Walk! La Gomera:- see http://www.dwgwalking.co.uk/walkla.htm
It’s in the nature of walking trails that they may become impassable (usually temporarily) due to landslides, flood damage or forest fires. The good news is that nature and/or man usually repair the route before long.
Terry M just sent us this update which affects Walk 13 on the island of La Gomera:-
On 10 February 2014 Terry M wrote:
We tried Walk 13, La Gomera but had to abandon it. A forest fire has made it impossible to follow the directions between waypoints 7,8,9 and 10. The trees are unrecognisable and the path obliterated. Herbs, mostly Cistus, have grown over the whole area and the donkey trail is unrecognisable. Even with GPS we could not find the way and had to retreat to the road.
The island is almost circular and resembles a giant cake cut again and again by dramatic barrancos (ravines) running from centre to sea, topped by an ancient and mysterious laurel forest.
The taster route is Walk 26, ‘Las Mimbreras’, offering a tantalising sample of the island’s adventures. Here’s a map section of the route.
Find your free walk here:- http://www.dwgwalking.co.uk/walkla.htm