Behind Spain’s Costa Blanca with its tourist resorts lies a mountainous region waiting to be explored.
When you’ve had enough of beaches, turn and look inland. Those rugged peaks are more accessible then you might assume. First impressions might suggest an arid, austere region; prepare to be surprised.
But, once you make the decision to explore on foot, bike or horseback, you’ll find green valleys between the rocky peaks. Villages and hamlets nestle in the mountain folds.
Today it was announced that the British Government is “looking afresh” at our National Parks which could lead to new additions to the 15 currently designated (the official website is HERE).
In the meantime, I wonder how many of our existing National Parks you’ve visited, and which is your favourite. One of the finest of the existing National Parks (in this author’s opinion) is Brecon Beacons.
It’s a beautiful and rewarding place to walk, where high peaks hide glacial lakes in ancient moorland, while man-made reservoirs and canals blend with their natural surroundings, and waterfalls cascade down secret gorges and canals.
Castles, churches and monasteries bear witness to the rich history and heritage that can be experienced while walking in this unique area of natural beauty.
“The steepest island in the world, the deepest crater, the clearest skies: volcanoes you can climb without being shot into orbit; a subtropical forest minus the slimy things slinking up your trouser leg; black beaches, blue seas, high mountains, vegetation that is literally flamboyant, everything linked by 1080 kilometres of waymarked paths, and all virtually untouched by tourism.” (Author/researcher Charles Davis)
More clues? Okay then – it takes under 5 hours to fly there from the UK. It’s a whole lot warmer and sunnier than most of northern Europe, definitely so for more than half the year. Sometimes it is referred to as, ‘La Isla Bonita’.
So, have you guessed the location of this alluring destination? Check if you are correct, or give in and find out by looking HERE.
Ah, Madeira! It’s an island that draws visitors back again and again, with its unique plant life, a wide range of wonderful walking from strolls to challenging mountain routes, and a benign climate, making it a year-round destination.
One of the best things about walking here is the sheer variety of routes. If you want gentle, level paths, there are many levada-side routes taking you through lush, natural green scenery. Mountain-lovers have a wealth of inspiring options to choose from. You want views? Wild flowers? Unspoilt villages? Short strolls? Challenging all-day routes? They’re all here.
Madeiran island authorities are well aware of the importance of walking to many of their visitors and do a great job of maintaining routes, keeping them open and safe.
If you’re thinking of a visit to the island, you’ll get much more value from your visit with a good guide book and map in your pocket. Have a look HERE for recommendations.
Last weekend, the Sunday Times Travel called this ‘the forgotten corner of Spain’. Not forgotten by us! (read the Sunday Times article here though you will need to sign in (free) to read it).
We were intrigued by the Sierra de Aracena (Huelva), north-west of Seville, several years back while looking for lesser-known walking areas of Spain.
- It’s green, natural, not too rugged and with fascinating villages and small towns.
- There are inquisitive herds of pigs, wonderful flora and a laid-back air.
- Little rustic bars and restaurants serve local foods at pocket-money prices.
- There are castles and a sense of history, with the Moorish legacy clearly apparent.
- The walking isn’t too vigorous overall though many routes will whip up a healthy appetite for sampling those hearty home-made dishes.
If you’re intrigued, find out what to see, where to stay and what to do (other than walking): HERE’s a USEFUL LINK.
Which Mediterranean holiday island destination has no traffic lights?
Got the answer yet? No? Here’s a few more clues:
- The island is 19km long
- There are plenty of white, clean natural beaches. (Look here for beach information.)
- It has no airport
- There are no fast-food places
- There are no discos
- Residents are unmoved by celebrity visits (for example, recent visits from Kate Moss, Jade Jagger, Philippe Starck , Naomi Campbell)
The answer is Formentera, Ibiza’s little sister.
Despite its laid back ambience there are some great places to stay (and eat). See this article from the New York Times.
There’s a great highly-detailed map of Formentera (a short ferry ride from Balearic island Ibiza) – for details of the map look here.
The Telegraph Travel 15.12.17) wrote an article entitled ‘15 beautiful villages in Spain you’ve probably never heard of‘
What a place to walk! Spring is a great time to visit. There’s likely to be snow on the mighty peaks to the north, while Spring flowers burst through on the lower slopes and in the valleys.
Tenerife is a fantastic choice for walkers, as the island offers a huge number of walks in a wide variety of terrains, with choices for all levels of fitness and endurance.
While this is great, it also throws up a problem when researching and putting together a comprehensive walking guidebook that’s portable. Some walks had to be left out of later editions of Walk! Tenerife, but many walkers let us know that they wanted them back.
Now Discovery Walking Guides has revisited some of their early and easily accessed southern routes that many walkers remember with fondness. These have been compiled into a free pdf book. The routes are ideal for families as they are not too challenging and are easy to reach from the resort areas. Tenerife South pdf walking book is free to download.
After all the turkey, pud, mince pies and drinks, wouldn’t it feel good to get out in the fresh air and get moving?
If you’re in reach of the Malvern Hills you’re spoilt for walking choices. How about climbing the Worcestershire Beacon? It only takes an hour and a half, ending at a café at St. Ann’s Well. It’s a circular walk so you end up back at your transport.
Or perhaps a delightful, gentle stroll that skirts Midsummer Hill then climbs to the landmark obelisk in Eastnor Park before descending to Eastnor village?
Field and woodland paths drop us close to Ledbury and a charming back route through the town to The Market House.
It’s a 2 hour linear walk with taxis available at the end if needed; just the right length to get moving again post-Christmas.
Thanks go to David L, just back from walking (and golfing) on the Canary Island of La Gomera. He’s been there before and knows the walking pretty well, and has sent us a detailed review of some of the walks he did (self-adapted in part) using Walk! La Gomera guidebook and La Gomera Tour & Trail map along with digital mapping which he accessed on his smart phone.
Here’s part of David’s walking report:
On 18 December 2017 at 20:24 David L wrote:
“Where? La Gomera – Jardin Tecina Hotel
We did three – or perhaps more accurately, 2.5. We took golf clubs and tennis rackets, too – and my wife is not a bad walker, but not as keen as I am.
We were looking for walks with the least amount of travelling possible, avoiding those with vertigo warnings, and ideally, in the sun.
The walks we did were:
- Playa Santiago to Targa With Variation (Walk 10)
- Degollada de Peraza to San Sebastian (Walk 1)
- Playa Santiago – Baja de Guane – El Aguila – La Trinchera – Playa Santiago (Short Walk)
- Navigational Aids
All walks were undertaken with benefit of the digital version of the Tour & Trail Map on iphone via Memory Map, and hard copy print of the relevant area – one side with route marked – the other unmarked. Full hard copy Tour & Trail Map and Walk! La Gomera Book taken but not referred to en route.
Previous visits/walks have been in February and December. In comparison, the countryside was far more burnt up on this occasion, with virtually no greenery, and noticeably warmer than Christmas, but cooler than Feb. We have had NE Alisio weather patterns on previous visits, but, on this occasion, the wind was between south and west.
4.1 Playa Santiago To Targa With Variation (Walk 10)
I had done this walk twice previously, so knew roughly what was involved. The part through the former cultivation terraces is probably fair enough for one experience but, in my view, not more.
So we headed up your down route, which was hot work in mid 20s C, but OK.
The route to the climb up the Playa Santiago cliff is completely different to the map – but more similar to the blow up on the reverse.
Had lunch in the shade close to the FRANCISCO DIAZ BARROSO NAMEPLATE Waypoint. Waypoint beyond this particularly useful as otherwise not clear when to head up the hill to the right – though clearer looking back on it.
Turned left to Targa itself and then along a couple of paths to Alajero. Bar where second path joins road up from Playa Santiago closed. Turned off into central Alajero, where found an open bar with Bus Stop opposite. Perfect! Bus turned up on time and dropped us off by Jardin Tecina for next to nothing.
Conclusion on 1. I think the route we did is better than the one in the book – but I was looking for something different to the route through the cultivation terraces. Probably worth including as an alternative. The variation at the top was not planned in advance, but evolved when we got there.
The leg adjacent to the stream south of Targa is tricky/ steep sided in places with few foot/handholds.
An unexpected hazard was the local authority painting some of the bus stop benches – but not warning of this! My wife wrote off a pair of trousers! Not sure whether this is a seasonal event!
Overall, an enjoyable and rewarding walk. Nice to get up into the cool – and amongst some genuine village life.
4.2 Degollada de Peraza to San Sebastian (Walk 1)
This is one of the more accessible walks from Jardin Tecina without vertigo risk- although, by analysis of non-vertigo walks, I have since found a more accessible one, at least to start.
We had toyed with which is gazetted as a’ vertigo trial’ but I had done the bottom 75% of this on my own on a previous visit, and had backed off when I reached a very sheer slope; furthermore, a section of this looked very sheer on Google Earth. It also looked pretty aggressive from the top of Degollada de Peraza.
Up here, we were in cloudy conditions, but the cloud base was well above us.
Shortly after the start, there was no observable issue with the landslide you mention. The path is quite steep sided in places and flat sided in others. Throughout the first 75 % or so, it is dominated by views of the main road from San Sebastian up to Degollada – and traffic noise from it, which was a pity.
On the plus side, we had some good views, and encountered a watchful raven, which I had not previously seen on the island.
The run down into San Sebastian was hard work, along a made up but very uneven ‘donkey’ track.
To return, we had the options of buses or the Fred. Olsen Ferry. We chose the latter, to give us a chance to relax a bit, an opportunity to see this section of coast, and avoid the lengthy/somewhat tedious road route.
We enjoyed the ferry ride, albeit that it was late starting by half an hour, it appeared because of a mechanical issue.
Conclusion on 2. We enjoyed the walk, but were disappointed by the main road/traffic noise impact and the extent of uneven donkey tracks on the descent. Probably good for anyone to do once, but I do not think we would do it again.
4.3 Playa Santiago – Baja de Guane – El Aguila – La Trinchera – Playa Santiago (Short Walk)
This was really a ‘fill in’ while my wife wanted to sunbathe – which I cannot do. I have a friend who has a holiday Property Bond Investment and had stayed at ‘Balcon de Santa Anna’ – and wanted to have a look at this – and the walk round the cliffs outside shown on the map looked interesting.
All went according to plan – having your map on my iphone proved ever useful, as I was not sure how long I was along the walk, on several occasions. Good views of the cliffs and breaking seas – and a pleasantly made up path. Also a short link at the end down to Playa Santiago.
Conclusion on 3. An enjoyable and worthwhile short walk which it might be worth mentioning.
- Overall Conclusion On Walks
We expanded our horizons – though did not visit the Valle Gran Rey/El Cercado area this time.
We enjoyed our walks – which were much aided by your materials and, particularly, the digital functions, which had either not been available or we hadn’t been aware of before. The map on the iphone with the flashing curser and marked waypoints really is a massive help.
We were surprised how warm the weather was – particularly having experienced quite a cool Christmas here once. The countryside was much the most frazzled we had ever seen it.
I am quite a keen bird watcher. I missed the plain swifts over the mountains and villages, normally in abundance. On checking, I see they return to Africa for November and most of December. On the plus side, we had a hoopoe in the hotel grounds, where there were singing chiffchaff and blackcap, and the aforementioned raven.
I attach copies of our tracks, in case of interest. As your book suggests, we took a good bit longer than you did! I also include some vehicle/ferry tracks and one round of the golf course, in case of interest. The speed the ferries travel at is notable – and the time saving from San Sebastian to Playa Santiago by sea, as opposed to land. The golf round was quicker than for an average UK course – because the hole sequence was downhill?”
Thanks David! User feedback is like gold!