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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

20 January 2017

On the edge of the land

Vallehermosa - means lovely valley

Vallehermosa – means lovely valley

13th January 2017

Last hike on La Gomera! And the weather, which has been so strange and variably wonderful throughout the week, has reset back to day one: clear blue skies overhead, the odd poofy cloud, but a haze upon the sea that means Tenerife and 4km high El Teide isn’t even visible a few miles away to the east. I’d assume in the summertime its all a bit more predictable, but the daily changes are fascinating. You also get a much clearer sense of the difference that altitude makes on these small spiky islands; a pleasant T-shirt-wearing 21 degrees down in the Vallehermosa valley near sea level, and a very parky 10 degrees only a few kms away up at 1,200m near Garajonay!

Heading up the valley

Heading up the valley

Today we started in the little town of Vallehermosa, a bit like Hermigua but less strung out, and we hiked up a beautiful rural valley higher and higher until we crested the ridge at the top and found ourselves on the very north-west tip of the island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Which we couldn’t really see much of, because of the haze, but hey. It was still beautiful.

We stopped off at the abandoned village of Chijere, even more obvious evidence of the rapid decline in the island’s old agricultural economy, then started the very steep and gravelly descent to the beach at the foot of the Vallehermosa valley. And so for the first and only time during our week in the Canary Islands, we hit the beach and dipped our toes in the ocean. It was cold but ever-so refreshing after all those hours of trampling. Five minutes was enough, we turned inlands and trekked back up the valley to Vallehermosa and a well-earned ice cream.

At the end of the land

At the end of the land

La Gomera is quite literally the perfect island for walkers. I’ve waxed lyrical about the beautiful landscape, but the most amazing thing is the quality of the trails. On absolutely every one of our hikes there hasn’t been the slightest chance of missing our way and getting lost. Most of the steep sections have had steps built in, indeed many of them are almost paved! The secret is that these are the “caminos real” – the royal roads, built hundreds of years ago by local people who needed to be able to walk from one mountain village to another. And because the shortest route between these villages is typically way too steep for a car, most of the modern roads have been built along different (and more circuitous) routes, so the ancien
Signposts everywhere

Signposts everywhere

t “roads” are preserved intact. They’re wonderful. Although I probably wouldn’t have wanted to pop to the next village just for a pint of milk, given how my legs feel after a couple of hours on these mountainous paths!

More than that, we scarcely needed the maps in our walk book either. At pretty much any junction of trails, and in any village, there are nice clear signposts especially for walkers, telling them what places and villages lie in either directions. You really would have to be trying very hard to get lost.

Oh! But poor toad car. When we got back to the car park, someone had scraped their car right along the back bumper. They left a note on the windscreen, but our Spanish being not up to much and our damage waiver insurance in place, we didn’t bother calling. One last supper at Tasca Telemaco and we raise a glass to La Gomera – the island where there is quite literally nothing else to do but hike, and yet the hiking is quite literally breathtaking.



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