Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Pennine Way 2015 Slideshow

When I walked the Pennine Way in 2015, I never really took much video footage except on the day from Middleton in Teesdale to Dufton. I recently made a video using this footage that can be found here

I did however take many photographs throughout the entire hike and this slideshow is a selection of some of the best shots.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Tenerife - A Walker's Paradise

Tenerife?, 'Why would you want to live there' asked my inquisitor incredulously. I smiled inwardly as I thought of the myriad reasons for living in my adopted island and replied simply, 'because the walking is fantastic'.  'Really, but I love green hills and forests' continued the female walker who was now warming to her subject, 'and the seasons', she added. 'So do I' I replied, 'I get all of those things and much more as well as a brilliant climate to enjoy it all in'. My inquisitor looked unsure and moved off to find another walker to quiz who wore sensible leather walking boots and lived somewhere, well, more 'normal'. 

This encounter actually took place while walking the Coast to Coast walk in the UK with my wife in 2017 but this type of reaction is not untypical when talking with many walkers who have swallowed the common misconception that Tenerife and the other Canary Islands are simply a place to go when you want some winter sun or to lie by a pool or beach all day. 

This idea is largely a British one however, the Germans and Scanadinavians have been hiking in the Canaries for decades but it has taken the British a lot longer to catch on. Tenerife is the largest of the islands, which are Spanish and therefore part of the EU. I first arrived here on a typical sun and sangria holiday in the mid-nineties and was instantly fascinated by the weird and wonderful landscapes. 

My first sight of the Las Cañadas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to Mt. Teide, Spain's highest mountain and the third largest volcano on the planet, was nothing short of a revelation. My eyes popped as I tried to drink in the awesome otherwordliness of the place. 'I'm coming back next year to climb that', I said to my wife, and climb it I did. On a windy day, I climbed steeply through the harsh, volcanic terrain, puffing and blowing my way to the top in the ever thinning air as the sulphurous fumes assailed my nostrils. Eventually, I sat alone on the summit, like the king of the world, looking far, far below to the coast and into the twisted, contorted caldera that housed Spain's highest peak and decided I wanted to live in this awesome place. 

Since then, and having lived on the island for eleven years, I have explored all over the island and come to love the kaleidoscopic variety of terrain on offer to the walker. I doubt there can be anywhere else on the planet where so much is packed into such a small place. From the aforementioned Teide, the Las Cañadas National Park, at 17 kilometres in diameter, is one of the worlds largest calderas and is an awesome high altitude volcanic desert surrounded my stark, jagged mountains, the remains of a much larger volcano that collapsed leaving behind the giant caldera.

The rest of the island is a smorgasbord of walking terrains, from ancient laurel cloud forests of the beautiful Anaga and Teno ranges, to the Corona Forestal pine forests, dry semi-desert terrains, volcanic coastline, awesome ravines and pretty villages.  If you are familiar with the various micro-climates on the island, it is also possible most of the time, to select the weather you would like to walk in. Because of this, I hardly ever walk in heavy rain. 

I have encountered similar opinions to my inquisitor's many times, often accompanied by a 'sniffy', 'it's just Blackpool with sun, isn't it', type comment. Often, when I explain that there is nowhere in Tenerife as gauche as Blackpool and that it only takes minutes to escape the resorts and get into the real island, the reaction is usually a negative one. Once misconceptions are entrenched, it's difficult to change people minds. I've learnt to take this with a pinch of salt however. After all, a foreign visitor to the UK, having only visited Blackpool would go home with a similar opinion unaware that the Lake District lay just a few miles inland. It's just a shame that so many visitors to this fantastic island never venture beyond the confines of their 'Blackpool with sun' misconceptions.