Gambolling around Gran Canaria

I have completed the GR131 (cross island trails) on four of the Canary Islands – Lanzarote, Tenerife, La Palma and La Gomera, still three more to go ……, and this weekend my buddy Lucy and I are headed to Gran Canaria to knock off no. 5.

Day 1 – Agaete to Tamadaba – 1200m up, 12km

We arrived in Gran Canaria at lunchtime after a long flight from London. We took a cab to Agaete to get started. There were 40kph winds but the sun was shining. The paths were lovely and relentlessly uphill, zigzagging up through the scrub and cactus on a rocky slope. The views down the sea on the South Coast were stunning.

The path meandered around some vertigo-ing paths along the sides of steep hills, and then up a very long and beautifully maintained set of mules paths to enter the forest at about 1100m. It is a kind of odd feeling climbing out of the desert to enter the pine forest, I am used to climbing through the forest and then out of the tree line.

The path got a little more gentle in the forest and we meandered through lovely trees, which seem to be recovering from the 2019 fire, and passed the Camping ground.

Eventually we hit the road and we arrived at our pick up spot for the taxi 1h45m early. We called Carlos the cabby and he said he was en route. Unfortunately we didn’t realise he was coming from San Mateo – 45 mins away. Unfortunate as we were in 40kph winds with zero shelter. It was bloody freezing. I have never been happier to see a taxi.

Waiting for Carlos

It was a 30 minute ride on windy mountain roads to arrive at the lovely and warm Parador de Cruz de Tejeda where Lucy and I both had long showers to thaw out. And then we hit the restaurant to load up on calories :-).

Day 2 – Tamadaba to Cruz de Tejeda – 1000m up, 15km

We had arranged for Carlos’s buddy to come and get us at the hotel and take us back to yesterday’s end point. She was due at 8am and we had prepaid for breakfast which started at 7.45, so Lucy and I made a valiant effort to eat a lot of bacon and down a lot of coffee and also added some extra treats to the backpacks for later (donuts omelette and banana for me, Frosties donuts and Nesquik for Lucy). It was tough to leave the hotel as it was pissing with rain with zero visibility

When we arrived back at Tamadaba after the cab ride, I was reminded of yesterday’s wind as was almost blown off my feet when I exited the cab. Lucy and I swiftly got under the trees and from there it was a pretty lovely up and down stroll through the trees to the mountain village of Artenara

We luckily found a cafe that was open and ducked in out of the wind for a quick cafe con leche

From artenara to Cruz it was an amazing hike up and along the edge of a steep cliff. The views over Roque Nubio were spectacular when the clouds lifted from time to time.

We made it up to about 1600m before the rain really started again in earnest and there were a few gusty moments hanging on to the path around the cliffs

We had some lovely fall foliage at the top of the hill. The most remarkable thing about these islands is how much variety there is in the terrain

We arrived back at the hotel in just under four hours, cold and wet and with no views. I persuaded Lucy to abandon our plan to walk further and instead enjoy a longer day 3 with the sun out (the forecast was good).

We had a lazy afternoon reading and watching mountaineering movies and then a light dinner (as we were still stuffed from last night.

Day 3 – Cruz de Tejeda to Ayagaures – 800m up, 28km

We were up at 6.45 and on the way out the door with headtorches on. It was freezing and there were still 40kph winds but we could see the views. The first grunt up to Morro de la Armonia more than woke us up, and we enjoyed the views out to Roque Nubio for about an hour and a half including fro the lovely Degollada Becerra – at that point the sun was hiting the top of the rock.

Freezing dawn start

From there we meandered through the forest down to Llanos de Garanon, past some keen campers in their tents and then we headed up to Degollada de Hornos at 1730m where we had a break for a coffee and breakfast (banana and hot cross buns for me, frosties for lucy).

Heading up to Degollada de Hornos
Degollada de Hornos

From the Degollada we transitioned from stunning high pine forests out into red rock wild west. The descent down to Cruz Grande was an epic well engineered mule path. There must have been a hiking outing, as after seeing noone all morning, we passed c. 100 people of all shapes, ages and sizes grunting up the hill and they were all super friendly and saying ‘buen camino’ as they walked past. It was a truly stunning walk down the hill with amazing views down to Tunte.

The mule path down to Cruz Grande
The roads near Tunte

We reached Tunte after 4 hours (the guide book said 6 so we were happy), and we stopped in the town square for a hot dog, a spanish omelette and some fish croquettes. I turned down (but kinda wanted) the local coffee – made with licor 43, coffee, milk and condensed milk – it looked yum

‘Light’ lunch in Tunte

After that we headed out of Tunte on some not lovely roads for c. 4km, and then we grunted up another epic mule path to the stunning Degollada de la Manzanilla which was absolutely stunning

Winding mule path up to Degollada de la Manzanilla

From the Degollada it was a long and rocky trail along vertiginous paths that towered above the forest with amazing views until we hit Ayagaures – which did take longer than we thought. The book said 5 hours, it took us a little over 3 but we were pretty tired when we got there.

We scarffed an icecream and waited for our taxi to take us down to Maspalomas – not a place I wanted to go but there was nowhere to stay in Ayagaures so off we went. Maspalomas is overrun with british packaged tourists, and Lucy and I were in a hilarious but cheap holiday village for the night

Day 4 Ayagaures to Maspalomas – 18km

I read the description of the today’s route and was pretty uninspired.  It was all on the road, and the last 6km were though busy town roads.  Hmmmm.  To be honest I was only doing it as I am too much of a ‘completer’ to not finish the coast to coast trail 

We got a taxi at 7am back to the church in Ayagaures and started the steep walk up the hill.  The sun was coming up and our calves were creaking.    The views were nice but the road was hard.  

Looking down to Ayagaures
Sunrise over the hill
Letterboxes at Pedro Gonzalez

After about 8km we reached Montana de dato and stopped to make a coffee beside the road.   It was sunny and lovely but the car traffic had increased and it was slightly hairy with the cars narrowly missing our butts (there were no footpaths.)  

We were both dreading the hot dusty road walk from aqua land into town so after 12km we flagged down a taxi for the last 6km stretch into town.   We were glad we did, and celebrated with a coffee and a Coke and ham and omelette on the sea front

To make up for the lost miles we instead strolled through the dunes at Maspalomas – which turned out to be more brutal than the road – the wind was up and we took a sand hammering.  There was a fair amount of rubbish too, and more than a smattering of aging nudists.  Not the visual highlights I was going for.    

I wouldn’t recommend today’s hike, next time I would probably do three days overall – day 1 from agaete to Cruz de tejeda, day 2 looping around tejeda to Roque nubio, day 3 to ayagaures. 

Next stop Fuerteventura 

Maspalomas, December 5, 2021


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