GR 130 - Las Tricias to El Roque 4.4 km

A short walk indeed which was just as well since progress at the start of the walk was very slow with the camera clicking away like a kookaburra. It was all just too lovely.
We had already walked from Santo Domingo to Las Tricias some time ago – was it last year or the year before ... who knows ... and had already walked from El Roque to Tijarafe earlier this year, so this was a bit of filling in of a missed section of the GR130.
Our original intention was to walk from El Roque, then through Puntagorda and return to Las Tricas since on another previous walk, we had lost the GR130 route in Puntagorda so we wanted to tackle it the other way. However, the bus we hoped to catch in Las Tricias to take us to El Roque had other ideas and failed to stop for us – what happened to the request stop idea where you just put your hand up and the bus driver stops? Not so in Las Tricias! Maybe it was because it was the 'big' bus and not the 'micro' or the fact that we were not stood in the best place for a large bus to stop. Though best places for large buses are in short supply around here!
Anyway, it was time for plan B – we would walk the other way instead.

Las Tricias is without doubt a place full of charm but on our last visit, it was impossible to park as cars were strewn everywhere as their occupants pulled boots on, got maps out and strode off along the various paths. Happily, today was not the weekend and other walkers were mercifully few.
Pleased to be walking sooner than we had expected, we headed up the path along the GR130. Almost immediately, the camera was out – what a lovely drago!

Oh, and a fantastic huge cactus just by it, and chickens .... and lovely houses lining a cobbled road. It was going to be very slow going at this rate.
Soon the houses gave way to a woodland path and we slowly wound our way down into the barranco.

At the bottom of the barranco, we encountered the usual cairn (little stack of stones) or 'stone man' as the Dutch call them. But we didn't need any help from this stoney little guy and his role was confined to more of the meet and greet variety.
Still by our new friend, we stopped to admire how a tree was growing with its roots apparently plastered on the outside of the cliff face in the ravine – and look at the view upward; this is where we would be climbing back up again and it looked a long way off!

Maybe it was because we weren't yet tired, or the fact that we took the camera out many times, or that we talked and ambled our way up, or that it wasn't terrifically hot but we neared the top with remarkable ease.
Here we discovered with interest that this section had the benefit of new wooden rails. We remember trying to walk down here a few years ago when it was so slippery and steep with loose stones that we actually changed our mind and headed off in the opposite direction. The new railings are not quite as necessary if you are heading up the Puntagorda side of the barranco, but sliding down is another matter. Now it is much safer.
At the top, we passed the shrine and popped up on the main road. Here we admired the map board at the side of the road and then crossed over the road onto the forestry track. Now we were walking on red dust! That's the great thing about the GR130, it is ever changing and can hardly ever be accused of being boring.

The route took us straight past the 'Centro de Naturaleza La Rosa' campsite. You can look them up on the web if you are interested in camping – it's all very much on an eco basis (including the toilets.) Maybe one day we will camp there ...
After passing some more interesting houses with little orchards stuffed full of orange and lemon trees, we reached the main road again and crossed over into Puntagorda. Now we needed to be especially alert not to get lost. When we came to the nursery with rows of carnation pinks (or similar) growing, we wondered if we should perhaps take a left, after all there was nothing to say if we should go left here or continue on down the path. So we tried it only to discover that the two paths met again after a very short time. Easier though to continue on down past the carnations.
Now we had to make another decision. At the next junction we found a red dot on the low stone wall – the red dot being one of the many previous ways of marking the GR130 route. Now, as I pointed out, the red dot was technically on the side road so that should be the road we take. But on closer inspection, we discovered a faded red and white X painted on the opposite wall a little further down. OK then – onward, not on the side road!

At the end of the road, we at last discovered where we had gone wrong before We had in fact gone straight on but now saw that there was an obvious 'go left' painted on the road. Maybe we can blame the man who helpfully told us that the road down to the right was sin salida, without exit, and that we should go straight ahead. Motto: be aware of helpful strangers (it wasn't his fault really, we had missed the 'go left' symbol before!)
Now the route apparently took us through someone's garden, complete with a cute little rock-bordered path, beautiful roses, wooden post with the GR130 sign and all. How accommodating of them!
Full of confidence that we had navigated our way through the many paths and little roads that make up a rambling Puntagorda, we came to a side road again and took little persuasion to dive up a pretty path at the side of a house opposite. But with no sign of confirmation, we became dubious once more that this was the way. And five minutes later and entangled in a bean teepee, we deduced this was not the way. A return to the road then and heading upwards we once more saw the trusty red and white stripe painted on a side wall, albiet rather faded and far from the junction.

In what seemed like two minutes later we had arrived in El Roque where we admired the little closed shop which helpfully had the opening times in Spanish, German and English (open 08.00 to 14.00 and 17.00 to 20.00, closed on Saturdays from 14.00).
Now, with no bus imminently due, all we had to do was to ring for the local Puntagorda taxi to take us back to the start point (922493178).

That was fun!



Sunday morning ... what do you do? Go for a little stroll of course.

I know I am completely biased but one of my favourite short walks is right on our doorstep. There is nothing finer than to set off to the village for a walk and as it happens, this is also part of the GR130.
We head off down the donkey track at the side of the finca and in just seven minutes, we arrive at this point in the photo where the path joins the ashfalt La Fajana road.

Heading up the road and just a couple of minutes later, the GR130 takes us off the road again, to go down a narrow concreted track. This is the walking sign at this point -

We follow this path along and after another five or so minutes it brings us to what we call the 'dingly dell' - and I am in paradise. It's a place that time forgot - a little hollow, or dell, with palm trees, dragon trees and tiny dwellings with wooden roofs. It looks like it has long been deserted and I often think I would like to go for a wander around in it but you can't help but notice the tidy rows of corn and potatoes growing in the miniature fields. If the houses have been left to their own devices, the land is certainly being tended to.
Heading back up the other side of the dell, we pass a natural spring in the rocks where water is collected in a stone pool. The dwellings might have been basic but they had running water, albeit of the outside variety.

Now we pop back up on the road and the area of Los Machines, this being the nearest thing we have to a village. (There isn't an actual village of Franceses - it is an area incorporating Las Tierras, Los Machines, Los Castros and the port village of La Fajana.) The little village school is here along with what you might laughingly call the pub (old men playing dominoes), the old peoples' home, the bus stop (although the bus will obligingly stop wherever you like) and the old school which is now used for various village type pursuits (loom weaving, internet and laying out of the recently deceased prior to internment in the cemetery of Franceses). But all oddities aside, it is the crazy width of the village street I love most. I mean - it's OK for two donkeys passing, but two cars - oh no, no, no.

Now here's the catch - if you are walking the GR130 in an anti-clockwise direction around La Palma, you are almost sure to miss out on the dingly dell. If you are walking in a clockwise direction, fine, you will see the nice big GR130 walking sign as in the second photo above. But there is nothing to tell you from the other direction and you will end up walking on the road. Whilst this will take you past the village shop which also doubles as a bar (open indeterminate times but usually on request) you will now have completely lost the GR130.
So, just to make sure, here's what you do - when heading east-west, ie from Barlovento direction, come through the narrow village street and after the last building and opposite the current school (which has a lovely mural painted by the children),immediately dive off the road. You will now find yourself in the dingliest dell you ever saw. Look out for the spring on your left not far down - and no picking of vegetables!


GR 130 - San Nicolas to Los Llanos 10.5 km

Normally we walk the GR 130 route in an anti-clockwise direction but this time we set off in a clockwise direction – the reason being that we couldn't find where the recently re-routed GR 130 left Los Llanos. Oh yes, that old trick.

Our start point was the Bodegon La Tamanca (Tel: 922462155 for reservations if you want a great meal in an unusual setting) just south of San Nicholas. The reason we started at the bodegon is that we already walked from the bodegon to lighthouse at the southernmost tip some time ago with a walking group from Breña Alta.

Our first problem was of course finding a GR130 walking sign from out of San Nicholas. Oh well, we would just follow the road for a while since the map showed the route crossing the road in San Nicholas.

After passing through San Nicholas (no good asking at the shop there – locals never seem to know where the GR130 is and why should they) we at last came upon a sign. It indicated that, apart from Montaña de las Toscas being 30.7 km away – something we hardly wanted to know since that lies just south of Mazo halfway around the otherside of the island - we should head up to the right along a steep, boring road in the general direction not of Los Llanos. This didn't feel right but we trudged on up the hill anyway.

Nope – we really were not going in the right direction and so we returned to back to the road and followed it some more heading straight ahead for Los Llanos. In the distance we eventually saw the good old red and gold sign indicating that we should leave the road and head down an almost parallel track.

And of course we realised then if we had obeyed the first sign, it would have brought us out at this very point. Mmm, think our way was better!!

After that it was plain sailing along easy track. Yay!! How nice to be able to 'switch off' and just amble along a fairly flat track of what I presume was the original road. Ah - lucky for those houses when the new road was built! But we did brush with the road a couple of times but with so little traffic on La Palma, it was hardly a problem. Here, as you can see in the photo, we are on the main road but the scenery is still beautiful.

The thing I love about walking the GR130 is that you think you might know what it is going to be like - but I can assure you that you will always see something you have never seen before and bear in mind that we have lived on the island for eight years now. I have never seen this paddle cactus and here it was growing in someone's front garden.

Two and a half hours later, we were intruiged to discover where we would enter Los Llanos. It turns out that we could stay intruiged as we lost the route just where it was getting interesting and had to back track.

So here is the bit you are dying to know – how to find the GR130 as you leave Los Llanos for the south -

On the main dual carraigeway road of Los Llanos, head down the road with the petrol station on the corner (it's called Calle General Yague).
Take the left fork (not left turn) called Calle Pedro Miguel Hdez. Camancho
Continue down this road until you come to a T-juntion.
Take a left
Follow road until you come to a turn off to the right called Camino Malpais de Triana
Now you will see the GR130 walking sign again.