The Ancient Laurisilva forest of Los Tilos, La Palma

It seems like a very long time since we 'hit the trail' and so, by way of mixing a walk with a little education, we decided upon a visit to the Los Tilos Visitor Centre and a walk through the ancient Laurisilva Forest, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Although it's not so long since we were at the Centre, a quick (or long) visit is a very good reminder as to what this walk is all about because it is not just your average a to b walk with some good views along the way. No, this is the sort of walk that takes you back in history - to something like the Tertiary age millions of years ago. After that, most laurisilva forests disappeared except in Madiera, the Azores and the Canary Islands.  Even then, the laurisilva forest of Los Tilos in La Palma is rather special as it is the best example in the Canary Islands.
So who were we to begrudge a few steps (and there are rather a lot) up through the forest as we headed to the Mirador de las Barandas?  Quite.  And of course there are some flat bits. 
Just as we were beginning to think that the steps went on forever, it was with some surprise that we suddenly reached our first way-point of the Mirador de la Banaderos some 40 minutes from the start.  Here, a selection of rustic picnic tables invited us for a sit down in the shade or a drink at the nearby water fountain.  But no, a look at the view and then onward.
After the ascent to the mirador, the route was much kinder in the form of a pretty forest track, lined with the gigantic ferns that Los Tilos is so famous for. 
In fact, each fern was easily as tall and wide as us so it really was a walk in the land of the giants.  
One thing I love about the walks on La Palma is not just the challenge, the views and the interest value - but also seeing the 'signs through the ages.'  This route, along with many walks on La Palma, has recently been re-signposted and is now designated as the PR-LP 9.1 and it is almost always very easy to follow. Along with the posts, there are still one or two of the rustic old signs and if you peer into the undergrowth at the occasional junction, then you will most likely spot the walking blaze to confirm that you are literally on track or the painted 'X' sign to tell you that this is not the way to go. The new signs for the walks don't look at all out of place and are very clear.
Great though to just wander along the path and enjoy the views, especially on a bright and sunny day.  But also good to see that, if the weather is less kind, there are some man-made caves which did look inviting. 
And then we got to the fun bit - probably what you least expect in a forest - a water gallery, pumping station and a railway train to play with.  OK, the train part isn't there any more apart from the old dolly but the tracks certainly are, along with the wheels which still run up and down. Oh yes ... we did!
After that bit of excitement, it was a short ascent along the forest trail again before reaching open ground and the view of La Laguna - the largest reservoir in the Canaries.  Here it seemed that all manner of different things were growing together, including cactus, apple trees and some wonderful fungi that reminded me of chocolate profiteroles piled up. 
After this, we were into open farmland with the forest behind us and La Laguna growing steadily closer.  Good to know that once at La Laguna we could pause for an ice-cream at the restaurant Las Goteras or if needs get a taxi into Barlovento.  But no, best keep on walking towards the town where we would catch the bus back to our start point.  
* This walk forms part of our luggage-transported, self-guided walking holiday on La Palma. 


A short walk through the woods

Step by step, La Palma is improving all of its 1000km + of trails and tracks around the island.  It's a mammoth task of course, not just clearing and marking the paths but maintaining them as well.  And I am happy to say that the vast majority of the work has been completed and our walkers are mightily impressed with the walks on La Palma and how clearly they are marked.
However, it seems that even the smallest paths have not been forgotten and just last week we discovered that the path between Hotel Romantica and the town of Barlovento in the north east of La Palma has been reclaimed.
It is a very short stretch admittedly and only takes around 7 minutes, but it is immensely better than walking on the road which not only takes longer but is less than ideal with no footpath. The result is that walkers and hotel guests can enjoy walking on this small woodland trail between the hotel and the GR130 route around La Palma as it crosses through Barlovento town with its shops and many facilities. 
And I must say, it is surprising how even the shortest little trail can be a bit of fun - and don't forget to watch out for the selection of pygmy chickens and cockerels that inhabit the woods.


Self-guided walks on La Palma

For the last few years, we've been increasingly involved in not just holiday accommodation but also walking holidays.  Mind you, I suppose you could say that ever since we started to rent out accommodation on La Palma, we've been involved in walking on the island both for our own personal enjoyment and as a source of information and advice to guests.
And now we are finding that guests - those who are into walking and let's not forget that not everybody is - are looking for self-guided walking holidays on a more organised basis.
So ... by popular demand ... we are pleased to be able to offer two types of walking holiday on La Palma.

 Firstly, there is the two-centre option where your accommodation is at the bed and breakfast here at the finca in Franceses, the north of La Palma and then at a self-catering apartment in Tazacorte.  A day-by-day walking plan is provided along with full route descriptions and map. 
 Secondly, there is the Camino Real option, walking the GR130 route from Barlovento in the north east of La Palma right round the island to the south west at Tazacorte.  Full route notes are supplied and luggage is transported to each accommodation.
We have certainly enjoyed doing all the walks that we suggest and provide information for.  I hope you will too.
Contact us for more details! 


What is the Camino Real all about?

 Sometime last year, with the restoration of the finca long completed and the usual maintenance jobs being well in hand, we decided it was high time to hit the trail and walk the sections of the GR130 route that we had so far not covered, particularly in the south.  Since then I'm pleased to say that we have not only walked every section but re-walked it in places meaning that we have done much of it in both directions.
 And it was for this reason that we set up this blog dedicated to walking on La Palma to go with our two other blogs Living La Palma and Holiday La Palma.
However, some walkers may not be aware that our website has an even greater host of information on walking each section of the GR130 so we are going to drop a few sections in here, starting with what the GR130 is all about.  Here goes! 
The La Palma GR 130 is a magnificent route which goes right around La Palma and is approximately 155 km in length.      
It takes between one and two weeks to complete in its entirety. To walk the whole of the GR130 is the supreme challenge - The Palmathon!     
 The majority of the route is the historic Camino Real or Royal Way which was used by muleteers and people travelling on foot or horseback between the villages and towns of the island. 
The route is generally very well marked with either signposts or the white over red blaze.
As you would expect on such a beautiful island, spectacular scenery comes as standard.  However, the constant changes - from cliff top paths to rocky ravines, pine forests trails to hidden hamlets, cobbled paths and tracks through banana plantations - will give you an amazing experience which you will remember forever.  Walking on La Palma really is a special experience. 
 You can start and end the circuit wherever you choose, walk in  a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction - there are no right or wrongs.  How you split up the route is probably the hotest debate around here!  This really depends on your walking ability but you will also need to bear in mind your accommodation as La Palma is not filled with hotels, hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation on every corner, especially if you are staying for just one night.  Generally, you will need to pre-book and we are always very happy to help with bookings for the best/easiest/most economical places to stay around the island.   
 If you don't want to walk the entire route right around La Palma, we recommend the north and north west (Barlovento to Los Llanos) as being the most scenic. 
Happy walking!


Walking the La Palma 9.1 in Franceses, Garafia

When we try to decide where we will go on our next walk, we often fall into the trap of thinking it must be a walking route some distance away.   However yesterday, because of needing to stay fairly close to the finca in Franceses, we decided to set off right from the door - after all the donkey path next to the finca is the LP 9.1 route and two minutes away is the La Palma GR130 route, so we are hardly short of walking in the area. 
I do wonder though just how many times we can walk the various donkey paths in the area of Franceses and fall in love with it all over again.  To be honest, I think quite a few more times.  
And a perfect end to the walk was to see the new lambs at the farm just above the finca.
Our visitors however walked rather further afield from Franceses leaving the accommodation to walk to Roque Faro, then El Tablado, La Fajana and then back to Franceses.  That's the circular 9.1 route and quite a toughie as it involves a climb from 500 metres to 1000 metres, then back down to almost sea level and eventually back up to 500 metres again.  Well done guys!
Here's a You Tube video I shot when we got home from our little jaunt.
You Tube


La Zarza

I will doubtless have written about this gorgeous woodland walk before, in one format or another but it really is so special that it deserves repeating from time to time.  I am talking here about the 'La Zarza Experience,' a wonderland created aeons ago when nature was at its most creative, and which lies hidden away in the sleepy north of La Palma.
It's one of those great walks that can be as long or short a walk as you would like it to be.  If you are feeling like doing a longish trek, then you might like to go for the whole four hour circular walk from the Archaeological Museum of La Zarza.  If you are looking for a six hour trek, then you can extend the circular walk by continuing on down to Don Pedro.  Ouch!  It's quite a long way back up!!
However, if you are looking for something shorter, then just set off on the wooded trail and return the same way when you reach your pre-determined half-time point.
At the very start, having gone through the man-made tunnel which passes under the road, you will come across the caves.  Already you can begin to 'feel' the sights of smells of the woodland.  Just pause for a moment and listen to the birds, the gentle whispering of leaves and the rich smell of old wood underfoot.  
Just a little past the caves is a simple, stone enclosure for animals.  Every good home should have one!  And now you can begin to imagine how families used to live in this hideaway.
Heading off on the trail, the path is very easy and the dappled sunlight playing amongst the trees picks out cobwebs and draws the attention to intricate mosses and enormous ferns, as if it were a spotlight. 
And then the path gradually descends down leave-covered steps and there is a sneak preview of a little wooden bridge.  In fact, you will come across two wooden bridges as you enter deeper and deeper into the woods.
What a wonderful walk on a hot day.  Or any day come to that.  As one guests described it, 'It's like the Lord of the Rings.'  Frodo would love it.


From Pines to Paddling

If you like to walk and are interested in walking on La Palma, then how about joining one of the walking groups on the island?
 For example, this Sunday, 17th July, there is a walk from Dos Pinos to Tazacorte.  It's a fairly easy walk, well easy for La Palma, so should be suitable for most levels of walker.  It will take around 5 hours and the meet up time is 8 a.m. at the Dos Pinos supermarket carpark located just off the main road between Los Llanos and El Paso. 
If you haven't registered with them previously then you will need to tag on at the back.  Ideally, you need to be part of the walking group and that way the organisor will ring you each week giving you advance notice of the walk.  They are a great group, lots of fun and it's a good way to meet new (Palmeran) friends. 
So, for this week's walk, don't forget that it ends at the beach so better bring your bathers! And you might even decide to take advantage of one of the fantastic fish restaurants at Tazacorte while you're there.  Enjoy!


Another hidden trail

Our mission was to seek and enjoy.  To go where no man had been before ... well, not recently anyway.
And that's what walking on La Palma is all about - not just the host of marked trails such as the famous GR130 and GR131 - but also the hidden, 'secret' routes.  And we were just itching to get off the beaten track and explore.  After all, one of the frustrating things is seeing interesting sights such as caves or wooden-roofed dwellings but only being able to look from a distance.  Just how did you get to them? 
Today our question was answered.
We took the GR130 route as usual from Franceses but headed off down an unmarked side track that we had noticed several times before.  The path passed by a couple of old dwellings and then a prettier house surrounded by geraniums and palm trees.  Abandoned or not ... it's sometimes difficult to tell!
We continued down the path which eventually finished in a field.  Shame, but the view was nice, overlooking the sea.  Undeterred though, we decided to walk along the side of the field where the earth was hard-packed and clearly not being dug over for vegetables.  At the end of the field was a rough construction, a sort of lean-to, and at the other side of this in the shade, sat an elderly gentleman.
We apologised profusely, in case we had trespassed in any way.  He just took a long puff on his pipe and declared that we were very welcome to enjoy the scenery - 'Why not!' 
After chatting a while and then exchanging friendly farewells, we made our way back up the path and continued along the GR130 again.  Now another side path appeared and once more we diverted down it.  This is what we were looking for.
Tucked away at the end of the path, we came across what was practically an encampment of little dwellings all made of stone and with wooden roofs.  These are so emblematic of the area of Garafia in the north of La Palma and the precursor to houses such as our own Casita.  Would anybody be at home to make us a cup of tea though?
Oh well, at least there was fresh mountain water from a natural spring not too far away, although practically tucked out of sight under a bush.  But now we know where and how to look for the tell-tale signs of springs, they are quite easy to find!
However, the path seemed to have petered out here.  Our natural inclincation was to try and head on further down as that was the direction in which we were going.  But then of course there was a path which ran along back of the house.  And surprise, surprise, it joined up with the first path we had been on. 


Walking holidays on la Palma

You might have noticed that our walking boots are not get out and about very much these days.  And if they are, it is not exactly off the finca or the north of La Palma at least!
But just because circumstances mean that we aren't doing too much walking at the moment doesn't mean that other people aren't.  For example, did you know that there are many different companies who offer walking holidays on la Palma?
To begin with, there are La Palma based companies who offer daily walking trips on the island.  For example, you might choose a route such as the Volcano Route or the 'Wild' North.  All you need to do is book, turn up at the appointed meeting spot such as at Los Cancajos, Hotel Princess or Puerto Naos and a coach will take you to the start point of the walk and then collect you at the end.  You will of course be expected to walk from one end to the other but at least you have a multi-lingual guide to make sure you don't get lost and who will also point out natural flora and fauna and generally keep you amused.
Then there are the companies who offer a full holiday with each day's walking organised.  This is certainly an option if you enjoy not just walking but also walking with the same group.  And of course you don't need worry about having a car, where you are going to eat, where you are going to stay ...or who you are going to talk to.
And last but not least, the companies that offer self-guided walks on the various routes with lots of tips thrown in.  Usually, with this type of walking holiday, the accommodation is also arranged in advance and often the car hire too.   A couple of companies organise not just your accommodation but also luggage transfer as well.  The idea is that you walk between hotels, apartments, bed and breakfast accommodation and when you arrive at your destination for the night, you luggage is already there.
 And then of course a combination of all of the above such as the bespoke walking tours that we offer to individuals, couples or small groups with accommodation arranged and part guided, part self-guided walks on La Palma. 

Surely something for everyone!


Ruta del Bastón - GR131 group walk

If you have a passion to walk the GR131 but not the inclination to do it on your own or without backup, now is your chance.  
Next weekend, the 4th and 5th June, the walking group Caminantes las Breñas will be setting off from Tazacorte on what is often called  la Ruta del Bastón (The Walking Stick route).  For those who are rather more keen on using route numbers, it is the GR131 La Palma route.
In the context of the 'bastón,' Tazacorte is at the end of the handle of the walking stick with the Caldera de Taburiente being represented by the inside area of the handle.  The Roque de Muchachos is the uppermost part of the handle itself and the volcano route the long, straight stick part.  So it's a case of up ... over ... round ... and down right from sea level at Tazacorte in the west of La Palma, to 2426m at the Roque de Muchachos and back down to sea level at Fuencaliente in the extreme south.  
The route starts at Tazacorte
Day one will get you (with a little luck and some stern walking) to Refugio Punta de las Roques where you will overnight.  Day two will take you from there, to El Pilar, the volcano route and eventually Fuencaliente lighthouse.
In fact, it is the Transvulcania route in reverse.  Whichever way you do it, it's not for the faint hearted. 

You will need to put your name down for this walk by 2pm on Monday 30th May - details are here.
Incidently, if you are looking for holiday accommodation in Tazacorte in conjunction with walking and or sightseeing, we are now able to offer, on behalf of the owners, a one-bedroomed apartment right by the beach.  The GR131 is literally right around the corner, the GR130 not far away and it's just a short bus ride to the town of Los Llanos.  It is also handy for the volcano route, Cumbrecita and Caldera - plus it is right by the beach.
So if you are looking for a self-catering holiday apartment on La Palma with all of those things, click here or just ask.
Happy walking folks!


Club walks this weekend.

Here is notice of a couple of walks for you.
Tomorrow, Saturday the 21st May, the Atajo Walking Group are doing a section of the GR130 from Fuencaliente to Los Llanos.  We did this walk ourselves last year, although in the opposite direction, and really enjoyed it.  You can expect lots of contrasts from the pine forests above Fuencaliente, walking over lava fields, country lanes and finally into the city of Los Llanos via cute little cottages.  I can highly recommend it.  
On Sunday the 22nd May the Brena Alta Walking Group are heading off from Las Tricias, then Lomanda Grande and back to Las Tricas whch they estimate will take 6 hours.  I can't say we have done this particular route although have walked around the area of Las Tricias quite a few times as it is roughly in our home area.
Although the time to officially join in with these walks has passed, you are more than welcome to contact me to find out more details of these La Palma walking routes.
Happy walking!


El Trio Zapatistas walk la Palma

Have you ever  looked at the official island website on walking on La Palma.  It is a fantastic source of information on the walking routes on the islands (Red de Senderos La Palma, network of paths) and include not just the GR130 but also the GR131, the volcano route, Marcos y Cordera and many more.  It doesn't actually give you a point by point route description but does give distances and profiles.
However it is especially worthwhile looking at right now because our very own wonderful La Palma band (of singing bandoleros variety), El Trio Zapatistas, have got a U-Tube video link on the main page.
Just click here and you too will become an instant fan of El Trio Zapatistas.  Guaranteed!  And what's more you can join in with them as they walk the fantastic hiking trails of La Palma.  Singing along is optional.


Accept your destiny - running the GR131, La Palma

If you are into endurance, then how about the 3rd Transvulcania Ultramarathon on La Palma in the Canary Islands, probably the toughest run in Spain?   It's certainly not for the faint-hearted at 83.3 km for the Ultramarathon and 26.8km for the half.   And of course I should probably mention that La Palma is said to be the most mountainous island in the world for its size.
The run starts in the extreme south of the island at sea level from the Fuencaliente lighthouse and follows the trail of the GR131 up the volcano route ....
The volcano route
 ... right over the top of the island, the Roque de Muchachos at 2426m above sea level ...

and then continues down the GR131 trail to Los Llanos de Aridane in the west.  Ouch! 
 That is an accumulated ascent of 4,415 metres and acumulated descent of 2,910.  It normally takes three or four days to walk but - hey - what's the point of hanging around, you might as well get it all over in one go!   If you think it all sounds a bit tough, give a thought to the military who will be competing in the full Ultramarathon - with 26 kg on board.  The half marathon is of course slightly kinder but let's face it, it's still going to hurt.
 The exciting thing for us is that La Palma is really getting into gear not just bringing the amazing walking opportunities that the island has to offer up to scratch but now the running opportunities with fell or hill running (mountain running) and extreme endurance running too.   In the first Transvulcania in 2009 there were 387 runners and in 2010 there were 647 so it is growing in popularity.  This year, the maximum has been set at 800 runners, that's 450 in the Ultramarathon and 350 in the half marathon.
Plenty for the rest of the family and kids too with a range of distances right down to a minithon of 500 metres for the under 7's. 
That's the bad news.  The good news is that you've got a week to get your application in and, well, ages to train.  Four weeks anyway.
I have decided however that I shall not be entering.  It has of course been a very difficult decision but I feel that my talents lay more in the cheering department, giving encouragement to others.  And, after all that running, for anybody who has a mind to explore the GR130 along the dramatic north coast, don't forget our bed and breakfast accommodation or even self-catering cottage for a few days of R & R.  I think you'll have earned it.
Sponsored by Salomon Nature Trails, the date for this years La Palma Transvulcania is Saturday 7th May, commencing at 06.00 hrs. Come and accept your destiny.  click here for more details
You can see more photos of the first section of the GR131, the volcano route here


The GR131 - Roque de Muchachos to Mirador de los Andenes

It has been such a busy 3 months on La Palma since Christmas with both the self-catering cottage and bed and breakfast accommodation well booked up.  Not only that but add a few guided walks and working the land on the finca here in Franceses, it's been all go.  Now though, with a few little gaps in the calendar, it really was time to head off and do something quite different.  What could be better than to leap off to the top of the mountain, the Roque de Muchachos for a bit of a hike along the GR131 in the snow?   So Thursday this week saw us jumping into the Land Rover in search of a few hours of snowy spring madness - and a walk.
The drive up there was fairly uneventful.  It only takes 50 minutes from the finca gradually ascending from 500m to 2426m, although I will say that after leaving the main road, the secondary road up to the observatory is one of the most tiwsty on the island with tight hairpin bends seemingly stacked on top of each other!  All very scenic though as the road wends its way up through the graceful slopes covered in tall pine trees.
We started the walk where the GR131 coming up from Tazacorte joins the main road at a point 0.7km below Roque de Muchachos.  The reason for this was that we had already walked that section between Tazacorte and here and now wanted to make a start on the only part of the GR131 that we haven't done. 
The trail started off with a short section on the road and then it was up a snowy track to the Roque de Muchachos, the Rock of the Lads, which are actually a little group of vertical rocks.  The paper notice advises caution on the snowy paths.
But we were quickly on our way past this point and anyway, most of the snow had already either melted or been pushed into heaps at the side.  The air was fresh and clear, the visibility more than excellent and it was all very exciting!    
Every moment seemed to bring something new to look at and twenty mintues from leaving the Roques, we saw some old dwellings just off the path.  Not quite sure how you could get down to them but certainly could be useful if the weather turned poor - but that's not today. 
The path is a serious of small ascents and descents and is made up of gravel in some places and small stones in other, so it is not the easiest of going.  But it wasn't this that was holding us up but the views.  They were just not stop amazing as we walked along the ridge of the mighty Caldera to Taburients and looked out over the Parque Nacional, the Caldera itself which is a width of 9km and 1,500 metres deep.  That's some hole in the ground!  
On the other side of this we could see the Cumbrecita, the Pico de Bajanado and then the GR131 Volcano route going down to the extreme south of the island. 
Continuing along, another sight we have never seen before from up here - the bottom of the Caldera, the Barranco de Angustias, the Ravine of Fear.  Just to the right of the photo is one of several rocky outcrops which suddenly just pop up like a brick wall.  Or is it that everything else around just popped down?
The observatories are a continued presence seemingly springing up at all sorts of points.  The observatories I should just mention if you didn't already know are the third most important in the whole world, after Chile and Hawaii.  They compete with nature to make the most stunning contrast against the pure blue sky and despite the incongruity of being high-tec man-made objects in this awesome natural landscape, they still manage to look beautiful. 
In some places though it is not a good idea to walk whilst looking around as the trail can be quite narrow.  And as I've said, it's a long way to the bottom.  
And here is the most famous wall on the island.  It is called El Pared de Roberto, Robert's wall, is completely natural and you actually walk through a large gap in it.   You won't be surprised to hear that there is a folklore story all about it.  Watch out for it on the www.fincafranceses.blogspot.com in the next week.  
In the photo below, David is testing the depth of the snow with the snow pole, I mean walking pole, which turned out to be an impressive 3 feet.   Luckily the actual path wasn't covered to such a depth.
After two hours we arrived at the Mirador de los Andenes.  Although this is a hugely impressive viewpoint and one that we have been to many times, it didn't seem quite as impressive any more.  Brilliant and fantastic, yes, but just not quite as good as the many views we had seen on the way.  However, on the other side of the road facing north where the land drops giddily away from the road and down into the pine forests below, the thick covering of snow made it look like a megga-scarey ski run.  I'm not going down there and that's final.
This was a good point to turn around and make our way back and, now with less photos to take, it was a general amble.  Not always easy though and still necessary to watch where we were walking, it is what the Rother Walking Guide on La Palma would describe as not 'for the nervous of disposition.'
On our return journey, we enjoyed trying to remember which observatory is which.  You can read all about them - and more on the wonderful island of La Palma - here. 


The GR131 La Palma - A day in the alps

We've been out walking the GR131 today starting from just below Roque de Muchachos along the trail to the Mirador de los Andenes and then back again.
 Brilliant stuff with quite a bit of snow still up there. 

The views along the way were completely amazing as it was so clear.  We could see right down into the Caldera, over to the Cumbrecita and Pico Bejanado, right down the volcano route and the whole of Tenerife and snowy Mount Teide in the distance along with the islands of El Hierro and La Gomera. I can honestly say we have never seen such wonderful views and we just ran out of words to describe it.  
Give me a couple of days and I'll write about it properly!


New Roque Faro to Franceses route - the walk!

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a walk with bright sunshine and a slight breeze.  We were keen to explore the newly re-routed PR 9.1 from Roque Faro down to Franceses at the earliest opportunity, this being part of a circular walk, at times following the GR130, with the finca laying right at the side of the route.
Of course we didn't want to start from home - that would be too easy!  So we jumped on the 10.00 o'clock bus and got off 12 swirling minutes later at Roque Faro.  The bus drops you off on the main road by the way, rather than going into Roque Faro but you will easily spot the new sign and be on your way almost immediately.
Now, this was a new path for us - one we had been completely unaware of - as it sidles its way out of Roque Faro on a non-descript path at the side of a building.  However, having got to the back of the building, we were immediately on a lovely wooded path, gently descending into the woodland with the aid of well-made steps with a fine covering of pine needles.
Not long after, we came to the Fuente (fresh water spring)  Rio Torito.  It was very much alive and well and we spent a few moments watching the water, like a magic trick, simply oozing from the rock.  You can see a photo of a natural spring in our previous post.  Ah well, onward and upward as we made our way along a pretty path to the 'Cruce, ' the cross with the enormous pine tree.  This was a huge improvement as the last time we walked this route, it followed the main road all the way from Roque Faro to the Cruce.
After the Cruce, we followed the mountain road for only two minutes before taking up the path again and descending into the greenery.  On passing a farm, a pig decided to adopt us and followed us for a good way.  I wasn't too sure of his intentions at first and warned him, 'Don't bite me, you pig!' but really, he just wanted to be like a dog, trotting along with us (sorry for the pun) and in the end it took some effort from us to dissuade him not to follow us all the way.  Yes, apple sauce was mentioned ...
A little further along, after having walked 2.4km plus, we saw that we were above the main La Palma road.  Oh yes, this is our main road across the north - plenty of curves - although there are plans to straighten it in places. But soon we lost sight of it again.
And then a taste of civilisation with a house, cultivated flowers rather than the wild ones which had lined our route and the almost inevitable huge wooden cross in the middle of nowhere.  Oh yes, and a very friendly dog and a small flock of jet black chickens. Soon after, we crossed the road and were straight back on the trail on the other side.  And now we were plunged into a tunnel of woodland.  How good is that!
We followed the path along in its tunnel-like state for some time and it then became more like a bob-sleigh run with steep sides but open at the top.  But not at all slippery and there was definitely light at the end of the tunnel.  And that light was coming not just from the sun but also from the clear view of the mighty Atlantic and our beautiful north coast.  It is a sight which never fails to excite.
Now we were descending quite quickly to Franceses and it would be uninterrupted sea views all the way from now on.  Passing by our neighbouring farm with sheep and lambs gambolling about in the field, we were invited in by our lovely neighbours for a glass of wine and a spot of lunch.  We are lucky enough to be treated as family by these kind people who find it impossible not to extend hospitality at every turn - but we took a raincheck for Sunday.
This is a walk we can certainly recommend - 2 hours, 5.3 km, degree of difficulty - low and perfect for a very hot day.  A suggestion would be to have lunch at Los Reyes restaurant at Roque Faro (buses leave Franceses at 10.00, 12.00, 14.00 hrs, etc) and then enjoy the walk down the path back to Franceses.