Walking Cuba de la Galga

To quote from information provided by Cubo de La Galga information point:
'This trail goes through one of the most fragile and valuable nature sites on La Palma.  It is a route that enables you to admire one of the best examples of laurel forest in the Canary Islands.'
It's a very long time since we walked the Cubo de La Galga, in fact, when the guide at the information cabin at the start of the walk asked if we had walked it before, we realised it was so long ago that he should consider us to be newbies.  Anyway, the information hut certainly wasn't there in those days and it's not usually a good idea to turn your nose up at free suggestions and advice when it comes to walking routes.
So, in addition to an interesting display in the cabin of what types of flora and fauna we could expect to see, the warden brought up a map on the computer and showed us the route.
Our choice then was whether to walk directly from the information hut that sits by the LP1 main road, drive in on the asphalt lane one kilometer or even drive a second kilometre on a rough track after the asphalt as we had the Land Rover. We opted for setting off on foot right from the start - after all, we had come to walk. Heroes, if only for a day (and it is only an 8km walk, although admittedly with a good bit of ascending and descending).
As it turned out, the asphalt lane was a very pretty start to the walk, although already starting to slope up fairly quickly. Being a hot day, we were grateful of the intermittent shade.
Walking further into El Cubo and following the now dry river bed, great cascades of creepers flowed down the sheer-sided canyon walls. Along the way, we noticed a cave or two up in the craggy wall - could it be this one where Jonathan Ross spent the night with Bear Grylls .. or that one just by a handy path .. we shall never know.
Whilst still on the asphalt track, we passed under the latest aquaduct, built in the 1960's when 2350m of gallery was dug to increase the water flow needed for increased levels of agriculture. This was done on an 'as needs' basis rather than as a commercial enterprise and the aquifer (underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock) was not damaged. In the 19th century, there were seven springs and even today, El Cubo provides La Galga with drinking water. Info courtesy of  information sheet at the cabin!
Where the rough track ended, I had thought the serious ascent would probably start, the warden having told us that there was as an ascent of 400m. However, the good news was that the ascent was quite gradual and with well-made steps along the way, we seemed to gain height without the usual associated pain. Amazing how that can happen when you keep walking in an upward direction!
Along the way we had the treat of mahogany trees (once called Canary Island ebony), Ironbark tree and the ebony. Plus of course, giant ferns.
As the path zigged and zagged us through the leafy forest, we came to a second aquaduct, this one much more attractive than the first being made of old stone. Passing through the archway was very much like walking into the secret garden. This was, to my mind, one of the loveliest and most tranquil parts of the whole walk and a great place to pause and take in the calm.
Just after this viaduct, we came to a T-junction in the path - either right for the Somada Alta viewpoint or left for La Galga. We chose the Somada Alta which was signposted as 1.9km away - and probably upward since it is a viewpoint at 800m above sea level.
However, the going wasn't tough and the path was well-made and with some impressive views into the gorge below.
The walk up to the view point took us 50 minutes, not walking too fast and pausing for quite a few photos. After an easier start with some steps and short, attractive slopes, the longish stretch (1km) of uphill forest trail took a bit of energy! However, once at the top the view was excellent over Puntallana, San Bartolo and even Tenerife and La Gomera in the distance.
I would say however, that it may not be the best place for a picnic on a hot day as there is no shade, unless you are willing to sit on the ground under a little wooden tunnel! Oh, and no seats anywhere either apart from some pretty hot paving slabs on the top of walls.
The walk down from the viewpoint took us along a little narrow path which soon came out into open farmland and rows of potatoes growing. Fifteen minutes later, we had to choose whether to head on down to La Galga or rejoin the Cubo. Without thinking about it too much, we followed the signpost to the Cubo, which would complete a circle and bring us back onto the rough track 2km from the visitor's centre where we had originally started. One thing we hadn't banked on was it being uphill again!
And another thing that we also hadn't completely realised is that anybody taking their car in for the first part of walk, might be disappointed to find that if they chose the route to La Galga rather than the Cubo de La Galga, they would have a 1km walk at the end of it to get their car!
All in all, a great walk and even better to finish off with a swim at the sea pools of La Fajana de Barlovento (28km marker from the main road). Having listened to so many birds as we walked through the woods, now we were swimming with multi-coloured fish. Oh well, all in a day's work I suppose. 
Degree of difficulty: Not a complete walk in the park. Bit of hiking involved.
Approx time: 4 hours
For more information on walking and trekking on La Palma, check out Walking on La Palma
Short You Tube video with bird song: http://youtu.be/NAe62Gnco2k

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