Stunning Scenery in the North of Tenerife
A couple of weeks ago, I went for a lovely 11.4km hike in the north of Tenerife with Andy Tenerife Walker and two very good friends, Lisa Allard and her husband Carlos, the founder members of “En Pie”, the Canarian Mental Health Foundation.
This walk began near to Agua Garcia in the municipality of Tacoronte which took us through lush Laurel and Pine forest. Even the drive to our starting point was beautiful. In El Rosario and Agua Garcia, small houses are dotted along the roadside and roses and poinsettias were in full bloom which is a contradiction of the seasons in itself. Oranges and lemons dangled on branches in profusion, and many of the fields had been cleared ready for the spring crops to be planted.
Our walk began with a steady climb into the forest. Huge Laurel trees laurisilva presented themselves like guards of honour along very good paths. The forest was particularly dense in places and it was noticeable that the Ayuntamiento are keeping their word and are tidying some of the paths to keep them clear for fellow hikers and ramblers. They were trimming some of the trees and chopping others down; huge logs lay everywhere. The clean smell of Pine prevailed in the air and added to the ambiance and my mood. We then descen-ded some trickier ground but once again found ourselves on very good and pretty paths through the forest. Flowers were in abundance, especially the Canarian version of the English buttercup and I smiled to myself as a thought crossed my mind; the bright yellow flowers looked like smiley suns bobbing their little heads up to say hello.
Nearing the end of our walk we encountered two shrines in small clearings as this walk forms part of the pilgrimage trail that takes place every August to pay homage to our Patron Saint, the Virgin of Candelaria known as the Black Madonna. Many pilgrims still camp out in the forests overnight, a ritual that has been taking place for hundreds of years. Her feast days are the 2nd of February and 15th August. According to local legend, a statue of the Virgin Mary bearing a child in one hand and a green candle in the other (hence “Candelaria”), was discovered in Gúímar by two Guanches in 1392. The statue was later moved to Acaymo and then later to Lanzarote but then it was returned to Tenerife after an outbreak of plague which occurred in Lanzarote sometime in the C19. The statue (which is copy because a tsunami carried the original out to sea in 1826) is now housed in the Basilica of Candelaria which was first constructed in 1668, however, it was destroyed by fire and the current magnificent Basilica was built in 1959.
Many of us who have lived in the south for a long time don’t realise just how beautiful the real Tenerife is. It’s not all about beaches, sand and swimming pools, albeit these are very nice, but rather Tenerife is actually steeped in history and culture and once you get inside it and explore, there are many wondrous sights to see and there is always something new to be learned about our enchanting island.
By Lynne Scaife