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Vilaflor de Chasna – A walk through history 

Last week on my birthday, Andy Tenerife Walker took me for a lovely walk which began at the church in Vilaflor. I wasn’t surprised to see that the village was in full bloom. There were lots of geraniums, white lilies, large red taganastes and bright orange Canadian poppies in flower everywhere.

Parts of Vilaflor date back to the C15. After the Spanish Conquest in 1496, Tenerife’s territories were divided up and this region was administered by the Soler family. Vilaflor was a very important village strategically as it had a ready-made water supply. Two springs in the town called “Dona Beatriz Fret” and “Mother Down” met in a place known as “El Chorillo” where the women used to wash clothes and meet for a chat. Pedro Soler built the first water mill here and it was still in operation until 1915. The mill “El Cubo” is also still there and easily recognisable by its 2 large arches.

A hermitage existed where the present day Church of San Pedro now stands which was built in the mid-C17. Next to the church is the Sanctuary of Brother Pedro and it is still a centre of pilgrimage for the devout today. Built on the site occupied by the fathers, the building now houses a convent run by the Bethlehermite Order. La Casa de Los Soler, the Soler family’s ancestral home stands beside the church and in 1840, Alonso Chirino the 7th Marquis de las Fuentes de las Palmas, the owner of the house was murdered just outside Vilaflor. He was ambushed on his way home from Granadilla very close to the village by 12 gunmen. The murder was never solved as it is said that all the villagers buttoned their lips and therefore, the murderers were never found or charged. It is known that the Marquis was an abusive landowner who mistreated his tenants. Why the villagers took the law into their own hands will never be known exactly, but it is likely that it was either to do with the large taxes he imposed on the locals, or perhaps because the Chasneros were angry that he kept on reclaiming their lands; lands that the villagers had farmed for more than 200 years.

As we left the village, we walked into the forest on an old track which led onto the GR131 which runs from Arona to La Esperanza. The weather couldn’t have been better; the sky was blue and a gentle breeze prevailed in the air. As we sank further into the forest, the canopy thickened and we began to ascend up hill. The only sounds to be heard were the occasional bird song and the breeze dancing in the trees.

One of the trails had been closed by the local police supposedly because of the recent rains, but not to be deterred, Andy consulted his GPS and took us on another route which was a long steep ascent, and quite difficult for me. However, when we reached the top, my aches and pains disappeared and mild euphoria took over as the views were absolutely breathtaking. We were nearly 1400m above sea level and we could see over to the villages on the coast. The vistas looking down the ravines were staggering and somewhat daunting if you haven’t got a steady head for heights.

This was a lovely 3 ½ hour walk over about 9.5km which took me into another part of the forest near Vilaflor that I hadn’t been to before. It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful our island is if you just get out there and explore it.

For further information regarding Tenerife’s great outdoors, please see: www.tenerife-guided-walks.com

By Lynne Scaife