The Island of Eternal Spring | December 2012

Fourteen of us took part in the RRC trip to Gran Canaria in December. The island has been called a continent in miniature, because of the variety it offers, but I like the appellation “island of eternal spring”. It is wetter and greener in the North and much more arid in the South, but we were lucky to see the South looking quite green and the rivers running after a lot of rain in November. The range of flowers, plants and herbs (including lavender, wormwood, sage, thyme and so on) is huge and even in December there were many plants in flower.

The island is highest at the centre with huge ravines fanning out from the central cumbre like spokes; these ravines or barrancos run down to the coast making travel across the grain of the ravines almost impossible. Quite short distances, as the crow flies, require a long trek down to the coast and back up another barranco. As a consequence we often spent an hour or so in the bus travelling to and from the walks.

Our walk leaders were José, Roger and Guillermo and all spoke excellent English. Each day they led a long and a shorter walk and the guides soon learned that the shorter walkers preferred to walk uphill rather than down, so Roger and Guillermo turned round most of the planned walks to avoid long downhills (there is not any flat walking in Gran Canaria because of the nature of the island). It took a while before José accepted that the longer walkers really could walk a fair distance, but we trained him eventually. We had some wonderful walks including one above the Guaydeques gorge, where both groups saw the cave houses; another one around the Chira reservoir, a third in the area of Cruz de Tejeda, and another through “kestrel” valley (we did not see kestrels during the week, but saw many buzzards). On the day of the walk to Roque Nublo the short walkers were lucky to start early and arrive at the pinnacle of rock well before the crowds, as this was a Saturday.

On the Wednesday Anna organised a celebration for noon on 12/12/2012; we wondered whether we should continue the celebration until 12 seconds past 12.12 pm, but decided the guide was not that patient! On the following day Lynda and Anna arranged a stop at a cave house where they produced a bottle of champagne (carried up heaven knows how many hundred metres by Lynda) to celebrate my 70th birthday!

On the two free days some people visited the fleshpots of Maspalomas, others walked locally or made use of the magnificent facilities of the hotel (pool, gym, sauna jacuzzi and lots of events). John and Lynda led a toughish walk both days.

In the evenings (after an excellent dinner which could satisfy the largest or most particular appetite) we repaired to the village bar - a ten minute walk continuously downhill so a trudge back up afterwards.

The holiday was exceptionally enjoyable because the company was excellent; it was a happy group which gelled well and was of a size which did not lead to fragmentation into cliques. The hotel was excellent and its location stunning, with a view down the barranco to the sea on one side and the cliff rising up to the cumbre on the other side. The scenery was spectacular and once the guides understood our requirements better the walks were very good indeed; the weather was dry – sunny in the mornings, but sometimes clouding over later in the day. I think everyone thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and was sorry to leave. Once again Lynda is to be congratulated on a very successful holiday; her planning paid off for us all.

Penny Williams

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