The 30th of May in the Canary Islands is a public holiday for Day of the Canaries so a walk from San Andrés to Hoya del Morcillo was planned so that everybody could participate. The old, the young, cyclists and those with reduced mobility. So that we could all enjoy, the countryside and views.
As I arrived in San Andrés they had nearly finished putting together the joëletteas (adapted chairs for those with reduced mobility).
The younger members of the group were itching to set off and were full of energy and enthusiasm. The sun was shining and everyone was happy. The walkers organised who was going to take charge of each joëlettea. It takes a minimum of two people to walk with them. One person leading, and a brake person to the rear. Those with reduced mobility were assisted into their seats and made comfortable. A last check to make sure the tyres were pumped up before we set of across the car park to pass the vehicle testing station for the Island and onto the track away from traffic. The young ones were acting as lookouts to let us know when the cyclists were catching us up, as they were all cycling from Valverde.
As we walked through a little glade of eucalyptus trees our feet and the tyres crunched on the leaves and released the smell of the eucalyptus oils. We were soon out into open countryside which if not for the constant chatter of my companions would be silent, apart from the sounds of nature.
We took the left turn onto the path GR131 heading towards ermita de Los Reyes at Dehesa. The track is wider here with views over Nisdafe and the local countryside. For those in the know we passed a little grove of Olives which has been planted to see if there could be a viable crop from them. The sky was blue and the temperature not yet too warm, what a great way to spend a Bank Holiday.
After about 1 kilometre we crossed the road that used to be the main road to La Frontera and carried on our route. The dirt track passed a field of sheep grazing. There were still traces of the spring flowers that had earlier bloomed in the fields.
We passed through some shade from local Canarian pine trees. Some took advantage of the shade for a drink. The shout went up from some of the younger ones that the cyclists were catching us up and that we should hurry along. The path then climbs steeply for a short distance and more hands are needed to push the 2 Sign showing routes on GR131 up the slope. Some of the cyclists dismounted, passed their bike to one of the younger members and assisted with the chairs. They weren´t asked too, they just did without moaning or complaining. The climb can be a little difficult on the uneven surface. That is one thing I love about the Herreños, nothing is too much trouble for them.
At the top of the slope everyone had another little rest and it was decided we would take a slight detour on the next leg because we had joëlettea´s with us. The path continues up a short but quite steep climb, which at the time was very uneven. We all walked up the road and said hello to the horses in the nearby fields who must have wondered what these mad humans were up to.
It wasn’t long before we turned left again onto GR131 again at Raya Cruz del Niño. It was then a nice gentle climb on the Camino de la Virgen de los Reyes. Again the cyclists took it in turns to stretch their legs and give those guiding the joëlettea´s a rest. By this time all the cyclists were with us.
When we reached the road again it was time for a short rest and a drink. After our little break it was time for off again. We kept to the path rather than the road passing the nearby Raya de La Mareta on our right.
Before long we turned left and down into the pine forest to begin our descent down to the finish.
In places the path was narrower and the joëlettea´s had extra brake men at the side of them just to keep them at a nice steady pace. The floor of the forest here is completely covered in pine needles and pine cones that crunch under your feet if you happen to stand on one. The children decided to have a little competition and see who could collect the most cones. They were being watched by the rooks flying above our heads and having fun on the thermals. I mimicked the noise they make and they talk back to you which delighted the little ones. They decided they were magic rooks because they talked. It is quite easy to skid on the pine needles as they move under your feet, but it is mostly a soft landing. The path meanders down through the forest giving you just the occasional glimpse of the road. It is quite some time though before we have to cross it at the junction that leads to our final destination at Hoya del Morcillo. Before reaching the road the path undulates giving those with tired legs just another reminder that El Hierro is not flat.
At the junction everyone waits for each other standing under the shade of some of the large pine trees at this location. It is difficult to detect now, but it’s not that many years since there was a huge fire in the area and many of the trees were badly damaged. But the Canarian pine is robust and after a fire it does not take long for new growth to sprout.
We then all crossed the junction and took the track of to our left through the forest on the last leg to our destination and a BBQ. Some of the chefs had joined us to walk back to the picnic area. As we walked we passed by the official camp site for the Island. You can find BBQ facilities, showers and toilets here.
The final part of the walk was a very small descent into Hoya del Morcillo. Here you can find many BBQ pits, free logs for the fires and drinking water. You will also find a children’s play area and a huge map of the Island featuring little plaques of places of interest on the Island. Here there was paella, chicken and pork chops. Plus liquid refreshments for all ages and tastes. This was the first time all day that everyone was quiet. A very lovely walk with shelter from the heat of the day.