The location of the church is no coincidence as this is where one of the northward lava flows from the 18th-century eruption ended. A cross on a stone niche marks this spot and that is how Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores, the patroness of the island to whom this church is dedicated, gets the name "Virgin of the Volcanoes".
In the streets of Mancha Blanca, you can see the remains of an old agricultural mill used for grinding, known locally as molinos de sangre ("mills of blood"). These mills existed in large numbers, but this is one of the two that remain in Tinajo. The molinos de sangre are of Roman origin and were powered by an animal at the central axis, which then turned the millstones through gears.
The 1730 eruption covered the entire central section of the island, destroying 30 settlements and the best agricultural areas of Lanzarote. As a result, the western central part of the island is now a malpaís or badlands, a formation created by young lava where practically no activity is possible.
As you are crossing the malpaís, you will notice how the area is chaotic and complicated with lava formations of different shapes piled haphazardly around the trail.
La Caldereta is the first cone that you will reach. From the mouth of the crater, you will see that it is a perfect U-shape as this crater broke open in the direction of the lava flow. There are sections of a different colour with more defined shapes, which date back to a volcanic period before the Timanfaya eruptions.
Dry-stone structures at the opening of the crater, the remains of a cistern and some corrals in the malpaís closest to the crater prove that this area was used for livestock rearing.
At the foot of Caldera Blanca, you have a set of dry-stone corrals that show that the only human activity carried out in this area is herding; you might possibly see some goats in the basin as well.
One of the corrals is heart-shaped and is the origin of the legend of the love-struck shepherd. You can see this better from the slopes of the volcano.
Caldera Blanca is possibly the result of a hydromagmatic eruption, that is, lava came into contact with water during the eruption and created this volcanic cone. It is part of the III series, the eruptions that occurred before the most recent ones, and is one of the highest elevations in the centre of the island. In the past, the interior of the crater was used for cultivation as the bed is relatively flat.
The name Caldera Blanca ("White Basin") comes from the process of caliche being deposited on the surface of the volcano, this making it hard and giving it the characteristic white colour that makes it stand out in the landscape.
From the highest point of Caldera Blanca on the southern slope, you have an excellent view of the Timanfaya volcanic formations.
You can see the Montañas del Fuego and the other craters that resulted from the past eruption that was the longest in the Canary Islands. The volcanic chains from the three main phases of volcanic activity can be seen on the horizon: the Macizo de Fuego, the Montañas del Fuego and Pico Partido. To the untrained eye, however, it looks like a single chain of volcanoes.
After you walk down the western slope of Caldera Blanca and before you begin the return, you will be in a basin which will give you an idea of what the central area of Lanzarote was like before the eruptions in the 18th century.
The 1730-36 eruption destroyed 30% of the island and the most productive agricultural land and also led to a third of the population abandoning the island. It is easy to see the contrast between this area, now isolated in the middle of the malpaís, and the young lava fields that you will cross on your way back.
- Respect the animals. Do not bother them or feed them. If you see an injured specimen, you can call the emergency number: 112. Do not pick flowers or plants.
- Do not pick up or take away stones or any other item from the natural environment. And do not move them to pile them up into sadly famous 'towers'.
- Respect the signposting along trails. Leaving the set paths causes damage to the environment and could also be dangerous for you and anyone with you.
- It is safer to keep your pet on a lead.
- Try not to alter the peace of the environment with excessive noise (loud music, yelling, etc.).