My #walk1000miles 2016 Challenge

I am a regular subscriber to Country Walking Magazine for the beautiful walks that they feature, right across the UK.

At the end of 2015, they started talking about the #walk1000miles in 2016 challenge, which amounts to 2.74 miles per day. I decided I would sign up for it and dutifully joined the Facebook Page that had been set up.

So, far, as I write this on 12th September 2016, I have walked 777 miles.

How have I recorded my progress?

With the Challenge, there was no fixed definition of what counted as a mile or not. It is based on being honest with yourself as to what counts as a mile for you personally. I decided that I would record “boots-on” miles, where I have gone out of the house and gone for a walk. Some people were recording every step, and so every mile, with an activity tracker but I did not want to do that. Initially I was not recording my almost daily shopping trips around town, until I realised they could easily be up to 2 miles, so I started to include those.

I have been using the Free Endomondo app on my phone, which has been great. It records my mileage along with telling me how long it takes to walk each mile and a host of other useful information.

Walking Patterns

I started off slowly with only 34 miles walked in January. There were a lot of wet days and a lot of days where I could not motivate myself to go out. I got started properly in February and walked 126 miles. This was made up of some quite long walks (12-15 miles) but I also walked most days, which made a huge difference. My walking patterns have been quite erratic and I have had bouts of missing days and then trying to make this up with longer walks, which has not been as productive as it could have been.

During August I set my goal for completion of the challenge and then worked out how many miles I still needed to walk to reach that goal. It averaged out at 4.5 miles per day, so I decided I would walk 5 miles every day, regardless of the weather. When I started to do this, I lost 7lb in that month, my stomach and legs toned up and I felt so much better. Consistency seems to be the real key to Success!

I have now started to make my daily walk the first priority in my day, so I go out as early as I can. I have stated to get up at 6am and be out the door by 6.30am. I have seen some marvellous sunrises with doing this and it sets me up for my day. I prefer to do a circular route where possible. Otherwise I walk a certain number of miles along the canal path and then turn round and go back.

Where have I walked?

A lot of my walks have been within 10 miles of my front door. I have walked along the Coventry Canal and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal a fair bit as they are on my doorstep. I love Hopwas Woods, which I can get to without taking the car. Sutton Coldfield Park is close to me as is Cannock Chase.

Cannock Chase ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Cannock Chase ©2016 Amanda Goldston

We have been on holiday to North Devon, where I grew up as well as a fabulous trip to Tenerife, where I walked around on the hot, volcanic rocks of Mount Teide. I have accompanied Greg to football matches to Bolton and walked up to Rivington Pike and Winter Hill, which are above the football stadium. Wherever Greg and I have gone and for whatever reason, I tried to find somewhere to go for a walk in that area.

Valley of Rocks from Southcliffe, Lynton, Exmoor

Valley of Rocks from Southcliffe, Lynton, Exmoor

Amanda with Mount Teide behind

Amanda with Mount Teide behind

Up the steps to Rivington Pike

Up the steps to Rivington Pike

I have followed several of the routes in the Country walking Magazine, including Bradgate Park (Spring 2016 ) in Leicestershire, a very muddy route around Colton near Rugeley (November 2015), a lovely walk that started at the Market Bosworth Heritage Centre and culminated with a ride on an old-fashioned steam train (June 2015), a leg-aching climb up the Wrekin in Shropshire(March 2015) and another attempt at being a mountain goat to climb to the top of Thorpe Cloud in the Dovedale Valley (July 2015).

Bradgate Park, Leicestershire ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Bradgate Park, Leicestershire ©2016 Gregory Goldston

View from the top of the South Side of The Wrekin, Shropshire

View from the top of the South Side of The Wrekin, Shropshire

Looking Down on Dovedale Valley, Derbyshire , ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Looking Down on Dovedale Valley, Derbyshire , ©2016 Amanda Goldston

What have I gained?

I have acquired an addiction to a daily 5-10 mile walk and I become very grumpy if I don’t go out walking for a few days! I have lost weight, my body shape has changed and my legs and stomach have toned up. Along with this I have become calmer and more optimistic with less clutter in my brain and a greater ability to quickly process and clear negativity.

Certain stretches of particular walks have become a bit of a stomping ground for marching out anger, frustration and other unhelpful emotions. Very therapeutic!

I have lost my desire for stodgy cake, particularly in the middle of a walk as it slows me down and makes me sluggish for the remainder of my walk. A nice cup of tea in the middle of the walk still goes down very well. I have found I am eating a lot less chocolate and sweets. My overall diet seems to have simplified and I am eating much less carbs.

I have developed a greater and greater delight in my own company and as such have become much more anti-social! I am not sure if this is a benefit or a challenge!

What has been challenging?

In the early part of the year heavy rain and muddy paths were very challenging. I don’t particularly like wearing waterproof trousers because I have quite short legs and the trousers get caught under the bottom of my boots and cause me to trip up.

I still have not mastered the fine art of climbing over a stile in a ladylike fashion, without falling on my nose!

Climbing Over a Stile

Climbing Over a Stile

My husband Greg is a photographer, so when he comes out with me, we walk for a bit and then we stop to take photographs, which has led to me not walking as far as I would like. We have yet to work out the best compromise for this situation.

Time and budgetary constraints have meant that I have not visited as many new places as I would like and I have found myself getting a bit bored with the same walks in the same places.

Support, Encouragement and Celebration

There has been an enormous amount of support from the Facebook group. The group has focused on walking and has always been very positive. Members have offered each other support and encouragement as well as celebrating the success of reaching the next milestone.

I have dipped in and out, making some contributions from time and time, as well as reading many of the posts. Joining the group was a great motivator for me as it has given me some accountability. Having seen other people’s success stories pop up in my Facebook timeline has kept me inspired to press on with my own goals. Being a member of the Facebook group has meant that quitting was never really an option – even though there have been days when I have felt like giving up!

Next year

I have proudly worn my #walk1000miles 2016 base layer t-shirt on most walks this year and I just wish I had bought two of them!

Walk 100 Miles Shirt and Socks I won

Walk 100 Miles Shirt and Socks I won

I shall be signing up to the challenge again next year to keep myself motivated to get out and walk. I really love my daily 5 mile walks, so I think my daily target may well be 5 miles per day, instead of 2.74 miles.

Resources

Country Walking Magazine

Facebook Group

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Los Christianos and Playa de Las Americas, Tenerife

On our last day, having left our luggage in the secure storage at the resort, we finally headed down to the beach. There is a minibus that runs from the CLC Resorts down to the shopping centre called Parque Santiago IV.

This is the main area of beaches for the region. I was quite surprised at how rocky the coastline is, as I had expected miles of sandy beaches. We walked around to one of the beach areas at the far end.

This was a sheltered beach divided by a stone wall. The beach was covered in shingle and small pebbles.

Los Christianos Beach ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Los Christianos Beach ©2016 Amanda Goldston

I decided to go for a paddle in the sea. The shingle was hard to walk on and I quickly found myself slipping into the water. Although the water was not deep, the waves came in with some considerable force and I sound found that my paddling efforts turned to a good soaking!

Amanda Paddling

Amanda Paddling

Amanda Soaked by a Wave 1

Amanda Soaked by a Wave

Bigger WavesThan I Thought

Bigger Waves Than I Thought!

We walked back along the sea front towards the main area of shops and cafes. The tide was coming in, which brought some substantial crashing waves and all the surfers.

Crashing Waves Playa De Las Americas ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Crashing Waves Playa De Las Americas ©2016 Gregory Goldston

We found a gorgeous restaurant right on the sea-front. I had the most delicious prawn and avocado salad I have ever had. The avocados were sat on a pineapple base, with the filling made of the avocado fruit and peach slices. This was topped with prawns and seafood -sauce.

Praws And Avocado Salad ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Prawns And Avocado Salad ©2016 Amanda Goldston

We made our way back to the resort to catch our flight home.

Tenerife was an island of surprises and we only saw a very small part of it in this trip. I could easily spend several more weeks here. We will definitely be back.

Amanda

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Trip to La Gomera, Canary Islands

We booked this trip through the reception at CLC Paradise and thought it was very good value for money. It was 64 euros each and that included all coach transfers, the ferry crossing and lunch. It was an early start as we were one of the first pick-ups, with the ferry crossing at 9am. The coach was running late, however we got a phone call to tell us that so we did not have to hurry to the collection point at the bottom of the drive of the resort. We were told to take our passports, as they might be checked.

The ferry crossing was on a Fred Olsen Catamaran from Los Christianos to the port of San Sebastian on the island of La Gomera.

Amanda Ferry La Gomera

Windswept Amanda on the Ferry to  La Gomera

Ferry Crossing To La Gomera ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Ferry Crossing To La Gomera ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Our coach did not cross with us and we were met at the other end with a new coach and a new driver. This was the only downside as the new coach was much smaller than the one that had taken us to the ferry port. The multi-lingual guide came with us.

One of the things that frustrated Greg was that he wanted to be on the side of the coach that was facing the steep cliff drops, in order to take photographs. On both the trip to Masca and this one to La Gomera, we got it wrong and ended up up on the wrong side of the coach. If you want to be taking photographs from the window of the coach, it is worth asking beforehand about the route and the direction the coach will be going in, so you can plan where you want to sit.

La Gomera Roads ©2016 Gregory Goldston

La Gomera Roads ©2016 Gregory Goldston

La Gomera is one of the youngest islands in the Canary Islands, however it has so much to do and see that we could have spent at least a week here and not seen everything. We headed north from the port, up some very steep, winding roads to the National Park at the top. The landscape here is full of caverns and ravines and much of it quite reminiscent of something you might see in Machu Pichu in Peru.

La Gomera Landscape ©2016 Gregory Goldston

La Gomera Landscape ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Parts of the island have a climate that is almost sub-tropical in nature, which can be seen in the enormous variation of plants, flora and fauna to be found here, especially in the National Park. We briefly stopped here and were surprised to see tall ferns that you look up at.

Tall Ferns in La Gomera National Park ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Tall Ferns in La Gomera National Park ©2016 Gregory Goldston

There were also carpets of Pericallis steetzii, which are a purple flower that look similar to bluebells,  in the woodland.

Pericallis Steezii flower in La Gomera ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Pericallis Steezii flower in La Gomera ©2016 Gregory Goldston

This trip included numerous stops for photo opportunities of the stunning scenery, although from one view point we could only see the low, overhanging clouds.

Clouds Over La Gomera ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Clouds Over La Gomera ©2016 Gregory Goldston

We stopped at a traditional restaurant for lunch. Whilst we were there we had a demonstration of the ancient Gomeran language. This is a phonetic language which is created as a form of whistling. It was fascinating to hear it as I could make out what the words should be, even though there were no words as such. You could imagine this being used as a very effective form of communication between shepherds who were separated by substantial ravines and valleys.

There is an amazing variation of scenery from the mountains, to the stunning coastline, as well as winding mountain roads, passing by the steep terraces that have been used for cultivation for centuries.

La Gomera Terraces ©2016 Gregory Goldston

La Gomera Terraces ©2016 Gregory Goldston

We went back to the port of San Sebastian and found a lovely ice-cream cafe by the harbour. In addition to very scrummy ice-creams, they also sold hot chocolate with a choice of different fruit flavours. I tried a mango and papaya one and this made a lovely combination of flavours with the hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate San Sebastian La Gomera

Hot chocolate San Sebastian La Gomera

On both the ferry crossings, we were accompanied by several schools of dolphins, playing and swimming alongside the boat. We did not see any whales, although these are also quite prevalent around the islands.

Jumping Dolphin ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Jumping Dolphin ©2016 Gregory Goldston

On the way out I stayed outside with Greg on the deck, taking photographs and working on my windswept hair look. On the way back, I was hot and tired, so I sat inside whilst Greg stayed outside taking photographs.

The coach company we went with had three trips running that day, so they conveniently split everybody up at the port in order to make the drop-offs more efficient. Ours  at CLC Paradise Resort was one of the first drop offs which was lovely.

We only covered a small part of the island of La Gomera and I would have loved to have spent a lot more time here. We will make sure we get on the right side of the coach for photographs next time!

Amanda

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Barranco del Infierno Walk

On the recommendation of Alan, our presenter in the CLC Paradise Resort, we decided to tackle the Barranco del Infierno (Hell’s Gorge), which is located in Adeje, just a short taxi ride from the resort. We booked our trip through the reception of the resort. We had booked for 10am, although we ended up getting there for 9.30am. We had to sign a disclaimer and were issued with hard hats, which have to be worn all along the walk, as there is a danger of falling rocks in places.

Barranco del Infierno, Adeje, Tenerife , ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Barranco del Infierno, Adeje, Tenerife , ©2016 Gregory Goldston

As we got further up into the Ravine and could see the rocks overhanging on both sides, we could quite see why this is the case.

Barrnaco del Infierno Path ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Barrnaco del Infierno Path ©2016 Amanda Goldston

It is a very old ravine, where caves and artefacts have been found that suggest this was an important area for the Guanches people (600- 1000 AD). It is a very important nature area with hundreds of varieties of plants and other fauna. In an attempt to preserve the environment here, entry is restricted to only 300 people per day.

Barranco Del Infierno Cliffs ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Barranco Del Infierno Cliffs ©2016 Amanda Goldston

My Endomondo tracker said it was 6.37 miles/ about 10 km. The estimated time for the trail is about 3 hours. The path is well-maintained. There is a total height difference from the lowest point about 350 metres above sea level to the highest point about 880 metres. For us, the temperature ranged between 24 and 32 degrees C, so it was very hot. We were walking between 9.30 am and 1pm, so it got progressively hotter as we walked along.

There are several places to stop and take photographs with guides along the way. From a certain point they ask that you keep walking and don’t stop for photographs, as there is a possibility of falling rocks.

It is quite a spectacular walk, with a huge variation of scenery, ranging from the open, arid and exposed paths at the start of the walk to the lush, almost tropical valley at the bottom of the gorge. It is well worth the walk to the waterfall at the end. The waterfall has a height of over 200 metres and is located in a cavern at the end, where the overhanging rocks form a tunnel of light up at the top.

Barranco del Infierno Waterfall ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Barranco del Infierno Waterfall ©2016 Amanda Goldston

We were tired when we got back, however it was well worth the effort. The lady in the kiosk very kindly called us a taxi to take us back to the resort. I was glad that we did not walk up or down the steep incline from the village square to the entrance to the walk.

It was not something we had spotted in the guide book beforehand, so we were very grateful to Alan for telling us about it.

Amanda Barranco Del Infierno End

Amanda Barranco Del Infierno End of Walk

The Barranco del Infierno is open from 08:00 am until 18:30 (6.30 pm) although last entrance is 14:30 (2.30pm). As there are only 300 visitors a day allowed in the Gorge, it is advisable to book in advance. It can be closed after heavy rain, so it is best to check before you go.

Amanda

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The Pyramids of Guimar

We were quite intrigued by the Pyramids of Guimar, which are a set of stepped pyramids located towards the North of the Island. We caught the main Adeje- Santa Cruz bus to Guimar and then changed buses to a local bus that took us to the main bus station in Guimar. We walked up the hill to the entrance. We opted for the full ticket, which included all of the exhibits and the poison garden. We had a local bus timetable from the CLC Paradise resort and that gave us a 25% discount on the entry price.

The origins of the pyramids seem to be unclear. Archaeological digging would suggest that they were built as late as the 19th Century, however there is also a cave under one corner where artefacts have been found that suggest this area was used by the Guanches people as far back as 600 AD.

Pyradmids Of Guimar ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Pyradmids Of Guimar ©2016 Gregory Goldston

The site has also been linked to the ancient civilizations of the Mayans and the Egyptians by renowned Norwegian researcher Thor Heyerdahl.

Pyramids Guimar Solstice Line Up ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Pyramids Guimar Solstice Line Up ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Stepped Pyramids Of Guimar ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Stepped Pyramids Of Guimar ©2016 Gregory Goldston

It is a fascinating site. The pyramids themselves directly line up with the solstices and, on the Summer Solstice, you can see a phenomenon called a double sunset, where the sun sets behind one mountain, only to appear a few moments later to set behind the other one.

The garden have a large number of carefully preserved plant and tree species. There is something for everyone here, whether your interest is the Pyramids themselves, plants, history, culture or the exhibitions of Thor Heyerdahl.

Gardens Pyramids Guimar ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Gardens Pyramids Guimar ©2016 Amanda Goldston

We ventured around the Poison Garden, which was very interesting although we made sure we kept our hands and camera firmly in our pockets, so as not to touch anything.

We did not end up seeing the Thor Heyerdahl film show because it only ran every 90 minutes and by the time we got to the exhibition, we would have had to have waited until 4pm to watch the next showing and we were concerned we would miss our bus back. It was a shame because I would have like to have seen that. Unfortunately we had not checked the showing times before we went around the rest of the site.

In the exhibition area, there was also a picture of all the places around the world where they have found stepped pyramids, so that looks like our holidays are planned for the next 10 years! Mountains, Volcanoes and ancient Stepped Pyramid Sites – what more could I ask!

Amanda Greg Pyramids Guimar

Amanda Greg Pyramids Guimar

It was a really interesting day out and was well worth the effort to get there. We could have spent a lot more time there than we did.

For more information on the Pyramids of Guimar, you can go to their website.

Amanda

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Mount Teide Volcano and Cable Car

We took a taxi to the Adeje main bus station and caught the tourist bus which runs to the Teleferico Cable Car station on Mount Teide. There is only one bus which leaves at 9.15am in the morning and returns at 3.30pm in the afternoon. It is a special tourist bus, so the bono bus tickets are not valid on here. At the end of May 2016, the tickets were 14.5 Euros per person return.

The bus made a few stops on the way up to the cable car station, including at the Teide National Park Visitors centre.

Teide National Park And Mount Teide ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Teide National Park And Mount Teide ©2016 Gregory Goldston

We went on a Friday, which is a relatively quiet day. We had pre-booked the trip through TripAdvisor, although it probably was not necessary to do so. You are sent an e-voucher but you still have to join the queue to be issued with a proper ticket. There is a kiosk for people with pre-booked tickets and one for people without any tickets and both were moving as quickly as each other.

There is an opportunity to have your photo taken before you go up on the cable car and when you come back you can buy that photo with a nice little presentation certificate to say you have ascended the volcano via the cable car.

Cable Car Mount Teide ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Cable Car Mount Teide ©2016 Gregory Goldston

The cable car, or Teleferico as it is called locally, ascends just over 1200 metres in the space of 8 minutes to arrive at the viewing platform at a height of 3500 metres. You can only walk to the very top of the volcano, which is a further 200 metres up, if you have obtained a special permit in advance from the National Park authorities. This is not easy to do and requires a good couple of months notice.

It was a hot day, with temperatures in the high 20s Centigrade, so I was actually quite glad we had not been able to obtain a permit. I don’t think that either me or Greg were fit enough to have been able to survive that climb to the top.

Amanda with Mount Teide behind

Amanda with Mount Teide behind

There was a noticeable difference in air pressure, with having gone up so high in such a short space of time. I adapted to it very quickly and felt as happy as a mountain goat up a mountain! I automatically began to breathe more deeply and to fill my lungs with the fresh air. Greg struggled a bit more with it and that, combined with the heat, meant he did not fare as well as I had expected.

Greg Amanda With Mount Teide

Greg Amanda With Mount Teide

Other than the route to the top of the Mount Teide, there are two other walks you can take around to other sides of the volcano. Both are along paths that have been carved out of volcanic rock and lava. We did one the routes which was just under 0.5 mile in each direction, but it was one of the most strenuous walks I have done in a long time.

Amanda Looking Over Tenerife ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Amanda Looking Over Tenerife ©2016 Gregory Goldston

Amanda Top Of Mount Teide

Amanda Top Of Mount Teide

It was worth every step. The views were absolutely spectacular in every direction. Sitting just 200 metres below the very peak of a volcano at 3500 metres above sea level has got to be one of the most awesome places in the world for lunch!

View from Top Of TMount Teide ©2016 Gregory Goldston

View from Top Of TMount Teide ©2016 Gregory Goldston

As the temperature of the day increased, so did the temperature of the rocks, and they became almost too hot to touch.

Amanda Lunch Mount Teide

Amanda Lunch Mount Teide

We walked back to the cable car station and went down to the cafe at the bottom where we enjoyed a welcome coffee and cake. There were walking trials that led down from the top to the road, however these are very open and exposed, with little shelter from the sun, so we opted for the cable car.

There are toilets at the top station, but no other facilities, so it is important to have your own refreshments. Plenty of water is a must. A sun hat and sun cream are also highly recommended, as well as sturdy walking shoes. Having said that, we did see people walking over volcanic lava rocks in sandals!

We got back to the CLC Paradise Resort and decided this was probably a good time to have a dip in the pool.  It was lovely as the water was 24 degrees C. We enjoyed some very tasty ice creams from Janice’s Cafe Bar.

For more information on the Teleferico Cable Car, you can go to their website. You can also see reviews and book tickets through TripAdvisor.

Amanda

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Masca and Teide National Park Trip

We booked this excursion through TripAdvisor as it looked like a very good way to see quite a lot of the island. We were not disappointed. It was organised through Tenerife Ticket, which is part of the Tenerife Sunshine Company.

We were picked up promptly from the bus stop, just down the road from the CLC Paradise resort. The coach had several pick-ups around Costa Adeje, Playa de las Americas and Los Christianos before we headed up the winding mountain road towards the Teide National Park and Volcano.

The guide was multi-lingual, with all the information being in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. It was very interesting as he told us a lot about the formation of Tenerife, the history and customs.

We stopped for a short toilet break at a lovely little cafe and gift shop and then continued upwards from our starting point of sea level to the Visitor Centre in the heart of the Teide National Park, at over 2000 metres above sea level.

Teide National Park is a UNESCO protected Heritage site and has the volcano, Mount Teide, as its centre piece. This is a very interesting and varied landscape. Much of the mountainside is covered with the Canarian Pine tree, which is extremely important for the whole eco-system. We could see hundreds of walking trails leading off in all different directions.

Teide National Park and Volcano

Teide National Park and Volcano

As you come closer to the top, you come out into a huge plateau area with some curious rock formations. This has often been referred to as a moon surface, as it is miles and miles of lava and volcanic rock that has been left after various explosions of the volcano.

Teide National Park

Teide National Park

We drove across to the major viewpoint area and stopped to take photographs. It is an awe-inspiring landscape and looks like something out of one of the old Western films. Mount Teide rises steeply in the background to a height of over 3700 metres, making it the highest volcano in Europe.

Teide National Park Tenerife

Teide National Park Tenerife

Teide National Park Volcanic Rock

Teide National Park Volcanic Rock

Teide National Park Rock Formations

Teide National Park Rock Formations

From there we went back down the mountain to a little place called Santiago del Teide, where we had lunch. The guide organised this for us. We had a traditional soup, Canarian chicken and potatoes, fruit, wine, water and juice- all for 13.5 euros per person, which I thought was good value for money.

After lunch, we proceeded down some very winding roads to the old town of Icod de los Vinos to visit the famous Drago Tree. This tree is apparently over 1000 years old, although no-one really knows for certain. This village has a lot of lush greenery and tress, which is quite a contrast to the arid areas of the National Park. We did not realise at the time that there are also lava tubes here where you can actually go inside the volcano. That will be a trip for the next visit.

Drago Tree in Icod de Los Vinos

Drago Tree in Icod de Los Vinos

Pole Walking at Garachico

From here we went further along the Northwest coast to Garachico, which has been dubbed as the Unlucky Town. Up until the late 1700s, it was a very prosperous town, forming a convenient trading place between the Americas and the rest of Europe and Africa. It was almost wiped out by the lava flows from a major eruption in 1706 and has endured many other misfortunes including plagues of locusts, storms and attacks.

There are natural pools, which have been formed from the lava. These make a great area for sunbathing and walking, although you have to be quite careful as the waves can come crashing over the walls.

There was a person demonstrating a walking a climbing using a pole, which was fascinating. This is something that comes from the Island of La Gomera, where people need to be able to easily get up and down the very steep valleys and gorges.

Pole Walking at Garachico

From here we went past the vast tracts of Banana Plantations, which produce one of the Island’s biggest exports. They are very tasty bananas.

We headed back into the mountains to the hidden-away little gem of a place called Masca. WOW! The views were absolutely breathtaking. There is a steep path down to the water and for many years this was the only way of accessing Masca. The guide told us that Masca remained undiscovered for more than 50 years after the various invading forces landed here and it is easy to see why.

Road To Masca

Road To Masca

This is also the only place that serves the yummy delicacy of Cactus Ice Cream, made from the copious supplies of cactus that readily grows on these mountain slopes.

Cactus Ice Cream Masca

Cactus Ice Cream Masca

Masca is nestled amongst mountains and gorges that rise steeply from the sea, in a landscape that time clearly forgot and which looks like it should belong in the set of a fantasy film.

Masca Village ©GregoryGoldston 2016

Masca Village ©GregoryGoldston 2016

The journey back out of Masca was quite hair-raising, as the roads are a series of hair-pin bends, with steep cliff-side drops. Sometimes these roads were not wide enough for two vehicles and fortunately drivers were very patient and allowed each other to pass. There were a couple of occasions where our coach driver could not clear the bend in one turn and so had to stop and reverse back slightly to make a second attempt. This is not really what you what you want to experience when the back end of your coach is perilously close to hanging over the edge of a cliff.

The mountain road rejoined the main road at Santiago de Teide. We made our way back along the coast, through a little place called Los Gigantes, on the Northwest coast. This has several large sea stacks, which are reminiscent in shape of the sea stacks at Yesnaby Head, in the Orkneys, Scotland.

We came along the Adeje coast back to the resort and were dropped off right outside the CLC Paradise Resort.

We had bought ourselves plenty of food in the supermarket the day before so we enjoyed our evening meal with a lovely bottle of wine, sitting on the terrace of our apartment, watching the sun go down over the bay.

For more information on the excursion, you can go to Mount Teide and Masca Valley Tour on TripAdvisor

Amanda

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CLC Resort and Presentation

This was a promotional trip that we received from CLC World Resorts. We had a free week’s accommodation in the lovely CLC Paradise Resort on the Costa Adeje in the Southwest part of Tenerife in exchange for attending a presentation on their holiday club in Birmingham in January and again whilst on-site in Tenerife.

The Paradise Resort is beautiful. It is located up a hill, with mountains behind and views over the bay. The sunrises over the mountains ended up being more spectacular than the sunsets over the sea during our visit.

CLC Paradise Morning Mountain View

CLC Paradise Morning Mountain View

We had a large one bedroom apartment with a spacious terrace on the 5th floor, in the middle of the complex, so we could look down on the pool area, which is on the first floor, but we were not overlooked.

Amanda Terrace CLC Paradise Apartment

Amanda Terrace CLC Paradise Apartment

CLC Paradise Pool Area

CLC Paradise Pool Area

The apartment was well equipped with everything we needed – including a large fridge freezer, plenty of crockery, dishwasher, washing machine and a kettle! There is a Welcome Pack provided including tea, coffee, milk, orange juice, bread, some butter and jam sachets, a pack of ground coffee for the coffee machine and a nice bottle of red wine.

CLC Paradise Kitchen Lounge

CLC Paradise Kitchen Lounge

CLC Paradise Bathroom

CLC Paradise Bathroom

CLC Paradise Bedroom

CLC Paradise Bedroom

Personally I preferred the tea with my tea bags that we had brought from home. We tend to take our large mugs with us wherever we go, as cups in accommodation are never big enough for a “proper mug of tea!”

There is a TV which has a wide selection of satellite TV channels. My husband even managed to find a live showing of the England-Turkey football game on the Friday night, so even going all that way, I did not manage to escape football!

Towels and pool towels were provided, along with a small bottle of shampoo and shower gel, so you do need to take your own toiletries for your stay.

The balcony comes with a table and chairs, sunloungers and a parasol, and ours had the sun on it most of the day.

CLC Paradise Terrace

CLC Paradise Terrace

The apartment was spotlessly clean when we arrived on the Tuesday evening. Bedding was changed and the apartment was cleaned on Saturday. The whole resort is clean and well-maintained.

There is a small shop called Sam’s Pantry on site. It has a few basic items but they are quite expensive in comparison to the large supermarket at the bottom of the hill. We only used it once, although they did have some very delicious, freshly baked breads and croissants at half price.

There are two eating establishments on the complex, which are Zachary’s and Janice’s. Zachary’s offers a wider range of food, including some traditional Canary Islands dishes and a wider selection of wines than Janice’s, which offers more basic things such as burgers and pizzas. We ate at both restaurants. Food was excellent at both, service was quick and efficient and we were pleased. Zachary’s is a lot more expensive than Janice’s. I must say Janice’s do some very nice scoop ice-cream in cones!

CLC Paradise Janices Restaurant

CLC Paradise Janice’s Restaurant

There was live entertainment at Zachary’s most evenings until 10pm and it as actually quite good.

We were using the apartment as a base for our walking and exploring, so we were not in it a great deal. We did manage a couple of hours by the pool one day after a hot walk and an hour or so soaking up the sun on the balcony.

Everyone in the resort was polite, friendly and very helpful. Reception staff booked us taxis as we needed them and explained about buses to get to where we wanted to go. Staff are multi-lingual and we found everything to be very efficient.

We had our sales presentation on the Thursday. Having already been to one in Birmingham, we had a good idea of what to expect and were curious to see what else might be on offer. We were treated to a gorgeous all-you-can-eat breakfast at Zachary’s restaurant. The people on the afternoon presentation get a full afternoon tea.

The presentation was interesting and informative, as there was a lot more available in the package than we had previously seen. We went to have a look at the other CLC resort nearby, which is Monterrey. This is where CLC members normally stay. I have to say, it was lovely. The accommodation was a bit bigger and included its own large bath in the main bedroom and hot tub on the balcony.

Monterrey has an even bigger hill than CLC Paradise Resort, although it is actually closer to the beach. There are great views of the bay, although you can’t really see the mountains. From that basis, I preferred the mountain views from Paradise Club.

We were interested in the Holiday Club that is being offered, as there are lots of parts to it that could be of benefit to us, however it did not work out for us to take advantage of it at this time. Whilst out on one of the excursions, we met people who were CLC members, so it was interesting to hear of their experiences, which, at that point, were very positive.

We were well looked after and had a great holiday in a very nice resort. It was a great base and it worked well for us. The money we saved on accommodation costs went to good use on some lovely excursions.

CLC World have some fabulous resorts all  over the world. For more information about CLC World and their holidays please go to CLC World.com

If you would like to take advantage of a promotional trip and enjoy a week’s free accommodation in a gorgeous sunny location, you can contact one of the CLC World Travel Centres to find out more. When we went to Birmingham, we also received a £50 shopping voucher just for attending.

Amanda

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Tenerife Holiday

We (my hubby Greg and I) have just come back from a fabulous holiday in sunny Tenerife. We have had a week of temperatures that did not drop below 20C and which were frequently around 32C. It was bliss! Although a couple of the days started out a bit cloudy, they soon cleared up and we did not need jumpers at all.

Tenerife was not quite what I had expected. I had thought it would just be miles and miles of beaches. I had not realised that it is a volcanic island, with the peak of Mount Teide rising to over 3700 metres, making it the highest volcano in Europe. It has an area of around 2000 square metres and has a huge variation of scenery, including some pretty spectacular roads, with hair-pin bends and steep, cliff-side drops.

I have normally associated mountainous areas with snow and cold. Whilst there was snow on the very peak of the Volcano, it was certainly not cold. We did manage one day on the beach, which was the day we were leaving.

Travel

We flew from East Midlands Airport to Reina Sofia Airport in Tenerife with Ryanair. I was most impressed with the service on the way out, as we arrived 40 minutes early in Tenerife. We walked easily through passport control with officials giving our passports a mere glance and straight into the baggage reclaim area, where the luggage from our flight was already on the carousel! As we came out into the arrivals hall, right on the minute that our flight should have landed, we walked right into our taxi driver, who arrived exactly as we did! Given that Tenerife is part of Spain, this level of efficiency was not something I would have expected.

CLC Paradise Resort

We stayed in a self-catering apartment in the lovely CLC Paradise Resort on the Costa Adeje in the Southwest part of Tenerife.

CLC Paradise Resort

CLC Paradise Resort

When we got to the resort, everything was ready and waiting for us and again flowed smoothly and efficiently. This continued all week. Every bus and coach we went to catch arrived right on the dot, with the exception of one coach and we were informed it was running late.

Taxis and Buses

Taxis are relatively cheap in Tenerife and a good way to get about, as the resort is located on a hill where buses do not really pass. There were usually taxis outside the resort or if not, the staff would cal one for us and it usually appeared within minutes. We mostly used taxis to get to the main bus station in Adeje to catch a bus to further excursions. The taxi fare varied from Euros 3.80 – 5.10, which seemed to be affected by the day and the direction of travel.

The bus service is very efficient and relatively cheap. If you are going to use the buses a lot, then you can buy what is called a Bono card. This is a type of pre-loaded card, whereby you then get discounts on most of the bus fares. There are cards of 15, 25 and 50 Euros, which are valid for up to a year. The Bono Cards did not, however, include the bus up to the Teide Cable Car as this is considered to be a tourist route bus.

Eating

Close to the CLC Paradise Resort are a few little shops and bars, as well as a large supermarket and shopping mall. We made good use of the supermarket, as we wanted food for breakfast, for packed lunches and for a couple of evening meals. We got through loads of water and carrying five litre bottles of water up the hill was a good test of muscle strength. The supermarket offered very useful bags, which had two sets of straps on them – one to carry the bag by hand and the other to carry it on your shoulder. What a great idea!

There are two on-site restaurants at CLC Paradise and we made good use of both of them.

It was a wonderful holiday, with plenty of walking, although some of it was rather hard as we were walking in temperatures of over 30 C degrees. I suppose it is quite true to say that “Only Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun!” Yes, that was us!

Excursions

We went on an organised excursion to the Teide National Park, including Masca and to the Island of La Gomera, off the Tenerife coast. We had booked the first one before we went and booked the second one while we were there. The other days out, including The Teide Volcano Cable Car, The Pyramids of Guimar and the Barranco del Infierno walk, we organised ourselves and used the local bus service.

Teide National Park and Volcano

Teide National Park and Volcano

On the last day we walked along the beaches at Los Christianos and Playa de Las Americas before getting a taxi back to the airport.

Playa de las Americas Beach

Playa de las Americas Beach

 

Airports and Travel

You can tell that you are in an airport when two bottles of water and three bags of sweets cost nearly 17 Euros! The incoming plane was late and then we watched the first bit of Spanish inefficiency that we had seen all holiday. When they tried to connect the moving passenger tunnel to the door of the plane, they found that it did not reach, so the pilot had to get all the jet engines up and running again in order to roll the plane forward about a metre. The people on board the aircraft must have wondered what on earth was happening!

We had an interesting experience with getting through the Security checks at Tenerife South Airport. Both Greg and I got stopped going through the scanner. The trays with our items were taken to one side and we had to follow, one on each side of the security area. I was scanned again with a piece of paper, that created a red blob on the screen. When I asked what they were looking for, I was told, they were scanning for explosives. The security guard asked me what I was wearing in the form of skincare or suncare product. He seemed quite surprised when I told him it was my trusty Coconut Oil. This was the first time that Greg had any on skin because we had used it as an after sun cream on his sunburn.

With nothing else changing, the security guard then scanned me again and the machine went yellow this time and we were allowed to collect our possessions and go through. Bizarre!

We boarded the aeroplane at around 6.30pm, in brilliant sunshine, with temperatures around 24C. As we approached East Midlands Airport at around 11.20pm, all the people around us started layering up with jumpers, jogging bottoms and thick socks. On arriving in England, the temperature was 10C and it was cloudy! It was a bit of a temperature shock to get off the plane.

Although we left late, the pilot had managed to make up time, so we landed punctually. At around 9pm, we were flying alongside a gorgeous sunset, that lit up the whole sky.

In contrast to the efficiency of the outward journey, the arrival back in East Midlands Airport was not so brilliant. Passport control consisted on two card reader machines for all of UK and EU passports together, which was accessed by walking backwards and forwards between barrier ribbons, and four people behind windows to inspect all other passports!

Having previously experienced these machines and their inability to read our passports, we, along with a lot of other tired travellers, decided to take the shorter, quieter route of people-operated passport control.

When we got through the baggage reclaim, the luggage from another, slightly later flight was already on the carousels, although the people had not come through passport control, and ours was nowhere to be seen, even though all the passengers from our flight had safely navigated passport control.

I decided to use the Ladies toilets, only to find there was no toilet paper and the automatic flush mechanism was not working. Welcome to Britain!

At least the bus for our car park was waiting outside, which was good. On leaving the car park, we had a little bit of a scare, as the barrier did not automatically open. We had to contact the help desk, who eventually let us out.

We got home just after 1am, having had an awesome time. The next day we got up to a cloudy, bleak day in Tamworth and felt so cold that we had to put the heating on!

There is so much to see and do in Tenerife and we really only scratched the surface. I would certainly go back again. I would like to explore the North of the Island and also to spend more time walking and taking photographs on La Gomera.

A week was not enough!

Amanda

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Walk over Thorpe Cloud and Dovedale

We have visited the Dovedale Valley in Derbyshire on several occasions and previously have walked up through the Valley to Milldale Village, which is just over 3.5 miles in each direction. It is a relatively flat walk, with only a little hillock in the middle. There is the call of yummy fruit cake and tea at Milldale and the greater pull of scrummy ice-cream back at the Dovedale Car Park.

Inspired by my #walk1000miles challenge and a feature I found in Country Walking Magazine, Route Walk 27, July 2015, I decided I would tackle Thorpe Cloud, which majestically overlooks the Dovedale Valley.

Looking Down on Dovedale Valley, Derbyshire , ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Looking Down on Dovedale Valley, Derbyshire , ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Thorpe Cloude rises 287 m (nearly 1000 feet) in under a mile.

I was walking into a gale force wind, so this did not help.

Most of the climb is on a path, although somewhat faint in places, however the last 100 metres or so are a fairly steep scramble up over a rocky outcrop to the top.

I have found that I have struggled with walking uphill. My pace slows down and my calves really ache. It is almost as if I am walki9ng with my calves and not really using the rest of my muscles. I really struggled with this climb. My calves were burning and the pain seemed to shoot right up my legs. I tried to climb 10 steps at a time before I rested, but found it was down to 1 or 2 steps before each rest. I set myself little goals of getting to the next little rock before I rested.

Turning back was not an option, as I would never have lived that down! As the pain in my legs intensified, I also felt quite dizzy and felt like I was going to be sick. I kept reminding myself of the pleasure I would feel on completing it and sitting on the top of the rocky outcrop.

I have walked up hills and mountains before but I don’t think I have ever struggled as much as I did with this climb.

I was very glad to get to the top and to balance myself on the rocks, so I did not get blown away. I was very glad to sip my warm tea and to munch on some home-made flapjack (that my neighbour had kindly given me). Despite the wind, the views from the top were quite spectacular. I could see most of the Valley and was looking down on the famous stepping stones.

Looking back up to the Top Of Thorpe Cloud ©2016 Amanda Goldston

Looking back up to the Top Of Thorpe Cloud ©2016 Amanda Goldston

I walked down over the ridge to pick up the little path to take me down into the Valley itself.

I came out by the stepping stones.

I walked along the valley to Milldale, with a few stops for tea. I decided not to do the rest of the walk listed in the Country Walking Magazine as it involved a further climb up over the valley from Milldale and my legs were already aching from the ascent up Thorpe Cloud. Perhaps I will do that one another day when I am feeling a bit fitter.

I set off back along the path from Milldale towards the car park at Dovedale. There is usually an ice cream van there, so there was great draw for my little legs to pick up pace.

There were a couple of groups of school children in the valley and it was lovely to see children outside, having lessons in the sun and interacting with the environment in a very practical way. There was one quite large group, who were fishing at Milldale and then walked along the valley. It was wonderful to see children walking as part of their curriculum. They were a very well-behaved group of young people. They were polite and moved to one side to let me past.

As it was mid-week, there were very few people around and it was wonderfully easy to cross the stepping stones.

When I got back to Dovedale car park, the ice-cream van was there as expected and I enjoyed a large tub of two different flavours of ice-cream. They are huge scoops, so £3 was well worth it.

Although Dovedale Valley belongs to the National Trust, the car park is privately owned and is £3 to park for the whole day.

It was brilliant sunshine, with temperatures in the mid 20s C, so the layers of woolley hat and gloves, thick coat and jumper gradually all came off and made their way into my bag, although I was had been very glad of them on top of a very windswept Thorpe Cloud.

I had started out at around 9.30am and was back at the car by about 2pm, so it was a very enjoyable 6.5 mile round trip walk.

We visited Dovedale again on the following Sunday and this time I just walked along the Valley with Greg. I did not attempt Thorpe Cloud again as my legs were still aching from the first trip.

It is a lovely day out and well worth making the effort to get there.

Amanda

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