My wife, Andy, has already posted a blog about this, but I felt I needed to tell my side of the story.
“We’re lost,” I could hear irritation creeping into her voice.
“No, we’re not,” I checked the compass against the map. “We’re definitely going in the right direction…trust me.”
“Maybe we should have followed those other people, they seemed to know what they were doing.”
Ouch! That hurt.
Thirty seconds later I was facing a vertical rock face in front of me and two sheer drops into abyssal ravines on either side.
“Hmmm, I don’t think this is the right path,” I mumbled, coming to the same conclusion that both Andy and Sue had reached twenty minutes earlier.
For the second time in two weeks we had ventured into the Anaga’s, this time to show our friend Sue, on holiday from the big smoke, the splendours of Tenerife’s most remote landscapes and a village with no roads. It was a folly. We’d walked the route to the very eastern tip of Tenerife once previously and had nearly expired that time due to misjudging water supplies and a barranco that never ended, but the scenery is stunning and we wanted Sue to see a Tenerife that very few visitors experience.
It all started pleasantly enough. The sound of Santana drifting up from Chamorga, a village at the end of Tenerife’s eastern road, added a suitably Latino soundtrack to the swathes of sugar cane and steep narrow terraces that lined the path, lending the countryside a South America aspect. The start of the trail was clearly signed and our directions seemed relatively straightforward…until we reached the first junction. Sure there was a sign, but it was completely rusted over and the barely legible name on it didn’t match the one on my map. However, the path we were on was the only decent one we’d seen, so we decided to continue onwards and upwards through the musty laurisilva forest.
Fifteen minutes later and an alarm bell went off in my head; we seemed to be heading away from the coast rather than towards it. However we always carry a compass, just for moments such as these. I lined up north with the compass printed on the map and set the reading to east, the direction we should have been travelling. The path we were on was heading in the opposite direction.
With much mumbling and grumbling and Andy and Sue behaving like a couple of ‘doubting Thomasinas’, muttering things like ‘this doesn’t look like a real path’, to which I retorted, under my breath of course, ‘this is the great outdoors my friends…it doesn’t have pavements’, we retraced our steps and took a much smaller path which led due east (the right way).
An hour and a half, having fought our way along numerous paths, all of which started promisingly and ended suddenly, we emerged at a clearing – right above the village where we’d started. An hour and a half of walking and we’d travelled a big fat zero miles in terms of distance.
There was only one thing for it. We abandoned the walk, returned to the car and drove to the troglodyte hamlet of Chinamada instead. My reputation as walking guide, tracker and expert map reader in tatters.
As navigator and map holder, I was held responsible for the debacle which I felt was a tad unfair for two, no three reasons:
- We were using an officially produced walking map. These are nearly always almost useless. Directions are more guidelines, the author clearly never having actually completed the walk.
- The route on the map clearly didn’t exist anymore, despite the map being less than two years old (see above).
- This is the killer. There was a compass on the map, but get this, the cardinal direction of the compass bearing which pointed to the top of the page was not the usual north, but east so, not having noticed this, my readings had been wrong from the off.
Needless to say, I was not the most popular person in the Anaga Mountains that day. Thank you very much map makers of Tenerife.