For our first five years visiting Lanzarote I believed that lying on a sunbed was exhausting and to arise and walk to the pool was a heroic achievement worthy of universal approbation. Walking for any distance was right out!
For the last few years, though, I’ve found that that is not entirely so. Directed by Alan, I’ve walked up endless mountains and marvelled at island views and the insides of volcanoes. The view from some of the cliffs and coronas is breath-taking (although, admittedly that could just be the walk to reach them). A side effect of this exercise is that it has resolved the dampness problem in my wardrobe. Previously I found that the trousers I wore to fly to Lanzarote would shrink in the wardrobe and prove too small to wear for the return trip. Since walking, I have found the ‘shrinking in the wardrobe’ problem largely alleviated.
This is a variant of a walk shown to me by Alan, last year. Alan’s walk is slightly gentler, but involves persuading a non-walker to drop you at the Chapel of the Snow from where we firstly marvel at the view over La Graciosa and Famara beach and then walk past The Golf Ball, down past The Dam and back to Charco del Palo, pausing only for a cold beer at The Arepera. Highly recommended if you have a kind driver and more so if you can persuade Alan to guide you because he’ll give you snippets of history and agriculture that really do bring the scenery to life.
This walk suited us because we didn’t have a handy driver and wanted to walk up as well as down and on rougher tracks, not just farm roads.
We parked by the church in Mala, which is at the North end of the town. If you’ve more than one car or there is a church service, then park on the main street.
Walk west down the road from the Church, crossing the LZ1 on a small bridge, and head gently uphill. Pass a farmhouse on your left, ignore a track to your left and then reach a white farmhouse on your right on a sharp right-hand bend. These houses are active farms. Both have serious solar arrays, suggesting that they may not be on the grid. There is a large water collection basin with a swimming pool type liner feeding a large Aljibe (Cistern) to supply a good array of fields, growing (Alan tells us) potato and watermelon.
Opposite the white farmhouse on your right there is a hard to discern track up the hill to the left of the road. Once you have scrambled up the initial bit this the path will become clear.
Perhaps a half-way up the ridge path there is a stone structure and a few cultivated terraces. Why just there is a puzzle worthy of a moment’s pondering. Draw breath and look behind you over Mala and Charco del Palo. To the left you can see Arrieta, Punta Mujeres, Jameos del Agua and beyond. Just to the left of the path near to this building a branch leads around to an extensive cave. Probably not entirely safe, but if you have a good torch at least you can look in from the cave mouth. The path to the cave is near the edge, but safe enough.
After zig-zagging for a bit it levels off at the top of the hill and you have easy walking for the rest of the journey. Shortly you find a dusty old stone wall to step over.
There are Classical Greek myths where the souls of the dead cross a crumbling stone wall and descend to a dried up river bed and into oblivion. This wall exactly matches my image of that. It is a relief that we are crossing uphill into life, not downhill into death and oblivion. Anyway, from here the path follows a dry watercourse, being very evident in places and invisible in others.
As you continue your gentle climbing, the golf ball hoves into view and this makes an excellent landmark. At every junction on your path take the option that leads towards the golf ball. This will take you onto a rough road and thence onto better roads until you pass a farmhouse distinguished by a rusty fence and drunken concrete gateposts.
Continue past that house and you reach a road junction with a larger house. Turn right, downhill, and you see a smart house on your right with what Alan calls an unusual back garden. From here, follow the road to the left and the walk is a POP (No. You’ll have to complete that acronym yourself)
From there, travel down the road, initially zig-zagging, and then straight, crossing the barranco (watercourse) by a ruined farmhouse in what must have been a lovely location. Proceed on down, passing a smart house/enclave, on the left, marvelling at the quite lush vegetation in places and eventually you will see the dam on your left. It is possible to cross the dam, affording impressive views from the dam and the ridge beyond it unless, for you like me, vertigo prevails. You’ll notice that there is water in the dam but not much. We’re told that the dam has never actually worked, seemingly because the rock structure is too porous to hold water.
Returning to the car, you can drive home although, for us, tradition requires that we stop at The Arepera for very cold beer.
As an aside, we always take a carrier bag with the aim of filling one with litter on each walk. An al-too-easy target! Of course, we’ll never make a serious dent on the island’s litter but it does feel nice to leave it better than you find it. Maybe if we all do it… As guests on the island its nice to contribute.
Give the walk a try. You need plenty of water, sun protection and decent trainers, but it’s not too hard and quite a lot of people have done it. Some, even, without subsequent hospitalisation.