Goats eh, bit dim aren’t they? Well it seemed that way to me. Down in the depths of Barranco del Ancon, and on the way to Roque del Conde, I stopped to take photos of the wayward animals as a farmer, perched on the lip of the ravine, whistled and shouted guidance to them. Then the euro dropped, he was shouting at me, I had wandered from the path and was now being shepherded. With a wave of thanks I side stepped onto the rough upward pathway hacked into the steep rocky side of the barranco. The goats carried on clanking their bells and bleating as they danced along the ledges.
It was lovely and cool down at that lower level, I had picked a supposedly cooler day to reacquaint myself with Roque del Conde or table top mountain in Arona. It’s one of the most familiar sights to anyone venturing into Tenerife South, looking like it has been planed off by a tipsy carpenter, the 1001 metre (3,300 feet) peak looks down on Las Américas and Los Cristianos.
Arona town is a perfect place to start a walk, there are three main routes starting from the central plaza and a large notice board has full details in several languages. It was cloudy with a pleasant chill in the air as I followed the signposts into the tiny village of Vento, meeting a Belgium couple, we overshot our turn off before realising we had to turn down someone’s driveway onto the path that ran past a shanty town of a farm. Down and up over the small Barranco de las Casas we then needed big strides to descend into the goats” domain.
I lost sight of my new friends as I loitered for photos but climbing up a large rise or peering over a cactus shower crowned with colourful flowers I soon caught them up. An hour into the walk and the clouds were dispersing and the heat was on. We passed an old house, derelict and roofless but making a good home for invading plants and large lizards. Pushing on we passed a circular viewpoint or mirador called Centinela and threading through a scratchy corridor of plants, came to an outcrop of rock where we could take in the views and draw breath.
At this point, looking at the steep rise and tight unclear path to the top, my new friends decided that was far enough for them, it was now me versus the mountain. Nature made a good trade off, as I got higher the path got trickier but the views impressed in even greater measure. At certain points there were helpful white arrows daubed on large stones, I was eager to run into the keen climber with a paint pot and a brush, but had to settle for a family heading downward. They insisted just 20 minutes to the top and were about right. Finally clearing the last ridge I felt a great rush of satisfaction at reaching the plateau with its white asphodels and long grass.
I took a 360 degree walk to take in all the views, getting as near as I dare to the edges. Someone had tried a barbecue in a stone wall wind break and a few idiots had even left beer cans in crevices but it didn’t detract from the amazing panorama. One couple had decided to sunbathe on a prominent ledge, rather them than me. A quick gulp of water and I started to retrace my tracks, the stones shifted under my momentum and I made a few wrong turns but progress was steady.
It was scorching now but the odd wispy cloud gave some brief respite and my water was lasting well. The barranco brought an extra reward when I noticed a Barbary Partridge perched on a ledge. It allowed me a quick photo before flying along the barranco with a brood of youngsters in its wake. The last climb up the side of the ravine really pulled on my legs but I made it back into the town for a cold drink, just five hours in total including a good hour of stops and photo opportunities. I bet those goats spent the afternoon lazing around in the shade somewhere ““ lightweights.