Author Archives: benlcollins

Honeymoon Trek in La Gomera, Canary Islands

A photo essay from the trek my wife and I took for our honeymoon, on the beautiful island of La Gomera, in the Canary Islands. We did this trip in late 2014, and we’ve had two baby boys since then, so forgive my slow progress on this blog…! 😉

We travelled with Macs Adventure, a self-guided walking tour company, who did a brilliant job of organising our accommodation, transport and route logistics, as well as moving our overnight bags from rustic hotel to rustic hotel. This meant we could just enjoy the walking, the scenery and great food. It was our honeymoon after all 😉

Looking back to Tenerife from the ferry to La Gomera. It would be the last time we’d see high-rises, bars and tourists:

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Our first night was in San Sebastian, the capital of the island, with a population of around 8,500. It’s a tiny place, but of course, that’s the charm. Here’s San Sebastian seen from the mountains above, to give you an idea of the scale and setting:

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The Hiking

Day 1: El Cerdo –> Chipudé

Our first day of trekking dawned grey and drizzly, but it was perfect weather to be trekking through tropical forest and I believe it’s pretty typical for the central mountainous area of La Gomera.

Shortly after being dropped off at the village of El Cerdo to start the walk, we entered the island’s National Park:

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The hiking was other-wordly, on excellent paths through the misty trees:

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One of my favourite aspects of the hiking in La Gomera was the surprises one encounters around every bend. Buried deep in the middle of the National Park forest is this little gem, the church Ermita de Lourdes:

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We continued through the misty forests all morning, gradually gaining height as we climbed upwards through the mountains, towards the highest point of the island:

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Plaque near the summit of Alto de Garajonay, which, at 1407m, is the highest point on the island. It was pretty wet, windy and wild on top, so we didn’t get any views (or photos). A reason to return!

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We passed some stupendously scenic pine groves on the descent off the mountain:

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The day concluded with us hiking through terraced farmland, past herds of goats, into the tiny village of Chipudé, where we stayed the night in a cozy hotel.

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The church off the central square in Chipudé:

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Sunset from the hotel room in Chipudé:

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Day 2: Chipudé –> Vallehermoso

Again, the day began with wet weather so we set off in full waterproofs. It felt like a typical Scottish hike!

The hiking was along scenic terraced fields, past tiny villages:

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The island is like a time capsule, with original homes and features everywhere. This particular doorway was in the village of El Cercado, which also had a few craft shops selling local pottery that we checked out, before walking on:

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Beyond the village of El Cercado, we traversed across the head of a huge, steep valley, which had been ingeniously terraced. Our path weaved along the terraces:

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Excellent walking, despite the light rain:

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Beyond the terraces we plunged back into the misty, tropical forest:

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We began our descent down towards Vallehermoso, along a wild path descending through the mountains:

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Every so often, we’d see a building and some terraces far off, nestled deep in the mountains, amongst the palm trees and cacti:

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As we approached Vallehermoso, we dropped beneath the heavy blanket of clouds to see the brilliant blue sea in the distance. This photo doesn’t really do it justice but it was a beautiful view. That’s Vallehermoso in the valley floor:

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Approaching Vallehermoso, can you spot my wife in this photo (blue top)?

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Day 3: Circular walk from Vallehermoso

A superb circular hike up the mountains behind Vallehermoso and along their tops, where we enjoyed the wide open sea views:

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The small chapel of Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Coromoto is at the top:

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Stupendous views along the rugged coastline, with the beach, Playa de Vallehermoso and it’s outdoor pool, just visible bottom right:

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Day 4: Vallehermoso –> Hermigua

Bright sunshine and not a cloud in sight! This is more like the weather we expected. Our bags were collected from the hotel in Vallehermoso and we set off to hike to the next town of Hermigua.

We went straight up into the mountains and had wonderful views back across the valley to Vallehermoso:

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This section of the hike along the coastline was spectacular, being so open and expansive:

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Mountain reflection:

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The village of Agulo that we passed on the hike to Hermigua. The village was a maze of narrow little lanes, nestled into the mountainside:

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View of Hermigua from our hotel window. Fabulous, long day of walking! It was glorious to arrive and relax with a view like this. You can just see Tenerife and the peak of Mt. Teide poking up behind the ridgeline:

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The fish dinners in Hermigua were superb:

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Day 5: Circular walk from Hermigua

Another beautiful, sunny day, perfect for more coastal walking:

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Can you tell we were enjoying ourselves?

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Looking up the valley from Hermigua towards the mountains, in the direction we’d be heading the following morning:

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Day 6: Hermigua –> San Sebastian

Today was a shorter hike, but the views were some of the best.

We were back on the east coast of the island again, looking out towards Tenerife and El Teide:

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The hiking was so, so good:

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The view as we approached San Sebastian:

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Day 7: San Sebastian

Back in San Sebastian, we had one more day to relax and look around.

This is the old fort:

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A typical street at rush hour, as you can see San Sebastian is a pretty busy place:

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The main square and church of San Sebastian:

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All in all, one of the best holidays we’ve taken. My wife and I still talk about this trip often and we’ll return one day, of that I’m sure.

Wonderful memories 🙂

Logistics:

There are no direct flights into San Sebastian, so you’re required to fly into neighbouring Tenerife and catch one of the frequent ferries across to La Gomera (takes about 1 – 3 hours).

We travelled with Macs Adventure on this itinerary. They arranged all the logistics for us and transported our bags between hotels, so we could really relax and enjoy the walking.

Rocky Mountain National Park Photo Essay

Archives: Trip from September 2014

It was well over a year ago that I spent two fantastic weeks hiking and climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park with my great buddy Steven.

The highlight of the trip was our alpine ascent of Mt Ypsilon, a marvellous 10 pitches of rock climbing up a wild ridgeline to a high, remote summit. However, that was by no means the only fantastic day we had. We had several days of premier crack climbing around Estes Park, climbed several other massive alpine mountains on the Dividing Range and saw some spectacular wildlife. All in all, it was a fantastic trip.

Photos from the trip, hiking and climbing amongst the stunning Rockies:

Steven looking out towards Longs Peak

Steven looking out towards Longs Peak

Rockies Sunset

Sunset

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Off to go climbing near Estes Park, CO

Off to go climbing near Estes Park, CO

Pear Buttress route, Book Crag, Lumpy Ridge

Pear Buttress route, Book Crag, Lumpy Ridge

Steven leading the 1st pitch of Pear Buttress route, Book Crag, Lumpy Ridge

Steven leading the 1st pitch of Pear Buttress route, Book Crag, Lumpy Ridge

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park (photo credit: Steven Cunnane)

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park (photo credit: Steven Cunnane)

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park (photo credit: Steven Cunnane)

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park (photo credit: Steven Cunnane)

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Climbing on Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park

Climbing Batman and Robin, Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park

Climbing Batman and Robin, Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park

Evening light over the mountains near Estes Park

Evening light over the mountains near Estes Park

Hiking near Estes Park

Hiking near Estes Park

Mountain Days

Flattop and Hallett Mountains

Flattop and Hallett Mountains

Descending Andrews glacier off Otis Peak

Descending Andrews glacier off Otis Peak after a fantastic day walk along the Dividing ridge taking in Flattop and Hallett mountains

Alpine tarn

Alpine tarn

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Huge Elk

Huge Elk

Steven pondering our climb of Mount Alice, Wild Basin area

Steven pondering our climb of Mount Alice, Wild Basin area – an epic day out

Scrambling up the summit ridge of Mount Alice, Wild Basin Area

Scrambling up the summit ridge of Mount Alice, Wild Basin Area (photo credit: Steven Cunnane)

On the summit of Mount Alice

On the summit of Mount Alice, feeling really tired! Big day out – 20 miles and 4500ft ascent