The smallest and most westerly of the Canary Islands, El Hierro was as soon as thought-about the top of the world however now could be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Geopark with crystal clear waters and over 500 extinct volcanic craters.
Being essentially the most distant Canary Island, there’s no straightforward method to get right here – no direct flights from the UK so that you both have to vary planes in Tenerife, La Palma or Gran Canaria, or courageous the ferry from Tenerife. After all, the benefit is that it caters for the extra intrepid traveller and there aren’t any excessive rise accommodations or sprawling resorts. Moderately its UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Geopark standing implies that there aren’t prone to be any sooner or later.
EL Hierro is lower than 50 km lengthy and has the very best volcano density within the Canaries, with over 500 extinct craters, and one other 300 coated with newer lava flows. The final eruption was in 1793, though there was one below the ocean as just lately as 2014, however there’s nothing to fret about. The principle settlements are within the mountains, somewhat than by the coast.
Valverde, the capital, sits within the north and is commonly shrouded in mist. A volcanic backbone runs down the centre with the very best level, Malpaso reaching 1501m. On one aspect steep cliffs tumble right down to the ocean, whereas on the opposite are the fertile flatlands of El Golfo, with vineyards and plantations. The south and west are the volcanic Badlands with spectacular black lava flows contrasting with white flecked waves, whipped up by the sturdy winds.
A very good street runs across the island and slender twisting switchbacks take you excessive. Thankfully, there’s little site visitors, however you do have to preserve your nerve, particularly as you’re typically in mist. Within the far south, close to the port of La Restinga, is Cala de Tacoron, a wonderful swimming spot with a easy café.
One of the best ways of exploring is on foot, though a automotive is important should you’re going to achieve the extra distant components. Meaning round walks are the order of the day which is a pity because the GR131 runs the size of the island and has spectacular views. Nonetheless, it’s attainable to do that in sections and there’s an environment friendly native bus service.
Las Puntas and Guinea 10km
I begin with a simple circuit which follows the coast in El Golfo. Punta Grande has a tiny resort with simply 4 rooms and was as soon as listed because the smallest on the planet within the Guinness E-book of Data.
The path from right here has been boarded so it’s straightforward underfoot and it presents promising views of the crashing surf, crossing lava flows, to achieve La Maceta. That is not more than a carpark and a café, though there are rocky swimming pools the place it’s attainable to swim.
The trail then turns inland, previous plastic banana greenhouses, to achieve the Ecomuseo de Guinea. Inside there are depictions of formative years on the island and a undertaking to preserve the native big lizards of El Hierro. They develop as much as 60cm lengthy had been nearly extinct however now being reintroduced from this breeding centre. From right here, a quiet street leads again overland to Las Puntas.
La Dehesa Circuit 11km
This takes me to the distant unpopulated western finish of the island. It begins on the Ermita de Los Reyes, the place, each 4 years, the statue of the virgin is taken out and carried the size of the island.
I comply with a mud street upwards, by means of pine timber, then after an avenue of cypresses, an indication factors me to El Sabinal. The trail now leads downwards by means of historical juniper timber, bent double by the wind.
Now I comply with the coast to achieve Mirador de Bascas, with spectacular views of Sabinosa and El Golfo, to the east. From right here, the trail climbs fairly steeply upwards on a walled monitor laid out with steps.
I can see the village of Sabinosa under however cross fields, then by means of extra juniper and eventually arrive again at Ermita de Los Reyes.
El Frontera and Mirador de Jinima 15km
I depart essentially the most strenuous stroll to the final, realizing I’m going to want all my vitality. From Tigaday in El Frontera, the trail climbs steeply previous fields of vines and outdated wine presses, crossing the street a variety of instances. El Golfo is laid out under me and I enter a dense patch of laurel forest or laurisilva. Nonetheless climbing, all of a sudden I’m out within the open, trudging over black ash to achieve the crest of El Hierro at 1350m.
From right here I comply with the GR131 north east, a degree path alongside the volcanic backbone of the island to the village of San Andres. The mist has descended and there’s nothing to see after I attain the Mirador de Jinima.
Nonetheless, as I zigzag down on one of many oldest tracks on the island, I’m quickly into the sunshine. I cross Candelaria with its distinctive church bell tower perched on an ash cone, earlier than getting again to El Frontera.
FLY: Ryanair flies to Gran Canaria and Tenerife South from London Stansted.
Binter flies to El Hierro from Gran Canaria and Tenerife North.
STAY: Apartamentos Los Verodes in Frontera.
WALKS: Strolling on La Gomera and El Hierro by Cicerone has a listing of walks.
Spain Information has details about the nation.
El Hierro Journey has details about the island.