Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cruz de Tejeda - La Culata - Roque Nublo - La Culata walk

Little uneven-shaped Nublo asteroid, just for the heck of it :)

Roque Nublo is the most iconic sight of Gran Canaria (and don't tell me about the dunes, they are not a patch on the dunes on Fuerteventura). Since my favourite spot on the island is Cruz de Tejeda, I saw and photographed the Roque many a time, but I'd never been right next to the monolith until yesterday.

Panorama, click on it to see the whole width

This was the longest and hardest walk I had so far, but well worth it. I started at Cruz de Tejeda, went along Morro de Armonia (beautiful views, as always) to Mirador the Becerra viewpoint, past it  (the panorama above is made there) and down to La Culata hamlet, through it and up the steep path to the Roque.

Full circular panorama of a little plateu to the east of Roque Nublo. The Asteroid in the first pic was made out of this panorama

The main hike - from the Cruz de Tejeda to Roque Nublo - took just over three hours. I am neither the fastest nor the slowest walker, about average I'd say, so that is probably the average time, too. I must say that though the Roque sticks over the landscape in the most obvious manner (or maybe because of it), the path signs don't point to it. Whoever put the signs there was probably counting on you knowing more local place names than I did. Common sense told me to take the upper branch of the path that leads in the direction of the Roque - it is signposted "Llanos de la Pez". After that there are no points of confusion till you arrive to Mirador de Becerra. There are still no signs for the Roque, but there is one for La Culata, and I knew that there is definitely a path up from there. Once I was down in the hamlet, signs for Roque Nublo finally appeared, and a poster with the path info found at the very beginning of the ascent (the distance from La Culata to the Roque is just over three km, and the ascent of 600 m, as far as I can work out).

After La Culata it was all very straightforward for about 85 percent of the way up, when I found myself at a fork where there again was no sign for Roque Nublo. The fact that the Roque was directly overhead didn't help much. I took the left branch, signposted "La Goleta" and can tell you that it definitely leads to the Roque. The other one probably does too, but I haven't gone that way so can't be sure.

There was a surprising number of people at the small plateau, and even a couple of climbers on the top of the Roque itself. Maybe not that surprising actually - there is a car park at La Goleta pass, and there are many tourists, some of them completely unprepared physically and shoe-wise, who walk the short walk between the car park and the Roque. In fact, the car park and the military installations at Pico de Las Nieves are the only blights on the beautiful landscape.

It's spring, and there are flowers everywhere, and most beautiful ones at the foot of the Roque.

The walk itself is spectacular. There is so much geology in this place it is unbelievable. I mean, look at the picture above. What is that upraised rock finger on the right? What is the hanging stone on the upper left? Do you know? I certainly don't. Many other places (East Anglia springs to mind) would be happy to have any of those somewhere - and there will be excursions, legends and flourishing souvenir trade, but here, where you have both Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga crowded into a few square kilometers, nobody can be bothered with the lesser rocks. I am sure they have names, and maybe legends, but they are definitely overshadowed, literally and metaphorically.

After a short stay at the Roque it took about one hour to get down to La Culata. Walking down is obviously easier, but the path is slippery in some part, so the descend can be somewhat faster than originally intended. My plan was to walk to Tejeda, but when I dropped into the only (I believe) bar in La Culata, the bartender told me there will be the same bus to San Mateo coming through in just over one hour, so instead of going to Tejeda I stayed in the bar and had a well deserved meal. Overall, the timing worked rather nicely - I caught 10.30 San Mateo to Tejeda bus, got off it at the Cruz de Tejeda at 11.15 approximately, was at the Roque at 14.25 or something like that, then at La Culata at 16, and the bus picked me at 17.15 approximately. I think there are just two buses that go through La Culata - one in the morning, one in the afternoon, so I was very lucky to get there when I did.

If you go for this walk, wear proper walking shoes, have some water and snacks with you and start early. I would say don't go in summer at all, but especially in the afternoon. The first leg of the walk, from the Cruz de Tejeda to La Culata, doesn't have much shade, and the sun here is of African strength. The most difficult bits of the walk for me were the two descents to La Culata, because of the loose stones, but of course the ascent from La Culata to the Roque is quite steep and  therefore not that easy.

Inland Gran Canaria at shutterstock - here
Panoramas of Gran Canaria - here

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