La Palma

Our week on the island of La Palma has flown by. The overall impression I have is of colour . First of all by Canarian standards it is gloriously green as it has plenty of rainfall , but inland the volcanic cliffs and canyons are a riot of reds and ochres , umber and purple which are echoed in the buildings in the more civilised coastal areas . Unlike the eastern islands with their universal white houses with perhaps green or blue doors and shutters , La Palma buildings are a cheerful mixture of pastels – each with contrasting borders that , apart from the occaisional unflattering forays into purple and orange , merge into a pleasing medley of colours that lifts the spirits.

From Santa Cruz de La Palma

Santa Cruz de la Palma is a busy port and we are moored slap bang in the middle of it. For some reason there is a constant surge which combined with the noise from the ships loading and unloading would at first glance make it a less than restful place to be. Somehow though it doesnt matter as the town is a delight , just big enough to to have an interesting bustle without being overwhelming. Architecturally it has retained its 17th and 18th century character with some big old buildings in the style of Cadiz .Surrounding these are smaller more colonial Spanish buildings with wooden balconies overhanging the streets , harking back to when it was the major trading port of the islands, before modern engineering allowed other ports to be built in areas that did not have such a natural protected anchorage.

From Santa Cruz de La Palma

The inland areas are dominated in the North by a massive Caldera more than 8 km across and around the rim of which runs a path that rises in and out of the clouds . Inside are more ridges and peaks in a forest of Canerian pine that makes for marginally less majestic , if equally aerobically challenging walking. The edges of the island are given over to prolific agriculture where the banana is definitely king , although the fruit and vegetable markets give evidence of the bountiful nature of the land that used to provide fruit for UK and Carribean ( notably Cuba) via fleets of fast schooners from Salcombe in the 19th century. A series of small volcanoes runs down a spine of hills to its southern point and despite the fact that it looks the least volcanic of all the Islands , it is in fact highly active and there is a theory that some time in the near future it might split in two with disastrous effects throughout the Atlantic seabord.

From Walking on La Palma

The harbour is relatively deserted , which is strange as if I came this way again for a winter I would base myself between here and la Gomera ,as these two islands seem to have the best combination of climate , sympathetic towns and explorable countryside that we have yet come across. Perhaps we will keep the secret to ourselves, but for now it is time to head back East ( and upwind) to Gran Canaria and the city of Las Palmas to meet the crew and prepare for the Atlantic.

Leave a Reply