Walking Holidays in Spain - Canary Islands - El Hierro - The Edge of Europe


Holiday Highlights
  • An intriguing island of spectacular escarpments, volcanic ash cones and lava flows
  • Wind around the small central plateau to the lowland of El Golfo, ending on the east coast
  • Walk over Malpaso, the highest point of the island with superb far-reaching views


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El Hierro is the least known, and most westerly, of the Canary Islands. It has escaped mass tourism and is therefore free of giant hotels and apartment complexes. The population is only 10,000 giving a very different feel to the other Canarian islands. The Herrenõs are fiercely proud of their island and although they are generally against mass tourism they are very welcoming towards visitors who come to appreciate the environment, such as walkers, naturalists and divers.

Like its neighbours, El Hierro was formed by volcanic activity along an offshoot of the mid-Atlantic ridge. There has not been an eruption on the island since the 18th century but the cones of ash and old lava flows are a prominent feature of the island.

The small central plateau, at 1000m or more, offers a mixture of volcanic scenery, pastures (cattle, sheep and goats provide fine cheeses), and the beautiful Canarian pine woodlands. To the north the lowland of El Golfo resembles a huge bite taken out of the island, and the impressive bordering escarpment, reaching 1500m in altitude, features in our walks. On the lower land of El Golfo vines, bananas and pineapples are grown.

The islanders have preserved a number of local traditions and some of their sites are included in our routes. Overall, there is a surprisingly rich variety for such a small area!

The population is principally Spanish, and the relative isolation means that other languages are rarely used. However, most hotel and restaurant staff  have a little knowledge of English.

This trek takes you to all corners of the smallest of the Canary Islands. The unspoiled island has spectacular escarpments, volcanic ash cones and lava flows, a great coastline and a green – pastoral and forested – central plateau. The trek is designed to pass through the variety of landscapes on the island and to seek out the most spectacular views and a number of locations of cultural and historical significance to the islanders. No two days are the same.

We provide detailed walking notes and the best walking map of the island. Walking on El Hierro generally requires a good level of fitness and stamina as the paths, although well waymarked, can often be rocky or loose underfoot. There are some very steep gradients on the paths which ascend/descend the escarpments, but the paths are so well engineered that they are free of exposed vertiginous sections. On this trek your experience begins in the small town of Valverde up on the plateau– the official capital of El Hierro. For early arrivals there are short walks locally to help you to get the feel of the island. From Valverde the trek route winds  across the plateau, down to El Golfo and up again, then across to the far west of the island before heading back again across the plateau to descend and finish by the east coast.

Day 1 Fly to Tenerife South and transfer to either Tenerife North airport for a flight to El Hierro (40 minutes) – or to the port of Los Cristianos for the ferry, which takes about 2¼ hours. Transfer to Valverde for the first night – early arrivals are offered short optional walks down to the coast. Overnight Valverde.

Day 2 No transport is required today as you walk from hotel to hotel. From Valverde a circuitous route introduces you to the varied volcanic and pastoral landscapes of the plateau area and includes an ancient abandoned village and the Arbol Santo – the sacred tree. Overnight Mocanal.

Ascent: 585m. Descent: 678m. Distance: 7 miles. Time: 3 ½ hours.

Day 3 Leaving Mocanal you first make for the Mirador and Ermita de la Pena, emerging onto the crest of the escarpment with the imposing panorama of  El Golfo way below. For the next two hours you follow this crest up to 1200m to arrive at the Mirador of Jinama. From here an amazing safe path, superbly conceived, leads down the face of the escarpment to La Frontera. Overnight La Frontera.

Ascent: 793m. Descent: 964m. Distance: 10 ½ miles. Time: 6 ½ hours.

Day 4 You will be picked up from the accommodation and driven to Sabinosa – the most western village of the ‘old world’. A stiff but exhilarating climb up the escarpment brings you to the very different landscapes of La Dehesa, a pastoral plateau open to the full Atlantic. The circuit of the plateau takes in the Mirador dos Bascos, the amazing distorted trees of El Sabinar – one of which is the emblem of the island – and the Errmita de la Virgen, a site of great importance in island culture. If lucky, you might catch a farmer milking his sheep. The day ends with a descent of the same path to Sabinosa, where your lift will be waiting. Overnight La Frontera.

Ascent: 867m. Descent: 867m. Distance: 9 ½ miles. Time: 6 hours.

Day 5 Again you will be collected from the hotel in La Frontera and taken to a path halfway up the escarpment. Once on the crest you follow this – easy walking – over Malpaso, the highest point of the island, with more superb views. The volcanic ash landscape gives way to the wonderful native pine forests, and then you head across pastoral country to the night’s destination. Overnight El Pinar.

Ascent: 768m.  Descent: 852m. Distance: 10 miles. Time: 6 hours.

Day 6 Today you head to the south coast harbour village of La Restinga, using ancient paths, returning by the same route.

Ascent nil. Descent: 812m. Distance: 5 ½ miles. Time: 2 ¾ hours. 


However there are other options for the return – one is to take a taxi (not included) to the pleasant cove of Tacoron, have a swim in the Atlantic, and walk back to El Pinar, with little difference in walking time. You can also halve the walk by returning by bus from La Restinga – the choice is yours.Overnight El Pinar.

Day 7 Leaving El Pinar the route starts through pleasant rural scenery before emerging on the crest of the eastern escarpment, with dramatic views of the Las Playas coast – and your destination hotel – way below.  After following the crest for a while, pass through the village of Isora before taking another magnificent path descending over 1000m to the coast below. Celebrate your completion of the trek with a swim in the hotel’s excellent pool, or on the beach. Overnight Las Playas.

Ascent: 394m. Descent: 1143m. Distance: 7 ½ miles. Time: 5 hours.

Day 8 You will be collected from your hotel for a transfer to either the airport or the ferry port to begin your homeward journey. Transfers on Tenerife are included.


Baggage Transfer

Your baggage is transported for you from hotel to hotel so you can travel with your day rucksacks. Some days you are taken to the start of a walk and/or collected at the end. These transfers are included in the price.

Walk Grading
Self-Guided - Moderate, with one long descent. Total for standard week ignoring variations:- Ascent 3407m, Descent 5316m, 50 miles.

This map is for illustration purposes only and we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy.

Spain - Canary Islands El Hierro - Trek

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As the island is undeveloped for mass tourism, accommodation in the villages along this trek is limited in places and varies from small village pensions to 4-star hotels, but all are comfortable and well positioned for the trek route. Each accommodation will provide rooms with private bathroom (some with shower only) and dinner and breakfast are served on all nights. Some of the meals may be taken in nearby restaurants or bars.   A Picnic can be purchased from the hotel or restaurant for a supplement if requested the previous night, but for most locations there is a supermarket nearby. 

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El Hierro is blessed with good walking weather all year round temperatures averaging 20°C at lower altitude. The island’s sub tropical climate is however influenced by the trade winds which particularly in winter may bring cloud and rain to the north.

When to book your walking holiday in Spain - Canary Islands - El Hierro - The Edge of Europe

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