El Cuchillo means “the knife” in English, and tour guide David Penney knows this strange and beautiful area of northern Lanzarote backwards.
Time: 2 hours
Distance: Approx 7 – 8km, circular.
Terrain: Fairly challenging in places
Public transport: No bus service available
I have done this walk several times. Often I start at the village of Soo and approach the ridge from that side. It makes it a longer walk, as the start point is a long way from the ridge UNLESS you take your vehicle off -road and drive across the rough and sandy tracks to park.
The starting point can be made easier by driving through the village of El Cuchillo and taking the minor road out towards Soo. This is a tarred road all the way, so you can take a hire car to the start point, whereas the route in from Soo isn’t suitable for hired vehicles.
We park at the small white building which is on the right-hand side after you pass the entrance to the Quesería Filo (cheese factory), located just outside the village.
From here,we walk back towards the village along the track which runs parallel with the road, then turn left towards the entrance of the quesería.
There is an established track which takes us to the left hand side of the quesería. This leads us up to the first section of the ridge to the windsock, which is a launching point for paragliders and hang gliders.
It can give a rather strange feeling from this point on, as the land to our right is at the same level almost, yet the land to our left is much lower.
We look down into the crater to see how the local farmers utilise this area for farming, as the crater creates a natural catchment area for any rain water when we get it. You will also see a finca in the crater which has a swimming pool and in the summer the owner’s grandchildren can sometimes be seen playing happily in the pool to cool off.
Looking over towards the ocean we see the small hamlet of Caleta de Caballo in the distance, and also Club La Santa.
We now continue up to the highest point of the ridge, which, although it is uphill, is OK if you take it at a steady pace. Along the route you will see lots and lots of olivina impregnated in the solidified sandstone crust. Olivina is a semi-precious crystal which is used for making jewellery, although this isn’t the same as the stuff which is sold to the tourists. The sandstone has eroded over the many years and is quite brittle and crumbles in your hand. We now get a view in front of us of the village of Soo.
We need to proceed with caution from here, as we start to descend from the high point. After a few minutes of walking, there is a lot of loose scree which is easy to slip on (just ask Kerry Ann). I consider this section to be the most challenging, so you will need good footwear and to pay attention to avoid an accident.
As we descend down the ridge we arrive at a mini-barranco which has lots of vegetation, mainly the ice plant, known locally as barilla. The ice plant gets its name from the tiny crystalized globules which grow on the stalks. It was once a very popular crop for local farmers as it produces sodium, which was a key ingredient for making soap.
I often show my guests and friends how I use it as an alternative to a wet wipe to clean my hands, which is much more environmentally friendly than the ones we use today.
The sandy track in front of us splits to the left and right, the left track will eventually take you back to Soo, but we take the track to the right and very soon the track branches off to the right again, going past the military storage depot. (If anyone wants to know more details send me a private message and I will share the info about it).
We continue along the sandy track through an area called El Jable, which is known locally as the desert.
The sandy track takes us past unused fields which are peppered with small volcanic lava rocks. A bit further along we can see a small track on our right which takes us to an almost hidden aljibe (an underground water tank). We make a wee detour here and stop off to explore the inside of this place. I have obtained lots of information about this place as I know who carried out the work (once again, send me a private message for more info).
As we continue back along the track we arrive at a crossroads which is where the paragliders arrive with their equipment to go up to the windsock.
Now we cut through the grounds of the finca and Quesería Filo. Here you will see a couple of donkeys, camels, several dogs which are loose and running around, many chickens, lots of goats and even a peacock.
The investment recently made in the building and stonework of the quesería is very impressive and to a high standard. It is only open to the public Monday to Friday from 07:00am – 11:30am.
All that is left now is to return back to the cars and go for a well-earned cool drink – there is a small sociedad in El Cuchillo if you wanna stop off on the way back through the village.
Photos courtesy of Kristine Cleland.
For further information about walks around Lanzarote please contact, DAVID Penney via email firstname.lastname@example.org OR via WhatsApp message 0034 649389888
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