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The Route of Valleseco

Did you know that the route you have chosen takes you to the youngest municipality on the island?

Well yes, Valleseco was part of Teror until 1842, and it was on 29th January of that year when the first municipal corporation was elected. To reach the municipality from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria there are several options. I will accompany you along the North road, in my opinion the shortest, whilst still remaining a wonderful and enjoyable route because of the scenery that borders the road. Driving along the norhtern motorway and passing through Arucas, we reach a junction that allows us to take the GC-30 in the direction of Firgas. Following this road and you will see a sign that indicates Valleseco.

 

The route allows us to view the abundant banana plantations in the north of the island, and at different points on the journey we will be able to enjoy views of the coast; from the Mountain of Guía, to La Isleta. Also on the roadside we will be able to see the signs for the network of paths that cross the municipality and its surroundings.

After travelling 26 kilometres from the capital, we reach Valleseco. The terrain, its deep valleys and ravines, and its rich vegetation, result in over 80% of the land being protected as a Natural Reserve.

 

The Luis Gonzaga Hermitage

As we enter Valleseco, we go towards what would be the village centre, but before doing so, first, I would like to take you to a special place, and for this reason, at the junction which signals the village centre there is also a sign towards Valsendero. We follow this sign travelling along the GC-305 road. At Valsendero we can see the Luis Gonzaga Hermitage, which was blessed in 1925 by the parish priest of San Vicente Ferrer. After this visit we can continue along this same road.

 

Doramas Rural Park: Barranco de la Virgen and Barranco Oscuro gully

This journey becomes greener and greener. The roadside verge is proof of the variety of vegetation that exists in this area, as we drive towards one of the main gullies crossing the municipality of Valleseco, El barranco de la Virgen.

If we continue on this road, the last part of which is a dirt track , we will arrive in Firgas.

Can you see the laurel trees? They are remnants of the laurel forest thet once populated the whole interior of the island. This area is part of the Doramas Rural Park and one of its main tributaries is the Barranco Oscuro, where we now find ourselves. The park is categorised as an Integral Natural Reserve; the maximum protection possible within the Network of Natural Spaces in the Canaries. The endemic flora that can be seen along the way in many cases can only be seen here, as it only grows in this area.

Due to the abundance of water and fertile land, this area has developed a flourishing agriculture. This has given rise to houses and farms that today can be seen along the gully. Vestiges of old mills also bear witness to a past history linked to the water resourses.

I will leave you for a few moments to enjoy this worthwhile place.

Now, yes. Let's go to the village. We go back the same road we came and get to a crossing where the direction of the village centre is given. Once we get to the centre we can park the car and stroll through the streets and visit some places of interest.

 

The Village Centre of Valleseco

 

The Church of San Vicente Ferrer

How about starting off at the Church of San Vicente Ferrer?

The church is located on the High Street (Leon y Castillo Street), where the majority of buildings of interest are found. The reason for erecting the church in honour of San Vincente Ferrer, was the great devotion by the people of Valleseco to the Dominican saint, whose effigy was in the Church of Teror before the municipal separation. The religioius brotherhood to which all the village belonged to, made it possible, with the taxes levied, to buid the first chapel in 1746. Later this was replaced by the present day church.

The Temple of San Vincente Ferrer, of simple construction, is the oldest building in Valleseco, dating from 1898. Within its walls, one must highight the pulpit and Mudéjar styled coffered ceiling. Also remarkable for its age and construction are the Cepillo de Ánimas and the Cepillo de San Vicente Ferrer (a “cepillo” is a type of donations container) and some of the church images, of great historical and artistic value, which came from the old chapel preceeding this church. A reliquary containing a piece of bone from the arm of the aforementioned saint is also venerated.

However the greatest relic of the church is an eighteenth century German organ, which came from La Iglesia del Pino, in Teror. When the temple of St. Vincent decided to buy a new instrument in the nineteenth century, the old organ purchased in Hamburg was transferred to the Parish Church of Valleseco and presented at its new location on January 1st, 1898. The organ has recently been restored, returning all its beauty and its ability to enthrall us with its melodies. The body has a single keyboard of 51 keys and is of baroque furnishing style, but it is said to have the sound of nine pianos. On this parish movable heritage, are the images of the saint and the Virgin of the Incarnation.

Let's leave the church, and I invite you to take a short break in the square.

 

The Church Square of Valleseco

The fountain gives the place a warm and relaxing feeling. Here we can give a thought to Jose Tadeo Monagas, Venezuela's president and hero of the War of Independence, of Canarian origin, and more specifically from Valleseco. For this reason you have before you his sculptured bust.

 

The San Vicente Ferrer Gofio Mill

On the opposite side of the road, behind a garage door, there is a “gofio” mill that is almost a century old (“gofio” is ground corn powder) . It is worth entering and visiting this authentic relic, where neighbours from the municipality still come to grind their corn crops. Here one can observe the process of grinding the corn with some adaptional changes to the new era. The first owner of this mill was Pantaleon Rodriguez Rodriguez, mayor of this town from 1930 until the proclamation of the Spanish Republic, on 16th April 1931. Today the mill is managed by his grandson, Paquito, as he is known in the village. The mill provided Valleseco with electricity from 1920 to 1950, when the cabling from the electricity company Unelco, reached the village.

 

The Ethnographic Museum

Leaving the high street we can walk down to the lower end of the village centre (where we arrived by car). Here we will find the Ethnographic Museum, a recent construction equipped to show visitors the history, traditions and crafts which make Valleseco what it is now. Next door to this museum, is the Tourist Information Office, where you can get all the information you need to extend your visit.

 

The Organic Market

Moreover, if you wish, we can make a stop at the Organic Market of Valleseco, where you can buy fresh local produce grown, without additives, in the fertile lands of the place.

Next I will talk about one of Valleseco's star products: the apple.

 

The Apple of Valleseco

I would also like you to visit the special job centre, but don't believe I will put you to work, on the contrary, I am taking you for your enjoyment; you may feel like trying the apple pastries produced here. As we walk I must comment that the apple is one of the star products of the municipality, and although it has been grown for years, only recently has production been boosted and very popular confectionary elaborated. How about trying it before I continue talking. We are now at the job center, at number 15, Cura Carballo Street. Did you notice that it is perpendicular to León y Castillo Street? There's no missing it. A great variety of pastries and confectionary registered under the brand name of “Gran Valle”, and which all make use of the apple, are sold on the premises. In this small central café, I will wait until you give me your honest opinion about the pastries.

In the basement of the aforementioned building is the Gran Valle Cider Celler, which stores cider produced in the municipality from the Valleseco Pippin apple. The cider belongs to the new expression category; somewhat sparkling and completely natural, without additives. It has been included in the Gran Canaria Gourmet brand, which offers a selection of quality products from the island. You can buy this cider in the shops, restaurants and rural houses of Valleseco and in the Gran Valle Cider House itself; located in the municipal district of Lanzarote, where it is produced.

Cheese is another star product of Valleseco, where from the 1990's dairies have produced cured, semi-cured and soft cheese. The cheese has won numerous awards since then. The last of which was at the World Cheese Awards held in the UK in 2011, where it received the Silver Medal in the category of mixed pasteurized cheese, and at the Insular Cheese Tasting, also in 2011, where it won the first prize in the category of pasteurized semi-cured cheese. These products, as couldn't be any other way, are included in the Gran Canaria Gourmet brand.

The soft, cured and semi-cured cheese with paprika or “gofio” sprinkling, as has been done for years, are still one of the most sought after products by local people and tourists alike. The milk used in the elaboration of these products comes from local livestock.

And now let's put gastronomy aside to explore another wonderful place in the municipality, La Laguna de Valleseco (or Valleseco Lagoon).

 

The Valleseco Lagoon

Situated within the Doramas Rural Park, the Recreational Area of La Laguna possesses great scenic beauty formed by a large volcanic crater, whose interior is covered by Laurel tree vegetation. Do you fancy entering La Laguna?

I wouldn't say no, when it comes to a cluster of trees forming a “forest” which is unique in the world. Successive and intensive reforestation is forming a new laurel forest; set up under the European Laurisilva Project XXI. If you go to the bottom of the crater, you will see a small lagoon where birds of all kinds come to drink; from small birds like Canaries and Grey Wagtails to migratory birds, like the herons.

As a Recreation Area, there are facilities prepared for barbeques (with permanent stone grills, tapwater and tables) where to sit and eat under the chestnut trees. If you want, take some time out here and I will wait for you under the shade of these trees.

If we continue along the road adjacent to La Laguna, soon we will have before us the unmistakable land form of the Pico de Osorio, an old volcanic crater which rises majestically at a height of 968 metres, allowing us to contemplate the adjacent villages of Teror, Firgas, Arucas and further beyond, the North of the island, and the capital. The entrance path for the ascent to the summit is found to the right, hidden between bushes, just as the road curves sharply.

 

Cortijo de Calderetas

And to end our visit, I will guide you to El Cortijo de Calderetas, a beautiful landscape formed by a large crater surrounded by chestnut, elm and pine trees and where in its interior sits a traditional Canarian house of the late nineteenth century with a gable roof. All around a vast esplanade where typical local products are grown: potatoes, cereals and apples. And to one side, Las Calderetas outdoor clothes washing area, with its typical tiles. The historical origins of the estate date back to the conquest of the island, like other estates we will encounter if we continue our tour: Cueva Corcho, Crespo, Almaderos and Mesas de Galaz. To delight the eye, a number of pine and chestnut trees were planted where there was only barren terrain or land dedicated to shepherding. Occassionally, you can see sheep and lambs, belonging to the only two remaining shepherds, situated on the slopes. In the distance, if the sea of clouds allows us, we will be able to see a splendid view of the capital.

 

The Natural Monument of Montañón Negro

Close to El Montañón Negro the landscape becomes rugged and arid, revealing its recent volcanic origin. With a height of 1,500 metres, it rises on the southern edge of the municipality; its narrow passes running along the Barranquillo de Maipés, a tributary of the previosly mentioned Barranco de la Virgen. Due to its unique geological features, it has been declared a Natural Monument, and belongs to the Network of Protected Natural Spaces of the Canaries.

Having reached the end of our visit with this picture of the island, all I have left to do is wish you a safe journey, and hope for your return. Until then, we'll be waiting for you here.

Thanks and see you soon.

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