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Unfriendly Winds

I landed back at Gatwick last night following an accidental visit to Tenerife.

The wind has been my friend on so many occasions recently, a dependable breeze helping me on my way through the woods or the clouds scudding overhead pointing the way home. It was probably time that it reminded me that it is not just in the business of helping me on my walks.

The plan was simple: I wanted to use a one week gap in the diary to get out to one of the wildest spots within five hours of home to do some natural navigation research. Days one to six went well as I walked, mainly without reference to map, compass or GPS (all were within reach), around the dramatic volcanic landscapes of La Palma in the Canary Islands. More details to follow here over the coming weeks, including photos of the incredible ‘Caldera de Taburiente‘.

Day 7 came and it was time to go home. Unfortunately the skies were in a real grump. I took this photo of a fearsome cumulonimbus cloud from La Palma airport about an hour before we were due to take off for Gatwick on Monday. The crosswinds reached 50 knots and our aircraft wasn’t able to get in to pick us up, it was forced to divert to Tenerife.

It felt like the air was trying to suck us all off the island and into a vortex. The sea near to the base of the cloud was being ripped at and whipped into whirls of spray and foam. (I thought it looked a bad place to go sailing and then remembered that I had sailed through that exact patch of water two years and two months earlier. I was fortunate that the weather was kinder on that occasion.)

A small delay became a big one. We all ended up waking at 3.30am on Wednesday morning to catch a ferry over to Tenerife to catch the same aircraft home from there.

I’ve got a letter apologising for the ’46 hour 17 minute’ delay. It was worth it, as the photos will show.

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