One weekend in January, we took to the hills. Here is what we found.

GRAN CANARIA’S mountains are alive with mountain runners, with weekend campers, orienteering competitors, and barbecuers.

Everything moves, nothing is ever silent, but everything is harmonious. It’s a vibrant place to be, and we came for free.

Yes, accessing the well-marked and mapped trails, staying at the numerous campsites, using the facilities, it all comes at no charge. Up here you can be completely free; no fixed abode, no costs, just living.

It’s a genius move by the Gran Canaria authorities; to help combat forest fires, they have created eco-friendly campsites with running water, barbecues and sometimes toilets and carparks, at the top and on the slopes of its most popular mountains.

They do not charge for stays at these campsites, because they want all camping to occur at them in a bid to eliminate unregistered wild camping.

To stay at each Gran Canaria campsites requires a visit to the council offices to obtain a permit. Each night’s stay needs a permit stating who is camping, where they are camping and for how long. You’re taken through the rules, focusing on the potential for forest fires and the strict no campfires rules.

We used three campsites and a ranger checked up on us at every one – annoyingly not long after first light! – so the system’s being adhered to, forest fires are being kept to a minimum, and Gran Canaria’s national parks remain stunning.

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