The Footpath Network: infrastructure with historical roots Walkers ought to be aware of their surroundings, of the history in the stones beneath their boots and of the course taken by the paths, which were intended for travel on foot. Outsiders and islanders alike are surprised by the skilful way these ancient footways wind effortlessly up seemingly impossible slopes in search of the most rational route to a pass or summit.
Their paved surfaces, side walls, sturdy buttresses and retaining walls all strike the eye. In such rugged terrain, the correct distribution of paths was vital to ensure efficient communication throughout the island – hence, their ancestral importance and their present-day significance as both heritage and as the scenario for an activity on which a large part of the island’s economy is based. In the design of the Footpath Network, certain characteristics of La Palma’s paths were taken into account, especially those connected with their traditional use.
The aim was to conserve the historical coherence of the footpath links by maintaining the outline of the former communications network. Consequently, traditional footpaths were placed in four main categories.