In the UK we are used to our long-distance paths having attractive names such as “Pennine Way”. But in Mallorca their long-distance path across the north of the island sounds more like a model of Tornado jet: the GR221. But forget the name: this is a cracker of a walk! I did the last leg of the walk by cashing-in a day-pass during a family holiday: from the monastery village of LLuc to the old Roman town of Pollença over the hills. This walk is different in that my trusty canine wasn’t with me: she doesn’t have a passport.
This was the first time we’d been to Mallorca in a decade and the authorities have done a great deal to make it attractive for walkers 1. There were lots of well-signed paths and new hostels. We had flown in over the northern mountains and they looked very enticing so I was keen to do a day’s walk here. The full walk takes roughly a week and I wasn’t going to get that much free time, so this was just a taster.
Cathy dropped me off in the car park at K19.5 2 on the MA-10 just outside LLuc 3. The information signs on the path are simply wonderful. They give all the information you need in a nice graphic style: where you are, the grade of the next section, interesting features en route, a height profile, expected time to complete, all in multiple languages. Whoever designed these should have an award on their mantelpiece.
Today was hot (the usual 30°+ of Mallorca in high summer) and so it was lovely that the walk soon headed into the cool oak forests that cover the mountains for the climb up to the Col de sa Font. The forests were just alive: insects 4 were everywhere and the bird-life was great with lots of stuff flitting through the trees. There were even a couple of Hoopoes: something I found hard to track down elsewhere. You get to the Col pretty quickly and I took a short spur that emerges at a lookout platform at the top of the cliff. The view was stunning (once I had worked up the courage to look over the edge). There’s lovely limestone mountains everywhere and then you realise the heights on the map are in metres: these are bigger than anything in the UK.
From here the path starts descending towards Binifaldo. My map made this look like a small village and I had great plans for a pleasant lunch-time stop and perhaps a cold beer to refresh. It turns out to be a one-house place and everything was shut. So it was sandwiches and tepid water instead. The path had skirted the edge of a big lump of limestone (1100m high makes it a very big lump). What was disconcerting were signs of recent rockfalls and landslips. These aren’t your Scottish scree runs: these were fields of boulders the size of cars. If a part of this mountain decides to come tumbling down I would strongly recommend you aren’t in its way as you’d leave a nasty red smear on the nice limestone.
On leaving the mountains the path drops down to the plain heading for Pollença. Here are big houses set well back from the road with olive groves and lethargic goats trying to find some shade. The Romans came here: it must have been a much nicer posting than on the Antonine Wall 5. The path goes along the side of a river 6 – it is bone dry but the old stepping stones show that it does have water at some time – I must come back and see that. Finally the path ends in Pollença near the old Roman bridge 7. This has been a great day’s walk and I’m now keen to come back and do the rest.
- We were based in Puerto Pollença in the north-east of the island and so I can’t comment on the facilities in the southern half: but in the north they are great – well done. ↩
- I think this is a marvellous system: every 100m there is a road-side indicator that let’s you position yourself within 50m anywhere along the road – it makes giving instructions a doddle. ↩
- This is a tourist magnet judging by the coaches that make the turn-off: so obviously we avoid it at all costs. ↩
- The good kind, e.g. butterflies and moths; not the nasty kind like mosquitoes – we didn’t have any the whole holiday. ↩
- Fresh seafood, the local red wine and olives, a great climate and no uncouth Picts wanting to use your blood as face paint. What’s not to like? ↩
- The Torrent de la Vall d’en Marc — obviously not a torrent all year. ↩
- This was built in the first century CE and still carries traffic — I’d be amazed if Glasgow’s Kingston Bridge makes into the next century. ↩
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