It’s back to Mallorca for a bit of spring-time sunshine, bird watching and walking with the Missus. This was our first foreign holiday without the brat and so we could do adult things like imbibing the occasional tincture and walking without having to deal with teenage sulks: all very enjoyable. In this post I’ll talk about the best walk we did: a part of the GR221 long-distance path from Sóller to the Coll de L'Ofre. And I’ll throw in an anti-cyclist rant for free.
The walk starts at the football ground at the east end of Sóller. The town sits in a lovely bowl of mountains and has its own little climate, i.e. you can get wet – and we did. But this was Mallorcan rain: refreshing, instantly dry, and soon to go. It also means the area has lots of verdant, lush citrus groves and at this time of year the air was (to use the cliche) heavy with their perfume: it’s addictive stuff. The path wanders through them along a lane and it was here that we heard a singing Wryneck – a bird I’ve never seen and it was great to see such a secretive species at the top of a tree singing its head off.
The path goes through the pretty villages of Binibassi and Biniaraix with lovely old buildings surrounded by orange groves. The Missus, being a mad cat-woman, attracted the local moggy who spent time with us, giving her thoughts on the world – a nice place to be a cat. The path then leaves the village and follows an old donkey track up into the gorge. This is a superb walk through shady trees and on a decent gradient. When things get a little steep the donkeys thoughtfully put in switchbacks on the path to smooth things out. The path follows a stream and has some crossings with stepping stones and bridges. However, the water itself gave out half-way leaving just a dry boulder bed.
The gorge itself goes between big limestone mountains and at the side we could see exposed stalactites. All the way up are terraces for olives and the odd sheep. How much effort was needed to build this lot and over how many centuries? At the top there is a small community of houses 1 but sadly no bar selling cold beers: a market that could be profitable given the number of people walking the path. At this point we headed back, but the path itself continues on down to Cuber Reservoir. We’d passed this on the way to Sóller and we’ve never seen an attractive spot so blighted by people. It was simply heaving, with cars everywhere parked at the most amazing angles. We noticed some clever people get out of a taxi from Sóller and then heading back down the path: a good use of gravity but would it weigh on their minds that they hadn’t really walked the GR221?
However the car-mess wasn’t the worst of it 2. No, my spleen was fully vented on the hordes of cyclists that infested the road from Pollença. This is a superb road, twisting through the mountains with some precipitous drops. We’ve done it a few times and were looking forward to it. However, what we didn’t realise was that in spring and autumn the Tour de France-wannabes pull on their cycling tops and head here to screw up the local roads. It’s not just one or two – that would be fine: no, they come in herds 3. On the flat they are fine, moving in a nice lump that is easy to overtake. But when they hit a gradient (i.e. every minute) they string out (but still keeping two or more abreast of course), wobble all over the road, and end up going slower that Jazz when she is in one of her let’s sniff everything moods. Over-taking becomes a nightmare, especially as there are cyclists coming down on the other side who think the white line is merely for guidance. I’ve never driven so far in first-gear trying to get passed these inconsiderate gits. My only compensation was knowing that when I hit the accelerator to overtake one of them, my nice wee diesel car spat out a nice cloud of carcinogens for them to inhale. And don’t think it’s all semi-professionals getting in some pre-season training. No, we saw so many heart-attacks-on-wheels as over-stuffed lycra tried to haul their hired bikes up the slopes. Apparently this nonsense happens each spring and autumn as the weather isn’t too extreme. In summer you get the tourist coaches. Looks like winter is a good time to come…but then they had snow this winter and are even less prepared than the UK for that!
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