In Mallorca, with it’s bad reputation for Magaluf, a.k.a. Megaruf, Shagaluf, Shaga-scruf, etc, etc. It wasn’t the first on my list of places to go, but a colleague and good friend of mine Alison, convinced me it was the place to go. And coming from Alison, I knew this would be solid advice. So planning was underway, this time I would merely plan my accommodation on arrival and then wing it from there, based on my lessons from Tour du Mont Blanc.
This time, arriving with another executive airline, EasyJet, I was charged with inspiration and excitement of a new route. And I couldn’t wait to sample new and exciting locations along the way. It had only been 7 months since my last journey in the Alps and I was psyched for another memorable experience. It is always nice trekking in sunny and clear weather, however it usually allows complacency to set in.
Having landed in Palma ready to rock and roll I quickly realised my first flaw again. Transport to the start point of my trek. It was Sunday, and unlike the UK, Europeans don’t abuse themselves. They actually find it acceptable to take the day off and have a life outside of work. Luckily though, it took some finding, but I found a bus and was stood at a bus stop for sometime ready to head to Port d’Andratx. The bus was pleasant enough, and I was now merely worried I would miss my stop. The guidebook was handy providing me with useful tips. Once again, Cicerone providing the necessary in-country bible for this trek.
Arriving in Port d’Andratx I found my cheap accommodation and settled in before going for a walk to orientate myself, and then returned to organise my kit. As I was fully intending to camp most of the trip in my sleeping bag, I needed to ensure I had indeed packed everything I require. Technically it is illegal to camp in Mallorca, however I believe I am a sensitive and considerate camper that would leave it in an improved condition where possible. So I therefore had no concerns.
I knew the GR221 or the ‘Drystone Route’ as it is also known, was still under a degree of construction and there would be deviations. I also had the ambition to bring a couple of days together again, including my first day, this time I thought I had planned this well.
Start to the GR221 trek
The initial walk was amazing with views to thank Alison for on my return. I was underway with a spring in my step, and excitement of completing another long distance trekking route. The first day always provides me with a degree of ambition and doubt, but thankfully the doubt doesn’t stick around for long. As it was April (2015), there was still a little chill in the Mediterranean air, and when the wind picked up it was definitely a little nippier than anticipated. There were plenty of tourists, but as I got on to the path proper, they soon dropped in numbers and it wasn’t long before I was rewarded with my first view, it was spectacular.
Today was an interesting day, walking through the village of Sant Elm, which was a busy beach area. I plodded through with my large rucksack and I was definitely the odd one out, feeling a bit of a tool. Out the other side of the village I got on to some interesting paths and was soon at a beautiful place called La Trapa, a Trappist Monestery devoted to exiled monks from France and Spain. Personally if I was exiled here I would consider this a step up in modern times, the view is epic. I know it is similar to the last photo, but it is obviously a little better than a repeated grey photo from the UK.
I continued to aim for the town of Estellencs, I had to make it. I wound my way up a hillside away from the monotonous road I had just been walking, when I realised I was getting pretty tired. The heat was unrelenting in the evening. I found myself a little shelter and decided to recuperate and to watch the sunset. It got pretty cold, pretty quick. So I chucked on my thermal jacket and made myself comfy for a while.
Walking down the hill I then crashed on the porch of what is to be a refuge in the future called Sa Coma d’en Vida. It was sheltered and cush.
The magic of coffee
Next morning I woke with a banging headache, no water and a descent to Estellencs as I had not made it there the day before. I wandered down and did what any thirsty man would do, and it was desperate. And just to confirm that I had appreciated it enough, I doubled up. The bar man was impressed.
I proceeded to waddle off on my way feeling deeply satisfied with my calorie boost and attempted re-hydration. On my way I bumped in to two Germans, who were attempting to disguise themselves as Swiss. For some reason they are embarrassed to call themselves Germans, yep I have no idea why either. But I found them at a place where we couldn’t figure out what was going on, the signs had been destroyed and the way fenced. Completely bewildered we hopped the fence, and continued on our way. Eventually we came to a big open gate where a gate master stood, a stern looking English woman who was wondering where we had just come from. This was the land owner, she was not impressed. After much negotiation and apology we were allowed to head on our way.
The route, bar the short amount of trespassing, was beautiful. We headed in to Esporles to the Germans hotel where they had booked in and allowed me the pleasure of a shower. We then headed for beers and food. To have a few beers with company made for a more memorable evening. But I then had to head back to the hotel and pick up my bag and collect my rucksack to head to where I would be camping. My campsite had all mod-cons, and a ceiling that even Michelangelo couldn’t better (stars at night).
Having had a truly shocking nights sleep I headed through the woodland towards Valldemossa, man this was confusing. I only got lost several times, and arrived out of the woods miles from where I should have been. But I made it in to Valldemossa. Tonight I will have a bed and shower like a human being, I stink. And Es Petit de Valldemossa was the place I would degrade for a single night with my scruffy trekker attire and stench. It was luxurious.
Waking and feeling completely invigorated after, a poached egg and bacon washed down with two wonderful cups of coffee, I felt like I would be able to run today. On to Deia, where I would appreciate the beautiful village. It is no wonder artists, writers and musicians live here, it is pretty inspirational.
Deia, the jewel of Mallorca and GR221
I arrived at a basic accommodation called Hostal Miramar, which now appears to have received somewhat of a facelift. But when I was there it definitely was much darker, and run my a nice woman that I can only describe as a matriarch, she appeared formidable. So I asked only what I needed. The walk today had been steep and tiring so I headed in to Deia for some much needed sustenance. Having explored Deia further I did question, why did I book Hostal Miramar???
Deia to Soller was beautiful, and I had nothing but envy of the owners of the houses overlooking the beauty of the Med, but I knew at the same time I couldn’t live here. On my way I came across 3 expat girls making fresh orange from the orchard. 1 euro? ‘Bargain, I’ll take two please’. I made it in to Soller, but it wasn’t really anything I wanted to see so I head up in to the mountains. This would be my final camp in the wild, and I picked the best for last.
What a view. It was bloody freezing, but that was a compromise I was willing to accept. I pondered the journey to date and what was yet to be walked, this type of trip highlights the need for companions. I felt fairly lonely for the first time as I pushed my headphones in to my ears to get some sleep. Tonight would be Armin van Buuren sending me in to my deep sleep.
Packing up in the morning and taking one last look at the view I was ready. The mountain walking here was fantastic, though I didn’t actually summit any of them due to the route of the trek. But I was getting tired now, and I was content with my achievement. I merely wanted to complete the route now. The challenge of the trek had been enough. I had also shortened the trek by extended a couple of days, and it had been significantly cheaper than Tour du Mont Blanc. It was evidence that I had learnt a lot more than I anticipated.
Pulling in to Refugi del Son Amer, I felt like I had reached a place that was similar to that of a refuge in the Alps. The atmosphere felt relaxed and chilled out. I struck up a conversation with some of the guys in the beer garden, or benched area where everyone was having beers, and listened to 4 senior Brits playing there hearts out with a range of instruments, they were having a blast. The conversations were similar to that of those in the Alps, and I felt at home on this trek for the first time, it had been a weird experience. Camping and refuges both bring their own challenges, and this trip had shown me a different side as I discussed it with my fellow walkers.
The walk to Pollença is described in the guide as ‘the gentlest’, but I would easily describe it as the road to hell. There were definitely highlights along the way, but it was largely quite boring and uneventful. I will happily accept anyones alternative opinion, but this was mine. When I arrived at Refugi del Pont Roma, I was greeted by a complete misery. Not the end to the journey I was expecting. But I ordered my celebratory drink and crisps and reviewed my journey. This journey had been very different.
I must add that the route has since been changed, improved and brought nearer to completion, if not complete.