GR221–The Drystone Way, Mallorca
In true Mediterranean style, the GR221 isn’t quite finished yet; the sections in the west are subject to land access issues, limited accommodation, poor signage and difficult route navigation. When it is, it will be a magnificent 8 day walk, and one I fully intend to return to and do in its entirety. Of those legs that are up to scratch, we were here to traverse four of them.
Day One – Valldemossa to Deia
We reached low cloud quickly. Through the trees, we could see little for now, being afforded the odd tantalising glimpse of Palma below. But for the main, it was just the path, as it snaked ever higher.
When we reached Cami de S’Arxiduc at 926m, we were eventually treated to views of the Mediterannean Sea to our West, and Palma to the South-East.
We had lunch here, satisfied with our progress. I was blown away by the scenery, and any doubts about the trip had been forgotten.
The Arch Duke Path is a feat of engineering. Mindful of my aversion to some situations at height, Will had warned me of this section, but its excellent condition meant I suffered no feelings of exposure; I was loving it!
Before the summit of Puig des Carogli, the GR221 veers left. A series of cairns lead us down the correct path. At one point, however, the route becomes unclear, even in the guidebook. To go left would appear to just go straight off the edge of the cliff and right seemed the only option. But left it was, and within a few metres, a semblance of a path appeared, hugging the limestone cliff face. It was a steep descent, but fortunately, on my part, any precipitous drop was shielded from view by the ancient Holm Oak and Pine woodland. I was constantly reminded of its similarity to the Blue Mountains, near Sydney, in Australia.
A short day, but a good warm up. That evening, we had a quick look at the town, had a beer and enjoyed a good meal at the refuge, of bread, soup, lamb stew, and an accompanying shared bottle of the local red.
Day Two – Deia to Soller
For lunch, we headed to the Cap Gros Lighthouse, where this sections refuge, Muleta, was located.
For us, though, it wasn’t the end of the leg. Rather than retrace our steps back to the GR221, we had a road walk down to the pretty resort of Port Soller.
Ken and Judy had been staying in Soller for a week before the trek and so had done all the important reconnaissance work, by locating the best place on the sea front for tea and cakes.
The days final push, and rather than traipse up the road to Soller, Ken guided us up an alternative woodland route that took us the best part of an hour before we arrived at the Hostal Nadal, our accommodation for the night.
That night, we all ate out at a Malaysian Restaurant and any preconceptions about having to eat Paella and sea food dishes all week were completely blown out of the water. If you are ever in Soller, I highly recommend The Kopitiam Restaurant.
Day Three – Soller to Tossals Verds
From here, the beautiful wide cobbled path began to snake its way up the Cami de Ses Voltes. Once again, at a gradient that is manageable and enjoyable, each stop for a breather was rewarded with epic scenery!
When the gorge neared its highest point on the trail, GR221 narrowed and passed up through some woodland. The increased number of people told us that we were nearing Cuber Lake where there was both a bus stop and ample car parking to make it a comfortable tourist excursion into the mountains.
At Coll de L’Offre, we got a first view of Cuber Lake as well as a sneak peek of Puig Major, the islands highest summit at 1447 metres. Getting to here was a considerable relief, and the downhill that spread out before us looked very inviting.
Will had other plans, though, and to our right was a peak, sitting over 200 metres higher, called L’Offre.
Order restored, mentally, we took the gentle descent to Cuber Lake, stopping at the road for a short break, where we were joined by a hungry donkey.
With Ian handing round a share of Twix, it was an unexpected energy boost to complete the rest of the leg to the refuge at Tossals Verds, some two hours away.
Day Four – Tossals Verds to Lluc
On a continuous ascent through woodland, we broke out into wider open ground where we followed an uneven and uncomfortably uneven series of unnecessary switch backs up to Coll des Prat.
At Coll des Prat, our highest point on the trail at 1206 metres, we had a decent view of Pollenca, where the GR221 ended.
To our right, the second highest mountain, Massanella at 1382m.
We had lunch here. Not up to the usual standards, the bread was more akin to roof tiles, but by now, it didn’t matter. I needed little food, as the majority of up had been completed, and I was eager to get on.
I was pleased for Will because this was the very first time running this trip, he had been afforded a view on this leg, which is notoriously stuck in clag.
We found our way easily to the wide cobbled path that eased the considerable loss in altitude. A well built wall was a comfort to those with one eye on the steep drop the other side.
We soon reached the forest below, and the walk was shady, but suitably painful to those that were expected to suffer on a pilgrimage to the Monastery at Lluc.
Back in the UK, and final thoughts are that I have been won over by Spain!