After the huge success of our walking holiday in Austria with Inntravel, we were keen to pull on our hiking boots and book another one. Trying to whittle down our list of favourites from the brochure and website was a tough job. It was a fellow travel blogger who unwittingly helped us to decide. Corey, who writes at Fifi + Hop, had travelled to Mallorca with her family last summer. Her description of the western part of the island, with its rugged coastline and idyllic mountain villages, sealed the deal: we would be walking in Mallorca.
Like many other tourists, I thought I knew the island from several happy holidays since I was a child. But my Mallorca, or Majorca as I always knew it, could have been a world away from the stunningly beautiful west/north west region, its landscape created by the Serra de Tramuntana, the 80km long mountain range forming the backbone of the island. It’s understandable that this part of Mallorca is not as well-known to visitors as it’s only been widely accessible since the building of the MA-11 toll road and tunnel in 1997. In order to preserve its beauty, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.
The Inntravel self-guided walking trip in Mallorca is classed as Grade 1 and 2 with flexible options. We were provided with maps and walking notes, with a choice of routes on the days we weren’t moving to another hotel. Inntravel is renowned for its hotel-to-hotel walks, where your luggage is transported between accommodation while you take the scenic route on foot. We stayed for seven nights in three of the area’s prettiest towns and villages; Fornalutx, Sóller and Valldemossa. Inntravel has built up a solid relationship with its hoteliers so you feel confident the transfers will go smoothly. Even the taxi drivers are Inntravel regulars: Antonio picked us up in Palma, handing out more maps and offering suggestions. Very reassuring.
One of the main hiking routes in the area is the GR 221 which follows the beautiful, historic, cobbled paths which have always linked the villages and estates on the Serra de Tramuntana. Often recognised by the rows of olive trees on terraces with dry stone walls, this route featured a lot on our walks in the region. The GR 221, all 160km of it, is planned to be 8 stages in total and stretches from Port d’Antratx in the south west to Pollença in the north. The paths we took during our holiday were in stages 5 and 6 and have all been recently completed, so they are well-signposted.
Cúber reservoir to Fornalutx via the Ofre Pass and Barranc de Biniaraix – 12km (about 4.5 hours)
This was our first proper walk of the holiday. We should have limbered up a little the previous day but we ended up sunning ourselves in the gardens of our hotel, Petit Hotel Fornalutx instead.
So it was with rather stiff limbs that we set out on the 12km hike. Thankfully the notes told us to take a taxi up to the reservoir to begin our walk, so our route would be a descent back to the hotel. It was a spectacular trail, taking in the beauty of the reservoir and the pass of the Coll de L’Ofre. We looked up to see the peak of the Puig de l’Ofre but our walk wouldn’t be taking us up to the top. But the ascent is achievable. Another blogger, Christine, who was walking in Mallorca with her family a few weeks before us, did just that on a walk which involved a circuit of the reservoir. You can read about her trip on her blog, A Family Day Out.
The most dramatic part of the walk was descending through the Barranc de Biniaraix, an astonishing gorge that cuts through the mountains. Cobbles all the way down, it’s quite hard on the knees. We should have put our walking poles away a lot earlier as they didn’t seem to help us tackle the descent as they tended to get stuck in the cracks. I was in awe of the people coming the other way, running up the steps in their lycra like brightly-coloured gazelles.
The views from the gorge were stunning and I knew we had made the right decision to choose Mallorca: walking in mountains but having the sea nearby is a winning combination. The spring flowers were out, we passed little streams and waterfalls and gradually made it to the tiny village of Biniaraix for a well-deserved ice-cream stop.
The walking notes suggested we follow a road out of the village which would take us back to our hotel in Fornalutx. Things didn’t quite go to plan, thanks to me losing the walking notes and Dougie deciding to go a different way. If you want to know what happened, you can read about our antics in the column piece I wrote for the Lincolnshire Free Press.
Muleta Circuit from Sóller – approx. 12km (about 4 hours)
From our second hotel, Ca’l Bisbe, in the town of Sóller, the Inntravel walking notes suggested we either walk to the pretty harbour of Port De Sóller or take the vintage tram. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson from the previous day’s wrong turn (that’s a hint, if you haven’t read the article!) but my master map-reader tweaked the route slightly so we wiggled our way out of the town, hit the GR 221 as it crossed the main MA-11 and had a lovely walk with some gentle ascents and descents until we reached the point at which the Inntravel notes kicked in. That’s the joy of being self-guided. The suggestions are there for you, but if you want to do things a little differently, you can do.
We loved this walk which was about 12 km in total. Despite signs warning us about Big Game hunting, we only came across a goat and a donkey. We headed to the Muleta shelter which is situated next to the Cap Gros lighthouse. Feeling like Victorian explorers, we always imagine we’ll be the only people to arrive at a destination. Not this time. We discovered dozens of schoolkids had beaten us to it and were happily eating their sandwiches and queuing for the one solitary toilet.
We carried on walking, past the beautiful lighthouse and the recommended refreshment stop (it was sadly closed) and stopped to admire the beauty of Port de Sóller and its gorgeous curved bay. Invigorated by the view, we fairly skipped down the road to the sea, before tucking into tasty tapas on the promenade. We sauntered around the bay for an hour or two then headed back to the hotel by taxi, rather than the suggested tram, as there were a lot of queues and a 9 euro taxi cost less than two 7 euro single tram tickets. A pre-dinner snooze and glass of Cava by the swimming pool ended the day rather well.
Sóller to Mirador Ses Barques circuit – approx. 9km (about 3.5 hours)
The walk to this spot, where we were assured of panoramic views of the coastline, could have been attempted from Fornalutx as one of two routes to reach our second hotel on transfer day. But that day had been very stormy in the morning so we had cheated and taken a taxi. But our notes advised us that many of the walks were doable from different starting points. This was certainly true of the Mirador Ses Barques as there are numerous paths leading up to it.
The path we chose was very quiet and the weather was glorious as we made our way towards the viewpoint. But, just like the previous day, we arrived seconds after a pack of cyclists, who had come up via the road. I thought they were going to clean the little café out of food but thankfully the last two KitKats had our names on them and we pounced on one of the best outdoor tables, with superb views over the coastline.
The path we took back to Sóller was equally lovely, passing more olive trees older than Methuselah. We were joined part of the way by a very friendly donkey who took a shine to Dougie. The feeling was mutual, Dougie feeding his new pal our last apple. We were soon back in Sóller, stocking up on pastries and beer and keen to catch a few more rays by the pool before heading out to dinner.
Sóller to Deià – approx. 10km (about 3 hours)
Our final hotel was in Valldemossa so we were advised to walk to Deià then catch the bus to Valldemossa. It was a bit of a drizzly day but the route, on the ubiquitous cobbled paths of the GR221, was as delightful as it had been all week. As regards refreshment stops, the gods were on our side as we reached it just before a large group of walkers. Hoorah! And this was no ordinary pit stop. The Finca Son Mico was a feast for the senses. Part of this grand country house is now a B&B and the owner provided freshly-squeezed orange juice and divine home-made cakes. We were shown into the back room to make way for the large group. We sat beside an open pit fire, eating orange and almond tart, feeling extremely pleased with ourselves.
It was hard to leave the finca, with its abundance of flowers and warm hospitality, but we continued on the path. The second part of the walk was fine but the rain was coming down harder so the views weren’t so good. It was here we invented the Burgess Law of Walking Trails. The law states that if you know which way you’re going at a junction, you will see other walkers. If you don’t know which way is correct, you’ll be on your own. We struggled a little but then read our Inntravel walking notes again, retraced our steps and got back on track.
We reached the centre of Deià by a circuitous route of our own making, opting not to walk down to the cove, Cala Deià, but just look at it from above.
Having said that, Deià itself was absolutely gorgeous, even when we were dripping wet, so I can only imagine how impressive it is in the sunshine. Those artists, poets and millionaires certainly knew a thing or two when they settled here.
We were due to walk the high Valldemossa circuit on our last full day, following the bridleways created by Archduke Luis Salvador. Alas the weather was even more dreadful and we decided not to attempt it. On the plus side, we were able to have a bit of a lie-in and, thanks to our hotels being based in the most delightful towns and villages, we really made the most of the cultural side of Valldemossa, learning more about Chopin and George Sand’s winter in the town plus the aforementioned Archduke who was the ultimate travel blogger of his time. I bet a little bit of rain didn’t put him off…
Coming soon on the blog: there was more to this holiday than just walking. I’ll share some of our favourite foodie experiences and give you a flavour of the hotels in each destination.
This was a walking holiday we booked ourselves with Inntravel. We were offered a small discount in exchange for this review and some social media sharing.
Joining up with FarawayFiles