The wild side of Mallorca: A historic hike among the dry stones



Anytime, except summer, is the perfect season to take a long hike through Mallorca, when the sun is less scorching and the sea is often still just so inviting.

Grab your boots for a hike in the Tramuntana Mountains along the GR221 long-distance hiking trail, a 150-kilometer (93-mile) route in the unloving name of Port d’Andratx in the southwest to Port de Pollenca in the extreme northwest of the island.

Just after leaving the marina, the path winds through rolling pine forests. You get an incredible view of the ancient fishing village of Sant Elm and the island of Sa Dragonera (which means dragon).

Go up for a steep walk through more pine trees and awe-inspiring views that seem to suggest you stop and take a rest.

You can spot the abandoned Trappist monastery of La Trapa at one point and you can even hear the sound of classical music coming from the ruins.

Miguel Torres is a Mozart fan and he listens to music as he builds stone walls. Now 80, he’s helping restore the nearly 80-hectare (198-acre) monastery complex, built in 1810 by French Trappist monks.

There is no cement in the dry stone structures of the monastery, whether they are buildings or terraces, just the painstaking work of carefully assembled cornerstones.

“Nowhere has dry stone masonry been perfected like in Mallorca. UNESCO even classified it as a World Heritage Site in 2018, ”explains Torres.

He compares it to a composition: “Each stone is like the note of a symphony. It must have its rightful place to create a harmonious wall.

The ascent of the gorges of Biniaraix will make you sweat. (photo dpa)

You can spot many examples of art along the promenade with its many perimeter walls, terraces, houses, defensive towers and sections of path, all built using this historical technique.

This is why the trail, whose official name is GR 221, is also nicknamed the Trail of Dry Stone Walls – Ruta de Pedra en Sec.

The day is punctuated with panoramic views of Mallorca’s rugged west coast. The cliffs collapse dramatically at the Mirador d’en Josep Sastre viewpoint, a drop of about 450 meters (1,476 feet) to the sea.

Finca Ses Fontanelles is a 200 year old farmhouse that has been transformed into an idyllic hiking hotel, perfect to end the day to rest. The atmosphere is peaceful here, with friendly sheep grazing under the citrus trees.

Starting the next day from Ses Fontanelles, you have a steep 200-meter walk through a lonely gorge, with goats surprised by the presence of hikers. The higher you go, the more beautiful the views of the rugged coast and the Mediterranean Sea become.

Banyalbufar, a village with stone terraces, steep alleys and ocher sandstone houses, is one of the most beautiful in the region.

The name Banyalbufar means “built by the sea” and was given by the Arabs who built terraces here centuries ago to cultivate Malvasia wine.

The next day, the path winds through dark oak forests to Esporles, then climbs to a mountain ridge almost 600 meters above sea level. You will soon be able to spot today’s destination in the valley: Valldemossa, which attracts the most visitors to the island.

This should come as no surprise, but many believe that the next village, Deia, is even more beautiful – and the 13 kilometer walk is one of the most impressive sections of this long distance route.

You start on a historic bridle path before reaching the Puig Gros. The descent to Deia is charming, with its steep cliff path, before reaching flatter terraces of olive groves.

Deia has always attracted painters, poets and composers and is the village of artists of Mallorca. Many have stayed at the La Residencia hotel. It’s worth a visit for its only sculpture garden, not to mention the 800 works which are mostly by local artists.

The next day’s walk heads to Port de Soller, through seemingly endless olive groves. Take a closer look at the gnarled, centuries-old trees of the Muleta Peninsula and you’ll feel like you can spot goblins, faces, and a whole host of animals.

Escape and the path heads straight to the Cap Gros Lighthouse, built in 1842. You will find yourself in the awe-inspiring beautiful natural harbor of Soller, where you can finally jump into the Mediterranean.

The next day starts smoothly with a touch of nostalgia if you take a wood paneled tram from 1913. It will take you from the beach promenade through the citrus groves to Soller where you can refuel. treats and snacks for your picnic for the long hike to the Tossals Verds Hut.

The beautiful natural harbor and the beach of Port de Soller invite you to relax after a long day of travel.  (photo dpa)

On the grounds of the former Trappist monastery, hikers can admire the art of dry stone walls.  (photo dpa)

It’s a steep zigzag path past the mountain village of Biniaraix, which leads you along dry stone trails through a lonely gorge.

After 750 meters you reach the Coll de L’Ofre and for a breathtaking view take a look over the orange valley of Soller.

High in the valley, the two reservoirs shine in the sun and it smells of sage and herbs. The landscape is dominated by Mallorca’s highest mountain, the 1,436-meter Puig Major. Here, at the refuge of the Tossals Verds, civilization seems far away.

In the valley below you can see the Monastery of Lluc, the most important pilgrimage site in Mallorca, founded in the 13th century.

Try to spend the night here in the old monks’ cells – peace is heavenly once the day trippers leave.

In the early morning, the birdsong is soothing and there is a wonderful feeling of calm until the pounding begins. Dry stone mason Damia Gonzalez and his team are busy restoring a section of road after the damage caused by winter.

This is essential work, says Gonzalez, recalling that the Drystone Masons’ Guild was threatened with extinction in the 1980s, a move that also reportedly jeopardized the preservation of ancient mountain trails.

Today, the island council ensures that it is possible to learn the traditional art of dry stone wall construction. The Ruta de Pedra en Sec trail is also a project to promote hiking tourism in the most remote mountainous regions of the island.

From Ses Fontanelles, the path leading to Pas Gran climbs steeply for 200 meters through a gorge strewn with scree and rocks.  (photo dpa)

Relaxation awaits you at the hotel

Little by little, the forest path descends from the Tramuntana mountains to the bay of Pollença, a valley where oranges, figs, almonds, pears and apricots grow.

You cross an old Roman bridge to reach the city center where you can admire its impressive mansions, palaces and parish church.

You can skip the last section of the walk. Rather, get on the bus, a good idea, especially if the sea calls you for a refreshing swim or more.

During this time, the stonemasons gradually extend the route of the dry stone walls, which must eventually reach the mystical Cape of Formentor.



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